In this edition...

  1. Front Page
    • Maemo 5 & N900 get community OS updates
    • MWKN is a year old!
    • what next?
  2. Applications
    • WarMUX is new version of Worms-style team obliteration game
    • New maintainer wanted for 'vexed' game
  3. Development
    • Doing things the "right" Qt way whilst waiting for Qt Quick Components
    • Forum Nokia hotfixes for QML applications
    • Qt Quick Components for MeeGo goes private... for a while
    • Qt Mobile Contest - early bird results
  4. Community
    • Yet-Another-QA thread suggests some concrete changes to Extras
    • Name the pre-conference activities for future MeeGo conferences
    • Suggest location for MeeGo Conference in November 2011
    • Mobile art app contest at mobilefreidae in Berlin on Feb, 4th
  5. In the Wild
    • Nokia heading for another change in strategy?
    • The N9 is dead? Long live the N9?
  6. Announcements
    • FastSMSEvo: system-wide virtual portrait keyboard
    • Presence Notifier: notifications when contacts become available
    • Pip-Boy theme in development
    • Hungry Fish game

Front Page

Maemo 5 & N900 get community OS updates

One of your editors, Andrew Flegg, posted - on behalf of the Maemo Community Council and Mohammad Abu-Garbeyyeh - the announcement of the Fremantle Community SSU project. Seamless Software Update (SSU), is the term Nokia used to brand the over-the-air updates of Maemo. The Community SSU (CSSU) is being developed by the Maemo community, for the Maemo community. It aims to deliver fixes which can't be delivered easily through Extras, such as core Maemo packages. It won't, however, bundle software which can be installed through the Extras repositories. At this stage, the project is hoping to gain traction with developers (in particular Maemo engineers who might want to focus on things they couldn't previously), testers and those willing to help organise and manage the project. Longer term, it's hoped it will include many fixes and enhancements suitable for all N900 users.

With Nokia moving on to concentrate on MeeGo, this mechanism provides a vital continuation of the distribution of fixes and enhancements. Already, in the past two days, a large number of contributions have been made; with testing, bug reporting and community-driven fixes to the desktop; and enhancements to Modest.

MWKN is a year old!

MWKN launched on Monday, 1st Feburary 2010. What a year: it started when Maemo was the most popular it'd ever been, and people were having keeping track of all the different media (and that's just within the community). Just looking over the contents of the last year (dates reflect MWKN issues, not calendar months ;-)):

* February: Firefox Mobile; No clarity on Maemo 6 for N900; N900s all over London; Call audio drop-outs; Testing Squad; Official Qt support; 3D-accelerated Mer; MeeGo announced.

* March: First complexities of Qt evolution: ABI break in PR1.2 Extras; Ovi Store for Maemo paid apps cock-ups; Ronan MacLaverty announced as Developer Advocate; Diablo Community SSU; Qt Creator 2.0 alpha; MeeGo TSG holds first public meeting; MeeGo Community Council suggested; MeeGo branding under-fire; Fourth Maemo Community Council elected.

* April: MeeGo Day One; MeeGo N8x0 hardware adaptation; N900 overclocking; launches; Chromium ported to Maemo; Giving apps a CLI-style icon if no user-facing GUI; Where does the MeeGo community live? Who's in it?; Cheap O2 Jogglers show off Mer; Getting the autobuilder to give accurate cross-SDK dependencies; N900 live wallpaper; UX weeks kick off; MeeGo Repository Working Group?.

* May: Nokia Qt SDK beta; PR1.2 leaked; super-testers introduced; Google Summer of Code; PR 1.2 released; brainstorm; MeeGo 1.0 released; No end-user MeeGo (or Harmattan) for N900 from Nokia.

* June: Linaro announced; senior Maemo community members express concern about openness; N9 hardware leak?; Nokia respond to forced MyNokia subscription in PR1.2; MeeGo Handset "Day One".

* July: Nokia Qt SDK 1.0 released; delays fixing SSL certs; community-organised Maemo Coding Competition.

* August: N900s still losing USB ports; Council asks for Python apps in Ovi; code of conduct; KISStester; Status of Maemo licensing change request queue?; Promise of Maemo 5 Community SSU; More images of N9 surface; Diablo Community SSU stable.

* September: Nokia CEO changes; Maemo Community Council election; MeeGo Specification discussion and debate; Anssi Vanjoki resigns from Nokia; Peter Skillman joins Nokia from Palm; Calling All Innovators winners announced; MeeGo respin controversy.

* October: Ari Jaaksi joins Palm from Nokia ; Nokia re-affirms MeeGo announcement "by end-of-the-year"; Flash 10.1 available to some (but pointless); MeeGo Conference schedule announced; MeeGo on N900 makes phone calls; PR1.3 "almost ready"; preenv for running Palm Pre games on Maemo.

* November: PR1.3 released; MeeGo 1.1 released; Nokia simplifies developer story (finally); Playing DVDs on N900, directly; MeeGo Conference in Dublin; MeeGo Community OBS live.

* December: Open Media Player starts development; Nokia discouraging Ovi developers from further Maemo updates?; Maemo bugjars for "official ..." discontinued; Hacking on Ovi Maps' JavaScript; N900 in top five of Google Zeitgeist.

* January: N900 and MeeGo win in Linux Journal Readers' Choice awards; N900 Amazon's most-given gift phone; MeeGo Coding Competition in the works; Gtk+ on MeeGo Handset team selected; Qt SDK 1.1 tech preview released; Maemo 5 Community SSU released. Looking back two things strike your editor; firstly, the move to MeeGo really took the wind out of the sails of Maemo, the N900 and; despite MeeGo being the merger of both Maemo and Moblin. The N900 has gone from a wildly popular and, at least comparatively, mass-market phone with a massive increase in participation to a discarded and increasingly long-in-the-tooth device requiring the sustenance of its dwindling community to survive. Secondly, the level of participation in MWKN hasn't been anywhere near that your editor expected - but that it has been as succesful as he'd hoped in providing a comprehensive digest of Maemo (and now MeeGo) news every week.

Thanks to all those who have contributed, especially Ryan Abel who helps out every Sunday in getting the submissions fleshed out. (Ironically this issue is late because has been down all day; a tool used by your editors for collaboratively pulling the issue together) what next?

Well, a year ago the name "Maemo" seemed destined to become mainstream and successful (the number of maemo* blogs which sprang up is a testament to that). We're best known by the name "MWKN", but the expansion: Maemo Weekly News is increasingly anachronistic. We've got plans for a new tagline (suggested by Dave Neary), plan to keep "MWKN" as the main name, and probably need a new logo (as well as some style changes including contributor by-lines); but what should its expansion be? Help choose in our quick poll from a number of options (if you've any others, let us know!)


WarMUX is new version of Worms-style team obliteration game

Mikko Vartiainen has announced that the Wormux project was renamed to WarMUX and now first official WarMUX version 11.01 has been released. WarMUX is open source Worms style team game. This time Maemo support is fully integrated to upstream source. WarMUX is now available for other mobile platforms Android and Symbian too. Packages for Maemo 5 are in Extras-testing, so please test and vote accordingly. Packages for Diablo (i.e. Maemo 4) are in Extras-devel.

New maintainer wanted for 'vexed' game

paul paul has no more time (or interest) to maintain his "vexed" game, and wonders if there is anyone who'd be interested in taking over maintainership: I dump my n900 in favor of other phone a while ago. I had developed a game for maemo5, it is hosted on garage ( I have no any interest in this sources anymore and will give away full access to those who want to impove the game and will continue developing. Although it is sad to see a developer leave the community, kenga should be applauded for trying to actively hand his project over, rather than just letting it languish in Extras. Hopefully someone trying to find a project to occupy them will take him up on his offer.


Doing things the "right" Qt way whilst waiting for Qt Quick Components

The current Qt strategy for developers is to use QML as the declarative expression of your application's user interface. This works well for games and other applications with bespoke UIs; but leaves developers wanting to integrate properly into the user's platform's look & feel scrambing around for a solution. The official solution, Qt Quick Components, is not yet released. In a blog post, Ville Vainio explores the options: this may lead some developers to crawl in a hole, incapable of getting any development done because they are waiting for the Components release (as they harbor the misconception that QML alone can't get the job done). This is the wrong attitude. Even when using Qt Quick Components, you need to understand QML anyway - there is no way around creating custom list delegates, for example. It's a better idea to write your application completely in raw QML right now, and when official components become available, you can easily change your own buttons for the official, theme-following buttons. In short, the suggestion is that using the trunk; developing your own or using one of the other libraries will still allow you to build a "good-enough" user interface that will provide a solid foundation for switching to the proper Components when they are released.

Forum Nokia hotfixes for QML applications

Ville Vainio has announced that there is now a hotfix package which Qt developers should depend on to ensure the correct and expected operation of Qt and, in particular, Qt Quick: Now that Qt SDK 1.1 is finally out (in form of Tech Preview), people are rightfully hacking with QML. There is, however, a snag with QML on N900: Image elements with remote URL don't load. So, if you are doing a QML application, remember to install "mcsp" on your device (sudo gainroot; apt-get install mcsp), and add it as a dependency on your debian package. This is Forum Nokia's "service pack" for a number of Qt bugs. Instead of waiting on a (probably) never arriving PR update from Nokia, this package allows them - as members of the Maemo community - to improve interoperability with Nokia's other platforms, and make developers' lives easier.

Qt Quick Components for MeeGo goes private... for a while

As noted above, Qt Quick Components has not yet been released. However, it may well be soon - as may Nokia's take on the MeeGo user interface - since the development of the MeeGo implementation has now gone closed source: For the last six months, we have been building a set of UI components for Qt Quick. This has been done completely out in the open, with both project content and progress reflected in our Jira instance, developing using the gitorious repo, hanging out in #qt-components on freenode and emailing. We have been having a lot of fun, and it's starting to become feature complete.

For a while we will not be pushing changes to the MeeGo style branch of Qt components, as we are busy finalizing it and are unable to make certain pieces of the final user experience public. Bear with us for a while, the code will be released upstream as soon as we can.

We are very aware of the fact that this is a suboptimal solution, but this is the only way we are able to work with the efficiency we need while at the same time keeping certain aspects of upcoming platform look and feel under wraps. This is the same "big reveal" mentality that Carsten Munk noted in the run up to the MeeGo Handset UX launch. That Nokia feel that the core UI technology of MeeGo can be developed in a closed manner, so that they can maintain secrecy in the run-up to the launch of their MeeGo user interface, presents a barrier which may prevent MeeGo from ever being developed in an open and collaborative way. MeeGo's unique selling point against the entrenched Android is, we're told, it's openness; but developing such a critical part behind closed doors shows that - when it comes down to it - Nokia won't support that goal if it conflicts with its short-term marketing interests.

Qt Mobile Contest - early bird results

Whilst extending the final deadline for entries to 31st March 2011, five early entrant winners have been announced in a Qt programming competition: Late last year, announced a competition challenging people to port their existing free software Qt apps to Symbian and MeeGo. There was a prize of 10,000 Euros for the best app submitted to the Ovi store, and entries that were submitted before December 31 were eligible for one of five early bird prizes. Well, the five lucky early bird winners have been chosen. Each of them will receive a Nokia N900, T-shirts and a Qt gyrotwister. Your editor (offline in a plane) has no idea what a "gyrotwister" is.


Yet-Another-QA thread suggests some concrete changes to Extras

Threads about the issues with the Extras-testing process are not new, however this one has some concrete and easily achievable changes which might warrant further discussion. Roman Morawek started the thread with: I uploaded a new release of my application on 5th of November, so more than 2.5 months ago. Right now, I have 6 positive votes (including mine) - thus 60% of the demanded hurdle. I guess my application is not one of the top apps, but downloaded ca. 100.000 times. So I expect it is also used and not only positioned in an extreme niche.

I think that such a period for a new release is too long. It has the potential to demotivate developers and users stick to outdated application versions. The Maemo community size is also probably not further increasing in future, so this won't help neither.

Name the pre-conference activities for future MeeGo conferences

Dave Neary has started a poll on the MeeGo forums to help pick the new name for the pre-conference events for the MeeGo Conference in San Francisco. At the MeeGo Conference in Dublin, we held some activities over the weekend before the conference - we called them "Early Bird events" and some of the feedback we got was that the name wasn't very good. So we've agreed to change it (via discussions on the meego-community mailing list), and I've got a short-list of candidate names we need to choose from. Without further ado: please vote for your favourite of the following names, which will be the pre-conference activities for the next few MeeGo Conferences, starting in San Francisco in May.

Suggest location for MeeGo Conference in November 2011

The Call for Venue selection has gone out for the November 2011 MeeGo Conference location. Requirements are listed on the wiki page, with the primary limitation being that the location should be in Europe. If you have an appropriate proposal, add it to the list on the wiki. We are looking for venues which can host a plenary session of 2000, 5-6 breakout rooms, a registration and techshowcase area. A venue which can host keynotes with twice the capacity of the November 2010 MeeGo Conference? This will be big.

Mobile art app contest at mobilefreidae in Berlin on Feb, 4th

This week, on 4th February, another "mobilefreidae" will be held in Berlin. You contribute MeeGo apps and demos; or turn up and see what's going on: The transmedile 11 art festival partly takes place in the c-base. The mobile freidae event ist part of this evening and we are looking for The event will be held at the impressive c-base venue in Berlin, the location of the first Maemo Summit back in 2008.

In the Wild

Nokia heading for another change in strategy?

In the weeks leading up to Mobile World Congress (MWC), there have been flurries of rumours around Nokia and the MeeGo-Harmattan device. Following Stephen Elop (Nokia CEO)'s Q&A during their results' presentation, rumours have increased about whether or not Nokia may largely abandon MeeGo and concentrate on something with a pre-built ecosystem (such as Android). Talk stalwart, benny1967 adds a note of caution about getting carried away with such rumours: The current strategy (S40/Symbian/MeeGo, with Qt being the common platform for Symbian and MeeGo) is relatively new and was expensive to follow, wasn't it? The new Symbian, making Qt what it is today, developing MeeGo, Qt-related changes to Ovi and so on...

If Elop changes it yet again, it's like burning money. No matter what he changes. (Some say MeeGo remains, but they will kill Symbian. Others say changes are for the US market only. Then there's those who claim to know it's MeeGo they'll let die...)

Besides, comparing Nokias offerings with those of its competitors, it's not the OS of any single phone out there (except the N97) that's bad. What they have a problem with is a) marketing and communications; b) services and integration (including things like the infamous Ovi Suite and various Ovi services). These things wouldn't change really, would they? Buried within the thread there is a link to the full transcript of the call. Nokia say they'll "share the next step of their journey with us" on February 11th. The transcript refers to it as a "strategy and finance" briefing where "we will provide a comprehensive update on the key decisions and changes relayed to Nokia's strategy going forward."

The N9 is dead? Long live the N9?

Has the polishing and revamping of Nokia's high-end user interface (which *has* to impress on launch) had its first casualty not be the mighty iPhone or an Android device, but... itself? Eldar Murtazin, a Russian blogger with a track record of inside connections, claims the N9 is cancelled, and a new N9 will be released in its place. The delay has not been good for the hardware; in today's market an OMAP3 (such as the OMAP3630) is just seen as yesterday's news for a high-end device. As Neil MacLeod says: The RM-680 specs are hardly cutting edge in today's market, and they were barely cutting edge assuming it was meant to be launched 6 months ago. Nokia would run the risk of becoming a laughing stock if they launched the RM-680 in another one, two or three months time and tried to claim it as their flagship MeeGo device when everyone else is (or has already been) shipping dual core devices with more memory and higher resolution screens. I wouldn't be surprised to discover the RM-680 also lacks something like NFC which is becoming de rigueur on high end devices. If true, and the new device was in a state to be released relatively soon, the delay could mean a move to MeeGo "proper", rather than the hybrid MeeGo-Harmattan/Maemo 6 (although there's literally *no* evidence of this). This would almost certainly be beneficial to the developer ecosystem, although a risk from what Nokia engineers have most expertise in managing in a consumer device.


FastSMSEvo: system-wide virtual portrait keyboard

Portrait support is one of Maemo's most requested features (particularly for users coming from traditional mobile device platforms), and one of the core software requirements for it is a portrait virtual keyboard. Initial support for SMS writing in the form of FastSMS from Davide Aimone last year, but was only useful when composing SMSes.

But the developer has now released an virtual input plugin based on FastSMS to allow system-wide virtual keyboard support: This plugin allows the use of FastSMS as virtual keyboard in all N900. This is a very experimental version so you can notice a lot of bugs and problems. [...] How use it? Simply click on text-field where you want write, like standard virtual keyboard. As the plugin is currently in Extras-devel, those interested in trying it out should temper their eagerness and procede with care.

Presence Notifier: notifications when contacts become available

Out-of-the-box, Maemo 5 provides no way to know when contacts become available. To rectify this, Nicolai Hess has developed "Presence Notifier", which sends a notification banner whenever the status of one of your contacts changes. It shows a notification for status changes of your online contacts. Ready for testing. Feedback is welcome. I hope the settings page in the control panel is intuitive. It is currently available from Extras-devel, so the standard warnings and disclaimers apply if you'd like to test it.

Pip-Boy theme in development

A Talk user "Tinukedaya" has started work on a new Pip-Boy theme for Maemo 5. For those of you unfamiliar with the Fallout series of video games, the Pip-Boy was a wrist-computer worn by vault dwellers. I'd like to get some feedback on a Theme I'm currently working on for my newly acquired N900. I saw there already are Fallout themes and I did try them both, but even as good as they are, it wasn't what I was looking for. So I started my own. Doing it using the Theme Maker under windows, which I lately heard isn't a good choise. But it works for me so far. The theme is still in development and has not yet been released.

Hungry Fish game

"raghu_mark" has developed a new game called Hungry Fish. Survival is contingent upon feeding bubbles to fish within an alotted amount of time. The game was written in QML and requires PR 1.3 to be installed: The fish is hungry and it needs to feed on the bubbles to survive. This is a time bound game. Tap on the bubbles for the fish to eat them. If you tap anywhere else, your fish becomes smaller and hence loses its life. Unfortunately the application is installed through a random deb file. Assistance in packaging for the auto-builder has been requested; so if you fancy lending a hand to a new developer, please do so.