[Replicant] Wanting a freedom phone

Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli GNUtoo at cyberdimension.org
Mon Sep 6 22:38:43 UTC 2021


On Fri, 27 Aug 2021 11:13:56 -0400
Joshua Branson <jbranso at dismail.de> wrote:

> I'd be ok with a dumb phone!  What phones use that OsmocomBB modem?
The osmocomBB has a list of phones that it supports[1].

The thing to check out is if they have free bootloaders as well or how
you want to load the code. On some phones you can replace the nonfree
bootloader. On some other there is probably a ROM bootloader.

The big limitation is that the layer 2 and 3 of the GSM stack have to
run on GNU/Linux. So you need a computer that code, and that computer
has to be always on, and always connected to the phone.

Me and Alan Carvalho de Assis picked up work that had started earlier
to lift these limitations and we even upstreamed part of it in Nuttx,
but at some point we both didn't have the time anymore to continue
working on that, and so the code was even removed from Nuttx as it
ended up being maintained.

At the end I even rushed to get the full layer1 on top of Nuttx in the
hope that someone else would pick up that work as I knew I would not
have time to work on it anymore, and I even managed to scan the
networks but it hanged during the scan (probably due to a compiler bug
that was fixed later on in osmocomBB).

Though if you want to revive that work it's probably better to not rush
and try to continue to do that with clean code instead, like we did
with Nuttx.

I also wonder if Nuttx is the best upstream for such work. We went to
Nuttx as the person who did the initial work used that. 

The advantage of Nuttx was that the driver model is quite similar to
Linux. The disadvantage is the license situation.

The license of Nuttx is a mix of weak copyleft licenses (BSD, etc), and
the license of osmocomBB is a mix of GPL licenses, so when we didn't
write the drivers ourselves we had to ask for permission before
sending the patches, in order to re-license the code we needed to
upstream.

References:
-----------
[1]https://osmocom.org/projects/baseband/wiki/Phones#TI-Calypso-based.

Denis.
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