In this edition...

  1. Front Page
    • MeeGo's "big reveal" mentality hurting the project?
    • future direction meeting: Monday, 13:00 UTC
  2. Applications
    • Opera release Opera Mobile 10 for Maemo 4 & 5
    • maenotify puts SMSes and missed calls on the lock screen
    • Standalone flash launcher application
    • Lens Cover Reminder shows lens cover status on the N900
  3. Development
    • Introduction to OBS build system
    • OBS and Fremantle Extras: huge success, but help needed
    • Getting Qt 4.6 apps (from PR1.2 or Nokia Qt SDK) working on PR1.1
  4. Community
    • "Less is more" why big app numbers aren't everything
    • Urho Konttori joins the MeeGo Harmattan team
  5. Devices
    • USB host mode on N900 possible
    • MeeGo N900 hardware adaptation layer goes open source
    • Efforts underway to get 3D drivers working on N8x0
    • NITDroid gets Android 2.1 with working touchscreen
    • MeeGo to use btrfs as default file system
  6. Maemo in the Wild
    • Nokia launches N900 in Taiwan
  7. Announcements
    • Diablo5 theme gives Maemo 5 look & feel on N8x0
    • QtGas: cross-platform mileage and vehicle maintenance tracker
    • Zim notepad/wiki app
    • Carbon theme under development
    • iStyle themes (in various colours)

Front Page

MeeGo's "big reveal" mentality hurting the project?

Carsten Munk, distmaster and MeeGo contributor, has asked a question many have been thinking: does the desire for a large splash - a "big reveal" as Carsten puts it - hamper, now and in the future, the openness and viability of the MeeGo project? This desire is understandable for closed product launches, but was always the biggest impediment to true community collaboration on Maemo itself. However, the noises made by both Nokia and Intel - both of whom have a lot of experience now with open source development - at the launch of MeeGo were promising. Carsten doesn't think they're walking the walk, though: We're not working in the open like we're supposed to - even though as has been said - Intel, Nokia and we all know how to do it! But when there's a big reveal mentality active, the mode of the people participating switches to internal/private development, even if you are only tangentially related to the object/UX being revealed. Carsten poses three questions to MeeGo's Technical Steering Group:

Has this mentality been hurting the project to date?

How will they prevent it continuing after the user interface is unveiled?

How will they prevent it the next time the commercial requirements of a "big reveal" occur? future direction meeting: Monday, 13:00 UTC

The meta-meeting, which will seek to address the overall direction of the community - and in particular the paid contributors - will be held today (Monday, 17th May) at 13:00 UTC on #maemo-meeting. Everyone is invited to attend. The agenda, put forward by Dave Neary and Andrew Flegg is: Review of progress over the past year of team (open discussion); Setting priorities for next 3 months for the community - not micro-tasks, but larger goals; Allocation of ownership & co-ordination responsibilities within these tasks to members of the team; A full & frank discussion of the impact of the MeeGo project on the short-term goals of Maemo. It may be still early to make some decisions - and the viability of MeeGo as a day-to-day operating system for N8x0 and N900 users will play a large part - however the framework for these decisions will be made here; as well as the overall goals so that doesn't descend into a "wait-and-see" mode for the next six, nine or twelve months.


Opera release Opera Mobile 10 for Maemo 4 & 5

Opera was a feature of the original 770 Internet Tablet. However, with subsequent updates and devices, Nokia has shipped (and heavily invested in) MicroB - a Mozilla-based browser (like Firefox). However, a group of Opera engineers have, as an R&D project, built the latest version of Opera Mobile, v10, for Maemo 4 (Diablo) and Maemo 5 (Fremantle). This means that N8x0 and N900 users have an additional browser choice available to them. Fredrik \xD6hrn says they're proud to be back on Maemo, and describes how the release has come about: This Maemo version of Opera Mobile 10 was created as a hobby project by a small team of developers in their spare time. In total, about 6 man-weeks were spent on creating the release. It's worth pointing out that this is not an officially-supported release. As such, it has not undergone our usual quality assurance processes, and at times may not feel as polished or complete as an official release. This also means that there may never be a "final" release of Opera Mobile 10 for Maemo devices, since it's just that much more fun to add shiny new features rather than fixing boring old bugs. The obvious biggest downside (or advantage, depending on your point of view) is that Opera can't reuse the Flash plugin included on the device. However, a revamped rendering engine; faster JavaScript and HTML5 & CSS3 goodness await any interested users.

maenotify puts SMSes and missed calls on the lock screen

The forthcoming Maemo 5 update, PR1.2, is, apparently, going to bring a counter on the N900's "slide to unlock" screen of unread notifiications. Daniele Maio, however, has announced "maenotify" a new application (which can be used now) to provide an even richer feature; it's a simple app that will show you the latest missed calls/sms on the screen when it is locked, without requiring to unlock it. The application is in Extras-testing, so people willing to help maintain the quality of software for end-users are encouraged to try and test the package; voting on it based on the QA criteria.

Standalone flash launcher application

Attila Csipa, one of your Maemo Community Council representatives, has announced FlashLaunch, a "Qt based GUI front end that launches your favourite flash games^H^H^H^H applications": I announce FlashLauncher for Maemo, your premier source for flash-based standalone content. The central focus is to build a central repository of N900-friendly flash content, but there are many other benefits as well. FlashLauncher is currently available from Extras-devel, but due to the PR1.2 delays, users may wish to wait until PR1.2 is released to try it. More adventurous users may wish to try the experimental version, which works on PR1.0 and PR1.1.

Lens Cover Reminder shows lens cover status on the N900

A new application by Nicolai Hess will show a reminder in the status bar when the lens cover is left open. Enter `Lens Cover Reminder' by nicolai that notifies you of an open lens cover by displaying a small icon in the status bar, as soon as you close the cover it vanishes. In cases where you somehow happen to ignore it, the phone will vibrate when you use the lock switch to lock the keyboard and screen. Lens Cover Reminder is currently available from Extras-devel (standard warnings and disclaimers apply).


Introduction to OBS build system

David Greaves has posted a high-level overview of the features that OBS provides for developers. It gives both a local build environment (Scratchbox) and a remote build service (auto-builder). He introduces the piece while outlining some of the reasons why both Maemo and MeeGo developers should be interested in it - both for their own code and any resources they may wish to share with others: In an open world we have more interactions... and as students of networks know: increased connectivity brings increased complexity as well as increased benefits. So this is an initial proposal for the organisation of OBS build projects and packages to support a QA process into an app-store / Extras or garage-like environment. I'll introduce some basic OBS concepts and then describe how this might work. I would like this to raise awareness of some potential complexities that we may face and get some thoughts on how to deal with them. Oh, and this is about both Maemo and MeeGo. He also outlines how private repositories for developers could feed into a community testing pool - and then an end-user repository of "Extras".

OBS and Fremantle Extras: huge success, but help needed

Following on from his earlier articles, David Greaves describes how the OBS configuration of Fremantle has reached a major milestone: building many packages from Extras. He says, as you may know I recently volunteered to setup a community OBS in my "spare time" (hah, right!). This is a progress report because I've reached a significant milestone... the following 193 applications have been built from 'Extras' most on both ARM and X86. Many packages have been built, but he's eagerly looking for people interested in build systems to iron out the environment issues; and work on problems in individual packages which prevent them being easily rebuilt outside of Scratchbox.

Getting Qt 4.6 apps (from PR1.2 or Nokia Qt SDK) working on PR1.1

Timur Kristóf has outlined a process for running Qt 4.6 applications on PR1.1. As many of you already know, the current firmware for the Nokia N900 (known as PR 1.1) has some controversies regarding the Qt toolkit. [...] So, basically, all we need to get stuff working is libqt4-* version 4.6.2, and what a surprise, it is possible to install it via the SDK repository. The steps are fairly straightforward, although it does require exposing yourself to the SDK repository, which contains several packages which can easily drop users into a reboot loop. Users not adventurous enough to use Extras-devel are advised to wait until PR1.2 is released officially before attempting to install bits and pieces of it from the SDK.


"Less is more" why big app numbers aren't everything

Much like megapixels or megahertz, huge application store numbers don't tell the whole story. The huge application numbers both Apple and Google advertise for their platforms fail to address the quality and the usefulness of those applications, and sucker in many users who don't realize what story those numbers really tell. Tom Waelti outlines his views on why more isn't always better: A ridiculous race is going on in the world of Smartphones, with each competitor boasting about the number of available apps for his platform. With Apple talking of 200,000 apps and Android claiming 50,000 apps (similar to what Palm offered in earlier years, and probably similar to Symbian), a new platform such as Maemo 5 sometimes faces a difficult stand, with casual users coming from other platforms complaining about too few apps (only hundreds...)

Urho Konttori joins the MeeGo Harmattan team

Urho Konttori, a long-time Maemo Community member who joined Nokia in 2007 and was recently coordinating the Fremantle team at Nokia, has joined the MeeGo Harmattan team working on the Harmattan API. So, what am I doing now then? I am looking after the Harmattan Maemo API to make sure we have a solid 3rd party API and there is a clear continuation path for everything that would change for Meego. At the same time I'm working as a catalyst for the Harmattan software program. Urho emphasizes that this doesn't not signal the end of development for Fremantle and, indeed, there are still plenty of people working to improve Maemo 5. Clearly Nokia's priorities are shifting, though, and it shall be interesting to see whether they've truly learned their lessons over the past 5 years.


USB host mode on N900 possible

Leonid Yegoshin and others have succeeded in mounting a USB memory stick through the N900's USB port. Long believed to be physically impossible, the hack involved a powered hub (to provide the necessary power to the flash drive), a modified kernel and replacements to some of the power management code at the base of Maemo. In posting to, Leonid said, Success! I just was able to mount USB stick via self-powered HUB and read it. Details will be later, but now - modified kernel. I am looking into right modification. In-depth technical details followed, but it's still a long way from the user-friendly USB modes which were available on the N8x0.

MeeGo N900 hardware adaptation layer goes open source

Harri Hakulinen has announced that the work Nokia has been doing on ensuring that MeeGo provides a good reference platform for MeeGo on ARM is going open source so that anyone can contribute. In the announcement, he says, As indicated in my previous mail about "MeeGo for N900" status, we were planning to open up our MeeGo work around N900. Now I am happy to announce, that we are there ;) [...] Like any other MeeGo project, it is open source project for all applicaple purposes, and does NOT directly have links to any potential Nokia product or potential product plans. So, based on this or any other of my posts, please do NOT start or continue speculation of upcoming Nokia MeeGo releases. That is practically not helpfull, and mostly only takes our time when we need to explain our words and actions in detail to various directions. We're still a long way from knowing whether the "Handset UX" and reference applications will provide a day-to-day usable environment for typical users; but these are all positive steps on the way to that - even if the community has to maintain it.

Efforts underway to get 3D drivers working on N8x0

Carsten Munk has revived efforts to get the 3D drivers, which have been made available for the N8x0, into a usable state. Following on from previous discussions, where they were more theoretical, this focuses on actually getting the drivers and libraries to play nice. As it really should be possible. Low-level hackers are invited to participate.

NITDroid gets Android 2.1 with working touchscreen

Android is currently winning the race (for mindshare and volume, at least) for the next-generation mobile platform. "NITDroid" is an effort to continue the porting of Android to Nxx0 devices. The N8x0 got a working Android 1.x; and now the N900 has the current version, 2.1, with working touchscreen. Engadget reports the news, saying, this looks to be the most proactive effort yet to get it functional enough for lay N900 users (read: us) to actually install. Eclair's now up and running on the device, complete with both keyboard and touchscreen support -- important fundamentals, we reckon -- and it looks like there's enough chatter on the subject going on over in Maemo's official forums to keep this ball rolling. There is still work to do on the radio (Bluetooth, WLAN and 3G) but the video looks like speed won't be an issue.

MeeGo to use btrfs as default file system

A recent thread on the meego-dev mailing list revealed that MeeGo will use an advanced new filesystem, called btrfs, by default. This filing system - the code which describes how, and where, files will be stored on the device - has been causing excitement in the Linux community recently for some of the promises it delivers. However, the announcement was met with some surprise as many hadn't yet considered btrfs production strength. Arjan van de Ven outlined some of the reasons though, including writable snapshots. This feature opens the door to features in MeeGo 1.1 like atomic package updates (already a Fedora 13 feature with btrfs) but also the "Restore to factory defaults" becomes easy: just blow away the snapshot and create a new one and the device is as new. You can even use it to have "true multiple users" in the system, both users have the whole device for themselves with a boot time switch. Efficiency of the metadata storage on 1-2GB file systems (such as the N900's eMMC) and the runtime performance of the filesystem were cited as possible downsides by others, though; including David Greaves and Jeremiah Foster. Both responded to an invitation from Harri Hakulinen, the Nokian heading up the N900 adaptation layer, for further testing from interested parties.

Maemo in the Wild

Nokia launches N900 in Taiwan

Two weeks after the launch in Hong Kong, Nokia has launched the N900 in Taiwan. The N900 is priced at NT$22,100 (US$697). According to Nokia "N900 is the latest answer for the premium market, which has been dominated by Apple, RIM and HTC in Taiwan". This seems to be another step in getting Maemo into Asian, where it has never had an official presence in the past, and is one of the last remaining markets Nokia has not launched the platform in.


Diablo5 theme gives Maemo 5 look & feel on N8x0

Diablo users yearning for the Maemo 5 experience may be interested in Dmitriy Chirva's new theme, Diablo5, which seeks to provide the same look and feel as Fremantle on Diablo. The designer has released a YouTube video showing off the highlights of the theme. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the theme developer has elected to host the theme on his own repository. Users hoping to try out the theme will need to add the repository to install it.

QtGas: cross-platform mileage and vehicle maintenance tracker

F\xE1bio Rehm has announced QtGas, I'm happy to announce the initial release of my first Qt / QML project:QtGas, an open source app inspired on GasCubby for the iPhone OS and (for the moment) targeted to Windows Mobile and Maemo devices. Its purpose is to track gas mileage and vehicle maintenance [...] Users will have to grab a tarball from github if they want to test it out.

Zim notepad/wiki app

Miguel Angel Alvarez has announced Zim, [an] incredibly useful notepad like desktop application that is inspired by the way people use wikis. With Zim you'll be able to keep track of TODO lists or ideas, to take notes during a meeting or to draft any other kind of text (blog entries, important mails, etc). Zim is currently only available from the projecst Garage page.

Carbon theme under development

The Carbon theme, a dark-gray beveled-button-style theme by Johannes Siipola, is now available for testing in Extras-devel (standard warnings and disclaimers apply).

iStyle themes (in various colours)

The iStyle themes by, a glossy theme with many variations by d-iilvil, is now available for testing in Extras-devel (standard warnings and disclaimers apply).