Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nokia N900 : not impressed either

No, Cody you aren't alone (but I can't comment on your blog, it asks to login and I don't have an account on : I have the same feeling regarding Nokia N900 and I'm not impressed by a "already obsolete" product (or should I say platform), by Nokia own words (but not expressed in that way) . The good point is the money they injected in free software companies isn't lost and morphed in improvement in various projects (Telepathy, etc..) but that's it.

I'm much more impressed by Palm Pre and I'm waiting for it to be available in Europe.


  1. Bitter much?

    So you prefer a closed platform to an open just because the majority of apps are from now on developed with Qt instead of GTK?

  2. Tom, the current platform uses GTK. So if you want to develop for it you use GTK, which will be obsolete on Nokia devices. Better to wait another year or two, or better pick a platform that isn't going to disappear under your feet.

  3. GTK is already obsolete in Maemo 5, in favor of Clutter, which will be obsolete in Harmatan in favor of Qt.

    Fremantle is a "dead" platform, toolkit wise, before being released.

  4. QT is already fully supported, they just wrote most of the default apps in GTK. If you want to write software for it, just use QT.

    QT has been working since diablo for crying out loud. People need to stop spreading this "dying platform" FUD and actually do some research first!

  5. Thank you, @darwinsurvivor! I don't get all this GNOME trolling because Nokia is going Qt too. A new product in an "already dead" platform? Seriously? Why would Nokia ever do that? Does _anyone_ think anymore? Christ...

  6. fred,
    > GTK is already obsolte in Maemo5, in favour of Clutter.

    That's entirely untrue. Maemo 5 use GTK+.

    > QT is already fully supported.

    No, it's not. You can't create Qt applications that conform to Maemo 5 UI with Qt yet.


  7. Maybe I should have said GTK+ inside Clutter, instead of plain Clutter. But the move was quite obvious : replacing plain GTK+ (or hildonized GTK+) by plain Clutter or Clutter/GTK+. Anyway, this replacement is now (in maemo view) a dead-end, with Nokia switching to Qt. This is what I mean when I see as Fremantle as a "obsolete" platform.

  8. I wonder why you are so impresseed with Palm. Are Palm people actively contributing to GNOME development?
    So far they are (much like Ubuntu or Gamin) just using the platform instead of actively driving it forward.

  9. I guess I should have separate my two paragraphs :
    - I'm much more impressed by Palm UI and integration than anything else which have been released currently, running on Linux on not, as a smartphone. So, I'm really hoping to see people moving from iphone to something not based on a proprietary OS

    -Nokia has understood the value of community and injected a lot of cash in the Free Software, this is a fact. But another fact is they changed their focus from a single prototype GNOME platform to a Qt platform (probably more broadly on their entire product range, including Symbian in the future).

  10. @Fred, Palm is a proprietary OS, it's just not a proprietary kernel. The rest of the stack is proprietary. FWIW, I love the look of the Pre/WebOS stuff and some of the mobile developers I respect the most are working on it.

  11. Loic : so is android or iphone or even full 770/n8x0 firmware ;) And we don't know yet how much castrated n900 will be by mobile operators.

    As I commented, Nokia opensource team has understood the power of free software communities, unlike Palm (which is doing things à la Apple), but maybe Palm will change.

    And on the other hand, we see Nokia taking directions which are not in GNOME (for UI / toolkit part) interest.

  12. The more important issue is that the phone will flop commercially and then it's irrelevant what platform they use. If you have no users, you have no developers. If you have no developers, you have no users.

    Both the iPhone and Android had a marketing message that succeeded in energerizing a set of developers to develop apps for it BEFORE the hardware was even available. Both, in the US at least, have on air TV commercials.

    You won't have users until you have apps. You won't have apps until you have developers. And you won't have developers until you engage the wider developer audience: not just the dozen or so of us on planet gnome. You need somebody to write fart apps.

    Again, both Apple and Google spent time before the hardware was released making their platform accessible to non-technically savvy developers. Apple in the form of XCode, Google in the form of Eclipse extensions. Both of these allow rapid prototyping.

  13. Wasabi : exactly. I'm not sure ISV will want to write / port their applications to Maemo5 toolkit (Clutter/Gtk+), knowning it will be replace in the short term (don't know exactly when) by Qt, all over Nokia hardware platform.

  14. Want to create World Peace from your iPhone? There's an app for that.
    Want to teleport yourself with your iPhone? There's an app for that too.

    Want to play tic-tac-toe on your Maemo? There's crap for that.

  15. When it comes to obsoleteness there's one thing I find much more problematic: Nokia keeps dropping support for previous generation devices as new devices are released. Device owners are left out in the cold with outdated, insecure software on their 770 today and soon after the N900 is released N800/N810 owners will make the same experience. All that despite the fact that you've paid a premium price for the thing.

    Nokia also makes community maintenance of previous "OS" releases impossible by keeping certain key applications in the base system closed source (see, note that DSME appears to be open source now) as well as key kernel drivers such as the binary only wifi driver modules. I won't judge whether that's a violation of the kernel's license (GPL v2) but it certainly goes against the spirit behind it. In other cases the situation is a little more obvious where Nokia fails to provide source code for GPL/LGPL binaries they ship (

    Towards device owners this behaviour is unfair, towards anyone who has contributed to the open source code Nokia builds on it's a slap in the face, towards competitors with smaller legal departments it's anti-competitive.

    The fact that despite all that Nokia keeps receiving hardly anything but praise from places like Planet Gnome, Slashdot (not the most clueful news site to begin with, I know), etc. deeply saddens me.

    Granted, we (the general public) don't know whether those mistakes have been repeated with the N900, so let's hope for the best, but I'm not holding my breath for it.


  16. Ok heres my two cents, I will most likely buy this thing as soon as possible but I can see where people are coming from when they say its a dead duck platform wise.
    I for one think maemo5 is awesome but knowing that maemo6 will require quite a bit of time to port over applications makes me wary when thinking about coding anything for it.
    Now apparently the move to qt is to make nokias jobs easier in terms of keeping both symbian and maemo in development side by side but why are they keepinng two os's for mobiles in development. They need to drop symbian and maybe resuse some code on maemo.
    They also need to start pushing maemo. They can make cheaper maemo devices too, with less storage maybe. I find it slightly annoying that there is always a huge premium for smart phones, you would think that at this stage the smartphones of a year or two ago could be sold for 100-200 today but they are not. There is no reason to hold onto something like symbian, nokia need to realise this and start pushing things forward instead of making compromises on their new platform.

  17. 1. I don't see how the long term prospects of the platform really matter when you buy a phone. It only matters to developers, not end-users.
    2. The S60 platform has been stable for a long time and it has not done it any good, it still sucks.
    3. The only thing they're replacing in Harmattan is GTK+, the rest of the stack is staying there. That includes Telepathy, Tracker, etc.
    4. For those who want support for their old phones, I don't think any of the phones makers do that. Even the Android G1 only has one upgrade (1.5?) and will not be further supported.

  18. #1 Actually I think you will find that people who spend over 500euros on a smartphone these days do expect that, not just developers..
    #2 Yes compare symbian to maemo, thats a good comparison
    #3 Why replace the gtk? the only reason is to keep symbian alive.
    #4 That was announced to be false from htc, in other words that was a rumor they are still releasing updates post 1.5

    Lastly, maemo5 is now a mature platform, nokia should be doing things incrementally from now on. Not doing drastic things.
    They also need to focus on one platform not two, the reason why they did so well in the first place was their ability to focus but they seemed to have lost that along the way.
    They sort of remind me of Sony when they boast that they are still selling the PS2 as if its a good thing.

  19. Tester is right! I don't understand why everyone is bitching about Fremantle being a dead-end. Admitted that UI is a very important part of the platform but only changing the UI framework doesn't mean changing the whole platform, not even the most of it. I am not the one making decisions here but I seriously doubt any of these will change: Telepathy, Farsight, Tracker, GStreamer, GUPnP, Linux Kernal, X etc etc. Not only that but Harmattan will even contain some new GNOME technologies like Rygel.


    Also, Qt on N900 is only an apt-get upgrade away :P

  21. What I don't get is why Nokia is going out of their way to avoid saying it's a smartphone? Read the press release. I am not kidding. Regardless of the Maemo OS Roadmap, the fact that Nokia is seemingly unwilling to even sell it like a smartphone, makes me wonder how interested Nokia is in the platform.

  22. @Sean: Seems that Nokia has a different name for N900: "Mobile Computer". Calling it that instead of "Smartphone" isn't to me a sign on unwillingness.

  23. If Maemo 6 a.k.a. Harmattan could also be used on the N900 when it’s released, it wouldn’t be much of a problem if Maemo 5 is dead by then, right?

    But even if that’s not the case, it wouldn’t make the N900 useless, you can still use the phone. Personally, I think the out-of-the-box functionality will be enough for me, the only think I’d certainly require as an extra would be Ogg Vorbis and Theora support. Community developed applications are an extra mostly, not a must-have. The community could continue developing for Maemo 5, even if some software remains closed as some write here.

    I’ve been waiting for the moment when Nokia would release a successor to the N7xx/N8xx which also had GSM/3G. Now that it’s reality, I will certainly buy the N900.

  24. Why not just upgrade when new platform will be released as stable? Maybe reinstall will be needed, but I doubt it, Maemo is based on Debian, so aptitud dist-upgrade should do the trick.

  25. Why not just coding in moonlight?

    It seems it will be supported always regardless of the UI toolkit chosen: