Monday, August 23, 2010

Why this Linux Fan roots for MeeGo - not Android

Some people will tell you fragmentation is one of the main things that is holding back Linux from desktop adoption. Not having a unified name, packaging system, or heck even desktop environment often confuses new users and puts them into overload - Too much choice can be a bad thing.

Android is currently the only real player in the Linux mobile market. Now don't get me wrong, I am glad Android jumped in record time to right near the top of the smart phone market. I'm also glad that through this success it has put the power of Linux into the hands of millions of people (many of whom are none the wiser about their penguin powered device).

If Android is doing so well, one might ask - why does there need to be another Linux variation present in the mobile market? For starters, just as too much fragmentation is a bad thing having only one choice I feel is equally as bad. MeeGo will provide an alternate mobile platform that is Linux based for those of us who prefer something different to Android. There are a few reasons I personally prefer what MeeGo is to become instead of what Android is today.

First, MeeGo is backed by the Linux Foundation - a non-profit organization. Google has a lot of fantastic free services (heck this blog is even hosted on one of them), but the goal of these services as many of us all know is data mining (plus Google is about as far from a non-profit as you can get). I'd much prefer an operating system running on my device that is by people, for people. Not by people, for data mining.

MeeGo is going to have a real package management system. It is RPM based, but still it is better than simply having a "market place". The applications that are to be installed via this package management system are also to be written and compiled the same other native Linux applications are - using any language that is supported by the operating system. Instead of using a java layer like Android does.

Lastly, because MeeGo is backed by the Linux Foundation I'd bet most anything that they won't be forking the kernel like Google has done with Android. Having a mainstream kernel running in MeeGo will help ensure that other distros with a mainstream kernel will also be able to run on the same hardware with the least amount of issues possible.

Now I am sure the MeeGo hand held project is going to change and mature a lot over the next few months before we see it officially released into the market, but I'd be willing to bet that most all of these changes are going to be for the better and will only add to my above list. Do you think MeeGo is going to be able to compete with Android getting into the market this late?

Also, in case you noticed it - yes the horrible pun in the title is intentional.

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. Great post -- as a Nokia fan I've always wondered why the desktop Linux community has displayed such irrational exuberance over Android, even after the N900 was released.

    I'm saving up for my MeeGo handset now... 8-)

  2. "Lastly, because MeeGo is backed by the Linux Foundation I'd bet most anything that they won't be forking the kernel like Google has done with Android."

    Yeah, not so much. Be sure to ask Intel when they will be pushing the Poulsbo support they have for MeeGo into the mainline kernel for their mid device graphics chipset... And when they will be providing the open source 3D support for that video chipset... and then we can talk about forking the kernel.

  3. finally more people are thinking that the MeeGo project will bring us more joy than android. i like that rhought “from people to people“, but they have intel on board, who is not known as “mother teresssa“ :-)

  4. I wish I felt more confident about Nokia/Intel's commitment to actually getting Meego phones out there.

    I've been lusting after the N900 since it was released, but the (originally) $750 up front cost made it too expense (even half a grand is too much to cough up all at once for a phone in my budget). Android phones can be had at subsidized prices, making them more accessible.

    It seems like meego on phones is still in the "one of these days" stage, sadly. I'll still want a meego phone if they ever become available and affordable, though. Android is nice, but I would much rather have a "real" Linux phone.

  5. I also prefer MeeGo rather than Android but the problem is MeeGo still doesn't have mobile using it with powerful hardware(except 3 or 4 mobiles). I hope to see that day when MeeGo becomes better Mobile OS.

  6. Yes. I strongly believe, MeeGo can achieve whatever Android has achieved pretty easily. All it needs is a stable and easy to use UI and strong app framework for app developers and latest well thought hardware. I think, Motorola's Droid 2 hardware add with Samsung's Super AMOLED screen will do the trick.

  7. while meego looks good on paper, so far we have gotten builds by intel that have very specific hardware requirements (much unlike the generic 386 or 686 builds one normally get out of linux distros), one of them even for hardware thats not generally available (avaa mobile). And nokia have a history of building maemo with closed components, and is taking their sweet time getting anything but a "dev" build of meego ready.

  8. I see MeeGo being more successful on the tablet. It seems very well suited for such tasks. Cant wait to get my hands on a MeeGo/Nokia tablet.

  9. I think the GENIVI alliance has already adopted Meego for its in vehicle infotainment system. If this pans out, Meego will be a going concern. However, IMHO Meego is too far behind Android in the cell phone space at the moment. We have not even seen the successor to the N900 which if Meego takes off will be Nokia/Intel's equivalent to the Nexus One.

  10. I'm reading this blog and writing this comment from my N900. Firstly, even though Android has Linux kernel, for the avarage GNU/Liux user it is useless, it is a system that has nothing else in common with Desktop GNU/Linux, impossible to just port a desktop application, impossible to use the GNU toolchain, just some exotic Java. True, there are many apps, but none of the apps I'm used to. On my N900 with Maemo, I have a real GNU/Linux with BASH, Midnight Commander, Vim, Aircrack, SSH, Firefox, VLC, KMPlayer/Mplayer, Espeak, Open Office, Hamachi and lots more. I believe that MeeGo will be at least as good as Maemo. Yes, N900 is expensive, but it is worth every €cent. Btw, I got it for just €400 few months ago, brand new, from ebay.

  11. @The comment about the GMA500, I have dealt with this card and it is a pain in the ass. But I think Intel knows they messed up here. They cannot contribute the drivers for the GMA500 to the main kernel because, well they didn't write them! Intel outsourced the job to another company, so it is not their source code to give away.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Well I am a huge fan of Android my self, and I hope that MeeGo gives Android a run for its' money or even supersedes it.

    Keep in mind that the Android GUI is Java based, but applications can be written in any language.

    RPM based packages will have no practical influence on the platform. I think most people prefer a centralized app source any ways. Plus you can install other application sources and of course you can install 3rd party apps your self.

    Android is not backed by the Linux Foundation? Once again, practically speaking it makes no difference; remember that Android is a commercial product. And forking the kernel makes sense when you have heavily optimized source that is unique.

    Google does "data-mine", but it also provides great content and a free OS that is in my opinion the best out there now. Once again, it is a commercial product, so you have to expect something...

    Mind you, Android does has flaws that Meego can exploit - battery life and a somewhat archaic UI. If it improves on the former, it will attract a lot of attention from Android users. Then again, I know that Google is working hard at fixing these problems.

    In the end, competition and selection is good.

  14. I find the main problem with Android is that, although its API is very pluggable and extensible, you have to create that extensibility and build off of Java for the most part.

    With MeeGo, tons of previously existing applications are already available, the toolkits and frameworks are easily taken advantage of, and the software is already open source.

    The main issue with Android is that hardly any of the applications you encounter are open source. I still use it, but wish that there were a more concrete, simple, and public effort or organization around open mobile applications, primarily for those java-based platforms.

  15. Man I can't wait to have to type in several command lines of text just to get flash installed. And then having to recompile my kernel just to add feature X or Y. This will be AWSOME!

  16. I'm really pulling for meego to make it. After having an android device for a few months, it's clear to me that google has allowed too much fragmentation of the android os for my liking. I do agree that meego would be beautiful on a tablet, I currently run it on a netbook and would for sure buy a tablet to use it on.

  17. For me tablets are all about wireless X terminals and I'm perfectly happy with the choice that SmartDevices gives me with Ubuntu to add SSH to the initscript, turn off nolisten TCP to make this happen. If MeeGo matches this and doesn't do a subset of X like Maemo did then I'm happy.

  18. At the moment and to the best of my knowledge MeeGo hardware require a lot of proprietary drivers to work for hardware that we have not specifications to write FLOSS replacements. The situation slightly better with Android. After all what is the point of running Linux if you can not do whatever you like with it.

  19. MeeGo have no proprietary drivers at all... What may happen is that some constructor may port MeeGo to a device using a proprietary driver for some piece of hardware. Since there is no commercial MeeGo device yet, it is currently not a problem. We will see when the first devices are out (especially with Nokia N9).

    I have high expectation on MeeGo. The architecture and governance of the project makes sense. The technology used should allow to make a more efficient platform than Android (especially as there is no virtual machine). The Qt API is good.

    I'm waiting to see N9. Hope it will arrive fast enough. Also I would like to get more information about the tablet user interface.