Nokia, Intel merge Maemo, Moblin into Meego

February 15, 2010

Some coverage of the recent announcement: Nokia, Intel merge Maemo, Moblin into Meego on Slashdot, Moblin and Maemo to merge on LWN, Maemo + Moblin = MeeGo = Failure on Planet Debian. Some quotes:

A stupid name is a prerequisite for being a successful FOSS product. Nokia and Intel have clearly done their homework.

Also indicating huge potential, MeeGo has already ignited a flamewar between RPM and DEB supporters. Welcome to the community!

—EvilTNUser (here)

And:

Today, Nokia and Intel announced the merge of Maemo and Moblin into the MeeGo project. This is sad, because it will end the era of the Debian-based mobile operating system Maemo and replace it with a system using RPM and probably some other evil stuff as well. In fact, dpkg & apt-get where two of my main reasons to buy the N900.

And another question is why yet another name. Moblin was already a well-known name and they shouldn’t have changed the name just because they switch the servers and add some Nokia developers.

Furthermore, does this all mean that there will be no Maemo 6? What will happen to the Maemo users on the N900, will it be possible for them to use MeeGo?

I recently bought an N900 (very recently — like, using it four three or four days now. Review forthcoming) and I have to admit to a few moments of shock and terror. But having thought things over, I’m giving in to "cautious optimism". Here’s my take on it:

  1. Like Julian Klode, my getting an N900 was prompted by my extremely positive experience on the Nokia N810. And it’s true that part of that experience was the discovery you can apt-get pretty much anything in the Debian repository. But the mechanism whereby this occurs is a little subtle: although apt-get is the application-installation mechanism for Maemo apps, the Maemo repositories aren’t really compatible with Debian. You can’t just open a terminal and sudo apt-get install emacs. Cross-compiling Debian packages is possible but (in my experience) a really bad idea; I broke APT on my N810 this way.

    The preferred mechanism for getting access to the Debian repository is a package, installable by default, called easy-deb-chroot. As you might guess, what this does is to set up a Debian chroot, wherein you have free range of whatever you want to do. In other words — the mechanism by which applications are installed by default on the device is completely independent of having access to the Debian universe. This is important: it means they can switch to RPM for installing packages, and still give us our easy-deb-chroot, which is what we really want anyhow.

  1. I’m surprised that they chose a new name — I think both Maemo and Moblin have great brand recognition in the community.

Nokia is the only hardware company in the mobile space that I think really "gets it" (some examples occur to me). Intel has been making strides towards getting it. And best of all, there are no telecoms involved in MeeGo yet. For these reasons, I’m going to take a wait-and-see approach. After all: there’s lots of work ahead of us if we’re going to build a better mobile stack than Google and Apple.

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