MeeGo combines Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo projects at the Linux Foundation to create one open source uber-platform for the next generation of computing devices: tablets, pocketable computers, netbooks, automotive IVI and more.
Why should you pay attention to this announcement? With MeeGo you have the world’s largest chip manufacturer and the world’s largest mobile handset manufacturer joining forces to create an incredible opportunity for developers who want to reach millions of users with innovative technology.
Differently from GNU/Linux software repositories, though, these markets only allow non-free software. The manufacturers together with the network operators act as strict gatekeepers, allowing to reach the users only binaries signed with developers keys. Even if there are many free/libre software projects distributed on the mobile stores (Funambol, WordPress, and many other), the users cannot practically enjoy the freedom to modify the software autonomously because of tivoization. So we have in our hands powerful computers, always connected to the network but its users are deprived of one significant freedom. The worst effect of these mobile stores is that they split our community, forcing free developers to choose between distributing their software while compromising their morality or not distribute at all.
Given the sad news about OpenMoko ceasing development of the new phone, it’s necessary to gather up and think of alternatives. Jailbreak and Cydia on iPhone is a start, and other phones will need similar liberation. But these are just short-term palliatives. In the long run, I hope we’ll have more OpenMoko-like devices, with full freedom attached.
Microsoft is not less scary, because with its monopoly on the desktop computers it controls the users’ applications and data. Extending their power from the desktop to the mobile environment is within their reach: after all, they succeeded expanding from the desktop to the server. They can do it again, if they play it right. Apple controls and has access to data for millions of desktop+mobile users: maybe MobileMe is not yet widely used but nonetheless the closed and proprietary nature of all Apple things and the quantity of iTunes+iPod users makes them scary enough.
Nokia is peculiar: it has a huge market share on mobile phones, but its Ovi services don’t have a strong companion on the desktop. With all the other operating systems controlled by competitors, Nokia could start collaborating more with the free software community to better integrate Ovi with Gnome or KDE for example. I think it would be a wise move since there are many GNU/Linux desktops out there, and more will come during 2009.’ Will Nokia become the next Free Software community Best Friend Forever, now that Google has become scary?
Interesting to notice that this is the second license change for the project: from the Q Public License to the GNU GPL. Now they’re under the Lesser GPL, with a more transparent development model, a git repository and, wow, contributors will keep the copyright of their code (no contributors agreement to sign). Nokia seems very aggressive, and they’re right. With Android in town they need to fight with all the weapons they have.
I expect now a tougher competition between the two major toolkits, Qt and GTK+, with a polarization of the battle field. On the Qt side there is Nokia, on the GTK+ side there is Sun, Novell, RedHat, HP and all mobile’ Linux platforms. Nokia is also supporting GTK+ for its Maemo Internet Tablets, but I guess they’ll pull the plug and switch to Qt in a few months.
Does it still make sense to push the development of the somewhat inferior LGPL GTK+ when you can switch to LGPL Qt? We’ll have to wait and see. What is sure is that free software is definitely here to stay and play a major role in the mobile arena (and I’m betting that Capo wins his bet –Microsoft will offer Windows Mobile as free software).
Maybe this strategy has paid off since now Nokia is hiring those geeks to work on the Maemo software platform. This is a good sign for the free software movement because Nokia is flexing its muscles in the business arena pushing both its free/open source platforms: QT/GTK+ Maemo and the upcoming open sourced Symbian.
Way to go Nokia. Only be fast because I need a new phone and I have decided to buy one that comes with freedom attached, no strings.
Are you a developer? Apply here: Nokia – Apply Your Imagination.
This post describes a user experience with new services launched by Nokia and he highlights the major issue I have seen with most, if not all, of the services offered by the big guys:
Nokia Chat I can appreciate because it’s cool new tech — but unless it’s going to support those cool features on a wide range of devices, including non-Nokia ones, it’s pretty pointless for me.
That’s hitting the nail on the head: how can somebody design a chat system that is not interoperable with the rest of the world? It’s the abc of networked economies. Like the fax machine or the telephone itself, more users more (squared) value.
Thinking that everybody will want to buy a Nokia (or Samsung or iPhone or you-name-it) to be able to chat with other that have the same system is arrogant, to say the least. Nonetheless, it’s a mistake that many incumbents are making and one that Funambol is trying hard to avoid. By releasing clients for all platforms Funambol demonstrates that it believes in cross-platform, open standards and interoperability.
Trolltech and Funambol would like to make sure that Funambol software works on Qtopia, so we are happy to provide you with a free Trolltech Green Phone or OpenMoko phone, a free Trolltech SDK and, of ourse, Funambol software. This would involve developing a plug-in to sync PIM data (contacts and calendar to start with) and maybe push email later.
If interested, follow the procedure on the code sniper page and submit a proposal.
Il paper segnalatomi dal prof. Fuggetta mi sembra quasi un colpo di rovescio per aggirare questa policy anti-brevetti, dato che Nokia è una di quelle pochissime aziende europee favorevoli ai brevetti sul software. Fa bene invece il W3C a resistere a questo ennesimo attacco della lobby pro-brevetti. Certo OGG Theora non è il formato tecnicamente migliore, la gestione del formato è criticabile, ma è il migliore disponibile. Mi auguro che questo confronto con il W3C serva a far discutere ancora sulle idiozie dei brevetti sugli algoritmi MPEG.
Se ne parla su vari blog e anche sul forum del palmare (parzialmente basato su software libero) Nokia. È possibile seguire la discussione nella mailing list pubblica del W3C.