This magazine has voiced several concerns over the almost de-facto state of vendor lock-in in the mobile market and with good reason. What is the point of free software if the hardware locks your access to it? This premise was one of the driving forces behind v3 of the GPL and as far as I can tell the OpenPC project and other open hardware projects. But most of these hardware projects relate to the desktop PC model. Where is the equivalent commodity hardware for the mobile market, the tablet "market" or even the laptop one?
Like many free software users, I am greatly encouraged by the number of mobile phones that are starting to come out running some form of embedded Linux-based OS. Nokia's Maemo and Palm's webOS are shaping up and it seems every day we hear of yet another Android device. All of this is good news, but just how useful are these free software phones to the free software lover? Not as much as they could be it seems.
Like many people who aren't able to get DSL, I use mobile broadband. Typically, at least in Ireland and the UK, you are forced to purchase a modem with your contract. What if you want other devices in your house to use this broadband and you don't want to fork out several hundred wing wangs for a mobile broadband router like the Novatel MiFi when you have a perfectly good modem and wireless router already? In Ubuntu you can setup the modem-connected machine as a robust router/firewall using the in-built Network Manager, Firestarter, and optionally, Gadmin DHCPD.
These days, almost everyone has a cell phone; cell phones keep getting faster, smarter, and more capable, yet relatively few applications exist for them. The Hecl programming language makes it easy to script applications for your cell phone—with just a few lines of code, you can create applications that you can carry with you, everywhere.
Easy cell phone applications with Hecl
JR: Hey Matthew, to start if you could introduce yourself and tell us a bit about OpenedHand.
MA: Hi. I’m a 32 year old father, husband, free software hacker and boss man of OpenedHand. I live in London, UK. Beyond making Linux better on devices my other interests include modern design, comics (a big fan of the likes of Ed Brubaker, Alan Moore, etc.) and table tennis (current office champion—first rule of OpenedHand: let the boss win at ping-pong). I’m the author of various pieces of free software, including Matchbox, Xephyr and most recently Clutter.