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Return to Distributions.

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About distributions

Openmoko distributions are designed to run on various mobile devices, with the primary aim of supporting Openmoko Inc.'s Neo 1973 and Neo FreeRunner phones. They are GNU/Linux distributions -- complete operating systems including user applications. You can install any of them on your phone or even have a dualboot system with two distributions installed. For downloads see Download, for installation instructions see Flashing the Neo FreeRunner.

Besides, Openmoko distributions also run on other mobile devices and some other software distributions also run on the phones of Openmoko Inc.

Choosing a distribution

  • Official/current. As of December 2008, the phones ship with Om 2007.2. It is not supported by Openmoko Inc. anymore. But community developers continue to work on its phone stack in the SHR project. The branch currently supported by Openmoko Inc. is Om 2008.12 Update, which is the second minor upgrade of Om 2008.8 (the version formerly named ASU).
  • Official/future. The current trunk tip is a "base image" on which the next major release should be based. This next release can be previewed by installing milestones of the FSO - Free Smartphone.Org project. If you want to develop anything that last, your platform is FSO (and the choice between EFL, GTK+, Qt, Java, Python or whatever is open). The Debian packaging team also track that branch.
  • Openmoko community. Based on Om 2008.8, the community made the FDOM distribution by adding lots of fixes and applications to it. Most new users find FDOM the most comprehensive and functional distribution.
  • Other community. The FreeRunner is also a reference platform for TrollTech's Qt Extended (formerly Qtopia) distribution. If you want "just a working phone", try Qtopia.
  • Other communities. Android work is in progress; Debian and Gentoo are for people who do not need to ask which distribution they should use.


Please note

  • Stable in the FreeRunner world does not mean the same thing as stable in the Debian world.
  • Most distributions use the same bootloader, kernel, drivers and hardware. Therefore, the same low level bugs are commonly found in all distributions. The latest and greatest software usually has most bug fixes, plus a whole set of new fresh bugs.
  • Most of these distributions also have package repositories. It is a BAD idea to feed from another distribution's repository.
  • Upgrade path between these distributions are mostly not tested, thus updating by changing the feeds will most likely end in broken packages or even an unbootable system. It is advisable to reflash the whole filesystem with dfu-util to switch between the different distributions, with the reminder that a dual-boot setup (e.g. via sdcard or NFS) can be used.

Official Openmoko releases

'Release targets' offered by Openmoko Inc. are built out of different branches of the OpenEmbedded metadistribution source tree.

Om series

Main article: Om 2008.12 Update

  • Om 2008.9 Update is the first point release after the initial Om 2008.8 release. Openmoko recommends that all existing installations of Om 2008.8 should be updated to that version. Quality-wise, we are still far from the goal, but this version includes general stability enhancing operating system improvements and a new splash screen. No applications were added or removed. Users with basic telephony needs will find it tolerable as an everyday phone.
Main article: Om 2008.9 Update

  • Om 2008.8 was released on August 8, 2008, to replace 2007.2. Prior to that, its codename was ASU (April/August Software Update). This is still the name of the branch in the version control system. This distribution integrates the Qtopia phone stack with a set of new Openmoko applications based on the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries. Qtopia being a more mature product than the GNOME Mobile stack, the standard phone applications (dialer, contacts, calculator, calendar) work better than in 2007.2. The Qtopia used in 2008.8 was ported to run on X11, contrary to standard Qtopia which uses the framebuffer. This allows non-Qt applications to safely share the screen with Qt applications. This is a .0 release, many unresolved issues remain in the lower layers (kernel power management, sound, wifi drivers...).
Main article: Om2008.8

  • Om 2007.2 is the base-system which is installed on FreeRunner when it leaves the factory. The interface was totally finger-oriented, optimized for 285ppi, and very orange. It used the GTK+ stack, which is part of the GNOME Mobile platform. This distribution is now considered obsolete and not being worked on by Openmoko Inc or by OpenedHand. There is a community effort (see SHR) to port the GTK based telephony applications to the future middleware from FSO.
Main article: Om 2007.2

FSO series

FSO is an abbreviation for FreeSmartphone.Org. Openmoko is working on a stable system services back-end. Focus is on stable highlevel services that you can access from whatever language or UI that supports dbus. The framework will be used in forthcoming Openmoko distributions. FSO is all about middleware, but if one stacks a bootloader+kernel under it and telephony applications on top, one gets a functional distribution. These are made available as FSO-image milestones.

  • FSO Milestone IV was released on November 11th, 2008 and named 'Homework'. People report that despite its infancy, the phone server part in FSO is already more solid than anywhere else. The kernel under it is a Linux 2.6.24 with modules packaged separately. The telephony application on top of it is Zhone. This is a basic Python dialer/homescreen designed as scaffolding to test the FSO functionalities (even if Zhone is pretty, code path coverage is more critical to it than user-friendliness).
Main article: FSO

Openmoko community releases

SHR - Stable Hybrid Release

SHR is a community driven distribution. It contains some basic GTK+ based applications which make use of the FSO. There currently is a EFL (with elementary) dialer, messages and contacts application programmed in C. As of November 9th, 2008, there is no stable release of this distribution yet, as the SHR team doesn't feel it to be good enough. You can find images though on the SHR buildhost.

Main article: Stable Hybrid Release

FDOM (FAT and Dirty Openmoko)

FDOM is a distribution based on Openmoko's currently supported image, updated with many ready-to-use applications and with fixes posted in the mailing lists. A combination of applications (everything goes) and fixes to demonstrate the capabilities of the Freerunner and to have a functional phone (sort of). This all while retaining the ability to update through the official feeds.

Main article: FDOM

Non-Openmoko distributions

These are not Openmoko (and OE) based distributions. These are alternatives you can run on your Openmoko phones.

Qt Extended

The Qt Extended distribution was formerly known as Qtopia up to version 4.3.x included. It comes from Trolltech, a Nokia company, the makers of the Qt cross-platform application framework. This distribution aims to provide a ready-to-use image for Openmoko devices. It features a noticeably robust telephony stack. Recent release 4.4.2 also sports a webkit-based web browser and Gtalk support.

Main article: Qtopia / Qt Extended on FreeRunner


Debian is "the universal operating system". It comes with thousands and thousands of packages (most of them designed for desktops or servers so far). So in the words of Joachim "nomeata" Breitner from the pkg-fso team, this is not really a distribution in the Openmoko sense of the word, but rather a different underlying system for Openmoko distributions. At the moment, we ship the software from the FSO stack, but hopefully we’ll also have, for example, the Stable Hybrid Release software in our archive. So for now, Debian is a different way of installing FSO, which takes more space and provides more programs :-)

Main article: Debian


Gentoo is all about choices. When installing Gentoo, this is made clear to you several times -- you can choose how much you want to compile yourself, how to install Gentoo, what system logger you want, etc. Gentoo is a fast, modern metadistribution with a clean and flexible design. Gentoo is built around free software and doesn't hide from its users what is beneath the hood. Portage, the package maintenance system which Gentoo uses, is written in Python, meaning you can easily view and modify the source code. Gentoo's packaging system uses source code (although support for precompiled packages is included too) and configuring Gentoo happens through regular textfiles. In other words, openness everywhere.

Main article: Gentoo


Android is a mobile phone platform by Google, and later the Open Handset Alliance (OHA). Openmoko is fully supporting Android running on the Freerunner. Details along with images are being constructed at the moment. Visit the user web page for Sean McNeil for further details. And you can download kernel and image here. To boot the Kernel you have to adjust your u-boot environment to support a Kernel of more then 2 MB or your have to change to the Qi Bootloader.

Main article: Android


Hackable1 is a community distribution for hackable devices like the Neo Freerunner. It is based on Debian and implements the GNOME mobile platform.

Main article: Hackable:1

Others / unreleased

  • The NeoPwn network auditng system's core is a modified Linux 2.6.24 kernel, with cross-compiled module driver support for the numerous compatible addon devices running on a FULL Debian (ARMEL) operating system. The filesystem has been optimized for performance and size and includes the NeoPwn menu system and several GUI dialogs for hardware control and attack automation. Status: Unknown, the GPL requires source code to be distributed only to customers.
  • RunningBear is an innovative, yet free and open-source Operating System for hackable devices driven by Bearstech. Lightweight, Portable, Secure, Friendly and Useful. Status: In development.
  • Poky and Sato, by OpenedHand/Intel. An open source platform build tool derived from OE. It is a complete software development environment for the creation of Linux devices. It enables you to design, develop, build, debug, and test a complete, modern, software stack using Linux, the X Window System and GNOME Mobile based application frameworks for both ARM and x86 based platforms. Status: The "Nightly Build" Image works fine on Neo Freerunner, but phone functionality doesn't.
  • PyNeo pyneo is a stack for mobile devices excessivly using dbus, glib and evas. Mickey Lauer used most of the technics & architecture, library & language choices of pyneo in fso. Status: still active, ask around on #neo1973-germany
  • mySTEP by Openmoko distributor Golden Delicious Computers is based on GNUstep and brings a Objective-C API to the Neo. Core GUI frameworks are "Foundation" & "AppKit". It has been shown on FOSDEM 2008, LinuxTag 2008 and SYSTEMS 2008 to run on the Neo 1973. If someone reengineers UIKit, (open) source code compatibility to iPhone apps appears achievable. Status: it does not have its own kernel so a Freerunner distribution waits for a solid basis and an arm-linux-gnueabi toolchain that runs natively on Mac OS X is currently lacking.

Features by distribution/release target

Generally, distributions can differ on one or more of the following components:

  • The bootsplash screen image. This is purely decorative.
  • The bootloader. Theoretically, any version of uboot could be used with any distribution. In the future Qi will replace uboot.
  • The kernel. GNU/Linux kernels versions 2.6.24, 2.6.26 or 2.6.28 can be found. Some have modules compiled in, others have modules compiled separately. If compiled separately, modules can be distributed in the same package file as the kernel or separately.
  • Middleware: daemons to handle GSM calls or GPS, sound system, personal information storage and so on. Qt and Android have their own subsystems, FreeSmartphone.Org (FSO) is working towards a standard-based Free Software one.
  • Display driver. The original Qt Extended uses the framebuffer, most other distributions today use X11.
  • Libraries and application framework (widget toolkit and and graphical environment) : EFL, Qt, Gtk+ or Java ?
  • Basic telephony applications: voice calls, SMS, alarm clock...
  • Smartphone applications: GPS, media player, simple games, web browser...
  • Open source applications: more games, scientific, you name it...

Hardware Support

Om 2008.8 Om 2007.2 FSO SHR FDOM Qt Extended Debian Gentoo Android
GTA01  ??  ??  ?? yes  ?? yes yes  ??  ??
GTA02 yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes


Om 2008.8 Om 2007.2 FSO SHR FDOM Qt Extended Debian Gentoo Android
Telephony yes yes yes yes yes yes yes (1)  ?? yes
SMS yes yes yes yes yes yes yes (1)  ?? yes
GPRS Not through UI Not through UI Not through UI Not through UI yes yes yes (1)  ?? yes
WiFi yes (*) yes Not through UI yes yes yes yes  ?? yes
VoIP  ??  ??  ??  ?? yes yes (1) yes  ?? no
Bluetooth yes yes no  ?? yes yes yes  ?? yes
GPS (1) yes (1) yes yes yes yes yes yes (1)  ?? yes


Om 2008.8 Om 2007.2 FSO SHR FDOM Qt Extended Debian Gentoo Android
Suspend  ??  ??  ?? yes yes yes  ??  ??  ??
Resumes on Event  ??  ??  ?? yes yes no  ??  ??  ??
Functions after Resume  ??  ??  ?? yes no no ??  ??  ??

User Interaction

Om2008.8 2007.2 FSO SHR FDOM Qt Extended Debian Gentoo Android
Stylus friendly yes yes yes yes yes yes yes  ?? yes
Finger friendly Partially Partially Partially yes yes yes no  ?? yes
Accelerometer yes (1)(1) no no yes (1) yes no yes  ?? yes


Om 2008.8 2007.2 FSO SHR FDOM Qt Extended Debian Gentoo Android
Terminal yes (1) Basic (2) yes yes yes yes yes  ??  ??
PIM yes yes no N/A yes yes yes (1)  ??  ??
Phonebook yes yes yes yes yes yes yes (1)  ?? yes
Dialer yes yes yes yes yes yes yes (1)  ?? yes
Web Browser yes (1) yes (1)  ? yes yes yes yes (1)  ?? yes
Mail Client yes  ?  ?  ? yes yes yes (1)  ?? yes
XMPP Client yes (1) yes (1)  ?  ? yes yes yes (1)  ??
Media Player yes (1) yes  ? yes yes yes yes (1)  ?? yes

Toolkits / Runtimes

Om 2008.8 2007.2 FSO SHR FDOM Qt Extended Debian Gentoo Android
GTK+ yes yes yes yes yes no yes  ??  ??
Qt/Qt Extended yes no yes  ? yes ? yes yes yes  ??  ??
Middleware qtopia-x11 gsmd/neod FSO FSO qtopia-x11 Qt Extended FSO  ??  ??
Java Jalimo Jalimo Jalimo Jalimo yes  ?? CacaoVM, JamVM  ??  ??
Python yes yes yes yes yes yes yes  ??  ??
Mono yes (1) yes (1)  ?? no  ??  ?? yes (1)  ??  ??
Ruby yes  ??  ??  ??  ??  ?? yes (1)  ??  ??


Latest and stable combinations for Neo FreeRunner gta02

OM FDOM Qt Extended Android
current bootloader U-Boot from OM daily version gta02v5_and_up U-Boot from OM daily version gta02v5_and_up U-Boot from OM daily version gta02v5_and_up
future bootloader Qi from Andy latest qi-andy.udfu Qi from Andy latest qi-andy.udfu Qi from Andy latest qi-andy.udfu
splash U-Boot from OM releases or OM daily latest splash.gz U-Boot from OM releases or OM daily latest splash.gz U-Boot from OM releases or OM daily latest splash.gz
kernel Linux from OM releases or OM daily latest uImage.bin Linux from mwester latest uImage-gta02-mwester-stable.bin or from treviño latest uImage-gta02-stable-3v1n0.bin Linux from mwester latest uImage-gta02-mwester-stable.bin or from treviño latest uImage-gta02-stable-3v1n0.bin Linux from McNiel version 2.6.26-android
modules  ? Linux from mwester latest modules-min-gta02-mwester-stable.tgz or modules-all-gta02-mwester-stable.tgz Linux from mwester latest modules-min-gta02-mwester-stable.tgz or modules-all-gta02-mwester-stable.tgz
rootfs OM from OM releases or OM daily latest rootfs.jffs2 FDOM from TuxBrain version 200809_20081023 QtExtended from TrollTech latest qtextended-gta02-flash.tgz or from Hypnotize latest qtextended-gta02-rootfs-release-working.jffs2 Android from McNiel version android


(1) works, but need additional software to be installed

(2) unusable due to lack of certain keyboard characters. Various fixes available.

(*) unstable

Quick download page


See also

  • Mickey Lauer's post "GTK, ASU, FSO, TMTLA!" describes the differences between distributions 2007.2, ASU and FSO.