In this edition...

  1. Front Page
    • Ari Jaaksi resigns from Nokia
    • Nokia says MeeGo announcement still set for 2010
  2. Applications
    • appdownloader: next steps
    • Flash 10.1 working (unaccelerated) on Maemo & N900
  3. Development
    • Qt: Write once, #ifdef everywhere?
    • DQuest for object relational mapping in Qt
    • Hacking on hildon-desktop to get MeeGo-esque task switching
  4. Community
    • Twitter List for MeeGo Conference
    • Keynote speakers and programme announced for MeeGo Conference
  5. Devices
    • Experimental graphics drivers speed up MeeGo UI on N900
  6. Maemo in the Wild
    • What U.S. app makers says about Ovi Store
  7. Announcements
    • Automatic Connections: enable/disable IM accounts based on connection
    • Firefox 4 beta for Maemo now available
    • SeriesFinale 0.6.5 released
    • ...and 3 more

Front Page

Ari Jaaksi resigns from Nokia

Ari Jaaksi can be considered one of the fathers of Maemo (and hence MeeGo). As the vice president of Maemo Software, Maemo Devices and MeeGo Devices at Nokia; his enthusiasm for mobile Linux was palpable; and though no Steve Jobs, he did a fantastic job of talking to press, developers and enthusiasts at events like Nokia World, OSiM World, Maemo Summit and more.

However, he's handed in his resignation at Nokia for "personal reasons". All we can do is wish him luck in his future endeavours, thank him for his work bringing us this platform and hope that Nokia's MeeGo teams will get someone as open, personable and committed as Ari to fill his shoes. Many news articles are reporting: Jaaksi's exit won't affect Nokia's coming MeeGo device launches or its strategy for further development of the platform, [spokesperson] Huovinen said, adding that the company is looking for candidates to fill his position.

Nokia says MeeGo announcement still set for 2010

Chuong Nguyen, of PocketNow, asked some common questions of the Nokia folk at the telecommunication industry's CTIA event last week: I did my best to push, prod, and shake out the gossip of MeeGo's release date from Nokia's representatives in San Francisco over the last few days at CTIA, especially in light of rumors of a delay until 2011 given my MeeGo's other parent Intel. Nokia's reps on hand continue to say what they've said in the past--that we'll see an announcement from the Finnish smartphone maker--who's committed now to MeeGo and Symbian^3--by the end of the year. Now, whether that will mean just an announcement or an actual shipping product at that time is still unclear, but the good news remains that Nokia intends to keep us in the loop on MeeGo development efforts. With no sign of the Harmattan platform SDK yet, and with constant changes to the Qt and MeeGo Touch frameworks, your editor's hopes for people getting their hands on the Harmattan device before the end of the year are dimming.


appdownloader: next steps

daniel wilms, an engineer at Nokia and responsible for some of the tools developers rely on, has given an update on "appdownloader" - a project he was undertaking in his spare time. During the recent planning meeting, Daniel was tasked with posting an update on where it had got to, and where it could go: Besides the bugfixes and small enhancements, like saving the user-credentials, some bigger improvement-ideas came up during the summer. Most of it is in proto-type stage, but once implemented properly it might add some value to the application itself and the process of downloading and installing applications on Fremantle. [...] Attila Csipa, with KISStester, has taken another approach - by focusing on the issue of rating and testing apps; something usable has been reached more quickly; without having to replicate Application Manager (something that FApMan is still working on).

Flash 10.1 working (unaccelerated) on Maemo & N900

As most of you are likely aware, Flash 10.1 was demoed in the end of 2009 running with hardware acceleration on several Cortex-A8 based Linux devices (the first of which was the N900). Unfortunately, Flash 10.1, while available for nearly all of Nokia's competitors, has managed to skip the N900 for reasons which are unclear. It looks like TI has begun licensing a version of Flash 10.1 for developers running Linux on OMAP3 devices (which includes the N900). This drop of Adobe® Flash® 10.1 plugin is provided to demonstrate F10.1 running on Linux on ARM® Cortex(TM)-A8-based TI platforms. This drop allows customers to evaluate Flash 10.1 on the supported TI platforms running X11 and Mozilla browsers. If you're interested in testing the new Flash plugin, you'll need to fill out a questionnaire from TI in order to download a copy (and it's no guarantee).

Due to the licensing, the lack of acceleration and its generally beta state, this release is clearly not intended for just anybody. It would be interesting to see what TI said if someone said they wanted to license, and release it, as an end-user installable package for Maemo.


Qt: Write once, #ifdef everywhere?

Thomas Perl has posted an in-depth article on his experience with writing a game in Qt, and getting in running on the N900 (running Maemo) and the N8 (running Symbian^3) - both featuring Qt 4.6: Despite what the title of this post might suggest, I really like Qt. But as a developer, I also know that "write once, run everywhere" isn't realistic without writing some special-cased platform-specific code. Qt does take care of many platform-specific things, and I think it's the closest you can get to "write once, run everywhere" right now. Thomas concludes his code examples asking if anyone has a better way of doing what he's had to do, and a plea that Qt itself abstracts some of these common tasks.

DQuest for object relational mapping in Qt

Large commercial applications will abstract their database access; not only to ensure a single point of contact with the DB (and so optimisation), nor to improve testability - although both are strong points. One of the most common reasons is to map your model classes straight to the database: simulating an "object" database in a relational one; with libraries like Hibernate being the best-of-breed for Java and .NET. Ben Lau has started a new project to provide a similar framework in Qt: I would like to introduce my new OSS project for Qt and mobile. It is DQuest, a C++ ORM (Object-relational mapping) for Qt framework. It aims to provide a rapid development environment for application with database access. The database model declaration is very simple, just like other C++/Qt class. It is designed for mobile environment but also useful for desktop and embedded application that do not demand for maximized performance for database. Ben has just received $25,000 from Nokia for his work on FrontViewN900; so it's good to see that money supporting tools like this which should help developers create powerful applications in Qt.

Hacking on hildon-desktop to get MeeGo-esque task switching

Thomas Perl has also released patches which change Hildon Desktop's task switcher in Maemo 5 (Fremantle) into a similar style as that visible in the MeeGo Handset UX: After playing around with the MeeGo Handset launcher and task switcher, I decided to have a look at how this could be implemented in Fremantle, because the big previews and the paginated launcher are easier to use in some cases (you can also checkout the contents of a window while scrolling by without having to activate it). Hildon Desktop is a key component of the N900's user interface; you should only attempt at building on Thomas' work if you are comfortable recovering from such low-level hackery.


Twitter List for MeeGo Conference

The MeeGo community has started organizing a list of Twitter usernames for folks planning to attend the MeeGo Conference in Dublin this year to ease coordination and communication before and during the event. If you're attending the event and would like to be added to the Twitter list, add your name to the list on the wiki page.

Keynote speakers and programme announced for MeeGo Conference

The list of keynote speakers for the MeeGo Conference in November is now available: The MeeGo Conference program and keynote speakers are now confirmed. More than 200 proposals were submitted, and the Content Committee has worked hard to extract a great selection. The event will start with the following keynote speakers (in order of appearance): Intel’s Doug Fisher, Vice President, Software and Solutions Group, and General Manager, Systems Software Division; Alberto Torres, Executive Vice President, MeeGo Computers, Nokia; Dominique Le Foll, CTO at Amino Communications; and The Linux Foundation’s Executive Director Jim Zemlin and MeeGo community leaders Valtteri Halla and Imad Sousou will host akeynote panel discussion There are some good names on the list, which should make for an interesting first day.


Experimental graphics drivers speed up MeeGo UI on N900

Thomas Perl continues his MeeGo explorations with an experimental graphics driver (from Carsten Munk) for the N900 and the latest Handset UX release: I've had the chance to play around a bit more with the MeeGo Handset UX on the N900 yesterday ( Carsten provided experimental graphics drivers, which still crash at a few points, but for the first time provide acceptable performance in the UI. I also decided to build the gPodder MeeGo Touch Prototype UI against libmeegotouch. Unfortunately, there's no SDK yet, so I had to use zypper on the device (via SSH) to install libmeegotouch-devel, make and gcc-c++ and then take a long coffee break after entering qmake ; make. As it's using plain Qt, the TRG binary built from the Fremantle SDK worked fine on the device. Work is still ongoing to get MeeGo running on the N900 at an acceptable usability level.

Maemo in the Wild

What U.S. app makers says about Ovi Store

At a recent event for developers in San Francisco, Nokia attempted to improve its image in the USA not by targetting users, but by targetting developers: Nokia approached Andy Sheldon, founder and chief executive of San Francisco-based Fizwoz, at a Silicon Valley event in December, after he had showed off his Fizwoz application, a mobile auction application that connects cameraphone users to photo editors who could potentially buy their images. [...] By January, Fizwoz was available to download for users of Nokia’s N900 mobile computer. Mr. Sheldon says, by comparison it took the company three months from development to certification to get their application up on the Apple App Store. As developers are key to a platform's success (lots of developers results in lots of apps, which results in lots of users, which results in an increase in the number of developers, which results in lots of apps, rinse, repeat), it's a sensible strategy in your editor's opinion.


Automatic Connections: enable/disable IM accounts based on connection

To address the desire to have certain accounts disabled on certain internet connections, Jonny Lamb has released a new daemon, Automatic Connections, which allows users to limit accounts to specific connections. Once you configure which connections accounts should listen for, it uses libconic to listen for connect/disconnect events and enables and disables accounts as appropriate. You should also be able to override its actions temporarily without it clobbering your setting. The package is currenlty available from Extras-devel, the usual boilerplate still applies.

Firefox 4 beta for Maemo now available

Mozilla has released beta 1 of Firefox 4 (Fennec) for Android and Maemo: Our first Firefox 4 beta for mobile is now available to download and test. It’s built on the same technology platform as Firefox for the desktop and optimized for browsing on a mobile phone. Firefox beta for mobile comes with many of your favorite Firefox desktop features like Firefox Sync, Add-ons and the Awesome Bar. A major focus of this release is to increase performance and responsiveness. Two of the big architecture changes are Electrolysis and Layers. Our alpha contained Electrolysis which allowed the browser interface to run in a separate process from the one rendering Web content, resulting in a much more responsive browser. This beta brings the Layers pieces which improve overall performance and in graphics areas such as scrolling, zooming and animations. Though speed improvements are evident in the new beta, Maemo's chronic RAM starvation continues to hinder the experience - having two copies of Gecko in RAM (MicroB is always in memory) combined with XUL results in a fair amount of swapping. The beta is currently available from Mozilla's beta repository, the usual warnings and disclaimers apply to 3rd-party repositories.

SeriesFinale 0.6.5 released

Joaquim Rocha is bringing us another SeriesFinale update, this time 0.6.5: This version has some nice new features apart from regular bug fixing and code improvement. Juan has added the portrait mode (borrowed from the great gPodder) which surely pleases many users. To control the rotation and other forthcoming preferences, I’ve rewritten the settings class and created a settings dialog. Sometimes I get sick of getting the “Special” season on every shows, basically because I never watch those; so, I added a check button to the settings dialog where one can tell if the special seasons are to be considered or ignored, when adding new shows or updating existing ones. The new update is available in Extras-testing, so vote and test (if you've read the disclaimer). Otherwise, it should be available in Extras soon.

Homescreen Selector Widget

A new homescreen widget by Matias Perez simplifies homescreen navigation by providing a Spaces-esque overview of all of your homescreens so you can quickly navigate to any without needing to swipe through to them. I've made another homescreen selector widget The difference is that this one shows all active desktops backgrounds. It supports Matan's modified hildon-desktop (up to 9 desktops). Currently available from Extras-devel, so care should be taken when installing it.

NewsFlow - Qt Web Runtime-based RSS reader

Qt Web Runtime gives developers a lot of power to design simple applications quickly using web technologies. Tommi Laukkanen takes us through his experience with Forum Nokia's application design strategy and Qt WRT in his endeavor to create a newreader application for Maemo. There can’t be a better way of spending your Saturday night other then crafting and knitting new apps for your mobile devices. This Saturday I was missing a nice news reader for my Nokia N900. I tried to follow the Forum Nokia workflow: Design, Develop, Distribute. Here’s what happened. Get the whole story, and the application, from his blog.

SnXM: SimpleNote client for Maemo

Fred Pacquier has released a new Python & Qt-based application for integrating with SimpleNote: Think of it as a KISS version of Evernote that handles only plain text, but fast and well, especially when used off-line through native clients. There are quite a few such apps, for Windows, Mac OS and some mobile platforms : iOS and Android obviously, also Palm webOS, but no Maemo, as usual. That was bait enough for me to take the plunge. After all, it did have “simple” in it, didn’t it? Currently the application is only available as a tarball attached to a post; and Fred has asked for assistance with packaging it.