Will I get an iPhone?

Many of my friends keep asking me what I think of the iPhone, if it’s good and whether they should buy one. They are all non-techie people that want a very good phone and are willing to pay the extra money for a good handset that does email and web navigation, and a decent phone too. For such kind of customers, the iPhone seems to be the only choice out there. Lets face it: there are no free software alternatives out there. And even the proprietary platforms are not up to the task. Windows Mobile is not designed to be cool (no Microsoft product is, except the Xbox, maybe) and its usability compares poorly to iPhone OS. BlackBerry and Symbian are boring… There is no comparison: iPhone has raised the bar for all of them and they deserve the attention of the market.

Now, the question is: will I ever get one? Let me put it this way: I will consider buying one when I will be allowed to install software that is not coming from the Apple Store AND when there will be a VoIP application for it. Does it mean I’ll never get one? It’s up to Apple (like the calendar API problem, that is hurting Funambol). I’m curious to see what the iPhone Dev Camp crowd thinks of this problem or if they consider this a problem at all.

Like me, others are concerned with Apple’s DRM policy.’  Joshua Gay, campaign manager of the FSF, wrote Why free software and Apple’s iPhone don’t mix:

Apple’s license says that to write and distribute software for the iPhone, developers have to agree that any freedom users should have to modify and share their software is secondary to the paramount requirement of observing and protecting Apple’s DRM system.

[…] Apple […] want[s] to control what users do with their computers.

Write to Steve Jobs and let him know that you won’t buy an iPhone until Apple will empower users to develop and install free software on the device. Let FSF know what he says.

Open Mobile Exchange speech at OSCON2008

OpenMobileExchange room at OSCON2008
Usually it’s the speaker that is photographed, this time I took the chance to take a picture of the people listening to my speech at OSCON2008 for Funambol. Quite some people where there and they seem interested into “Leveraging Mobile Open Source for New Wireless Apps and Services”.

It was a very interesting session, Surj Patel and Raven Zachary have put together an amazing panel.

Funambol on Mac OS X, part 2

Update Jan 12th 2010: the best way to sync Funambol on Mac OS X is to use the official Mac OS Sync app. Check How to sync Mac OS with Funambol (part 3).

Yesterday I talked about SyncEvolution as one of the two options to sync contacts on Mac OS X using myFUNAMBOL. Today it’s time to introduce the other option: the Funambol Plugin for Mac OS X, contributed in his spare time by Kevin Lovette (a hacker of the Funambol Professional Services team). Like Patrick started SyncEvolution to be able to sync his SyncML devices with his GNOME desktop, Kevin had the same kind of itch on his Apple desktop and started to scratch it.’  Funambol Inc allowed him to develop this software in his spare time in exchange of knowledge about the Mac desktop platform.

Funambol Plugin for Mac OS X is a System Preference application. You can download the binary (version 0.1), unzipped it and double-clicked on the resulting .PrefPane file. You can install it only for your user or for all users of the machine. Once the plugin is loaded, enter your myFUNAMBOL username and password, and make sure that the URL is http://my.funambol.com/sync/.

On the next tab, Sync, tick Contacts selecting the ‘Card’ option from the dropdown menu. If you want you can also enable syncing Tasks tick it and select ‘Tasks’ from the meny. The other options are not selectable because they’re still not supported. Now you’re ready to hit the Sync Now button and wait for the sync to finish. The notification area has a bug and it doesn’t notify clearly what is happening.

Being in such early stages of development, I’m sure there are more bugs waiting to be discovered. You can help Kevin to improve this software: look at the project pages on Funambol Forge and discuss it on the Funambol Users discussion list.

Funambol on Mac OS X, part 1

Update Jan 12th 2010: the best way to sync Funambol on Mac OS X is to use the official Mac OS Sync app. Check How to sync Mac OS with Funambol (part 3).

While the world goes crazy with the iPhone, I decided to spend some time testing the two options for syncing on Mac OS X using myFUNAMBOL. There are two options available, both are community contributions. Today’s post is about SyncEvolution, contributed by Patrick Ohly.

Patrick Ohly’s SyncEvolution provides the missing link between Mac OSX and SyncML. The application is’  *nix style, command line based, originally for GNOME Evolution GNU/Linux and later ported to iPhone, OS X, Maemo.’  Old school *nix users will find it very easy to setup and run on Apple’s system.

Download the package from the Mac directory (I used the latest version, SyncEvolution 0.7). Expand the tarball and copy the binaryes in ~/bin (modify the .bashrc PATH variable to include your $HOME/bin, as follows).


Then create the directory ~/.sync4j/evolution/myfunambol and copy in it the files share/doc/syncevolution/funambol from the original tarball. Since I couldn’t find a way to make Finder show the hidden directories, I used the unix cp and mkdir commands (I’m at home with those, but YMMV).’  Now it’s time to edit the configurations. I use smultron as text editor,

$ smultron /~.sync4j/evolution/myfunambol/spds/syncml/config.txt

Change deviceId to something unique (especially if you’re syncing from many computers or more than one account on the same computer) and add your myFUNAMBOL username and password.’  Then it’s time to edit the addressbook configuration:

$ smultron myfunambol/spds/sources/addressbook/config.txt

change the type to the Mac type and make sure that the sync is configured as follows (unless you need different setup)::

type = addressbook
sync = two-way

That’s it. Now go on with the sync:

$ syncevolution myfunambol

and that’s it.’  SyncEvolution doesn’t support tasks nor calendar yet, but at least the AddressBook support is pretty good and stable. If you are a Mac programmer or you want to try becoming one, help Patrick to add a GUI to SyncEvolution and extend its functions.

links for 2008-07-09

Closer to be perceived as a “Social Cause”

Bradley is right to be excited for the phone call he received from a socially responsible investment company. While social responsibility has become a big issue for many companies, corporate reports focus mainly on projects to protect the environment, to sustain developing countries and to improve working conditions of their employees and contractors. So far, use and support of Free Software doesn’t appear in social responsibility reports. Companies instead mention more and more their support to Free Software (often using the term “Open Source”) in their marketing brochures. As a bad result, many people believe that Oracle is an ‘Open Source’ company, together with Google, nVidia and Intel since these have ‘Linux’ and ‘OSS’ all over.

I think we need a way to measure how close the actions of corporations are to the values of the Free Software movement and put such measure into corporate reports. We might discover that what they do is (or is not) far away from what they say in their brochures.’  This index (call it Free Software Fairness Index) could serve as a basis for classification of Free Software Business, on which socially responsible investment funds can decide to invest. This FSF Index could be an indicator of the adherence of the companies’ actions to the principles of the GNU Manifesto.

It’s not simple to summarize real life actions into a number, but there examples out there that we can draw inspiration from.’  What do you think?