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FreeRunner update: Qtextended and Debian [05 Nov 2008|12:20am]

Currently I have Debian installed on my SD card, and Qtextended 4.4.2 on the flash. This is just a quick summary of what I've been working on lately.

Random Debian thoughts on my mind:

  • The Debian install by default includes the experimental repository in /etc/apt/sources.list. I took that out. Maybe I shouldn't, but so far I haven't seen any negative consequences.
  • I downgraded the bluez package to what was in unstable. After downgrading bluez, I have hidd back again, and can pair with my FrogPad with hidd --search. I also had to add a stanza for a keyboard to xorg.conf since the default config does not have one. Pairing was not working at all with the "new" way bluez handles input devices.
  • Bluetooth doesn't turn on at boot, so I have to do that manually. I just made a shell script for now, using the commands from the wiki.
  • I'm using aux.sh script to do right-clicking. Thanks to lindi in #openmoko-debian. Another way to do this is to use dgym's fr-toolbar, which I was using but stopped while I was experimenting with xrandr and screen rotation — fr-toolbar doesn't work very well with the rotated screen.
  • I was experimenting with xfce but couldn't get xfcewm to stop opening windows larger than my screen (yes, I tried setting workspace margins). So I installed Fluxbox and switched to using that for the window manager. It's okay but I will probably switch to something else, like awesome.
  • I've been playing chess with Xboard + GNU Chess, playing solitaire with the ace-of-penguins games, doing GPS with TangoGPS, and accessing wifi networks using Wifi Radar. I have not really been using it as a phone. I had it in a broken state from hacking on things and for the time being have put my SIM card back in my Nokia E61 — but I set up the FreeRunner to tether over bluetooth to the Nokia so that I can surf using Midori on the FR via my T-Mobile GPRS even with the SIM in the Nokia.
  • I fixed my boot issues, which I think were caused by the Debian configure-uboot.sh script that was supposed to allow me to boot straight into Debian. For an embarrassingly long time I've been booting from the boot menu, because if I tried to just boot straightaway it would freeze. These instructions worked fine to restore it.
  • But then I had to restore the partition table on the SD card — I guess there is a problem with suspend/resume that messes up the table. The phone went into suspend while I was using Qtextended and there went the neighborhood. Recovery isn't too bad though, I just booted into Qtextended and did "SD_PART1_FS=vfat ./install.sh partition" with the Debian install script. No data loss (though I did do a full backup before booting into Qtextended).

With Qtextended 4.4.2:

  • I just installed this today to test it out. It has a web browser now (webkit), which seems quite nice except for the fact that I can't enter passwords. The keyboard just refuses to appear when focus is on a password form field.
  • GPRS works just fine, using the previous instructions I wrote for myself for earlier versions of Qtopia.
  • I imported my contacts with "LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/opt/Trolltech/Qtopia/lib /opt/Trolltech/Qtopia/bin/addressbook /home/root/addressbook.vcf". I'm happy to see that the contacts database now has a browse-by-letter system. Browsing the contacts in earlier versions was a serious pain.
  • There have definitely been improvements in the predictive keyboard. It's still maddening sometimes, but my main complaint — that there were way too many times when I was forced to delete an entire word I was typing when I really only needed to delete the most recent character typed — seems to have been addressed. I will say that the keyboard is also much more pleasant to use with the stylus, especially when holding on the letters to type words not in the dictionary.
  • Unfortunately it does not seem to be receiving calls well at all. Substantially worse in fact. I get an ear-piercing screech, and multiple calls registered when there is only one.
  • Screen rotation is new and seems to be working okay. There is some mild distortion in the status bar and artifacts left around the screen while using the predictive keyboard, but it basically works. It's not automatic via the accelerometer though; the user has to select it from the Settings menu. I'd show you some screenshots but I haven't figured out how to do that yet as the old screenshot app seems to be missing.

On a happy dorky note, I finally found and bought a pen today that has a stylus in it as well. So I can stop carrying around the atrocity that ships with the FreeRunner. Coincidentally it's the same kind of pen I've been using for years — the Papermate PhD.

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