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The Neo900 project is still alive and steadily progressing (neo900.org)
77 points by edwintorok on Mar 15, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 29 comments

Nokia n900 best phone i ever had and i still have it. I use it mostly for USB 3g internet and for streaming music to radio.

I really liked my N900's physical keyboard. My muscles still remember the layout even though I hardly use it nowadays.

I wouldn't mind a smartphone that was a little clunky and less functional, if it were really open.

Not quite "100% Free Software stack", as they still using closed 3D driver, and of course the modem processor runs proprietary code:

"Not a single line of closed code will have to run on main CPU to be able to use the Neo900. With an exception to 3D acceleration, which is not necessary to operate the device, FLOSS Linux drivers will be available for every single component."

I'm sticking with Replicant on my Galaxy Nexus...at least I have it in my phone now working, the specs are comparable (dispite being a couple years old) and I got it used cheap. I'm not getting much more benefit with the Neo900 dispite the significant price tag. I'll wait for a fully free software stack, including modem processor.

Given the state of legal regulations in most of countries in the world, you're probably waiting for some revolution. It's practically impossible to legally use the freedoms given to you by such free modem firmware (theoretically you could send it to certification each time you do something with it).

Neo900 project realized that (and the lack of resources to build the modern modem at all - the needed amount is enormous), so instead of trying to make free baseband and failing inevitably, it's going to include some kind of "sandbox" allowing for tight monitoring of everything the modem does.

Does your Galaxy Nexus have a working GPS with Replicant?

hopefully TI still has enough OMAP3 chips in stock since they shut down the whole OMAP division last year...

They got out of the smartphone market (and the investments needed to compete there), they are still making them for niches.

Too little too late.

Too little too late for what exactly? Certainly not for their target audience. Perhaps you're on the wrong site. This is Hacker News and this device is for hackers. Name another mobile computer of a similar form factor or even a smartphone that can do as much as this device. As for being too late, well I've been waiting a long time for a device that can fully replace my N900 and ideally I would've liked something sooner but I was never going to stop dreaming because there was nothing on the horizon.

Agreed. 800x480 3.5" with 1Ghz CPU? Ouch. I really like this project but that will be too painful.

Depends on the price though.

Openness is a feature and unfortunately it has a price, and honestly I would not care about the speed or screen resolution.

I mean the lower the screen size, the more little pixels are anyways, so why care about the resolution ?

Screen size is a stupid debate. You want a large screen to browse the web, but not too large because you will use it as a phone ? And even if it's 7 inch or 5 inch, people will try to load bigger apps and it won't work. People want to browse the web on their phone and be comfortable and not look stupid. 1st world problem, as always.

I think all you can want for such a device is to post on forums, see some pictures, chat, quickly view and answer mail, read documents, but for the rest, stop complaining and find a place to sit down with your laptop.

The larger the resolution the slower the device will be cause it needs to process more pixels.

I agree that openness is the greatest value for Neo900.

Before Neo900 got announced I was considering Jolla as my next phone, but they failed to deliver on the 'truly open' promise. The alternative would be to run something like Replicant/Cyanogenmod on an Android device, but with the Samsung backdoor news Cyanogenmod doesn't look too good. And Replicant doesn't support GPS on any of its target devices. So that really leaves little choice as to what phone I'll buy next, and currently Neo900 is at the top of my list.

The Geeksphone Revolution could be an interesting choice. Comes with Android pre-rooted installed with menu options to install other ROM's including Mozilla's Boot to Gecko as a supported option. You could run the latter with the Mozilla open source RIL implementation if you're concerned about that. I do like the hardware keyboard on the N900/Neo900 though.

I use Replicant. I've discovered that I don't really need GPS, as it turns out I usually know where I am. I just look at openstreetmap first and quickly memorize my route.

>> but for the rest, stop complaining and find a place to sit down with your laptop.

Exactly that. I carry an n900 as my daily use phone/pda and it works great as a "better-than-nothing" device for ssh access/websurfing. Its' strength is that I have it 24/7 not that it is as good as a desktop/laptop.

I'm looking forward to the neo. I'd like it to be faster, yes. but that requirement is way down the list.

Regarding the price they say in the FAQ that "reaching 1 000 devices will significantly reduce the final price of the device and make component sourcing (like 1GB RAM) much easier".

Currently the donation meter shows 340 devices: http://neo900.org/#donate

For hackers it's fine; my Pandora is less than 1 ghz and I use it every day for a lot of things. Yeah I cannot really do that fancy smancy cpu/gpu killing web stuff on it but for nicely built apps and console work it works really well. For devving too as that's what I do mostly on it. If this thing runs linux well if would add nicely to my collection of small devices that can. I never had a N900 and I don't really use a phone for calling, but I do collect internet capable, linux capable devices and I use them a lot.

I think the hacker market is large enough to sell out at least a few batches of this thing.

An ssh client in your pocket with a keyboard. I still want one.

I'm still using a N810 paired by BT to a N95.

SSH+X11vnc+WindowMaker(with settings changed)

It's old and clunky, but it still does 'real stuff' better than the pile of Android devices I have.

There are many `ssh` clients for popular mobile platforms, and keyboard accessories that can attach to them.

Honest question; can you name a few? Clients and keyboards that work nicely (together)? I tried and to make it short; they all suck. The ones I tried that is. For pocket fit I haven't found a nicer feeling / working one than my ancient Zaurus C860 running Linux which I still use for that purpose.

Nokia E7 with putty works for me.

I know, I have an Xperia Z and a Bluetooth keyboard. I miss the slide out keyboard of my Google G1. Carrying around a keyboard as well just doesn't happen when you want it to. The choice between tablet and netbook is the same. The perfect form factor still escapes us I think.

But very few xterm applications. SSH without a terminal emulator to use it is no SSH client at all.

In my experience, the critical threshold for a display to become useable for a general purpose has been one megapixel.

Office displays progressed from 1024x768 to 1280x1024, and in most cases did not need to go further to 1600x1200. My laptop is useable at 1366x768, whereas lower resolutions aren't. And my phone is about right at 1280x720, whereas I could neither type nor browse the web on 800x480.

I'm sad to say it, but I'll be waiting for the second generation.

A "second generation"? The Neo900 is essentially the 4th or 5th generation of the N770 (c. 1995?). Not much has, or likely will be, changed since then, dimensionally.

Its not a phone that's best for web browsing. Its a phone that is capable of doing everything else using what's known as a "terminal emulator", something likely unavailable on your phone you're going to buy instead. At least not a stock one supporting a Bourne Shell (c. 1970s?) using Debian-based Linux standard utilities (c. 1990s?).

Because if you care more about a (slightly less small) small screen than everything else the Neo900 offers, you're going to be waiting a long time.

and here I was happy and amazed when I got a 640 x 480 display

Well, going from 320x240 to 640x320 is a huge leap. After that you start to hit diminishing returns, I guess.

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