Openmoko's Neo FreeRunner smart phone for Linux now available
Out of the box the Neo FreeRunner will accept any SIM with an active calling plan and should then function as a basic phone. Much of the additional functionality is still in the developer stage and Linux skills are required to get many of them to work. At present new versions of the firmware are posted almost every day on the Openmoko web site. Openmoko will eventually release a 'consumer' version with fully functional, stable software.
The Neo FreeRunner GTA02 succeeds the Neo 1973 GTA01 by FIC. The Openmoko project used the Neo 1973 to start developing an open source platform for Linux smart phones last year. The Neo FreeRunner was initially scheduled for release in October 2007 and was to replace the Neo 1973, which was only produced in small quantities. However, Openmoko repeatedly rescheduled the release of the Neo FreeRunner, and even at the LinuxTag 2008 in late May nobody knew when the smart phone would finally hit the high streets. This caused bottlenecks for the developers when the last Neo 1973 was sold in February 2008.
Unlike the Neo 1973, which was exclusively used as a development platform for the open source community, higher volume production is planned for the Neo FreeRunner to attract the first general users. However, Openmoko's current firmware features remain a long way behind those of modern mobile phones. Now that the Neo FreeRunner has become available, instead of using an emulator, the development community can at least test new applications with a real device.
The Neo FreeRunner is currently the only open platform Linux smart phone available from retailers. Openmoko has, therefore, beaten both the LiMo Foundation and the Open Handset Alliance (Google Android) who are also working on open platform for Linux smart phones, but so far, have only presented a few prototypes
Truebox says it has already sold out on its first batch, shipped on the 25th of June. They have more on order, are currently taking enquiries and their price is £272 including VAT and postage.