Open Source - MuditaOS

Good morning (UGT) all! I’d also like to share my 2cc, as I think are are a certain number of arguments that have been omitted here. First though, I’d like to share to the Mudita team how awesome I think their work is. You guys did an awesome job trying to build really cool technology, and that’s something I deeply appreciate.

Now, firstly, I think most of the classical reasons to support making MuditaOS free software have already been quoted. Most tie back to values that Mudita has already shown with hardware: ethically sourced, and with privacy and user respect at the core. Both the privacy, security and bug-fixing advantages have already been discussed. Therefore, the rest of my arguments will focus elsewhere.

My second point is that having read the forum, blog, and product presentation, there seem to be at least two different communities here. The first is people just looking for a high-quality wise phone. All they expect to do with it is calling and SMS; an e-ink screen and SMS threading are probably the two features that will bring them over, and that’s done. The second community we see more in this thread is the low-tech part of the hacker community. We don’t want a smartphone because it tracks us, the hardware is impossible to repair, etc… Those users are usually harder to please as to the feature set they want: each individual want this or that functionality this way or that, and they’re ready to pay for it in money and hacking time. Half the apps on my “smart” phone are self-coded. None of them require the internet other than for an occasional sync. This is where making MuditaOS free software would actually have, IMHO, a strong initial revenue advantage: you would immediately be a favorite of this community. Most people I know from this environment have been looking for an open-source wise phone for years now, with no success. Look at how many of the above posts say: if I can read the code, it’s an instant buy. I second that. I personally know a dozen people who second that. Recurse…

My third point is about what exactly would happen if that were the case. Community management has been mentioned above, but most people arguing against or even for seem to imply this would mean having some kind of app store, or that it would make the software somehow less safe. Why would that be the case? What most of us want is just the ability to obtain the code and flash the result. Mudita has no need to manage or accept mergebacks. If it appears that most people are running a custom version with this special feature independantly added, they can integrate it. Or not! Same for “apps”, or any part of the OS really. Making it FOSS would not enable competition, as the hardware is closed. It would not downgrade security, as people can stay safe with signed updates, or custom compile. It would not require necessarily more work, as how much the company decides to integrate work from the community - and hence the amount of work required, and saved by having others code - is completetly up to them. As a side note, why Github ? FOSS simply requires you to give us a copy of the code to download. If you want to make the developpment process public, then yes use a public git repo tool like cgit. If you want to enable forking and mergebacks from the community, then use a community developpment tool like gitea, gitlab, github… But it’s definitely not a requirement. And an app store seems like a horrible idea to me. If I want another feature, I’ll patch the sources before compiling and flashing them.

This brings me to a slight sidetrack about Signal. Firstly, most people don’t seem to realize that signal doesn’t encrypt SMSs, it actually sends it’s own messages over IP to a propriatary centralized server. So without internet access, it doesn’t work, and it’s in no way private, as they collect all the metadata of your comms, which is what matters anyway. If you want true privacy, use an E2E decentralized communication protocol like Matrix; and if you want to do that without an internet access, well tough luck because GSM is just too old. The addition of a signal client in MuditaOS would be a downside for me, and I’d probably try to compile a version without it. When we communicate, even be it using a pen & paper later, we leave tracks. Those are unavoidable, and securing the phone infrastructure can certainly not be done by one device: the whole thing needs to be rebuilt. I’d rather we stick with well-known, debuggable, audited standards instead of centralizing for one custom solution.

Back to the main point of making this FOSS, I’d also like to mention that whatever you guys decide, your software will be broken. No iPhone has resisted jailbreaking. No Android custom overlay has resisted rooting. If you close sources, people will RE them. If you don’t provide a tool to flash the OS, people will write it. It will be leaked. But, if you enable the community, they will give back: it’s win-win. If you lock us in, we won’t: it’s win for us, and loose for you. A simple example: your app provides the ability to sync to “Google/Apple calendar & contacts”. What you probably mean is that you have cal/cardDAV support. Now, if I want to sync with my own server, and I dislike GUIs and want to use a CLI client ? Either I have the sources and I can get coding and be all happy, or I don’t, and I’ll spend some time sniffing the USB traffic and then get coding. But in one case you’ve made me happy and I’ll sing your praises to all my network and share the tool and maybe it’s going to be good enough that you can integrate it. In the other, I’m going to use the device as long as it works, then go somewhere else, and tell my friends not to buy. Etc… And just to be clear because writing doesn’t allow for tone: I’m really not trying to be threatening or anything! I love you guys. These are just facts I’ve observed from spending a long time with people who like to make their tech work just like they want. You were unhappy with the current phones, so are we. Your base product is almost perfect with regard to what we need, and it cannot be better than that as all individuals are different. But giving us the power to make it exactly as we do want it, that makes it perfect. And makes you heroes, and unique on the market. It shows you care about your users, and value your community, accepting that you cannot possibly cater to it’s whole diversity, but that you can enable it.

This leads to the final part of this post: users have a common base expectation for features wich you provide: phone, messaging, calendaring…
But there are many, many things that an offline phone can still do to make your life easier without taking up your attention. And the very people who want those specific feature matrix are ready to code it! What a shame it would be to not harness that (in fact, the problem of diversity of the requested feature matrix an resulting workload has popped up in several other threads around here). Here are a few examples of what I’d like to see in my phone software wise (because HW-wise, the e-ink display is just the killer feature), and would code if given a chance, either as a job, or for me in my free time:

  • Proper PIM with calendar and contact sync from multiple sources. This only available when plugged in to a laptop is fine.
  • Event displaying/reminders. My phone can be wise/offline and still remind me of where my next meeting is, or that it’s auntie foobar’s birthday.
  • Voice notes.
  • Custom ringtones and vibration patterns (morse code!) based on contacts. I love the idea of whitelisting contacts in do not disturb mode, it’s one of the reasons I keep my “smart” phone. But I also like knowing if it’s family, my SO, or an unknown numer calling without even looking at my device.
  • Presenting your contact card as a QR code. It avoids printing paper cards, and if you’re social enough and meet new people regularly, it’s a life saver.
  • Completely disabling the bluetooth stack. Security-wise, it is such a mess that I BIOS disable it everywhere, and remove the code for it in-kernel.
    To conclude, software-wise, you guys have provided the basic survival minimum, and that’s exactly what we want to buy. But after that, it’s all about individual customization, and along all the other previously mentioned advantages and arguments (the ethical argument is actually much more important to me, but it’s been gone through relatively thoroughly above), giving us the power to customaize is an absolute selling feature.

Cheers!


P.S.: Please announce your definitive decision before closing pre-orders: it would be such a shame to not get the 20% because we’re waiting for an anwer :stuck_out_tongue:
P.P.S.: If as your next device, you guys want to make an e-ink wall calendar with regular caldav sync over wifi, you’ll probably find it a big success!

7 Likes

That’s some really good points, and I generally agree with your feature requests too. Though I wouldn’t say there’s no smartphone alternatives: Fairphone, Pinephone, Librem, Postmarket are some to consider.

1 Like

@daniel those are all smartphones and not smartphone alternatives…

@William_Mills For me the appeal of the Mudita is the promise of a phone that doesn’t want to be online, ever A phone that allows you to be reachable, but that doesn’t reach out to you. A phone with buttons, that you can type on with your eyes closed (T9!). A phone you can listen your favourite music on againa nad and again and again :headphones:. A phone that can wake you in the morning :alarm_clock:. That can memorize your grocery list :memo: and spoken memos :studio_microphone: on the go. That can call the police :police_car: if you press 112 :telephone_receiver:

Social media without internet access doesn’t make sense. And it’s not Mudita’s task to put you in a technological jail. You still have to make your own decisions, no matter which device you are using.

2 Likes

Thanks @sparrowhawk for your arguments and welcome to the conversation! I second this: please announce your decision before closing pre-sales! If this phone is open source I would immediately buy it.

I really think most people that are against open sourcing this OS are making flawed judgements. Showing how the phone works on the inside doesn’t mean less income for Mudita, unless they are planning on charging money for software updates. And it’s not a matter of deciding IF the software will be enhanced by free spirited developers, but HOW. Either the OS will be open source and a community will form to make this the most awesome phone to keep your sanity in this crazy world (without tempting anyone to install any apps), or it will be closed and some people will figure out how to reverse engineer it anyway.

3 Likes

Open source doesn’t imply letting go of copyright. Mudita still holds the copyright and any derivative works can be forced to share their code back so that any improvements would directly benefit the source. Any competition that wants to outshine Mudita would have a very hard time.

5 Likes

@thinkround 100% agree. This is exactly how GPL works.

Cheers,
Lukasz

6 Likes

…or alternative smartphones, depending on your preferred verbiage.

I’m currently reading this thread as it’s been a while since I’ve not been there. And I see that the open source problematic is still present.

I wonder then why people are so focused on using an opensource OS ? As I often say , all is about the right decision, for the right situation. If the open source OS isn’t the right decision for the company, maybe that it’s because it wasn’t the right moment.

I personally think that open source isn’t always the right solution. It’s good for projects that need a high diversity of skills, or ambitious scientific/IT projects. Concerning Mudita, it’s a very unique, still newborn project, that needs to grow. I feel like the Team has to get things done step by step.

Finally, the question isn’t really about how they should do it (at least, it’s not the right question at this moment), neither if they should do it or not. For me, the question is mostly about if it’s useful for the company to make the OS open source, and if it is, when to make it so.

PS: I second @Filip_Popescu as well. :3

Love and Balance ^^

1 Like

I belive the prevelance of questions about releasing the MuditaOS as opensource project, points to the fact it has become one of the key selling points of this phone.
I’d like to add my - probably too long, and convoluted, but oh well - analysis to this thread.

It’s always the end user that decides what would be the practical application of the device, and i belive the marketing department of Mudita have missed an opportunity (or point) with planning of this phone.
Sure, the phone is innovative in some ways, and designed with quality in mind, but it is also limiting the user by design, and definitely expensive for its capabilities.

The question is who can eaisly forgo the features missing in Mudita phone, and pay the premium for such a device?

I belive those obsessed-with-nature people you see in starbucks, or other venue featuring 100% vegan burgers (oh god, why does this have to exist?) owning 3 instagram accounts each, would not be interested.
It’s common knowledge, the primary reason to become “In tune with nature” nowadays is to tell other people how they are wrong, brainwashed, and slaves to the mainstream media, or to just feel different, while you remain effectively the same, so why would you willingly cut yourself off from social media? (hyperbole intended)
It’s difficult for me to see this phone as a status symbol either (Laughs in iPhone), so why bother?
Sure, there are people who stand up to their ideals out of their sheer will, but is it economically viable to market your product towards exceptions, rather than the larger community?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s certain there is market for this phone among:

  • People who are fed up with the quality of feature phones released over the last 5-10 years, that is nothing short of an insult to the customer.
    They just need a good feature phone, that doesn’t fall apart, or have an inherent flaw/flaws that render its features less useful, or useless, i.e. Nokia 3310 2017’s “Less-than-ideal” call speaker, and BT module, in an otherwise excellent phone.
  • People who keep a loaded shotgun around just in case the printer makes an unexpected noise.
    I believe they largerly subscribe to the first point aswell, but as you can see in this thread a lot of people take issue with the system not being released as an open source, and the lack of an encrypted communication client.
  • Seniors, and other gift-recievers, as Mudita would make a great, lasting phone for a less tech savvy person,
    Essentially the less technical, and quality issues, the better :slight_smile:, and here we have an (supposed) epitome of just that.
  • People who ackgnowledge the harmful effect of radiation on the body.
    As it’s the “lesser evil”, you can’t really fix with other devices.
  • People who use their phone as an mp3/audiobook player.
    Good BT module is a rare sight in feature phones, and there’s no eaisly crackable screen either, so why not.

So yeah.
The market is definitely there, though I belive it’s not the market the marketing department of Mudita intended to sell this phone to.
Perhaps it’s about time to reevaluate the concept - at least in the sense software features?

Kind regards
Infiriel

Sure, I can live with a decision at a later point in time. It’s just me and a handful of other persons that are not going to buy the hardware if we have no influence and auditing possibility on the software. I sincerely wish Mudita the courage to make the right decision (and that may not be what I am advocating for)!

To me, it’s obvious now, that T9 predictive text input will be non-existant in the beginning and likely forever. If the OS was open source I could contribute this feature for myself and anyone else that likes T9, but I will not buy a phone that doesn’t do what I need and then beg the manufacturer to develop those features for me. Either the phone comes with the tools to build on it, or it comes with the features that I need. Buying into a walled garden is not an option. That’s also why I am never buying any Apple product anymore and haven’t for the last 6 years.

5 Likes

I would like to see a simple typing game that perhaps outputs a quote of the week, such as “Do or do not, there is no try.”

Timer starts on standard input, insertion point moves forward when you make a correct input, beeps when you make an error, audio of the quote plays on completion.

Great news! We decided to go Open Source with MuditaOS :tada:
Find out more in this new thread and sign up for the Developer Preview!

7 Likes

Yes!!! I am so happy. Glad to hear!

3 Likes

Level 1 - turn it off and on again - IT person here. Hello!
After reading the comments I have a better grasp of what an open source OS would be and what it would mean for the phone. But now that we will have an open source OS, I still some questions if I am understanding correctly…
People can make their own software and apps for the phone. These would go into an “app store” where people could CHOOSE to download or not. (Right?)
Would they be checked or vetted by anyone before being available to download?
Or is it mostly for the capability to change and customize your personal phone?
Would this effect the general phone updates (or versions of the OS) that happen? Would people have a hand in that and be updating those too or would that be just those at Mutida and the panel selected to help?

The things that initially won me to the MutidaPure phone: Low-SAR and no wi-fi, no big tech, privacy, e-ink, and conversational messaging design. Music capabilities was a fun bonus but when it comes to the OS, I admit my knowledge only confidently goes as far as knowing that means, Operating System. So thank you in advance

Open Source does primarily mean that anybody can see and review the code that makes up Mudita OS. If you are not a software developer yourself, the move from closed to open source does not effect you immediately. You will still use the official releases of Mudita OS provided by the company. The Mudita Team will choose which apps they want to include in their official releases. So most likely there is no change in the apps that come with the phone.
However, other enthusiastic code savvy developers might decide that the official release is lacking a specific feature they really want to see. And then they create their own “modified” Mudita OS. And because of the Open Source License, these modifications will once more be open to the public for code review.
If you are a tech savvy user yourself, you might want to try a modified, unofficial version on your own phone.
Or you just wait until the Mudita Team chooses to integrate a certain cool feature developed by someone else in their next official release.
So no, going open source does not necessarily mean there will be an app store or applications you can just download and install onto your phone. (Apples iOS for example is closed source).

4 Likes

Hi @madjam,

thank you for your comment!

People can work with the MuditaOS in the following ways:

  1. Fork it (create a copy of it), change it (write a new app) and upload it to their phones. Changes will be available to others so other people can also install this version of the software. Mudita doesn’t take responsibility for installing such versions.
  2. People can make changes on the original repository which if get approved will land in the official release of MuditaOS and will be available to all users.

As of today, there’s no app store :slight_smile:

Cheers!
Lukasz

6 Likes

Very cool. Thank you, team.

4 Likes

Understood! I am quite relieved. It is much simpler, than it started to sound.
If you have the knowledge, you can get as intricate and customized as you want. If you just want a phone, you have a simple phone. :dove: Sounds like this is a win for the techies and a win for the folks that are just looking for a simple phone.
(As of today, I am glad to hear that :slight_smile:)

So…where can I sign up for this developer panel? :nerd_face: Kidding :wink:

Thank you!

3 Likes

The phone looks awesome and now that it’ll be Open Source I will seriously consider buying it.

4 Likes

That’s fantastic! You sealed the deal for me, now I’m definitely getting one for me and maybe one for my partner as well. I’m looking forward to working on T9 and Emoji support! And maybe an authenticator (TOTP) app as well.

5 Likes