HantsLUG meeting: Openmoko

We held this month’s HantsLUG meeting yesterday. It was relatively quiet, but a good meeting nevertheless. I gave a talk on ssh – part two of my series on basic cryptographic software (part one was on GPG, part three will be X.509 certificates). There were also talks on Bacula and BackupPC from Damian and Adrian repsectively.

We had some interesting hardware along for the day – Laura brought her new OLPC, and Daviey had a Neo1973 running Qtopia.

I was most interested in the hardware, as I’d never seen on in the flesh before, but seeing Qtopia was useful, too. The phone is lighter than I’d expected, and slightly smaller than I’d imagined (which is good). The screen was high resolution, with very small pixels (reminiscent of a 1920x1280 15″ laptop), and nice contrast. I didn’t test it out outside, which I probably should have done. The touch function of the screen was also good, and the UI was more responsive than the one on the Nokia N810 that Daviey also had.

I found the Qtopia interface slightly awkward, as the main menu is entirely pictorial, with no written hints on what the icons actually do. The glyph-based input method wasn’t easy to use, either, but I suspect that was because I didn’t know what the glyphs were meant to look like. Fortunately, it has a couple of keyboard emulations for input, too, which are fine to use with a stylus. I’ll probably be on the lookout for a fold-up Bluetooth keyboard at some point, I suspect.

I think I’ll definitely be getting an Openmoko Freerunner when they come out. (Actually, I’d already decided to do that anyway, but it’s nice to have fondled the hardware beforehand, too). Even if the Openmoko software isn’t usable, Qtopia looks like it is, so there’s a fallback if that bit all goes wrong.