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qole's Avatar
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Here's my opinion about the future of Maemo and I am currently an (un-elected, volunteer) maemo community council member, and an avid member of this community for about 4 years.

Recently, there have been calls for the Maemo community to wrest all the closed bits out of the hands of Nokia, or to somehow turn Maemo into a separate, community-run entity, free of Nokia's sponsorship. I don't see these posts accomplishing anything for two simple reasons; we're never going to get the closed bits from Nokia, and the Maemo community is (almost) nothing without Nokia, mainly because Maemo is nothing without Nokia hardware and that hardware is no longer in production.

I think by the time Nokia funding runs out for at the end of 2012 it will be a kingdom of dust; there will be a few nostalgic enthusiasts around, but it will be a lot like any other forum for niche, obsolete platforms; mostly deserted and uninteresting.

I don't see Nokia ever opening any of the closed pieces.

The one tiny hope I see is if a champion within Nokia with some political influence were to fight through the bureaucracy, inertia and indifference to wrestle the closed bits out into the open. But I really just do NOT see that happening, not with most of the closed bits having some link to hardware made by the notorious TI and most of the people who care being laid off from Nokia. Even when Maemo was a vibrant group within Nokia, nobody could get any action on opening closed pieces of old versions of Maemo. Now there is even less hope.

But even if the closed bits were made open, or Cordia succeeded in re-basing the Maemo UI on MeeGo, and Maemo flourished again, the hardware is aging fast. I don't expect to have a working N900 by mid-2012, although my N800 might keep chugging along with a partly-working touchscreen.

Is a community centred around the Cordia tablet really a Maemo community?

Where do I think we should go from here?

I think the best thing the Maemo community can do over the next year and a half is to transition to the MeeGo community, although I don't particularly like the forums very much, and there haven't been any third-party ITT-style forums popping up elsewhere. I'm hoping for a new N9-centric community to grow up somewhere, hopefully outside of the Linux Foundation's sphere of control. I'll probably go there, wherever that is, until it sputters out in a couple of years.

You may have noticed that I'm not very hopeful. You're right, I'm not. This community has been so amazing, but the foundations are crumbling away beneath us and there's nowhere else to go.

Worst of all, I don't see any alternatives after Harmattan. I don't see anyone else taking up the MeeGo handset torch, and I don't see any other viable Linux handsets on the horizon. The WebOS devices are a possibility, but their current hardware is unappealing (to me), and everyone else is going towards Android, which doesn't have any kind of "normal" GNU/Linux stack, especially an X server. And don't even get me started on the "locked black box" OSes like iOS and WP7.

Are we doomed to lose the GNU\Linux in our Pockets?
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Last edited by qole; 2011-08-16 at 18:58. Reason: correcting years in community, removing inflamatory language

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cutehunk04's Avatar
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so you mean to say that we completely ditch N900 by the end of 2012 and convert the forum into meego... what if nokia doesnt make any more Meego device after N9 or may be just a 1/2 more Meego Device and turn themselve into WIN7 OS then what...i personally dont want to happen but dont find it any option either... any idea to save this Device and this beautiful Community... i have been into this community about a year, havent done anything good for community but still i make myself feel home when am here.. guys dont let n900 die please...
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Don't get me wrong, but I think maemo has managed to endure existence without Nokia for quite some time, now... We might still have the repositories, but I'm afraid that's about it.

Or am I missing something?

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qole's Avatar
Moderator | Posts: 7,109 | Thanked: 8,809 times | Joined on Oct 2007 @ Vancouver, BC, Canada
I'm saying that the N900 will ditch itself by the end of 2012, because most of the devices out there will be dead or malfunctioning.

And Nokia has clearly, loudly stated that they will not make any more MeeGo devices after the N9.

We can baby our Maemo devices, try to keep them running, but handsets aren't like classic cars, not many people can keep them running when parts begin to fail.
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I'm treating my old N900 like a newborn baby. Gentle, gentle.

For all its faults, N900 still has no competition in my eyes.

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My thoughts as shared a while back:

Qole and I are very close on this.
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qole's Avatar
Moderator | Posts: 7,109 | Thanked: 8,809 times | Joined on Oct 2007 @ Vancouver, BC, Canada
Having used the N950, I also realize how badly crippled the N900's hardware is by lack of RAM. Even though the N950 has a similar chipset, it has 1 GB of RAM, and that makes a huge difference in speed. The terrible swap issues on the N900 are another symptom of this problem.

Like the 770 and N8x0s before it, the N900 looks very dated when placed beside the much better performing devices appearing on the market these days.

Even if we baby our N900s, they're rapidly gaining "quaint" status.
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That's what I see as well. After all the failed promises about the N900 (like flash 10.1), the delays on Harmattan and then MeeGo, it's hard to trust them with anything else.
I love my N900 and I love the UI and usability that the N9/N950 appear to have. But they are too little too late. I went ahead and got an HTC Sensation. There will be no ecosystem for thoses phones and unfortunately phones at this period in time are becoming platforms to launch/provide for other applications or functions.
As much as I admire all of you guys here for all the stuff that you gave us for the N900 (Really amazing stuff, stuff that Nokia said can't be done like overclocking, portrait desktop and much more), I don't think they are enough to sustain the platform much longer.
Besides N9/N950 are not Maemo or MeeGo (Step 4.5 out of 5 as Nokia would put it) and frankly I don't think Nokia will go beyond this one.

Big red sign here that says Dead End for me (again).

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Qole, your analysis is pretty accurate, nobody will risk his/hers job advocating the opening the source. Still, while the link between Nokia and still exists, we should at least try and hope for the best. That is about what we can do through "regular" channels.

As for potential re-definition of maemo goals. Consider the following situation.

From the point of a software developer, you can say there is no future in legacy devices, but what about the software that is written by community developers?

Don't you think that that software has also limited life, defined by the end-of-life of device. As a software developer how do you feel when your software gets dumped due to the device discontinuation?

You can agree to that, and possible get a shiny new cell phone/table/etc, and start everything again.

In order to avoid that, we need the "free" hardware platforms, that will prevent vendors from controlling the end-of-life of both software and hardware.

qole, is n9/n950 as closed hardware as all of the device from maemo program?

At the moment it looks like n9/n950 is used to motivate the developers to move to QT framework (all-in-one approach, that can scale across devices/os/platforms). From there Nokia can easily move the whole community (and the applications) to WF7.
I am not trying to feed the FUD, but how do you feel about that possibility?

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Nice text.
I think we can say safely that GNU\Linux Open-Source OS's were nothing but a "trend". And no, Android doesnt count. Companies want control, open-source gives the customers too much of that control, to change and manipulate their handsets.

The only way maemo could live on, is if we could find a way to migrate it to another, newer handset. I have no knowledge about how far-fetched this is, but i am hoping that we will be able to do so.
As I look onward, I just dont know what phone will i get next. Is the N9 cool? Definitely, But it also lack grounds for a real withstanding app-store. It has no future, and as an expensive niche device, from a company that had a failure after failure those past few years, i could see it busting. But i guess that's what Elop hopes for, heh.
The rest out there are not very appealing either. iOS and WP7 are out of the question. The new GS2 from Samsung is still not what i am looking for, but it is actually going in a decent direction in terms of BME and specs, so maybe in a year from now when its time to part with my N900 i could tolerate a Googlevice.

However, I still hope\expect for someone to take a shot with MeeGo.
There are quite a few companies out there who will not survive unless they reinvent themselves. I'm talking about companies like LG, SE, Acer, etc.
With Meego, which in a few months will be a free and ready to deploy OS, they could distinguish themselves between those WP7 and Android vendors out there. The new swapping Nokia UI proves that meego can be a real eye-candy, which is very unlike any previous maemo related product. We also know that meego is quite lightweight as the N9 is not a state-of-the-art specs monster, and it seems that the OS works terrific.
I know that those are just my hopes and aspirations but i do think that while Nokia pulling the plug is both hurtful and stupid[my opinion] it could lead to another vendor or two to take charge and produce Meego handset, possibly without too much in-OS competition and with an Intel back.

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