Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Inside the Pre

Last night, someone discovered a file, which includes the ROM of the Pre. This morning, there are instructions all over the web on how to get access to the Pre as root. In a few hours, the first Hello World app has been developed (without access to the Mojo SDK...).

Once again, this is quite amazing. Every time these things happen, I have a feeling the device manufacturer did it on purpose. I just can't believe they let it happen by mistake. Three steps and you are root with read and write access. You can see everything inside the phone, including comments in the config files. However, some are a bit embarrassing, so I do not know what to think anymore...

For example, getting access to the device requires you to type upupdowndownleftrightleftrightbastart on the device (I swear). This is clearly a punch at the iPhone because doing the same with the virtual keyboard would take you an hour, while with the Pre keyboard it is a breeze ;-)

When you look inside, you find a lot of very interesting things. First, it is a Linux machine 2.6.24 (check, yet another mobile open source based operating system). It has a Java Virtual Machine (1.5 Standard Edition). It already has settings to connect to the AT&T and T-Mobile network (which make sense, reading rumors about a GSM version coming soon). Moreover, there are hints of the rumored Palm EOS device (the one at $99) which in the OS is called pixie (the Pre is castle) and even a third one coming (zepfloyd, which seems to support wifi as the Pre, while the EOS won't).

There are also funny comments left by Palm developers inside the phone, like the TODO list. E.g.: "TODO FIXME: we ought not call this, eh?". Or this one: "On the offchance that the user hits the 'minimize' before we finished capture ... slimy bastard users"...

In general, it is very easy to modify things, for example someone quickly modified the camera to no longer make the shutter noise even with all system sounds enabled (not that I know what the use case behind it could be...). Tethering your laptop via wifi is just a matter of changing a couple of config files. There are also things I cannot talk about, but others are (for example here and here).

Bottom line: it took a few days and WebOS is naked. The world is looking at it. From what I have seen (ehm, read on the blogs, I would never do this and risk to void my warranty ;-), it looks like a very nicely developed OS (with the three stacks, Linux and Java and Javascript/HTML/CSS). Even if Palm hasn't leaked it out on purpose, the feedback from the hackers community is two thumbs up, which is another good sign for Palm.