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MeeGo – some feedback and thoughts February 15, 2010

Posted by Florian in Devices, Linux, Maemo, MeeGo, OpenEmbedded, Source.
18 comments

I only had a very few free minutes today I was able to spend following the discussions and reading released information about MeeGo. For some reason the most intensively discussed fact among the community members  seems to be decision to use the RPM package system. This one is followed by the Qt vs. GTK+ discussion I cannot remember when it started but I still remember it even started before I wrote the first line of open source code :-)  I have seen a lot of questions about currently existing devices (N900 mostly) and software –  if they are likely to become supported in future MeeGo releases – at least for the N900 and Maemo 6 there is a statement by Ari Jaaksi already. The other technical questions… well, in an ideal world these should not even be relevant for the developers because there would be the perfect tools that create the packages you want and assist you to create user interfaces without thinking much about the toolkits you  use. Again – this is the theory – we all know that the real life for development is quite different. But in the end or customers / users will decide which platform and with this which applications they are going to use. Users will not care about the package format used in the platform or the toolkit that is used by some application. In fact many (mostly Linux/Unix based) platforms do not expose the software package file format to an average user any more while some quite popular ones still do (e.g. Symbian and Windows). For users the availability of a consistent and widely used software platform with a high amount of available applications is likely to be the most important criterion. Ok, I admit that the availability of sexy hardware is quite important too :-)

Way more interesting than technical details is to look at the landscape of mobile device software stacks and to place MeeGo in it. So how does this landscape look like now?

  • There is Apple with the iPhone – pretty much closed but many developers and sexy hardware but quite limited amount of devices and only one manufacturer.
  • Symbian – well established with a large community but it feels like it hits its limits with modern smartphones.
  • Samsung just launched Bada which looks quite interesting but does not yet seem to have a large community of developers and users.
  • Microsoft Windows Mobile is available for many years now but seems to have lost attraction over the years.
  • Palm WebOS is interesting from both developer and user point of view but I think it will be hard for it to compete with all the major players in this area.
  • Google developed Android which enjoys a fast growing user- and developer base. It’s easy to get started with Android and there is a wide range of interesting devices available already. It is quite portable since most of the lowlevel components are open source.

Among these the most likely candidate to play the dominating role in the mobile handset market might be Android. At least this is how things look like right now… we all know this market changes pretty fast and you never know what happens next. I think Nils asked the question quite a few of us asked themselves: Will MeeGo become a kind of “Android killer”?

No way I will comment on this but in order to become a more generic platform MeeGo needs to focus on different things Maemo did so far. So far Maemo was focused on supporting a very few devices and contained quite some specialized bits that only worked for the Maemo specific devices and its distribution. I still remember that getting basic support for building the Maemo software stack with OpenEmbedded caused some headaches and sleepless nights. (I was mentor of a GSoC project working on this – just take a look at Kirtika’s blog to find out some details.)  It is good to see that it is quite obvious that MeeGo folks understand that these things will have to change. A good example is the process how to get some hardware supported. For someone like me supporting various device makers the really interesting part will follow: How will the device makers adopt MeeGo and how many of them will ‘jump onto the MeeGo boat’? Having more hardware vendors supporting MeeGo means more users and meant to make the platform more interesting for developers. And gaining interest from developers and users is absolutely vital for any software platform that is going to play a major role in future.

In my opinion there is a lot of potential in MeeGo – the most important one is the fact that the key components are going to be open and portable. The project joins two (comparably small) developer and user communities and combines this new community with the support by two very successful companies. I can imagine that this base is able to attract quite some more valuable contributors like smaller device makers, software companies and open source projects.

I’m pretty sure that ‘The Big Merge’ is going to cause quite some movement in the mobile device landscape…

MeeGo or Maemo grown up February 15, 2010

Posted by Florian in kernel concepts, Linux, LinuxToGo, Maemo, MeeGo.
10 comments

Wee..! Big news – Intel and Nokia joining their open source software platforms Maemo and Moblin into a single one: Meego

So what does this mean for developers and device manufacturers? One thing is for sure: The new platform will become the “grown up” version of Maemo and Moblin. Especially for the Maemo part this means that the focus will change from targeting a very few devices and a quite well-defined software stack to a more generic way to support multiple hard- and software environments. And this is good – only a portable and easy to support platform is attractive for the device makers while the availability of multiple devices is important for its attractively among software developers.

It looks like we have interesting times ahead…

LinuxTag, GSoC and some progress… June 3, 2009

Posted by Florian in Devices, GPE, kernel concepts, Linux, Maemo, OpenEmbedded.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
2 comments

Its time to make announcements… I should have done this earlier, but like always it takes me a while to find a free minute to write things down.

First is about OpenEmbedded: We will be present at LinuxTag from 24th to 27th of June in Berlin/Germany. I just hope they have a little bit more space for us at the Embedded Area compared to last year. We usually have a lot of interesting devices running OE built Linux we can show. I’m really looking forward to LinuxTag – I haven’t missed one for many years and its always a nice event with a good mixture of community members, business people and users.

LinuxTag

LinuxTag

Google Summer of Code is in progress for some weeks now and I’m in the great position to mentor a very interesting Maemo project… something I always wanted to see but noone found time to do it properly so far: Integrate the Maemo software framework into OpenEmbedded. The benefits are quite obvious – Maemo software will gain compatibility and quality by running on (and if necessary adapting to) various devices. Apart from the fact that Maemo is a pretty good open source framework attracting quite a lot of developers. This is something other devices can and should gain advantage from. Well rkirti made a pretty good description of the project which can be found here.

It would be pretty cool to see Maemo running on this nice device I received a few days ago…

micro2440_gpe

Micro2440 running gpe-mini-browser2

Its a FriendlyARM Micro2440 from Watterott Electronic – this one is equipped with the 7 inch display which gives some more “freedom” to the applications :-) Apart from this the hardware is the same I described in my previous post.

The screen geometry would match the one used by all Maemo devices so far, so it would not mess up all the graphical user interfaces. But there is still some work to do till the boards become a really good development platform. We can build useful filesystem images for them but the installation is still split up into too many steps and the up to date kernels still lack proper support for the camera and the wifi module.

I have made a toolchain to build software for both these devices and the Topas910. Together with an updated install instruction it can be found here at labs.kernelconcepts.de.  Now I’m investigating ways to integrate the toolchains with IDEs in order to simplify application development for mobile and embedded devices.

Micro2440 with Ultimate++ demo application

Micro2440 with Ultimate++ demo application

Here the device runs one of the Ultimate++ demo applications built with its IDE and the GPE-flavour cross toolchain built with OpenEmbedded. A friendly colleague found out what needs to be done to use it for ARM targets… it still needs a little help since Ultimate++ doesn’t seem to have an idea about pkgconfig and I’m not really happy with the size of the resulting binaries. But more about IDEs later…

Have a good time… and see you in Berlin!

Some good News March 14, 2009

Posted by Florian in LinuxToGo, Maemo.
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While the ongoing financial and ecomomic crisis seems to be the most popular topic for months now I try to make this blog a little more positive – some pice of contrast.

I has been a little bit quiet around LinuxToGo for quite a while. We didn’t manage to do more than the absolutely vital administrative tasks and the machine suffered badly from the high load. But there are some lights on the horizon: First I seem to have a little bit of time to work on it again – I managed to sort out the worst I/O bottleneck caused by having all I/O load on a single disk. Thanks to Jay7 for the hints! I wrote a few lines about the server status and some statistics here.

The second is that LinuxToGo has gained new sponsor: Bytemark Hosting sponsors a virtual server for us. Now we finally have the chance to distribute the load among two devices. Many thanks to Nick Thomas (lupine_85) for the idea and approaching us and his boss Matthew Bloch!

There are quite some good news in the Maemo world as well. First is that the Maemo Community Council elections have started – active community members have the chance to elect the council till the end of March 19th. Mer, the community driven distribution project for Nokia Internet Tablets and some more devices seems to evolve more and more – there is a quite interesting article about it at LWN.net.

The new Mameo 5 SDK Alpha release runs on BeagleBoard now too – Juha wrote a blog entry about this in the Maemo DT group blog.

While we are on this topic already… the BeagleBoard has gained an interesting companion: The Leopard expansion board which comes with a camera and ethernet. I do not know much about it yet, but it is based on the TI DaVinci DM355. I’ll try to find out more and update the information here.

The last thing I’d like to mention is a little bit offtopic… I found this interesting proof for engineering beeing a kind of art while repairing the amplifier in my living room:

pcb-design
Creative, isn’t it?

I hope you enjoyed this tiny pile of good news :-)

Have a nice time…

The ‘other’ BeagleBoard March 8, 2009

Posted by Florian in Devices, Linux, Maemo.
9 comments

I visited the Embedded World fair in Nürnberg on Wednesday this week together with some colleagues. Like always on events like this I stumble upon nice devices with Linux support… in fact embedded hardware like development platforms and devices for industrial use or consumer network stuff without running Linux seems to become uncommon. Just a few years back hackers had to search hard for useful devices or invest a lot of time reverse engineering consumer hardware. Unluckily cellphones are still problematic – even the linux ones are usually locked down so that they are not useful for developers.

But let’s stay with the ‘good’ ones: Karo Electronics showed a new low cost DIMM sized embedded module based on a 400MHz ARM9 CPU (The datasheet mentions Freescale, but lacks the name the chip.) A friend bought a similar one (a TX27) which came with full Linux kernel sources.

A real suprise was the booth of EBV: They build and sell their own BeagleBoard called EBVBeagle.

EBVBeagle (image source: EBV)

EBVBeagle (image source: EBV)

Its actually a BeagleBoard revision C2 with green PCB boxed with some useful accessories. It comes as a quite complete starter kit with AC adapter, USB to Ethernet adapter, MMC card, USB hub and some cables. The official press release can be found here. They claim (but not gurantee) to be able to deliver within two weeks. Looks like the only drawback is the minimum order value of 250 EUR which is – of course – more than the EBVBeagle kit.

Apropos Beagle Board – Maemo (which runs on the BeagleBoard too) has released some new bits. First  Maemo 5 alpha SDK is ready and released. This is pretty good for people using it on the Beagle Board because only the Maemo 5 SDKs support the OMAP3 SoC. For people who want to learn about Maemo development or development for Limux mobile devices in general there is a new Maemo Tutorial release. The Maemo Tutorial provides quite easy to understand and detailed information about Maemo platform and application development. It gives a lot of useful information about development for other Linux mobile device platforms as well.

Enjoy…

OE@FOSDEM – We do not sell keyboards! February 12, 2009

Posted by Florian in Devices, Maemo, OpenEmbedded.
3 comments

Last week I went to Brussels to help representing the OpenEmbedded project as FOSDEM. I did not manage to attend all the interesting talks but we had a pretty good time at the OE stand too. Luckily I managed to atted a talk about running Maemo on the BeagleBoard at least.  I brought the two ‘projecting peripherals‘ and my BeagleBoard with me which gained quite some interest. I somwhow got the impression that quite a lot of the people at FOSDEM now think that OE does sell keyboards ;-) Just to make this very clear: OpenEmbedded is a community driven project about compiling software for mobile and embedded devices – no hardware sales at all!

OE booth with some devices

OE booth with some devices and visitors

But even if we PICO beamer and laser keyboard are not our key competence these were quite well eyecaters: It was very interesting to watch people using the projected keyboard and beamer and find out what they like about it and to get to know for which needs this set of devices does not fit. Combining these into a single case starts to become a very appealing project. I have a (big) case for an initial test already, but making all components fit into it is not that easy – especially if you do not have time and resoures to make a custom board layout for it and you want GSM network connectivity included as well.

Beagleboard and keyboard engine with parts of the case

Beagleboard and keyboard engine with parts of the case

My Telit GSM modem evaluation kit would have been nice to use but its too big to fit into the case. I have ordered an UMTS modem with USB connector instead.

But back to OE:

I have to thank all the OE developers who helped to man the booth – most important Phillip (Crofton), Mans (mru) and Graeme (XorA) who where at the booth almost the whole time. And of course there is Atmel – they sponsored some NGW100 evaluation boards for interested OE developers and one for a raffle among our visitors.

Have a good time…

Maemo Summit July 22, 2008

Posted by Florian in GPE, kernel concepts, Linux, Maemo, Source.
1 comment so far

Good news for me… after missing GUADEC and other interesting events it looks like I’ll make it to the first Maemo Summit in Berlin. The list of participants is quite impressive – I guess this will be a really interesting event. Just join us there :-)

I read a few lines about odeviced… anyone else who thinks that using something like this for Maemo might be a goo idea?

I do not have much time left for blogging and coding currently – family and work keep me busy these times. But a few good things are in prgress – OpenSync’s roadmap indicates that they are close to a new release. This will be a much better base for MaemoSync than current SVN trunk. Even GPE makes a little bit of progress. Graham continues fixing various PIM bugs and gpe-memo is close to become ready for its first release.

Have a nice time…

LinuxTag 2008 summary May 31, 2008

Posted by Florian in GPE, Linux, Maemo, OpenEmbedded.
2 comments

Linke every year we had a really good time at LinuxTag! It is always a great event talking to interested users, business people and other developers. For the projects sharing this booth such as MyStep, Jalimo, GPE and OpenEmbedded it was a great success. For me it was the first time representing OpenEmbedded at a fair like this – with good results: We had quite some people who knew OE and asked specific questions and many developers with interest in using it.

LinuxTag always gives a lot of inspiration for new things to do and projects to check out. I know about some interesting software we need in OE soon – things like the Sugar framework for the OLPC and x2go. Other important tasks are to publish a list of evices that are defined in OE metadata and pushing the mobile-linux project forward.

In the Maemo track I had a short talk about GPE applications for Maemo – the slides of my talk can be found here. Unluckily I was not able to attend more of the interesting talks in this track. But I found out that the Mamona people seem to like OpenEmbedded at least :-)

Linuxtag1

The Tarent and Mobile booth right after opening in the morning… it was way more crowded a short time later.

Linuxtag2

Many thanks to all the people organizing LinuxTag and Tarent for booth and the big red sofa for sitting down to write my blog.

LinuxTag is (almost) there May 27, 2008

Posted by Florian in Linux, Maemo, OpenEmbedded, Source.
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In a few hours LinuxTag 2008 will open its gates. There is a large booth for mobile and embedded Open Source projects in hall 7b – I’ll be there for OpenEmbedded. GPE is there and right next to us there is the booth of the OpenMoko folks.
Logo

Using CMake for Maemo development April 11, 2008

Posted by Florian in Linux, Maemo, Source.
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Since OpenSync switched to CMake build system I had to get along with CMake in the Maemo SDK. I have to admit the fun was limited. In fact CMake has some advantages over autotools – most notably: It is much faster. One major drawback is that it is more complicated to use pkg-config with it.

I have never worked with CMake before, but OpenSync had some quite good examples how to check and support additional libraries. So I hacked cmake support for some basic Maemo components (libhildon, libosso) and Maemo-like Debian packages.

My cmake files can be found here:

http://www.kernelconcepts.de/~fuchs/maemo/

CMake itself is in the official extras-devel repository at maemo.org. Just add this line to your sources.list:

deb http://repository.maemo.org/extras-devel chinook free

The package is available for all other SDKs from the same location.

The DpkgDeb.cmake file is based on the updated DpkgDeb.cmake by Mehdi Rabah. The other ones are based on random files found in OpenSync SVN.

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