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While Google's Ara Modular Phone Is Dead, Greybus Still Appears To Have A Future

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  • While Google's Ara Modular Phone Is Dead, Greybus Still Appears To Have A Future

    Phoronix: While Google's Ara Modular Phone Is Dead, Greybus Still Appears To Have A Future

    With the Linux 4.9 staging pull request comes the addition of the Greybus subsystem. A major user of the Greybus subsystem was to be Google's Project Ara modular smartphone, but with that initiative recently being canned, it may seem like Greybus is dead but that's not actually the case...

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...ost-Ara-Future

  • DrYak
    replied
    Maybe you should put a few more diodes to protect your cobbled together USB squid from frying itself :-D
    I'm just saying... ;-)

    Leave a comment:


  • caligula
    replied
    Originally posted by DrYak View Post

    Officially: no.
    pre-"usb-3.1 type C" hubs, either charge the device (and the device can be accessed as a guest on some hubes), or act as a hub for the device-in host mode.

    some hubs have a third non-official setting where the hub both act as a hub for the device and put it in host mode *AND* can still charge the device while in host mode.
    (but that requires a phone which can charge and act as a host at the same time - according my hub's docs, some Samsung phone can pull this trick)
    Ok that's great news. I've had my share of problems with USB and hubs. Once I fried my hub when I plugged the same powered hub on the RPi USB host port (to the USB host connector in the hub) and a USB client cable to the carger port of RPi. I tried this because using two power sources, one for Rpi and one for powered hub fried my RPi model B.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrYak
    replied
    Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
    Which means you aren't qualified in the field.
    Yup. I'm more qualified to hack your own guts than those of your phone... :-D

    Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
    And that is a central part of the definition of "modular". Same bus and pinout = all standard slots can house anything.
    Yup. From that point of view : indeed.

    OpenMoko, Jolla, Fairphone 2, etc. :
    all the hacker-friendly phones that up until now have been on the marked and in geeks' pocket have usually only offered *one* "house anything you could dream of" slot. (and in the case of the OpenMoko, given the sluggish interfaces back then, would severly restrict what you can realistically dream of).

    Project Ara :
    On the day when eventually the devices will finally start shipping, you could see more slots available in theory.
    (Or even the whole device being a huge Greybus hub, where *any place* is "able to house anything", like on the artists' mockups.
    But don't dream to see this anytime soon. There's simply no current market for that beyond a few hacker geeks like us on this forum.
    Unless Apple decides to market it. But then you know they will call it "iBus" and it will be absolutely *IN*-compatible with anything else than some newer version of Lightningport protocole).

    Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
    Adding auxiliary stuff over crappy i2C or USB protocols is meh for a screen.
    Yup, fairphone 2 doesn't support MHL, so no way to get some high speed transfer from it.

    Still, together with Jolla, they are the only device that are actually in people's pockets and are designed to enable you to do so.

    Whereas Project Ara will probably be much better one day (GreyBus can embed a lots of more interesting signals than FP2's USB, Jolla's I2C or OpenMoko's ...gasp... UART), but no device currently available. The only device that happens to use GreyBus for something already only use it for some internal stuff.
    Currently, there is no single hacker-friendly device *on the market* that exposes you even a single GreyBus slot for the sole purpose of enabling you to plug in whatever you can dream of.
    And given the current market trends (extensibility isn't something that big brands use as a key bullet-point on their marketing campaigns to make you buy newer gizmos), I'm seriously doubting that we might see such devices anytime soon.

    So, in the meantime : "thank you very much for playing, dear GreyBus, but in the meantime I'll stick to hack the extensions ports that actual real devices provide me rather than salivate in front of artists' renders of what GreyBus could perhaps do one day".
    (Which was what I meant in the post that started this whole discussion).


    Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
    OMG!!!!!! Most mobile devices have an *UNUSED* BLUETOOTH, and you can connect stuff to it too.
    Well, on the other hand, you can't argue that Bluetooth played a huge role in increasing extensibility of PDAs and smartphones and helping them develop into generic multi-purpose pocket computers, instead of single-purpose gadgets.
    Before Bluetooth, you got lucky if your device had a connector that was widespread enough (Palm PDA's connectors, iPod/iPhone 30-pin, etc.) for some maker to bother to design accessories that you can use.

    But that's outside the scope of the discussion.

    Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
    No duh, that's what I said. People adding a module need to come up with a driver.
    Greybus needs no driver.
    supporting *greybus* requires no drivers.
    supporting yet un-planned devices that connects to the greybus could require drivers.

    Leave a comment:


  • starshipeleven
    replied
    Originally posted by DrYak View Post
    Whereas, I'm a goddamn certified doctor.
    Which means you aren't qualified in the field.
    - is that ARA will eventually provide a separate hub, and absolutely the same bus and pinout everywhere (Greybus).
    - whereas Fairphone2 doesn't have a central hub (every element is connected to another one) and the documented pinout and protocol vary by connection.
    And that is a central part of the definition of "modular". Same bus and pinout = all standard slots can house anything.

    All devices are made up of stuff connected over different interfaces, FairPhone 2 is unsoldered and provides docs about it, but it is not modular.

    Actually, yes.
    It has only one screen port. So actually, no. Replacing a screen does not make the device modular.
    Adding auxiliary stuff over crappy i2C or USB protocols is meh for a screen.

    The I2C *WAS NOT USED*.
    OMG!!!!!! Most mobile devices have an *UNUSED* BLUETOOTH, and you can connect stuff to it too. Seriously, no. This is just another interface for expansion but NOT true modular design (bluetooth is more "modular" than it).

    But if you pay attention (specially on the forums) :
    - they plan the possibility to connect better/different parts as long as they follow the same pinout. (So they won't get stuck with the "this exact screen model is out of production" problem that the Fairphone 1 is having currently).
    - the pins are documented. Specially the unused USB pogo-pins at the back-cover are currently unused on purpose, to allow 3rd party hacker to go crazy with their week-end projects.
    Unused exposed interfaces, and documented pinouts. It's expandable, but still not truly modular.

    As a consequence, YOU DO FIND additional drivers made by 3rd party providers
    No duh, that's what I said. People adding a module need to come up with a driver.

    Greybus needs no driver.

    There's no difference in the Linux kernel running on your laptop and on your smartphone.
    This is valid for all embedded devices.

    Fairphone 2 can get installation from Cyanogen mod.
    Not yet.
    It can even get OSes that aren't Android at all, but full blown GNU/Linux.
    Pointless, especially with blobbed drivers.

    Future CPU modules for the Fairphone2 could be designed with a different SoC that accepts a different kernel.
    Well, you could design a new mobo/SoC for most embedded devices too. You just need an engineer and a few hundred thousand dollars cash.

    Leave a comment:


  • DrYak
    replied
    Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
    Thanks for the pointer.


    Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
    I'm a goddamn certified technician, I know the difference.
    Whereas, I'm a goddamn certified doctor.

    Cue in Leonard "Bones" McCoy's "I'm a Doctor, Jim, not a ..." catch phrase....


    Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
    Ara was supposed to fit stuff on a standardized chassis that was only providing electrical contacts and a communication hub.
    As long as you have electrical contacts for modules and the communication hub (and the chassis to make a solid device) you can connect whatever.
    The only difference between ARA (that, again, doesn't exist yet) and Fairphone2/Jolla1/etc (which are on the market and in my actual pocket)
    - is that ARA will eventually provide a separate hub, and absolutely the same bus and pinout everywhere (Greybus).
    - whereas Fairphone2 doesn't have a central hub (every element is connected to another one) and the documented pinout and protocol vary by connection.
    (I'm too lazy to dig the detail for every single module. But the back-cover is USB for the Fairphone 2)
    (And the back-cover is I2C+NFC for the Jolla 1)

    This because it is a MODULAR design. Can you add multiple screens, cameras, mics, storage, batteries on the Fairphone 2? NO, because it is a SERVICEABLE design. TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.
    Actually, yes.
    Not only *can*, but there are people playing with exactly that.
    Screens: Connecting OLED mini-screens, e-ink screens, etc.
    Extra charge: Wireless chargers (both HP/Palm and Qi standards)
    (these are actual exemple of device that people are indeed wiring to the FP2 or Jolla1. Use your Google-Fu to find the websites).

    Although not a FP2, but a Jolla1 example : when then Jolla 1 came out, only the NFC capacity of the back cover was used.
    The I2C *WAS NOT USED*. The engineers didn't plan *ANYTHING* whit it. Instead, they decided to let *3rd party people* decide to do what the fuck they want to with the pogo pins.

    I've got a slide out keyboard on a backcover, connecting over I2C. This thing was never designed by Jolla engineers initially.
    This was designed after the fact by some other guys on a crowdsourcing platform. But because the pogopins use a well established standards (I2C) and are documented, it's possible.

    I plan to connect, not a 2nd battery, but wireless charges for HP/Palm Touchstone - again the pogo pins are documented, to enable such extra capability that the engineers didn't bother to put in the initial device.

    Though yes, the Fairphone 1 - the predecessor to the current flagship product - was only serviceable. You could buy new parts to replace the older one, but that was about it. Nothing left open with the sole purpose to allow you to connect 3 extra screens simultaneously to it.

    They also state it clearly, they made a device that can be REPAIRED so you don't have to throw away everything when something breaks.
    Yeah, that's the official mission that is mentionned on their official marketing material over all channels.

    But if you pay attention (specially on the forums) :
    - they plan the possibility to connect better/different parts as long as they follow the same pinout. (So they won't get stuck with the "this exact screen model is out of production" problem that the Fairphone 1 is having currently).
    - the pins are documented. Specially the unused USB pogo-pins at the back-cover are currently unused on purpose, to allow 3rd party hacker to go crazy with their week-end projects.

    These 2 points are the 2 main new differences introduced in the Fairphone 2.
    Unlike it's predecessor, it goes beyond mere serviceability.

    (And this was the whole marketing concept behind "The Other Half" by Jolla for the Jolla 1)

    Irrelevant, it's not designed to add modules that weren't planned for at the design stage, it's only designed to let me replace components.
    - the USB pogo pins at the backcover of Fairphone 2...
    - the I2C pogo pins at the backcover of Jolla 1...
    WERE NOT PLANNED FOR ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR at the design stage.

    They where intentionally documented and left free for hacker to play with.
    Invent you very own new modules that weren't planned at the design stage.

    You can only add stuff that does not require additional drivers or connects to standard interfaces, and this limits the modules by a lot (unless I have full sources and also am a firmware developer with some spare time to add stuff and recompile)
    Both Jolla and Fairphone provide as much source as they can.
    (Basically Fairphone provides a complete AOSP + kernel sources + a few blobs for both Fairphone 1 and 2)
    (Jolla provides basically provides more or less the same, except the base system is mer - a full-blown GNU/Linux successor to Maemo/Meego - and part of their interface doesn't come with an opensource license, though the files are human readable (and thus patchable) .QML + Javascript)

    As a consequence, YOU DO FIND additional drivers made by 3rd party providers
    (I have a driver for external slide-out keyboard on the backcover, WHICH WAS NOT made by the initial Jolla engineers)
    that can adapt to even more interface (keyboard uses a I2C-to-keyboard-grid conversion).

    Same for all the other various projects attempting to connect extra displays.

    You can hack around the Fairphone the same as you can hack around a laptop PC, by using its internal interfaces to do different things, but that's a hack, and the laptop PC runs an OS, not a firmware, so you can install drivers easily.
    Beside the fact that
    - in the Fairphone2: the system runs a different userland (Android vs. full-blown GNU)
    - and that in most current phones you're stuck with a specific LTS kernel release due to some blob driver
    (...and there's even work to switch to mainline kernel as there's a lot of support in latest Linux for most chips found in FP2)

    There's no difference in the Linux kernel running on your laptop and on your smartphone.


    Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
    Yes, Point is, I don't want to hack serviceable stuff that at the end of the day is still closed down as fuck (is it receiving Android 7? No? Then nopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenope), I want to build a modular thing that is plug-and-play.

    Meanwhile, I stay with whatever embedded device has full sources out and can receive new Android versions through Cyanogenmod.
    Fairphone 2 can get installation from Cyanogen mod. It can even get OSes that aren't Android at all, but full blown GNU/Linux.
    (Jolla's Sailfish OS Community Edition is usable on it. There's work underway to port Ubuntu too).

    Currently the fixed version kernel is provided with blob drivers.
    (and Jolla community is providing libhybris that enables your to use these blob drivers under a full blown GNU/Linux distro like Sailfish OS or Ubuntu).

    Some community members are working toward bringing mainline linux kernel on it.
    (So it might end up like the Raspberry Pi 2/3 that nowadays can run using latest versions of vanilla kernel).

    Future CPU modules for the Fairphone2 could be designed with a different SoC that accepts a different kernel.

    Leave a comment:


  • starshipeleven
    replied
    Originally posted by DrYak View Post
    (but that requires a phone which can charge and act as a host at the same time - according my hub's docs, some Samsung phone can pull this trick)
    Also some Xperias could.
    http://www.xda-developers.com/simult...peria-devices/



    Leave a comment:


  • DrYak
    replied
    Originally posted by caligula View Post
    Even if you had a powered hub with iPhone, could it charge the phone and the 3rd party devices at the same time while doing data transfers? I thought the hubs aren't allowed to push back power to the host.
    Officially: no.
    pre-"usb-3.1 type C" hubs, either charge the device (and the device can be accessed as a guest on some hubes), or act as a hub for the device-in host mode.

    some hubs have a third non-official setting where the hub both act as a hub for the device and put it in host mode *AND* can still charge the device while in host mode.
    (but that requires a phone which can charge and act as a host at the same time - according my hub's docs, some Samsung phone can pull this trick)

    Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
    Afaik all Android phones can theoretically do that with their OTG USB ports, as they can switch the whole port between host or guest already.
    SOME implement a partial switch in the kernel (software side) to allow the port to act as host for data and guest for power (allowing OTG while charging if connected to a powered usb hub), but it's not something widely known or used.
    confirmed by my hubs' doc.

    Leave a comment:


  • pal666
    replied
    Originally posted by caligula View Post

    Even if you had a powered hub with iPhone, could it charge the phone and the 3rd party devices at the same time while doing data transfers? I thought the hubs aren't allowed to push back power to the host.
    i believe we are talking about usb3.1 type c hubs.
    nd i don't care about iphones

    Leave a comment:


  • starshipeleven
    replied
    stupid vbullettin unapproved post for caligula

    Leave a comment:

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