Software freedom lovers: here comes Maemo 5
There are few days in your life where you feel part of something historic. Today is one of these days for me, and I believe also for any software freedom lover out there. Maemo 5 has been launched together with its damn cool hardware body, the N900. It contains everything you knew about the Internet Tablets plus an evolved UI plus the little feature that raises the eyebrows of all your friends: yes, now it makes phone calls.
We have published a ton of information, pictures and videos about the software and the device as seen from a user perspective. Go to maemo.nokia.com and enjoy this beauty made of basically the same components many of us have in our Linux laptops. Below you have few additional thoughts for those caring specifically about Linux and free software.
Maemo 5 is a computer platform that happens to fit in your pocket: OMAP Linux Kernel, Xorg server, GStreamer, Telepathy, Tracker, GTK+ (Qt also available) and many more. The telephony stack is also there and SMS also works, but this doesn’t mean that Maemo is now transformed into a smartphone platform. Landscape mode by default, 800×480 amazing display, full qwerty hardware keyboard, a Mozilla based browser providing you the WWW as you are used to get it… We are just expanding the concept of what features a computer that is always with you is supposed to have.
No-phone-fans, are you still reading with some suspicion in your eyes? Look at this screenshot then (CLI guys please forgive me):
Exactly. If freedom is your concern then you don’t need to “unlock” or “jailbreak” Maemo 5. From installing an application to getting root access, it’s you who decide. We trust you, and at the end it’s your device. Nokia also trusts the open source community in general and the Maemo community particularly helping in getting casual users through the experience path. The N900 might just be a new and successful entry point for a new wave of open source users and developers.
But get no confused: even if a skilled Linux developer can get in the deep insights of the system, Maemo 5 is actually a beautiful and smooth gem for mobile users. I’m personally proud of the work done by the Maemo designers and developers building this beautiful and useful UI on top of Xorg, OpenGL ES, Clutter, GTK+ and our Hildon application framework. A showcase of open source UI.
There are many areas where Maemo 5 excels thanks to open source championing:
Multitasking, with that powerful OMAP3 processor being pushed by the Linux kernel and plenty more components up to Hildon, performing a very visual and usable dashboard. You need to see the videos. The implementation is very nice and makes you fly between apps, web windows and tasks. Little note: the dashboard windows are not simple snapshots, they show you the real content in real time!
I can’t describe with words the feeling of listening soma.fm on the air, through my bluetooth headset while commuting on the train. And then a call comes and you can answer pressing a button. Simple? Not with Linux & OSS until recently. 3G connectivity playing together with BlueZ, PulseAudio, GStreamer and Media Application Framework: beautiful.
It’s also refreshing to see conversations with your friends where SMS & instant messaging are mingled, thanks to Telepathy magic. Adding chat, microblogs and the likes to the mix is up to whoever wants to push it, since the framework is open.
The camera is also impressive, all sustained by GStreamer. Together with good lens and an impressive display, even my pictures look cool (sometimes, and the camera is not to blame). No hurries to transfer or upload the pictures to see them in a big screen: you get a fair impression of the real thing right there with your device. The Maemo team has several hobbyist photographers and all of us are waiting impatiently to get the green light and start uploading pics.
Thanks to Flor at http://www.flor.wordpress.com