Any plan to fork OpenBTS and/or merge with Osmocom code?

Fabio Pietrosanti (naif) lists at infosecurity.ch
Sat Apr 9 20:03:09 UTC 2011


On 4/9/11 11:24 AM, Harald Welte wrote:
> Hi Fabio,
> 
> On Sat, Apr 09, 2011 at 08:37:20AM +0200, Fabio Pietrosanti (naif) wrote:
> 
>> this email don't want to be a provocative email but just an opinion
>> related to the creation of value for GSM TLC stack into the opensource
>> environment.
> 
> Sorry, what is TLC?
I refer to TLC as "Telecommunication" that's the environment and
industry segment where our so "friendly" mobile industry players apply
patent and NDA everywhere to restrict access to the technology.

>> Additionally, if i understood correctly osmocom is much more advanced
>> with broad scope and better design than OpenBTS.
> 
> I think it is unfair.  There are many design decisions, and I don't think
> you can say something is better or worse.  It depends on your purpose.  Do
> you want a sports car or a truck?  Depends on your application which one
> is better...

Absolutely agree, that OpenBTS had very appreciable short term practical
goals, such as hooking a GSM phone to Asterisk.

While Osmocom had very long term goals, like making a overall set of
technologies and libraries usable to build a complete gsm systems, from
bsc to baseband, to network analyzer, to ggsn/sgsn, msc, hlr.

So imho current status of OpenBTS is near to stalled, without strong
opensource improvements.
While the current status of Osmocom is growing fast, differentiating
itself in various projects, doing important refactoring to create a
solid technology stack reusable for most projects.
So most of the community investments sounds to be directed to Osmocom.

Osmocom now it's missing a complete free hardware/software BTS (for
example based on USRP devices).

Given it's fast growing community we can forecast in the near future the
need to support also the GSMum on USRP devices?

Said that, mine is a suggestion to the OpenBTS team to rethink about the
future of their projects by directing work to integrate with OpenBSC,
empowering the strength of opensource technologies with the respect to
such a closed industry (the mobile industry).

But for sure, because i am not bringing a single euro to the project, i
am just running as a sort of advocacy troll that would like to see in
the world a *FULL* and *COMPLETE* opensource gsm technology stack.


>> It seems to me that OpenBTS it's almost stalled due to the "commercial
>> fork" of the OpenSource project and only fairwaves is contributing to
>> the opensource branch.
> 
> I cannot comment on that, as I don't follow the speed of progress in OpenBTS.

Well, i just follow the mailing lists and see the code changelog on
http://openbts.git.sourceforge.net/git/gitweb.cgi?p=openbts/openbts;a=history;f=public-trunk;hb=HEAD.

In the last 10 months there are relatively few changes only done by
Sylvain Munaut (mainly working on osmocom stuff as far as i read from
mlist) and by Alexander Chemeris (mainly working on the ClockTamer
hardware design for OpenBTS).

What i know is that several features are only available in commercial
version and those are the ones that enable OpenBTS to be used in a
real-environment (not just testing).

Those features for example are multi ARFCN and handover that are said to
be only in the commercial version:
http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/message.php?msg_id=26792703

Those feature are already into OpenBSC:
- handover is in OpenBSC code http://laforge.gnumonks.org/weblog/2009/12/21/
- Multi ARFCN / Frequency Hopping is in OpenBSC code
http://lists.gnumonks.org/pipermail/openbsc/2010-June/001744.html

Eventually a light BTS implementation with the DSP logic integrated with
Soft-BTS/OpenBSC would already provide such kind of features, currently
available only in OpenBTS commercial implementation.

It would also much more easy to be able to see the possible future
integration of a GPRS/EDGE endpoint running at home with your own USRP1
with osmo-ggsn.

Mine it's just a a way to express that imho this approach maybe
represent a stopping issue in seeing really pratically usable opensource
gsm technologies, from the bts up to the ggsn passing trough a baseband
processor.

I think that it would create a lot more adopter of opensource gsm
telephony due to the reduction of entrance barrier (costs) of the hardware.
Only one piece of hardware of 1500 usd to play with it.

> Having said that, I am certain this development/licnesing model can work
> properly, with satisfaction to both community and commercial interests.
> However, a lot of care and attention has to be paid on it.

For the reason explained below i personally think, but i am no-one to
affirm this, that the current approach maybe is not the right approach
as it's a stopping issue just slowly down what's inevitable and before
or later will happen.

In such case,typically, before or later there will be some other
opensource project or group that solve the need covered only the by
commercial code.

But that's something that happens before or later with almost any
opensource project of great value and interests.

> I never had the time to finish this.



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