Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
Droid X and Fedora.

Droid X and Fedora.

My wife and I were in the market for new phones and decided we were going to spring for something brand new. We were even prepared to switch carriers for late breaking technology if required.

I’d been an iPhone owner since around the time I started at Red Hat. (Yes, I know it’s a software freedom nightmare. Honestly, I spent about the same amount of time picking a phone as picking out a belt, so I clearly reaped what I sowed.) Over the last year I got increasingly unhappy with its inability to do some of the basic things I wanted, and some minor design flaws became much more glaring when I hit them constantly. Some of these problems related directly to my use case since I’m on Fedora, a Linux distribution, and not an iTunes user. Therefore I wouldn’t expect Apple to care about or design for me.

I’d heard really good things about the new generation Android phones, especially their playing nice with Linux hosts. So I decided it was high time I tried something new rather than simply queuing up for a new and spiffier prison cell (iPhone). Based on the reviews of service in Consumer Reports, Verizon was far and away the leader in customer satisfaction. I decided to concentrate on their offerings, and was thrilled to find the new Droid X (info: Flash site) was now shipping, albeit with a few weeks’ wait.

Our local wholesale club had a decent offer underway where each phone got a $100 rebate, plus a $50 store debit card, plus a $30 rebate on a month’s service. Originally my wife had been adamant about having a real keyboard on her phone, but the large screen of the Droid X won her over too. This would be her first smartphone, so despite her trepidation she decided, “in for a dime, in for a dollar,” and we ended up buying a pair of them.

My experience thus far has been exceptional. Not only could I find apps for everything I used to use on my iPhone, but what used to be touchy, like media exchange, is now simple and pain-free on the Droid X. Now granted, thanks to the libimobiledevice capability in Fedora 13, this was no longer a huge hassle with my iPhone. Using the phone with Rhythmbox and other Fedora apps, though, was often touchy — especially since the sync function required extra time to complete and the phone didn’t give very good feedback on when it was safe to disconnect.

When I attach my new Droid X phone via the included USB cable to my Fedora system, though, it’s a much different story. I attach it as a simple mass storage device. Then I just drag and drop music into the phone, and when I’m done, remove the device just like I would any thumb drive. The phone automatically locates the new media and adds it to the library or gallery.

The service integration is really good, especially with Google services (as one would expect). I also have the ability to copy media to and from my systems around the house that ask run Fedora, via SFTP. I will say the battery doesn’t go for more than a day right now but I expect that’s because I use the darn thing so heavily. The big, bright screen has got to be a power consumption monster, so I’m surprised a charge lasts a long as it does. And I love the Swype interface for text entry — I’m using it to write this blog and it’s almost as fast as keying on the touch screen directly.

One niggle thus far: the phone doesn’t seem to turn off the keypad when the phone is raised up to speak, after I activate the keypad to accept a call via Google Voice, so I have to hide it to avoid sending tones on the line. Other than that, I don’t have any complaints after the first week.

All in all I’m happy with the purchase. I hear that the new Android 2.2 “Froyo” update will soon be available for this phone and I’m looking forward to trying it out.