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#1
...As the title implies
 
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#2
I doubt that it will be.

Still, I would very much welcome it.
 
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#3
Maemo won't.

MeeGo will most probably be quite more open source than Maemo ever will be. Only binary blobs for specific devices might still be closed source, and even then, that might be on a per-device basis.
 

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#4
No, it won't. It's a lot easier to write something meant to be open than to open something meant to be closed.

When you're coding something, open or closed, it's enough to make sure you're licensed to use each piece of code under the intended project license before you add it. If for whatever reason you can't get a compatible license (whether the code is proprietary and you can't get a license to release the source, or if it's copyleft so you can't release a closed binary), then you substitute a different component or write something yourself instead -- making any changes to adjacent components needed. Once you're sure a piece is licensed properly, you can more-or-less forget about its provenance (though it's probably better, if possible, to track provenance anyway).

Now when you go to change the license (whether to open something that's already closed (as here), to close something that's open, or simply to relicense, like GPLv2 vs. GPLv3), you have to determine the provenance of every element of the source, and for each source of code, ensure that you have the necessary rights to release it under the new license, and reimplement it if you don't.
  • Now if it were all written from scratch by Nokia coders, you're clear -- Nokia owns the copyright, so Nokia has _all_ rights, and can license it as they please.
  • But the instant they incorporate foreign code, it gets complicated.
    • First, the original licensing terms may permit relicensing accordingly -- if so, you're lucky, and you "only" spent the time to track down provenance and examine the license.
    • If not, the original source may be willing to relicense it. Add in your time requesting it (and for years-old code, it may not even be clear who to contact about it), then a long delay while they approve it.
      • Even if they want to relicense it, they're going to have to run it by legal (who one hopes aren't misinformedly spooked by open-source).
      • If they don't care, it's much easier/cheaper for them to just say no up-front.
      • And, of course, they may consider it important IP and either demand money or outright refuse.
  • Then, if you can't relicense it, or if it's too expensive to license, you're still stuck (with all that time sunk) with replacing it, either with in-house or external code. But your architecture and most of your interfaces to adjoining components are now set in stone; in theory, this shouldn't matter, but in practice, it's likely to make the rewrite even harder, even if you don't find new bugs at this stage. And you will -- nothing like a reimplementation to discover old bugs, quirks, and idiosyncracies that really should be fixed.

And what does Nokia get, in return for this huge effort and expense, to open old closed-source components?

A measure of community goodwill, from the community surrounding the old device. So opening Diablo would greatly boost Nokia's trust with all the people who won't buy the N900 because they don't want a phone/are married to an incompatible carrier/are presbyopic and need a larger screen, as well as with the old guard who did upgrade. Much less (although still some) effect for people who got in at step 4.

I suppose they may feel some moral relief about no longer providing bugfixes, but corporations don't run on morals.

OTOH, if they put the same (or perhaps even less) effort into ensuring the next iteration is open, they also pick up community goodwill, but for the community centered around the product they're selling (which will likely have a bigger impact on sales); they potentially get community patches, although it's not obvious how much they actually value these; and they ease the handover of the next version (presumably, with bigger sales, therefore bigger impact on all decisions) to community maintenance. All in all, making Meego more open seems to have much better ROI.

And I'm cautiously optimistic that that's exactly the path they're following -- Maemo 5 is certainly more open than the previous versions, and Meego is definitely shaping up to be more open yet. Given the relative difficulty of running old OSes on new hardware (if only because nobody cares to make it happen), I'd rather have a modern computer with a fully-open platform layer 2 years from now, than have a fully-open (even including applications) Maemo 5 at the same time, and be stuck running it on my N900. (Besides, with all this overclocking, who knows if it'll still run in two years? :S)
 

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#5
Relocated to Maemo OS subforum. Feel free to thank each other now.
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#6
Thanks for your good, intelligent and constructive comments. I have a couple of things to add.

Originally Posted by Benson View Post
No, it won't. It's a lot easier to write something meant to be open than to open something meant to be closed.

And I'm cautiously optimistic that that's exactly the path they're following -- Maemo 5 is certainly more open than the previous versions, and Meego is definitely shaping up to be more open yet. Given the relative difficulty of running old OSes on new hardware (if only because nobody cares to make it happen), I'd rather have a modern computer with a fully-open platform layer 2 years from now, than have a fully-open (even including applications) Maemo 5 at the same time, and be stuck running it on my N900.
First, is that you are of course looking at this from the current perspective. Let's time warp ourselves back to the introduction of Maemo. Maemo was pushed by Nokia as the open source alternative to other mobile platforms and encouraged it in that way (and others did as well). At various points along the way, people realized that Maemo wasn't going to live up to the open source promise. In that sense, we are not in the position, IMHO, of asking Nokia to open something meant to be closed. The community should be allowed to maintain software that was posited as being open and able to be maintained by the community.

Second, Symbian. Closed for many years and never described as open, and yet they did the heavy lifting necessary to open source it when there was no preexisting expectation that they would. It can be done.

Originally Posted by Benson View Post
And what does Nokia get, in return for this huge effort and expense, to open old closed-source components?

A measure of community goodwill, from the community surrounding the old device. So opening Diablo would greatly boost Nokia's trust with all the people who won't buy the N900 because they don't want a phone/are married to an incompatible carrier/are presbyopic and need a larger screen, as well as with the old guard who did upgrade. Much less (although still some) effect for people who got in at step 4.

I suppose they may feel some moral relief about no longer providing bugfixes, but corporations don't run on morals.

All in all, making Meego more open seems to have much better ROI.
The arguments being advanced for opening Maemo components is not ROI or morals. There is a history here and decision shouldn't be made based on a shapshot of today's circumstances. If so, then see my comments below.

Originally Posted by Benson View Post

And I'm cautiously optimistic that that's exactly the path they're following -- Maemo 5 is certainly more open than the previous versions, and Meego is definitely shaping up to be more open yet. Given the relative difficulty of running old OSes on new hardware (if only because nobody cares to make it happen), I'd rather have a modern computer with a fully-open platform layer 2 years from now, than have a fully-open (even including applications) Maemo 5 at the same time, and be stuck running it on my N900.
Much the same thing could have been said two years ago -

"Maemo 4 is certainly more open than other platforms, and Fremantle is definitely shaping up to be more open yet. Given the relative incompatibility of the new OMAP chips, I'd rather have a modern computer with Fremantle 2 years from now, than have a fully-open (even including applications) Maemo 4 at the same time, and be stuck running it on my N8x0."

See how I did that? It seems like we are in danger of accepting a recurring pattern of using technology upgrades as the reason for abandoning the open source approach. If so, when does the pattern end? What comes after MeeGo? This is the forced software upgrade roller coaster to which open source Maemo was supposed to be the alternative.
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#7
Originally Posted by SD69 View Post
First, is that you are of course looking at this from the current perspective. Let's time warp ourselves back to the introduction of Maemo. Maemo was pushed by Nokia as the open source alternative to other mobile platforms and encouraged it in that way (and others did as well). At various points along the way, people realized that Maemo wasn't going to live up to the open source promise. In that sense, we are not in the position, IMHO, of asking Nokia to open something meant to be closed. The community should be allowed to maintain software that was posited as being open and able to be maintained by the community.
Yes, but marketing promises and good intentions aren't the same as vetted licenses -- in point of fact, many of the closed components simply are encumbered with external IP, regardless of what was claimed. Therefore, I think Maemo won't ever be completely open-sourced. I don't say it shouldn't have been, but the past is set.

(BTW, on reflection, "meant" was a poor word choice there, as it does imply I'm considering motives and such, not actual licenses.)

Second, Symbian. Closed for many years and never described as open, and yet they did the heavy lifting necessary to open source it when there was no preexisting expectation that they would. It can be done.
True -- and I don't deny it can be done for Maemo, merely that because of the prohibitive expense, it won't be. It's worth noting the relative resources available for the Symbian team vs. the Maemo team. And even so, it took them almost a year, and two evolutionary versions -- the open-source product at the end (Symbian^3) is not a simple relicense of the initial codebase (Symbian^1, or S60v5) -- if anything, what I know of the Symbian Platform story seems supportive of my assertions that it's a massive undertaking, and that gradual progress with each release is acceptable.

The arguments being advanced for opening Maemo components is not ROI or morals. There is a history here and decision shouldn't be made based on a shapshot of today's circumstances. If so, then see my comments below.
Well, I'm afraid the arguments, coming as they are from multiple people, don't always line up nicely. If I understand it, your perspective is that "They said it would be open; they should do what it takes to fulfill that promise."?

If so, that's well and good for trying to persuade them that they should, but I'd suggest that expecting a corporation to keep a promise made several years ago is not an accurate way to predict what will happen. Fundamentally, I think ROI is the way to try to predict their actions -- you are expecting them to invest significant expense in making some current version of Maemo open-source, and the only reason they actually will do that is an expected return, whether that takes the form of consumer trust (because they're seen to be keeping their word), increased sales, or (if the promise of open-source were legally binding) simply avoiding a lawsuit.


Much the same thing could have been said two years ago -

"Maemo 4 is certainly more open than other platforms, and Fremantle is definitely shaping up to be more open yet. Given the relative incompatibility of the new OMAP chips, I'd rather have a modern computer with Fremantle 2 years from now, than have a fully-open (even including applications) Maemo 4 at the same time, and be stuck running it on my N8x0."
Problem is, I agree fully with that.

See how I did that? It seems like we are in danger of accepting a recurring pattern of using technology upgrades as the reason for abandoning the open source approach.
"Abandoning"? To me, asymptotically approaching is the exact opposite, and that's what's going on to date. As long as they keep being more open with each rewrite, I think it's undeniably a good thing, and IMO a better thing than seeing an old version completely opened at the expense of future development.

Then again, I guess I should say I never came away from any of their advertising with the notion of any real promise to be completely open, as you apparently did. Maybe my corporate-mouthpieces-are-always-lying filter was tuned too high and blocked it, maybe it's just because I didn't really follow IT news that closely till I got my N800 (shortly after the N810 launch leak) and all the solid promises were before that; I don't know. But as I see it, the promises really don't mean much at this point. If they were made, and are broken, then they obviously weren't worth the $MEDIA they were $PUBLISHed on, and if they weren't then they're also of no effect.

If so, when does the pattern end? What comes after MeeGo? This is the forced software upgrade roller coaster to which open source Maemo was supposed to be the alternative.
I guess I never saw Maemo or open source in general as some alternative to upgrading. After all, I don't run Linux 2.4 anymore -- how would even a completely open system the eventual need to upgrade to support new hardware and new applications?

To me, the principal benefit of an open-source OS is the hackability, the ability to make it do as I wish now, not the expectation that I'll be able to run it on any new hardware, or that it'll remain useful on current hardware forever. To this end, some components matter much more than others, and it's perfectly acceptable to me that some parts (ones that I can simply skip using) may never be open.

Where it ends? The key measure at which I'd consider it adequately open, and stop seeing a need for improvement from Nokia in the next version, is when a completely open-source image can be meaningfully flashed and run (yeah, that's somewhat vague, but I expect e.g. battery charging, wireless, cellular, etc. to all work.) So, while it's quite nice that Modest, MicroB, etc. are open-source, I could deal with them being closed by using sylpheed, Fennec or Tear, and the like. The platform is only decent, with a bunch of closed nuggets here and there, but improving.Some things Nokia keeps closed, like BME, and (IDK for sure) probably some radio-related stuff, for security purposes -- to make sure you can't trivially damage hardware or violate FCC regs. While I understand their reasoning, I strongly disagree with it; these bits will need to be reverse-engineered and open equivalents made by the community to ever make it a completely free platform.
 

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#8
Originally Posted by Benson View Post

Well, I'm afraid the arguments, coming as they are from multiple people, don't always line up nicely. If I understand it, your perspective is that "They said it would be open; they should do what it takes to fulfill that promise."?

If so, that's well and good for trying to persuade them that they should, but I'd suggest that expecting a corporation to keep a promise made several years ago is not an accurate way to predict what will happen. Fundamentally, I think ROI is the way to try to predict their actions -- you are expecting them to invest significant expense in making some current version of Maemo open-source, and the only reason they actually will do that is an expected return, whether that takes the form of consumer trust (because they're seen to be keeping their word), increased sales, or (if the promise of open-source were legally binding) simply avoiding a lawsuit.

Then again, I guess I should say I never came away from any of their advertising with the notion of any real promise to be completely open, as you apparently did. Maybe my corporate-mouthpieces-are-always-lying filter was tuned too high and blocked it, maybe it's just because I didn't really follow IT news that closely till I got my N800 (shortly after the N810 launch leak) and all the solid promises were before that; I don't know. But as I see it, the promises really don't mean much at this point. If they were made, and are broken, then they obviously weren't worth the $MEDIA they were $PUBLISHed on, and if they weren't then they're also of no effect.
Perhaps we are discussing this in the wrong thread, but the other thread was so bad...

Don't misunderstand me, I'm not expecting them to make some version of Maemo fully open-source or arguing that they should, but I am saying that they should at least do enough to allow community maintenance, help those who developed Maemo apps, etc. They came to the community asking for people to produce apps, etc., on an unpaid basis, and now we are looking at the prospect that hundreds of maemo apps are going to become useless and obsolete. There is a lot of room between fully open source and doing next to nothing. The argument that they shouldn't bother to twist arms to relicense components is correct to some extent as you've pointed out and I agree with, but is not a full picture of what is happening in the case of Maemo. They are not opening any components. There are some (stylus keyboard?) that were created by Nokia but they simply won't bother to open them. So that is not the reason for the current situation.


Originally Posted by Benson View Post
I guess I never saw Maemo or open source in general as some alternative to upgrading. After all, I don't run Linux 2.4 anymore -- how would even a completely open system the eventual need to upgrade to support new hardware and new applications?

To me, the principal benefit of an open-source OS is the hackability, the ability to make it do as I wish now, not the expectation that I'll be able to run it on any new hardware, or that it'll remain useful on current hardware forever. To this end, some components matter much more than others, and it's perfectly acceptable to me that some parts (ones that I can simply skip using) may never be open.
But you are probably running OpenOffice or some other app that was leveraged when going from 2.4 to 2.5 to 2.6. In the case of Maemo/MeeGo, we have to start all over again with each version. For you and some others, the value lies in hackability, but for many others, the promise of open-source was the ability to use OpenOffice, etc., and not being forced into software upgrade mode.

It is not black or white, fully 100% open or not, there are shades of grey and they do matter.
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