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The N9: what MeeGo could have been

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By Jonathan Corbet
March 20, 2012
There is value in whining at times. At a recent conference, your editor complained that he had been unable to get a sense for what MeeGo is really like since nobody had ever sent him an N9 handset. Some time thereafter, a shiny blue N9 showed up on the doorstep courtesy of the kind folks at Nokia. What follows are various impressions from playing with this new toy; your editor, normally an Android user, has found a lot to both like and dislike in this seemingly doomed smartphone platform.

The N9 is an attractive device, only slightly larger than a Nexus One. The spouse, upon handling it, complained about the rather sharp corners - but proved reluctant to hand the device back anyway. The corners do stand out in an age when everything is supposed to be rounded, and they can dig into the palm slightly, but it's all a matter of taste. The handset's specifications are reasonably standard for this vintage of device; there is a 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. In a welcome change from previous Nokia devices, the N9 uses a standard micro-USB connector instead of something special Nokia made up for that specific handset. The camera is quite nice; there is also a front-facing camera, though the built-in Skype client is unable to use it. By all appearances, the handset is sealed forevermore; replacing the battery does not appear to be an option.

[N9 launcher screen] Android users will have likely gotten used to that environment's home screen which can be populated (especially with CyanogenMod builds) with a wide variety of application launchers, contact shortcuts, active widgets, and more. The N9 MeeGo experience is somewhat different, in that there are three specialized home screens with limited potential for customization. The first of these is the familiar matrix of icons providing access to applications on the phone. Users can rearrange the icons (including putting them into subfolders), but there is no way to put anything other than application launchers on this screen.

It is also possible to remove applications via this screen. Dishearteningly, one quickly learns that, as with many Android builds, some applications have been rendered immortal and unremovable. Your editor has little use for Facebook or Twitter applications, but they cannot be made to go away. The best that can be done is to move them to a folder where, at least, they can be kept out of sight.

[N9 processes screen] The second "home" screen (accessible via a left or right swipe across the screen) shows the running applications in a 2x2 grid. Their current screens are visible, and specific applications can be killed if desired. As one might expect, tapping on an application's screen brings it back to the foreground. The third screen is a notification area; messages, weather information, and the latest urgent Twitter spam will show up here.

Annoyingly, none of the home screens rotate when the phone is held in the landscape orientation. Applications handle rotation without trouble, but the home screens appear to be special.

The applications shipped with the phone are generally attractive and nice to use - though sometimes they seem to get into dead end screens where a "back" button would be nice to have. There is a mapping and navigation application that works nicely and comes with suitably annoying voices in a wide range of languages. The camera application is feature-rich and responsive. There is a central account manager that organizes access credentials; interestingly, it can hook into Google, but not for contact information. Getting access to contacts will be one of the first things a former Android user will want to do; fortunately it is possible by telling the phone that Google is an Exchange server. WiFi tethering is built into the phone but "forbidden" for US users; fortunately, one can install the "SpotOn" application to get around that bit of obnoxiousness.

[N9 web browser] On the other hand, the web browser makes one wish for the Android equivalent. Android's browser has a "fit page to screen" option that does a nice job of rendering the interesting part of a web page in an optimally readable form; the MeeGo browser, instead, just mashes the entire page, unreadably, onto the screen, requiring zoom-in gestures and side-to-side scrolling for almost every page that has not been specifically designed for small screens. That Android feature, arguably, is on its own responsible for the fact that nobody at LWN has found the time to make a more mobile-friendly version of the site; the N9 has made it clear that not everybody has as good an experience.

The MeeGo on-screen keyboard, while being entirely functional, is also not as nice as the Android equivalent. There appears to be no built-in spelling correction or word prediction, making typing a longer and more error-prone process. That is one of the bigger shortcomings of this system. Typing on keyboard-less handsets is a painful enough procedure even with a top-quality on-screen keyboard; this is not the place for a second-rate solution. (Correction: there is a simple prediction mechanism that only seems to appear some of the time; it is better than nothing, but doesn't change the main point of this paragraph).

There is, naturally, an applications store full of things to add on to an N9. A number of important programs are there, and, inevitably, the handset comes with Angry Birds already installed. The range of available applications falls far short of that found in the Android store, though. That is far from surprising; given that MeeGo was a lame-duck platform from the beginning, there will be little motivation for developers to put any time into supporting it.

Inside the device

[N9 terminal] The MeeGo system is a far more Linux-like environment than Android provides. A terminal application comes preinstalled on the device; it works well enough for what it is, but the truth of the matter is that trying to do command-line work with an on-screen keyboard is always going to be painful. Fortunately, there's an easier way. If one puts the device into developer mode (a simple menu tweak) and plugs it into a computer's USB port, the device offers to connect in "SDK mode." In that mode, it presents as a network interface; there is even a built-in DHCP server so the computer side of the connection gets configured automatically. After that, it's just a matter of using SSH to obtain a shell on the handset. Unlike Android handsets, the N9 has Busybox on it from the start, so the shell is actually reasonably usable.

For the most part, the phone environment feels like Linux. There is, however, no functioning su command; one is, instead, supposed to use devel-su. The result is a shell that claims to be root, but all it takes is a find command run from the top of the filesystem to see that root is not all-powerful on this system. There are certain things that one still cannot access or change. This behavior is the result of the MeeGo security framework in action. Through a combination of trusted computing techniques and mandatory access control, Nokia keeps the device locked down at a certain level. It wouldn't do, after all, to let those pesky users have direct access to the media files that they think they bought on their handset.

Of course, keeping the users away is not the only motivation for the security framework; it is also intended to prevent applications from acting against the users' interests. Applications are installed with "resource tokens" describing the actions they are allowed to carry out; they include the ability to query location information, access the camera, make calls, etc. Superficially it looks a lot like the Android permissions mechanism, but the implementation appears to be wired more deeply in at the kernel level.

Notably, the application installer does not expose resource tokens to the user, so there is no way to know what types of access a given application will have - a major difference from Android. One suspects that most Android users never look at the list of requested permissions, but a subset of us tend to examine them closely indeed. The inability to know what access has been granted to an application seems like a major shortcoming. That will be doubly true anywhere outside of a strict walled-garden application repository; on this system, applications from outside Nokia's store, if they can be installed at all, can only have a restricted set of permissions. But, restricted or not, the user should have the chance to review the permissions requested by an application.

What if you want to bypass the mandatory access control and truly have full access to the device? The answer would appear to be a tool called INCEPTION. It allows the installation of applications with full privilege; one can also disable the security framework altogether. Your editor has not had the time to play with this tool, but it appears to be the ticket for those who are eager to void their warranties and reach for full control of the handset.

Perhaps a true measure of the freedom of a piece of hardware is the existence of independent operating system distributions for it. In the Android world, there is CyanogenMod along with a long list of less well-known, often more dubious, "mods." For the N9 the alternatives on offer are somewhat more restricted, but those who are truly adventurous can give NemoN9 a try. Nemo is the current incarnation of the "Mer" project; it is trying to continue the development of the MeeGo framework as an independent effort. Unfortunately, activity in this project seems to have slowed considerably, though it is still producing regular releases and its use in the upcoming Vivaldi tablet may spur development in the future. What releases Nemo has made have not found their way over to NemoN9, though, which was last updated in November, 2011.

The end of the line

Your editor has often said in the past that MeeGo could become a credible challenger to Android and a strong force in the mobile world in general. After some hands-on experience with a MeeGo device, that impression has not changed. MeeGo provides a polished and pleasant user experience. It falls short of current Android releases in some ways, but it is much nicer to use than the early Android-based devices were. With a bit of work, MeeGo could have been a truly competitive - and more community-friendly - alternative. The fact that things did not turn out that way is a sad comment on the state of the market and the management of certain companies.

The good news is that the developers who worked on this system are out there; many of them are still employed at Nokia. MeeGo may even see some further development for devices other than handsets. But the sad fact is that Nokia has placed its bets on a proprietary operating system with uncertain prospects in the mobile market. If that bet does not work out as hoped, Nokia may yet rediscover the high-quality, free-software alternative at its disposal. Then, perhaps, we'll see a new attempt to put MeeGo-based handsets on the market. For now, though, the N9 has all the look of a solid, sleek and polished platform with no future. In truth, it deserved better than that.


(Log in to post comments)

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 20, 2012 19:29 UTC (Tue) by Jonno (subscriber, #49613) [Link]

Please note that NemoN9 is not a separate project, but simply a set of instructions on how to install the Nemo Mobile N950 port on a N9 device. It has not been updated since November simply because the instructions still work. (Well, you need to replace the Nemo Mobile N950 image link with a more recent one, but if you can't do that yourself you are definitely not in the target audience). / Jon, the author of the Nemo Mobile N9 instructions.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 10:19 UTC (Wed) by tajyrink (subscriber, #2750) [Link]

Indeed, all Nemo N950 rootfs releases work as is on N9, because it's essentially the same hardware.

Also, about 20 times easier instructions are nowadays available at http://wiki.merproject.org/wiki/Nemo/Installing#Nokia_N9 - the moslo-n9 takes care of many of the ugly parts.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 10:24 UTC (Wed) by timoph (guest, #71883) [Link]

There are updated instructions to setting up Harmattan/Nemo dual boot in Mer wiki http://wiki.merproject.org/wiki/Nemo/Installing#Nokia_N9

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 12:00 UTC (Wed) by Jonno (subscriber, #49613) [Link]

Thanks, I missed when those where added three weeks ago. I have now updated my instructions to point to the wiki for a simpler alternative.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 20, 2012 19:37 UTC (Tue) by corsac (subscriber, #49696) [Link]

* word prediction does exist, not sure about autocorrect. Swype is available, too
* terminal is not installed by default, it comes with developer mode
* Harmattan, the OS used in N9, although called MeeGo 1.2, is more Maemo 6 than Meego

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 20, 2012 19:41 UTC (Tue) by corbet (editor, #1) [Link]

  • So how does one obtain word prediction when, say, typing a text message or an email? I'd sure like to know, having looked for it for some time.

  • I did nothing to install the terminal, it was just there. Developer mode may somehow enable it, but it's already on the system.

  • Getting into the discussion of whether this is really MeeGo or not does not seem fruitful; there has been no real agreement on that in the past.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 20, 2012 19:51 UTC (Tue) by corsac (subscriber, #49696) [Link]

* I might not know what you mean by “word prediction“ (I never touched Android). What I know (which isenabled by default and which I disabled in input settings) is more like word autocompletion,
* it's *installed* when you enable developer mode (not sure it's really important, but you seem to insist)
* it seems relevant when you talk about the future, and how MeeGo could see releases on other devices. MeeGo /might/ continue, but it'll just move more away from Harmattan than it is right now, that's all

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 20, 2012 19:56 UTC (Tue) by Jonno (subscriber, #49613) [Link]

1. Open the settings application, go to time and language followed by text entry and turn on error correction and word recognition (exact texts might be different, translating from my Swedish N9).

2. If you enable developer mode and then turn it of again, the terminal stays installed (at least it did for me), perhaps you got a phone that had been used internally by Nokia first, and not been re-flashed with a vanilla rootfs image.

3. MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan is MeGoo by virtue of having gotten a trademark usage exception from the Linux Foundation for use of the name. However, the underlying OS is closer to Maemo 5 than to the reference MeeGo 1.2, down to using dpkg rather than rpm for package management, which is why some people like to call it Maemo 6.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 8:07 UTC (Wed) by alexbk (guest, #37839) [Link]

I can't for the life of me understand why people make such a big deal out of package management. A platform is defined for the most part by its middleware and application frameworks, and that's where Harmattan and MeeGo are very close indeed.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 23, 2012 10:58 UTC (Fri) by wookey (subscriber, #5501) [Link]

well, at least for the sort of developer I am, the package manager, and thus the associated tools for making the packages, define the entire development environment. So it is a big deal. I know a great deal about the debian tools ecosystem. I know almost nothing about the equivalent rpm world/tools. And I'd choose a mobile environment on that basis too, because I know I could relatively easily hack things.

So yes if you just _use_ a package manager for managing packages then it's a trivial matter. If you develop for a platform, at the infrastructure/packaging level (i.e as opposed to actually writing apps, when again it doesn't matter much) then the package-tools ecosystem is almost everything.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 23, 2012 18:22 UTC (Fri) by oak (guest, #2786) [Link]

It also mostly defines your upstream.

Debian has the longest history on ARM, it has been most used ARM distro for a decade and it started the OABI -> EABI and soft-fp -> hard-fp transitions first of the major distros. And nowadays Linaro works with Ubuntu. RPM world plays a bit of catch up and seems more fragmented/marginal on ARM.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 16:38 UTC (Wed) by krake (subscriber, #55996) [Link]

I recommend activating swype for text input. It makes text input considerably faster once you get used to moving the finger around instead of typing.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 19:32 UTC (Wed) by oak (guest, #2786) [Link]

If you have enabled multiple keyboard layouts, being able to swipe between them is also quite nice feature (independent of Swype).

How to remove annoying apps

Posted Mar 21, 2012 21:48 UTC (Wed) by cfischer (guest, #3983) [Link]

When you've got developer mode, you can remove annoying apps like this:
   dpkg-divert --local --rename /usr/share/applications/facebookqml.desktop
After a reboot (properly with shutdown -r now) facebook is gone for good.

The browser on the N9 is apparently a safari clone, or at least it reports as such. It has some features as double-click to zoom in on text. All in all, I'd much prefer a Mozilla mobile browser. Hope it comes soon.

The keyboard is, IMHO, better than on Android - at least better than the Android versions of 1 year ago.

How to remove annoying apps

Posted Mar 21, 2012 21:51 UTC (Wed) by corsac (subscriber, #49696) [Link]

How to remove annoying apps

Posted Mar 21, 2012 22:06 UTC (Wed) by cfischer (guest, #3983) [Link]

Got it - many thanks!

How to remove annoying apps

Posted Mar 21, 2012 22:11 UTC (Wed) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

It's a webkit browser, but obviously not a safari clone...

How to remove annoying apps

Posted Mar 23, 2012 0:20 UTC (Fri) by Lennie (guest, #49641) [Link]

Not only that, Nokia always had Webkit forks ever since they had the S60 platform I believe.

I read somewhere that Webkit browser on the N9 is the most capable of the 3 platforms: iPhone Safari, Android Browser and N9.

How to remove annoying apps

Posted Mar 23, 2012 8:58 UTC (Fri) by corsac (subscriber, #49696) [Link]

N900 has a gecko-based browser (and so did N8x0 and N770)

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 20, 2012 20:14 UTC (Tue) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

Btw, the running app overview isn't limited to a 2x2 grid; you can zoom in an out by pinching. It's a cool effect, if nothing else :-).

(And I'm still, no matter how dead the platform is, inordinately proud that the documents application uses Calligra =and is free software as well. That was one project where Nokia worked with the community that just worked.)

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 20, 2012 20:41 UTC (Tue) by aorth (guest, #55260) [Link]

Thanks for the review, Jon. I've always been curious about the N9.

I saw one recently in a tech store in South Africa, but was shocked to see its price tag rivaling the Galaxy Note and the Galaxy S2 on the same shelf. Shame, because the hardware looked beautiful, but I could never justify spending that kinda cash on a doomed/abandoned platform.

An aside: the last Nokia phone I used was an Express Music 5800. Managing network connectivity on that damn phone was such a pain in the ass. Nokia made it so difficult to add APNs for different networks (we have many in Kenya). Also, prioritizing known Wifi networks over 3G never worked for me. I never seemed to be able to browse the net properly on it. That was truly a dumb phone trying to be a smart phone.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 22, 2012 7:16 UTC (Thu) by buchanmilne (guest, #42315) [Link]

I saw one recently in a tech store in South Africa, but was shocked to see its price tag rivaling the Galaxy Note and the Galaxy S2 on the same shelf.
For some reason, most operator-run shops are selling the N9 at higher than Nokia Retail prices. At the Nokia shop in Vodaworld (Midrand, Johanesburg) the N9 was R5600 at launch. Most 'Prepaid' prices advertised by operators are in the region of R6300, the same price as the SGS II.

This "strange" pricing continues with contract prices. The N9 launched on Vodacom's Business Call package at R279pm, within 2 months it had dropped to R259pm, but as soon as the Lumia 800 launched (at the same price as N9 launch price, R279pm), it was up to R299pm, the exact same price as Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4s 16GB. The Lumia 800 is still R279pm, as is the SGS II. Galaxy Note is R399 on the same plan.

Could it be that Nokia is intentionally sabotaging sales of N9 in favour of Luma, even in regions where they have decided to sell the N9?

An aside: the last Nokia phone I used was an Express Music 5800. Managing network connectivity on that damn phone was such a pain in the ass. Nokia made it so difficult to add APNs for different networks (we have many in Kenya). Also, prioritizing known Wifi networks over 3G never worked for me. I never seemed to be able to browse the net properly on it.
This is the Symbian (as least Series60, I haven't used Symbian^3) experience, but the Maemo experience (at least on my N900) is vastly different. Wifi networks are very easy to add, and automatic switching to WiFi works well and reliably (except for some reason switching to networks using WPA2-EAP/802.11x, I am not sure if this is fixed in Harmattan / N9). But, on Series 60 (including a colleague's E71 I set up last month), just configuring WAP-EAP/802.11x is virtually impossible if you don't understand the technology quite well (it will give an obscure error message which doesn't allow you to guess that the problem is a missing CA certificate, even after you have changed all the default EAP settings which actively prevent the most common EAP methods from working)

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 23, 2012 0:27 UTC (Fri) by Lennie (guest, #49641) [Link]

"Could it be that Nokia is intentionally sabotaging sales of N9 in favour of Luma"

Well there are rumors that the N9 is outstelling the Lumia:

http://www.osnews.com/story/25569/Nokia_N9_Outselling_Lumia_

Even though the Lumia has a much bigger marketing budget.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 23, 2012 4:36 UTC (Fri) by ringerc (subscriber, #3071) [Link]

They probably don't want to support it, and/or suspect they'll have a higher return rate or higher support costs.

The N9 really feels like a "we have a contract with someone that says we have to release this, but not how" kind of device. It's as genuine an effort as a "sorry" from someone who was ordered to apologise by a court ruling.

I was really looking forward to Maemo, but when the Qt-to-GTK switch hit things started looking black, then the MeeGo trainwreck pretty much killed it well before anyone officially gave up on it. A smartphone platform with two incompatible changes in early life and a first handset with a dead-ended platform is NOT going to be attractive to devs. I'm just amazed it was released at all.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 20, 2012 20:44 UTC (Tue) by josh (subscriber, #17465) [Link]

Dead platform or not, if Nokia would actually sell me an N950 I'd buy one *today*. I love the hardware keyboard on my N900, and I can't stand to use a smartphone without one.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been, sell us an N950!

Posted Mar 20, 2012 23:28 UTC (Tue) by ehovland (subscriber, #2284) [Link]

Let me just add a "me too". I REALLY like the hardware keyboard on the N810 and the N900. I was always hoping that the N950 would be available to more then a few hundred people.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 1:32 UTC (Wed) by jzbiciak (subscriber, #5246) [Link]

Me too, for the same reasons. I keep thinking about getting the N9, but the "no keyboard" part is the killer for me.

Looking for a freedom-friendly smartphone

Posted Mar 21, 2012 15:52 UTC (Wed) by sumanah (subscriber, #59891) [Link]

Yesterday I was actually looking around to figure out how to get an N9 (I live in the US). I love my N900's physical keyboard and easy access to the terminal and root. Seeing this review of the N9 makes me sad because it sounds like even if I get an N9 I won't be terribly happy with it.

I've asked around: "What smartphone gives me root, has an OS that'll be around in 2 years, and won't crash too much?" and find the answers dispiriting. Anyone tried Geeksphone Zero?

Looking for a freedom-friendly smartphone

Posted Mar 22, 2012 17:16 UTC (Thu) by ssam (guest, #46587) [Link]

have you looked at the openmoko GTA04, http://projects.goldelico.com/p/gta04-main/

Looking for a freedom-friendly smartphone

Posted Mar 22, 2012 18:46 UTC (Thu) by jzbiciak (subscriber, #5246) [Link]

I think those all lack keyboards, don't they?

Looking for a freedom-friendly smartphone

Posted Mar 22, 2012 22:47 UTC (Thu) by ssam (guest, #46587) [Link]

yes, no openmoko has had a built in keyboard yet. The scope of the GTA04 project is only to replace the internals of the GTA02. A future model might have a new case, though that will only happen if GTA04 is a success.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 22, 2012 10:51 UTC (Thu) by osma (subscriber, #6912) [Link]

The N950 may not be so great after all:
http://everythingn9.com/the-elusive-unicorn-of-nokia-the-...
Then again, the N950 was not even intended to be a polished product.

I'm reasonably happy with the soft keyboard on my N9, but I sometimes miss the ability to type without looking at the phone. That's practically impossible to do with an on-screen keyboard, even though the N9 keyboard gives pretty nice vibration feedback so at least you feel when the key has been "struck".

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 27, 2012 1:37 UTC (Tue) by The_Barbarian (subscriber, #48152) [Link]

I suppose I would buy it if it was available.

It does fix the N9 issue of no hw keyboard, but I would miss the N900 resistive touchscreen. And of course the wasted effort from dropping gtk for qt is annoying. I vaguely favor gtk anyway, but the real issue is the switch. qt to gtk would have been as bad.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 31, 2012 11:01 UTC (Sat) by liljencrantz (guest, #28458) [Link]

I have an n950 lying around somewhere, and I can't recommend it to anyone. Here are some of the issues I've had with it:

* The system will occasionally (a few times per week) heat up significantly and drain the batteries in a couple of minutes. This is on an n950 with no 3rd party apps running. Manually closing every single application will not help, the only fix I've found is to manually restart. I'm too lazy to dig more.
* The hardware is incredibly fragile. After a few weeks of use, the headphone plug broke, and the hinge used to pull out the keyboard looks really fragile.
* When making a call with my n950, the person on the other end will receive five second bursts of loud static about once per minute.

The whole Nokia Linux phone thing saddens me. I had an n900 that I loved, but Nokia really managed to squander the market window they had - the N9 should have come out a few months after the n900.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Apr 15, 2012 21:59 UTC (Sun) by Tet (subscriber, #5433) [Link]

I have an n950 lying around somewhere, and I can't recommend it to anyone.

Regardless of your lack of recommendation, I'll happily take it off your hands for you. I'll make sure you don't lose out on the transaction. Yes, I'm serious. Let me know.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 20, 2012 21:55 UTC (Tue) by josh (subscriber, #17465) [Link]

> WiFi tethering is built into the phone but "forbidden" for US users; fortunately, one can install the "SpotOn" application to get around that bit of obnoxiousness

This looks like just a bug; http://forum.meego.com/showthread.php?t=4770&page=4 says that it has nothing to do with US-specific restrictions, just a bug that the wifi doesn't allow the creation of ad-hoc networks. The workaround:

echo 1 > /sys/devices/platform/wl1271/allow_adhoc

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 10:21 UTC (Wed) by tajyrink (subscriber, #2750) [Link]

It would look like to be an US/something related thing, not a bug, since the tethering application comes bundled with the sales devices and works fine out-of-the-box.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 22, 2012 11:31 UTC (Thu) by osma (subscriber, #6912) [Link]

Or, in case you don't like to do stuff with the console, use an app such as Ad-Hac:

http://talk.maemo.org/showpost.php?p=1172934&postcount=1
http://apps.formeego.org/applications/n9/pr1.0/harmattan/...

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 1:58 UTC (Wed) by pwsan (subscriber, #56604) [Link]

You write:

> In a welcome change from previous Nokia devices, the N9 uses a standard
> micro-USB connector instead of something special Nokia made up for that
> specific handset.

This might be true for Nokia's non-Linux devices. But Nokia's Linux devices, such as the N800, N810, and N900, all used standard mini or micro USB ports.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 4:08 UTC (Wed) by HelloWorld (guest, #56129) [Link]

Actually, my Nokia N97 mini (with Symbian) had a micro USB port as well.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 6:59 UTC (Wed) by thisisme (subscriber, #83315) [Link]

I might be wrong about this but I think all new phones sold in the EU are supposed to be charged via micro USB in the near future?

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 7:19 UTC (Wed) by spaetz (subscriber, #32870) [Link]

Yes, the EU had to mandate that after companies failed to settle on a single standard.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 8:10 UTC (Wed) by hrw (guest, #44826) [Link]

N8x0 were not chargable with USB - you had to use Nokia charger.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 8:17 UTC (Wed) by josh (subscriber, #17465) [Link]

You didn't necessarily have to use the Nokia charger, but you had to use a charger that followed the USB "dedicated charging port" specification, which requires shorting together the D+ and D- pins to indicate to the device that it can attempt to draw more current than the 500mA normally allowed by the USB spec.

You could also charge it from a normal USB port, but it would charge a lot slower.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 11:07 UTC (Wed) by timokokk (subscriber, #52029) [Link]

Actually the N8x0 did not charge from the USB. It simply didn't have the hardware for that. You had to use the Nokia charger to charge it.

Both N900 and N9 charge happily from the USB. They don't even have any other means for charging.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 12:12 UTC (Wed) by thisisme (subscriber, #83315) [Link]

Transition to FOSS

Posted Mar 21, 2012 6:49 UTC (Wed) by thisisme (subscriber, #83315) [Link]

Are there any well known technology companies which have successfully transitioned from the traditional, proprietary development model to FOSS? The two high profile examples I can think of - Nokia and Sun - both ended in much disappointment after embracing the free software philosophy.

(not trolling, just genuinely interested whether it's actually been done successfully)

Transition to FOSS

Posted Mar 21, 2012 7:58 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Are there any well known technology companies which have successfully transitioned from the traditional, proprietary development model to FOSS?

Not that I know of. IMNSHO it's just basically impossible to do. Transition to FOSS is inherently disruptive: it produces worse results (as far as blitz and polish is concerned, at least) and brings less money but requires less money for development, too. It's well-known fact that such transitions rarely succeed. The most you can realistically hope to do is to start separate (or semi-separate) entity which will grow from zero using freed sources and will eventually cannibalize old product. Similar to how Quantum successfully transitioned from 5¼ to 3½ HDD via it's Plus Development subsidiary. It's really hard to pull off. And when you do that then usually new thriving company has a different name thus it looks like transition failed.

I think you can name quite a few products which went this way if you'll think about it.

P.S. If you've read the Innovator's Dilemma then you know that it is possible to survive direct transition (it offers Micropolis as an example) even if this is extremely hard to do. Thus I think we'll see some such examples down the road, but their number will be tiny - this is just a wrong way to approach the problem.

Transition to FOSS

Posted Mar 21, 2012 8:11 UTC (Wed) by nhippi (subscriber, #34640) [Link]

One success story that comes into mind is Mozilla. The transformed from financially ruined proprietary software company Netscape into Mozilla Corporation that is still running.

Neither Nokia or Sun can be said to be "transformed to open source companies". Nokia only experimented with open source with few products and Sun had a long tradition doing some things in open (nfs, openview..) while others as closed at the same time.

Transition to FOSS

Posted Mar 21, 2012 11:24 UTC (Wed) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

Nokia did not exactly embrace Free Software. Sure, the company contributed to a bunch of projects and obviously funded the development of the projects acquired from Trolltech (although they managed to gut the revenue-generating opportunities of that division - something which was either incompetence or an internal power play to limit that division's influence), but you just have to look at the interactions between the company and the community to see that the decision-makers didn't really understand how to work in an open environment.

The article makes it pretty clear that not only does Nokia reserve the position of power for itself in any initiative - the attitude was always that customers and the community should count themselves lucky to have access to the toys - but that the organisation wastes a considerable amount of effort on undermining the usability of the eventual products: arbitrary limitations on functionality, contempt for purchasers of their devices, and so on. If people in the organisation were actually assigned to implement useful things instead of measures to keep the customer in check, maybe the resulting products would be competitive.

In fact, Nokia is a great example of not leveraging Free Software but instead attempting to constrain it. Sun also suffered from similar internal infighting, in its case leading to a generally incoherent Free Software strategy as various divisions presumably tried to turn the clock back to the proprietary glory days, in complete denial of the trajectory of the company and the industry.

Transition to FOSS

Posted Mar 21, 2012 11:41 UTC (Wed) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

A company like Nokia is very big and very diverse -- too big and too diverse that you can say "Nokia this, Nokia that". Even the Harmattan/MeeGo development teams had different attitudes around the board. I will repeat it here: the way Nokia's productivity team worked together with first the KOffice and then the Calligra community was exemplary.

Sure, there was a learning stage for everyone, but in the end, development was done upstream, bugs were tracked upstream, Nokia sponsored sprints, dinners, t-shirts, posters, organized classes for interns who would work on FreOffice and so on. And the result turned out to be really good for both parties.

Working with Nokia on KOffice/Calligra was without doubt the greatest project I have ever had. Others will have other tales, but I stand by mine.

Transition to FOSS

Posted Mar 21, 2012 14:27 UTC (Wed) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

I'm not denying your tales, although I would argue that if your objectives coincided sufficiently with Nokia's, your experience may have been better than others'. But it is appropriate to talk about Nokia as a single entity when assertions are made about the company embracing Free Software and when evaluating the company's products.

And the "big and diverse" attitude is used far too often when excusing corporate behaviour: it frequently allows one group of people to benefit from corporate wrongdoing while claiming that they don't really agree with it but they'd like everyone, presumably including those who are on the receiving end of that wrongdoing, directly or indirectly, to keep on indulging their community efforts.

Transition to FOSS

Posted Mar 21, 2012 14:49 UTC (Wed) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

No, it isn't an excuse, but it does mean that blanket generalizations like yours are not justified. And since those generalizations tend to be exclusively negative, they obscure what went well -- and what went well is a much better lesson for the future.

Transition to FOSS

Posted Mar 21, 2012 22:41 UTC (Wed) by oak (guest, #2786) [Link]

> If people in the organisation were actually assigned to implement useful things instead of measures to keep the customer in check

While it would be nice to have a mass-market smartphone that's useful for / wanted by normal end-users, but still open for tinkering (so that one could e.g. build further products on top it), I don't think Nokia ever aimed at that or saw it as a viable (profitable) market.

I don't think any other company provides such things either.

I guess that if MeeGo thing would have flown, there could have been *separate* developer phones, similar to what Google offers for Android:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_Dev_Phone

(I'm a fellow N9-security hater though. :-))

> In fact, Nokia is a great example of not leveraging Free Software but instead attempting to constrain it.

Open source is about software, not about products. While Nokia treated the specific device distro versions (= collection of specific versions of SW) more like fixed product that gets mainly just fixes, a lot of the SW itself on them was developed openly, at upstream, and the development was more open with each new version, until MeeGo's demise...

It's true that the device end users didn't see much of the open development done by Nokia, but that's mostly because users aren't involved with the open source development, at the corresponding upstream projects[1].

This development happens before the product releases, not half a year after release when most users get the product. By that time the SW has stabilized and developers have mostly moved to new versions of the software, intended for next product(s) and not anymore fitting well into the old devices (lacking RAM, specific types of HW etc).

If there would have been further MeeGo devices, I don't think the lack of resources on previous models would have been such a problem anymore as N9 had 1GB of RAM... :-/

[1] A lot of that "community communication" was hiring of the community members to do the work, starting from around 2004 (output from that early time period was e.g. Xephyr, XResTop and Xresponse tools and many Matchbox window improvements, things that were used later for example in OLPC and OpenMoko).

Btw. Getting things to upstream is sometimes a long process, even when community members are hired to work on it. A good example from this list:
http://live.gnome.org/Maemo/GtkContributions

Is the UI "tap-and-hold" feature which upstreaming to Gtk was initiated in 2005:
https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=315645

That feature has comments up to almost today and and it's still not in, and I guess not going to be either. It was more relevant when screens were used with stylus and indication about press and hold action availability could actually be visible behind it. However, nowadays most devices are interacted with fat fingers, not with stylus...

Transition to FOSS

Posted Mar 21, 2012 14:51 UTC (Wed) by lambda (subscriber, #40735) [Link]

It depends on your exact definitions. For instance, Netscape certainly failed, but the product did succeed in transitioning into Firefox, and the Mozilla Foundation is pretty successful these days. Or take Blender for example. It's another example of a failing company, that wound up selling its software to the community, and since then has become quite successful as FOSS with a paid development staff including several of the original developers. So in these examples, the company wound up failing, but the product had a successful transition to FOSS and is actively developed with a paid staff. Another example would be Ryzom, an MMORPG; its company went bankrupt, but its assets were purchased and released under the AGPL for the code and a Creative Commons license for the assets, while there are still paid subscriptions for the official server.

There are also examples of success as hybrid companies; companies in which some of their code is FOSS, and some is proprietary. For instance, Apple ships a good deal of their code under a permissive license. Oracle sells a Linux distro, maintains MySQL, developed Btrfs, and so on (though Oracle has obviously had some issues with supporting free software). Or Google, which makes a lot of its money from services and proprietary software, but ships a good deal of free software, including Android.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 8:14 UTC (Wed) by alexbk (guest, #37839) [Link]

"Nokia may yet rediscover the high-quality, free-software alternative at its disposal. Then, perhaps, we'll see a new attempt to put MeeGo-based handsets on the market."

I think it's too late now. Many, if not most of the N9 developers have quit the company in frustration, some are staying simply for the redundancy package (few months worth of salary); the very building in Helsinki where the team was located was shut down and released to rental market last week. It would probably take something drastic such as complete replacement of Nokia board of directors, or a company spin-off to even try to get them back.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 9:02 UTC (Wed) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

And the companies in the "ecosystem" that Nokia tried to build around Maemo/MeeGo are crumbling as well: http://www.murrayc.com/blog/permalink/2012/03/16/openismu... -- in fact, as I thought it would back in December (http://lwn.net/Articles/472157/).

I think many people underestimated how much development effort was funded by Nokia (and Intel).

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 11:43 UTC (Wed) by alexbk (guest, #37839) [Link]

I think Nokia's approach to subcontracting (massive budgets, giving important Harmattan pieces to people who don't work for the company and are located somewhere else entirely) was way overboard, and one of the big mistakes in the project. I had witnessed first-hand the overhead, inefficiency and delay that it has produced.

Meltemi project strives to be a much more nimble, in-house, working-together effort; I wish them the best of luck and success, although working under an unsupportive management which (I reckon) secretly wants to get rid of you must be horrible.

Removing applications

Posted Mar 21, 2012 8:23 UTC (Wed) by develer (subscriber, #40796) [Link]

You can manage the installed applications (including removal of Facebook and Twitter) by going to "Settings" -> "Applications" -> click top button "Manage applications".

Removing applications

Posted Mar 21, 2012 10:00 UTC (Wed) by Jonno (subscriber, #49613) [Link]

In theory yes, but if you click on the "uninstall" button, all you will get is an error message saying "Can not uninstall Twitter".

Under the hood this is because the "mp-harmattan-001-pr" package depends on the "account-plugin-twitter" package, and the application management program refuses to remove "mp-harmattan-001-pr".

Removing applications

Posted Mar 21, 2012 13:43 UTC (Wed) by mve (subscriber, #54709) [Link]

On N900 it was possible to remove "mp-harmattan-001-pr" meta package equivalent using dpkg and then you could remove applications you didn't want to have on the device. Haven't tried if this work also for N9. On N900 updates didn't work after this.

Removing applications

Posted Mar 22, 2012 10:56 UTC (Thu) by osma (subscriber, #6912) [Link]

I don't know whether that actually works, but you can at least remove the unnecessary icons from the homescreen:
http://everythingn9.com/remove-application-shortcuts-noki...

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 10:19 UTC (Wed) by AndreE (guest, #60148) [Link]

I don't think there was ever going to be any doubt that Nokia would make a great phone and a great platform. But did they have the momentum for a great software ecosystem? Could they really compete with the other players at the time in terms of developer mindshare? The constant delays of the device made it lose significant ground. I think changing strategy was a good idea, but the path they chose offers dubious benefits.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been - desktops and "views"

Posted Mar 21, 2012 10:44 UTC (Wed) by MortenSickel (subscriber, #3238) [Link]

If I understand correctly and if the N9 is similar to the N900, I would say you have misunderstood the consept of desktops a bit. (or at least using it differently than me)
(At least on the N900) you have four (maybe more, but I never used more) "desktops" - comparable to desktops in e.g. KDE. On each of this, there may be a number of icons to start applications or running applets. In addition to the desktop view, you have a general kind of application manager view, where you find icons for all installed applications - to use if you want to start an application that has not gotten an icon on one of the desktops. The third view is a list of running application where you can select which to run in the foreground.

I have to admit, I also was a bit confused of the desktops and the view when I started to use N900, but got used to it and was very happy with it. (until I got my N900 damaged a little while ago... :-( )

The N9: what MeeGo could have been - desktops and "views"

Posted Mar 21, 2012 11:35 UTC (Wed) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

The way Harmattan works with desktops is completely different from FreMantle. Harmattan really has three views, one for notifications, one for the installed apps, one for the running apps.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been - desktops and "views"

Posted Mar 21, 2012 17:47 UTC (Wed) by dw (subscriber, #12017) [Link]

> One suspects that most Android users never look at the list of requested permissions, but a subset of us tend to examine them closely indeed. The inability to know what access has been granted to an application seems like a major shortcoming

Quite surprised to read this. I believe on both platforms (and definitely at least on Android), regardless of what permissions are displayed to the user, applications automatically get the right to run native code that talks to an out of date kernel (in other words, the displayed list of permissions is ultimately meaningless, as endless one-click-root solutions for Android will attest).

The N9: what MeeGo could have been - desktops and "views"

Posted Mar 21, 2012 17:49 UTC (Wed) by dw (subscriber, #12017) [Link]

Grmbl, of course, my comment was not supposed to be posted as a child of yours. Apologies.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 21, 2012 12:14 UTC (Wed) by and (subscriber, #2883) [Link]

> On the other hand, the web browser makes one wish for the Android equivalent ... the MeeGo browser, instead, just mashes the entire page, unreadably, onto the screen, requiring zoom-in gestures and side-to-side scrolling for almost every page that has not been specifically designed for small screens.

actually, you can double-tab on the region on the website which is of interest to you and the N9 browser will make it fit to the screen. I think that's much more productive than using the zoom gesture. (the N900 browser worked the same, BTW.)

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 22, 2012 1:48 UTC (Thu) by ras (subscriber, #33059) [Link]

I take this guys post's with large bag's of salt http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/01/how-... however if right Nokia's recent behaviour will go down as one of the most bizarre episodes in the history of technology corporations.

He claims that the N9 outsold the Windows phone Lumia's 3 to 1. That would mean a phone the company did not promote, did not release to its major markets, and promised to kill out sold the rival that promoted as the future of Nokia and funded accordingly. For a technology company that behaviour would be perfectly understandable if the N9 was developed by some outside mob and the Lumia was their baby. What makes it utterly bizarre is the reverse is true.

Nonetheless, the divorce between Nokia and Linux isn't as final some are implying here. During the turmoil that followed the Windows Phone announcement, everybody associated with the Linux side of Nokia was nervously looking for an escape hatch before the axe fell. And indeed it appears the axe did fall on some of them, but not all. In fact Nokia did an odd thing. They paid some of the people who live in my area and work on Linux phones large bonuses to stay, to the point that they say they can't afford to leave. Now they are now busily beavering away, developing Linux based phone's for Nokia. They don't say much about what they are working on beyond looking overworked and complaining they are under the hammer to release lots of new Linux based phones. I wish them good luck, and hope they are wildly successful in their endeavours.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 22, 2012 2:46 UTC (Thu) by imunsie (subscriber, #68550) [Link]

To be fair, Nokia Australia did promote the N9 somewhat, including taking the centrepiece of their website (unfortunately now taken over by the Lumia), and doing some product placement in Celebrity Apprentice last year. I imaging that Nokia in other countries that sold the N9 instead of the Lumia would have done similar.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 22, 2012 10:03 UTC (Thu) by alexbk (guest, #37839) [Link]

I believe they are producing a successor to S40 based feature phones - Qt/QML-based products with reduced middleware stack and likely no 3rd party applications, also known as Meltemi project or "connecting the next billion". The whole operation is rather secretive, which I can understand.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 22, 2012 12:52 UTC (Thu) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

The problem is that month by month, Android devices get cheaper and cheaper, eroding the traditional featurephone market from the high-end downwards. Meanwhile, demand is switching from featurephones to smartphones even in developing markets.

It's completely possible for people to increasingly hate their jobs, know that their efforts go unrecognised by upper management, see their workload increased and their colleagues laid off, and yet feel that they can somehow prove themselves or make a difference, such is either the misplaced loyalty they have to their employer or the pride they have in their own efforts and the desire to achieve something, even though they can be fairly sure that anything they manage to deliver will be thrown away by the company strategists. My advice to those people is to take any pay-off that gets offered, not to look back, and to avoid wasting even more of their life on something that is most likely to go nowhere.

It may be news to Nokia's upper management, but Linux has been running on what would quite easily be a featurephone by today's standards since 2003 (Motorola A760) or even earlier. Even Trolltech had their Greenphone reference design before being acquired. Four years on and concrete products are now the stuff of smoke and mirrors - such progress!

Meltemi is killed at Nokia

Posted Jun 16, 2012 12:28 UTC (Sat) by alexbk (guest, #37839) [Link]

Sadly, your message predicted exactly what is going to happen. The sadder part is that none of the work that happened in the project will be available to open source.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 22, 2012 12:07 UTC (Thu) by daniels (subscriber, #16193) [Link]

Unfortunately, Tomi Ahonen has gained a reputation over the past 18 months or so for putting an interesting spin on actual facts, if not just outright making things up.

Don't get me wrong, I have no doubt that the two Lumia devices (800 and 710) which have been out for 3 months, have failed in that very short period of time to achieve the 40% marketshare that Nokia's hundreds of Symbian devices priced from $100-$1000+ once had. But I wouldn't really trust his accounting of the numbers, and I definitely wouldn't trust the spin he puts on it.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 22, 2012 12:19 UTC (Thu) by osma (subscriber, #6912) [Link]

FWIW, here's another analysis which claims to be based on official Nokia sales numbers:
http://www.meltemiblog.com/2012/01/n9-vs-lumia-sales-numb...

The conclusion seems to be that N9 has sold about as much as Lumia models in Q4 2011, i.e. around 1 million each.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 22, 2012 12:25 UTC (Thu) by daniels (subscriber, #16193) [Link]

Two things jump out at me here: one is that I believe the N9 went on sale a month or two before the Lumias; the other is that the pessimistic assumption of Lumia sales assume that it isn't front-loaded towards Christmas, with much slower sales in early January.

It'd be interesting to do a comparison on the numbers from Q1 2012, which should presumably be released quite soon.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 22, 2012 12:36 UTC (Thu) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

Unfortunately, Tomi Ahonen has gained a reputation over the past 18 months or so for putting an interesting spin on actual facts, if not just outright making things up.

I don't want to get all Wikipedia with you but... [with whom?]

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 23, 2012 12:55 UTC (Fri) by nhippi (subscriber, #34640) [Link]

> I don't want to get all Wikipedia with you but... [with whom?]

Anyone who actually goes through the time to read Tomis articles. For example his source for the "1.5 -> 2.0" million N9 sales? Anonymous comments on allaboutsymbian.com, and from there picking up the biggest number someone made.

Also Tomi is wrong in his basic idea that Nokia was doing just great until Elop came and ruined everything. Nokia was already ruined by his predecessor Kallasvuo who slept through the rise of iPhone and Android.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 23, 2012 16:45 UTC (Fri) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

Who has the time to read his articles?! The one thing I'd recommend him to do is to make them more concise. I'd agree with you that Nokia was already struggling, though, and his own background probably colours his before/after perception of the CEO change and his own confidence in Nokia's popularity, but Elop's job is to "unruin" everything, and it's not particularly clear that his strategy is achieving that.

What Nokia has apparently required all along is management to actually harness the vast resources of the organisation such that the company isn't continually punching below its weight, and it needs to do so by actually dealing with apparently deep-seated organisational issues, not by hoisting a new flag and laying people off.

From what I have read of that blog, the author has an apparently reasonable grasp of market behaviour and the channels, wild sales/shipping estimates notwithstanding. Although I don't buy into some of his enthusiasm, I wouldn't write his opinions off too readily, especially the ones that are blatantly verifiable.

Security framework

Posted Mar 22, 2012 1:58 UTC (Thu) by imunsie (subscriber, #68550) [Link]

Regarding disabling the aegis security, INCEPTION is a relatively recent tool that as I understand it exploits a hole in aegis and is akin to rooting an android phone or iphone (ie, it may stop working if a future update closes the hole).

The more official method is to boot an "open mode" kernel using the flasher tool for Harmattan that Nokia provides (which allows a custom kernel to be loaded for a single boot, or flashed permanently):
http://tablets-dev.nokia.com/maemo-dev-env-downloads.php

A kernel that has already been modified to remove aegis is available at:
http://maemo.cloud-7.de/HARM/N9/openmode_kernel_PR1.1/

Just be wary of modifying an N9 in open mode if you later intend to revert back to a stock kernel as a checksum failure will cause the device to lock itself until it is reflashed.

This thread has more details on openmode:
http://talk.maemo.org/showthread.php?t=81579

The official N9 kernel sources are available at (I wish this was a git tree):
http://harmattan-dev.nokia.com/pool/harmattan/free/k/kernel/

Having said that, I'm sure INCEPTION is much easier to use than flashing a custom kernel (my N9 is currently getting it's GPS repaired so I haven't been able to try INCEPTION since it came out).

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 22, 2012 8:31 UTC (Thu) by buchanmilne (guest, #42315) [Link]

The camera is quite nice; there is also a front-facing camera, though the built-in Skype client is unable to use it.
Don't you mean 'the built-in Skype support for IM and calls'? AFAIK, like Maemo Fremantle/N900, there is no separate Skype application, instead there is integration into the rest of the phone (via telepathy etc.).

Note that as of PR1.2, there *is* video support for GTalk, which uses the front-facing camera. Apparently Skype support may be coming (in PR1.3)?

(I am surprised that on an open-source-related site, lack of features for a proprietary protocol and proprietary application was the first complaint, rather than an open standard with a completely open implementation on the device, in XMPP/Jingle ....)

Annoyingly, none of the home screens rotate when the phone is held in the landscape orientation. Applications handle rotation without trouble, but the home screens appear to be special.
I believe this can be changed by editing a css file, or, for users who are inexperience with text editors and CSS, via an app (the best one for PR1.2 seems to be N9 Qtweak.
On the other hand, the web browser makes one wish for the Android equivalent.
Or even the Maemo Fremantle/N900 equivalent, which should have been much easier to provide. But, Firefox is available from the Ovi store, and ships with Flash support, which the built-in browser (using QtWebKit) does not have.
It wouldn't do, after all, to let those pesky users have direct access to the media files that they think they bought on their handset.
I think that is a bit unfair. Nokia is currently the only company that actually sells perpetual use tracks of songs from popular artists in a number of countries (such as South Africa), where iTunes, Amazon and most other competitors currently don't provide any service. However, note that the Nokia N8 had a subscription-based access to an unlimited music library of DRM content, and similar business models require DRM. But, surely, the user should be aware of what they have subscribed to (and not bought). In fact, my only digital music purchases have been from 'Ovi Music', which can be accessed without any proprietary software.

From an engineering perspective, I believe Nokia took the right approach. I suspect some of the missing pieces (easier access to kernel source, easier means to install/build open mode kernel, lack of default repositories equivalent to extras/extras-devel for Fremantle etc.) were due to the change in direction after Feb 11 2011.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 22, 2012 12:15 UTC (Thu) by dps (subscriber, #5725) [Link]

Nokia probably had to do things to stop pesky users doing things like using unauthorised frequencies or not complying with the appropriate standards. At least in the UK you need a licence to use the GSM frequencies and that probably requires not making it hard not to comply with the GSM standards.

That said I have a dumb phone which offers voice and text messages but very little else. It supports two bands, neither of which is used for GSM in the US, and has no WiFi, bluetooth or web browsing features.

I also don't care about twitter or facebook, google plus, etc and any do not want any integration of those on any device whatsoever.

NITDroid

Posted Mar 23, 2012 14:02 UTC (Fri) by corbet (editor, #1) [Link]

Amusingly, I only today stumbled across NITDroid, a project to port Android to Nokia tablets that has been expanded to include the N9. The current status suggests that, while it works, it's definitely an early-adopter sort of distribution at this point.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 28, 2012 9:28 UTC (Wed) by mikhas (guest, #83738) [Link]

You can get more word candidates by long-pressing on the primary candidate box that follows the cursor. The Swype keyboard shows the candidates on top, so that's a bit more Android-like.

The framework powering the system and the Swype keyboard is open-source: http://maliit.org/ One can write different input method plug-ins for it and they can then be used on whatever platform the framework has been integrated with.

We usually have gotten slightly better reviews than what is presented in this article, but you cannot please everyone (https://wiki.maliit.org/Reviews). The article also misses out on text selection, which has gotten a lot better in PR 1.2 (before, you simply could not select text from a website …). There some videos on youtube, hopefully showing that mobile text input is much more than "just a virtual keyboard": http://www.youtube.com/user/maliitorg

Please also notice that the terminal shown in the screenshot is open-source, too, and it's a pretty advanced terminal, given that it runs on a mobile device. It comes with touch support for text selection and copy'n'paste, zoom and different color schemes (you can cycle through them by swiping). The project is hosted at gitorious: https://gitorious.org/meego-terminal

It also shows a nice integration feature with the keyboard, in that it is the terminal that fully controls (apart from styling) the input method toolbar that is shown on top of the keyboard (see screenshot in article). Technically it would have been feasible to provide word prediction that is fed by bash completion, but we might have to demo that elsewhere.

Disclaimer: I am a Maliit developer.

The N9: what MeeGo could have been

Posted Mar 29, 2012 6:56 UTC (Thu) by stem (guest, #83810) [Link]

To remove preinstalled application icon all you do is add this line to corresponding .desktop file:

~ $ tail -n1 /usr/share/applications/facebookqml.desktop
NotShowIn=X-MeeGo;


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