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+title: 2016 Week 47
+category: news
+date: 2016-11-19
+author: hellekin
+body_params: class="weekly news"
+`proto_v2` schematics ready for peer review!
+Should you buy a new phone or wait for Neo900?
+Why does Maemo need to change?
+{: .lead :}
+## Neo900 Prototype version 2: Last Call for Review
+On November 8, 2016, the [`proto_v2`
+were updated to the current version. We finished the last few
+improvements and our layouter is scheduling the layout to start in one
+week. We repeat our invitation to give the schematics a peer review:
+it's your last chance to peel your eyes on these schematics and be
+picky about details that our engineering team might have missed.
+Hopefully you won't find anything, but as Joerg says:
+> I've learned to be humble and not do fortune telling.
+We expect that during the layout phase more options for improvements
+will be found (and integrated), and that some modifications will
+happen that won't change the functionality but affect the schematics,
+e.g., rearranging pins that turn out to be disadvantageous, and so on.
+### Next Steps
+The layout phase will begin next week, and should be ready in time to
+start the production of about 10 boards before the end of the year.
+Some of these prototypes will be handed to selected developers from
+the community for testing. We hope for this to happen before February
+2017. In parallel the engineering team will start with integrating
+the CPU on the NeoN board itself for next (and - with luck - final)
+prototype; during the testing phase, probably a month, they will
+integrate fixes for any issues that may arise from testing the
+`proto_v2` boards.
+#### Layout Phase
+The layout is the drawing that shows where components, copper (and
+more) will go on the PCB. This represents the exact geometry of the
+result, and can be used to produce the board. In KiCad, the layout
+can be made using `pcbnew`. Once the layout is ready, we can start
+producing the PCBs.
+#### PCB Production
+PCB production comes in three phases: first the bare board
+manufacture, without any components; then the assembly where the
+components are soldered to the PCB. Once the _cooking_ part is done,
+each board needs to be tested for compliance with the design: booting,
+flashing, automated runs of programs, etc.
+#### Prototype Assembly
+We're almost there: the boards come back to us from the _fab_ in
+working condition, or so they say :). We run a few more dozens of
+tests, visual, and mechanical checks, before assembling them within
+the case and connect the BB-xM that serves at _external CPU_ during
+this prototype phase. We run more tests, package them, and ship them
+to our esteemed developers.
+#### Developer Tests
+Our volunteers run tests, install OSes and programs, boot, flash, and
+use the prototype, and report to us anything that might come up at
+this point. Hopefully no or only minor defects are detected and can
+be fixed. Then after a month we know whether we can safely step to
+the next prototype...
+### Prototype Version 3
+As soon as `proto_v2` is ready, we'll kickstart a Spring crowdfunding
+to ramp up pre-orders to enter the "economic zone", that is the point
+where we have enough orders to make the production doable without
+running into debt. Currently that's 800 units. Get ready to share
+the love: your help convincing others will help the project succeed
+beyond expectations.
+The third prototype is the release candidate. If all goes well with
+`proto_v2` and no unexpected delays occur until then, it will take us
+about 3 months to follow the same process and produce `proto_v3`. At
+this point the final production is nigh, and we hope for the first run
+of Neo900 to start in time for Fall 2017.
+As always with delays, we cannot really set dates in stone (that's
+what global corporations do because they have the workforce and
+capital to bend time to their will.)
+## Neo900 Operating System
+### Or Why Maemo Needs to Change?
+Maemo is the recommended OS for Neo900. It's based on Debian, and was
+the original system for the Nokia N900. Since Nokia abandoned ship
+and turned to proprietary software, the Maemo community took over.
+Maemo pre-dates the mandatory use of `systemd` in Debian and has
+relevant core functionality that depend on `cgroups`, a Linux kernel
+functionality (which is not 100% available under `systemd` seizing
+`cgroups`.) As Debian depends more and more on `systemd` integration,
+it will drift away from Maemo as it is now, especially with regard to
+minimum system requirements that would someday forbid to install it on
+our hardware.
+`/bin` and `/sbin` were traditionally used to include those binaries
+required by the system at boot, before mounting any other filesystem
+partitions, e.g., in `/usr`. That limited the extent of disk space
+required by the minimal system, and allowed to mount extra software
+from another partition. But the recent decision to merge these two
+directories under `/usr` means either an inflated root partition of
+several gigabytes, or duplication of the executables in mounted
+overlays after the system has booted. From our perspective, that
+rules out Debian for typical embedded systems where you only have
+between 128MB and a _huge_ 1GB of root NAND storage to boot from.
+(For comparison N900 has 256MB of NAND, and Neo900 has 512MB.)
+As we're striving for minimalism and long term support of the
+recommend OS, we've been discussing these issues with the Maemo
+community and the Devuan community. What's coming to the horizon is
+that Maemo will switch upstream from Debian to Devuan, the Debian fork
+without `systemd`. This way, we get the best of both worlds:
+continuity for Maemo development, and a default OS based on Devuan for
+We must thank _freemangordon_ and _Pali_ on the Maemo side, and
+_parazyd_ on the Devuan side for making this possible. Heads up!
+These are free software projects, and you are welcome to participate:
+both the Fremantle Porting Task Force (`Pali`, `Freemangordon` aka
+Ivo, and others) as well as the [Devuan project](
+need more active developers to help with those very important tasks.
+## Should I just buy a new phone or wait for Neo900?
+The specifications were made two years ago and to some it may sound
+old already, given the pace at which the industry offers new features.
+That's certainly a valid point of view if you're looking for the
+latest gizmos. But Neo900 still has features you won't find in these
+mainstream smartphones — nor any other phone that we know of
+(see also the recent article by Tor developer Mike Perry on [Future
+Work: Baseband Analysis (and
+If you want to compare Neo900 to anything else, you'd rather pick its
+category of smartphones: like Hoox M2 or the Cryptophone 500. Both
+try to address similar issues with privacy and security, however, only
+Neo900 combines both a free hardware design, and a hardware approach
+to modem isolation, among other things.
+If you need a smartphone right now, you might want to pick one up
+readily, and sell it when we're ready. But of course **we build to
+order** and not for the shelf, so there won't probably be any devices
+for sale on the free market anytime soon. Hence we'd rather secure
+your order now. A better solution than relinquishing your freedom to
+some shiny gizmo would be to **get your hands on a refurbihed (or new)
+N900, and order a NeoN board for later update**. Note that we can't
+accept send-in of a single N900 for upgrade, this exceeds our
+logistics capabilities. You should feel confident with the
+(relatively simple) upgrade procedure that we will provide for you,
+only involving a screwdriver. So if you have the cash and didn't
+pre-order one already, please, [go ahead and support Neo900]: every
+pre-order reinforces the project, every donation helps us and boosts
+our confidence that we can deliver free hardware to free people.
+[go ahead and support Neo900]: