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Comparing the Freedoms Offered By Maemo and Android

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the they-canna-take-our dept.

Handhelds 244

An anonymous reader writes "Maemo 5 and Android have received a lot of publicity lately, despite the former not even shipping yet. Both have become famous partly for using the Linux kernel, but now that we have a choice, how do we pick one? Is the issue as mundane as choosing your favorite desktop distribution, or is there a more significant difference? This article compares the two from an end user and developer perspective, emphasizing root access and ease of sharing code."

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Freedom of choice is made for you, my friend (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 5 years ago | (#29883185)

Maemo 5 and Android have received a lot of publicity lately, despite the former not even shipping yet. Both have become famous partly for using the Linux kernel, but now that we have a choice, how do we pick one?

I assume that you'd probably pick the one that you can actually buy. Or you could opt to buy nothing, but that's not really picking one.

"We" don't really have a choice, do we?

Right... Go buy an Android phone then. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 5 years ago | (#29883409)

Choice made.

 

Re:Freedom of choice is made for you, my friend (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#29883819)

Well, I've had a Maemo device since 2007, and a couple of my friends have Android devices, so I'm not really sure what your point is. I don't really like either, but I'd probably choose Maemo because it runs X11 and so it's much easier to port programs to. You can run OpenOffice, for example, on a sufficiently powerful Maemo device, but porting it to Android would be a lot more effort.

Re:Freedom of choice is made for you, my friend (0)

A12m0v (1315511) | about 5 years ago | (#29883997)

Well, I've had a Maemo device since 2007, and a couple of my friends have Android devices, so I'm not really sure what your point is. I don't really like either, but I'd probably choose Maemo because it runs X11 and so it's much easier to port programs to. You can run OpenOffice, for example, on a sufficiently powerful Maemo device, but porting it to Android would be a lot more effort.

That's a reason NOT to choose Maemo!

Re:Freedom of choice is made for you, my friend (1)

lavacano201014 (999580) | about 5 years ago | (#29884085)

Open a terminal and configure it to not start X11 at boot. If you want/need it, startx is your friend.

Re:Freedom of choice is made for you, my friend (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29884423)

oh ffs the stallman-retard argument - "the GUI is better on competitor x than it is on gnu/asshole ... WELL WHY DONT YOU JUST GO AND USE 1970's STYLE PUNCHCARDS THEN???! pROBLem SOLved!!!" FFFS FUCKING RETARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET A FUCKING LIFE YOU STUPID MORON!!!!!!!

Re:Freedom of choice is made for you, my friend (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#29884379)

Yes, it really sucks to have a mature system that supports remote display (want to run CPU-intensive apps elsewhere and display on your portable? Want to run apps on the portable and display them on a bigger screen?), is compatible with most UNIX GUI software written since the mid '80s, supports compositing, OpenGL, accelerated text rendering, and cleanly separates policy and mechanism so that window and compositing management can be easily swapped out and replaced.

Use of X servers on phones... (2, Interesting)

Tetsujin (103070) | about 5 years ago | (#29884563)

Yes, it really sucks to have a mature system that supports remote display (want to run CPU-intensive apps elsewhere and display on your portable? Want to run apps on the portable and display them on a bigger screen?), is compatible with most UNIX GUI software written since the mid '80s, supports compositing, OpenGL, accelerated text rendering, and cleanly separates policy and mechanism so that window and compositing management can be easily swapped out and replaced.

You know, I am generally happiest when my machine is running an X server as the native environment - things just felt too awkward trying to run X apps on Mac OS X for instance - and I don't think X is as bad as people make it out to be...

But, on the other hand, I have to say, remote display really is not a priority for me on my phone at all. :) It might be fun to play with from time to time but in general it's not something I think I need.

Compatibility would probably be the main reason I'd appreciate Maemo's X server. One of the things that always drives me crazy with PalmOS is that it was always so much damn work to port things to it. Some of this work is unavoidable - when you're working with a small touchscreen display as your main interface, some of the UI assumptions that would go with a 1600x1200 display with a three-button mouse don't apply... To have a reasonable UI it has to be tailored to fit the small display and the precision limitations that go with a touchscreen (especially a resistive touchscreen operated without a stylus...)

Re:Freedom of choice is made for you, my friend (4, Interesting)

SCHecklerX (229973) | about 5 years ago | (#29883957)

Simple. Get a Palm Pre. Seriously. WebOS is good stuff. Download the SDK, plug the phone into your computer, and type 'novaterm' (ok, first you have to type the konami code on the phone). Hey. Look. Linux. And the apps are all text (javascript to be precise). You even have things like vi and wget without having to install them.

Javascript as a mobile device's ABI? (1, Insightful)

Tetsujin (103070) | about 5 years ago | (#29884607)

And the apps are all text (javascript to be precise).

That is actually the #1 reason I won't buy a Pre. I think it's a horrible design decision. The device has limited processing power, storage, and battery. I don't want it to waste time or power translating Javascript code.

Re:Freedom of choice is made for you, my friend (3, Interesting)

Microlith (54737) | about 5 years ago | (#29884609)

Basically, you have a Busybox session where vi and wget haven't been compiled out. You're still bound to whatever Palm decides to push your way.

Which makes me wonder if you can replace the kernel on a Palm Pre, or if it will only boot a signed kernel.

Re:Freedom of choice is made for you, my friend (1)

Fred_A (10934) | about 5 years ago | (#29884081)

Maemo 5 and Android have received a lot of publicity lately, despite the former not even shipping yet. Both have become famous partly for using the Linux kernel, but now that we have a choice, how do we pick one?

I assume that you'd probably pick the one that you can actually buy. Or you could opt to buy nothing, but that's not really picking one.

"We" don't really have a choice, do we?

My choice wa a tough one. My mobile network salespeople were peskering me because I had accumulated a number of points that made me eligible for a new handset for a symbolic price. So I went to look at their online boutique and after a long pondering decided to go with a Samsung [something] (I think it has "star" in the model name, which may or may not be what my network calls it, or just a local name, or maybe it's what it's really called... but it's not on the Samsung web site)

Anyway, I wanted : reasonably decent phone (as in making calls and manageing contacts) interface, possibly Visio, definitely radio (we happen to have quality radio in Europe), maybe a few toys, BlueTooth would be a plus... and um...
"Ideally"... if I was able to ssh and open an xterm or even (hah) an X11/ssh tunnel to my network that would have been kind of neat. Although poking at networks on a cell phone that didn't have a real keyboard (as in the clamshell Nokia units that came along a few years ago, no idea what they were called) would, while geeky and fun, be mostly pointless. (Presumably there's a menu item for ^] or something...). And displaying my workstation's display in QVGA (or pretty much any normal app) would be an exercise in futility.

So I just went for a regular, marginally augmented phone. It can display a calendar, it can handle about ten alarms, it has a dozen fields per contact, it does 3G+ and handles GSM and whatever that US norm is. It also has a number of useless widgets to keep me amused. It has the mandatory useless camera.
It cost me 20 €.

And I'll stick with my 12.something inch laptop that weighs a bit under 2kg and lasts roughly 4hours whenever I actually want to talk to a proper computer on the other side.

So while I certainly *would* have considered an open source terminal (and that's assuming the Samsung handset I have runs 100% proprietary code), it didn't look alike any were available. If some were, I didn't bother going to page 5 (130 € and up). And on top of that, I'm still not convinced I need that much functionality inside what is mostly a disposable unit (sit on it, drop it, forget it, get it snatched, flood it --beer, water, coffee, soda--, have your friend's kids turn it into a spaceship, etc.)

OTOH I know I won't forget my laptop. I also know it was fairly easy to script an automated backup as soon as it auto-logged into my home Wi-Fi (not so easy with a phone, unless it *really* is wide open ; but how many actually are). Losing my laptop won't ever be much of an issue (unless I happen to be memory starved for my camera on a trip and have to re-use flash cards, unlikely given how many I have and how I work but who can tell) since my personal insurance will cover most of the loss anyway and my data won't be accessible to the thief (ok, maybe if it's the TSA and they pass it on to the NSA, that is if I decide to go back to the US).

In conclusion, while I understand that it certainly would be convenient to have a "one for all" device, IMO current phones are way off the mark. Every now and then, an interesting idea pops up, usually to be quickly killed by the network operator's (or some kind of patent troll's) greed.

Of course it *will* happen eventually. And a lot of tech and design firms are trying to push their designs forward. That they mostly suck is natural (getting it right will take some time) but the blunt of the blame isn't to rest on the designer's shoulders but on the ones who benefit most from neutering the hardware.

As always, follow the money.

We techies sometimes, for right or wrong, believe that we can fix pretty much any problem with a judicious application of technology. But we always forget that greedy people believe they can make an extra [$currency] by preventing us to do so (and they're often right).

[/rant]

Not a chioce right now (1, Redundant)

Paolo DF (849424) | about 5 years ago | (#29883213)

I think it can be marked as redundant, but there isn't any actual choice right now; and by the way, do we have a shipping date?

Re:Not a chioce right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29883263)

pwned by BadAnalogyGuy. Sorry, but when I wrote my post there wasn't any post. Funny that we both said the very same thing...

Re:Not a chioce right now (4, Informative)

Canazza (1428553) | about 5 years ago | (#29883295)

Re:Not a chioce right now (2, Informative)

Verdatum (1257828) | about 5 years ago | (#29883687)

That's the UK release date. For US, it's supposedly the end of October, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Re:Not a chioce right now (1)

Kenja (541830) | about 5 years ago | (#29884805)

Been using my N810 for a while now. Mamo is great. Its one thing to have a stripped down office app on your pda and another to be running Abiword and Gnumeric.

maymo? memo? meemo? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29883243)

If I choose that one, there's a danger that some geek will say, "You don't even know how to pronounce it, you clueless f***!" Big-time pain and humiliation.

Re:maymo? memo? meemo? (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#29883425)

Pronounce it 'Nokia smartphone'.

Re:maymo? memo? meemo? (1)

Vovk (1350125) | about 5 years ago | (#29883503)

Running Debian ^_^

Re:maymo? memo? meemo? (1)

PeterBrett (780946) | about 5 years ago | (#29884811)

I've only heard it pronounced "mee-mo", FWIW.

How do I choose? (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 5 years ago | (#29883269)

I choose the one that will install on the hardware I own. or the one that has the most pro user functions and anti carrier functions...

I.E. mp3 ringtones that are not locked out.
Backgrounds can be any file I choose to upload to it, same as themes. Give me a way to design and upload a look change without makign the carrier rich.

All features enabled and systems in place that keep the carrier from disabling features in the phone or forcing an update to my phone that is crippled.

Allows me to use a voip client at a wifi hotspot to circumvent airtime charges.

there are features on my S60 phone that I dont see anywhere else. If I press end on a ringing call it will SMS that person with a "I'm really busy right now, I'll call you back as soon as I can" That is a ROCKING feature that I dont see on any of these phones.

Finally scripting. I want scripting on my phone. a sequence to happen when number xx-xxx-xxxx calls me.

So I choose whatever empowers me and works on my hardware.

Re:How do I choose? (2, Informative)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 5 years ago | (#29883391)

all the features you mentioned are available with windows mobile.

Re:How do I choose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29884157)

All those features minus usability for touchscreens, you mean. :)

Re:How do I choose? (5, Funny)

SpooForBrains (771537) | about 5 years ago | (#29884305)

Windows Mobile is like the two Matrix sequels or the Star Wars prequels. We pretend it doesn't exist.

Re:How do I choose? (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 5 years ago | (#29884703)

Windows Mobile is like the two Matrix sequels or the Star Wars prequels. We pretend it doesn't exist.

Dude, what are you talking about, they never made another Matrix or the Star Wars prequels! I *wish*!

Too bad they never made a sequel to Highlander, either. *sigh* Oh well...maybe someday.

Maybe some day they'll make a third Alien movie, too. Man, how kick ass would _that_ be! Hicks was a great addition - can't wait to see what they do with him _and_ Ripley in the mix again. And you know Newt is gonna grow up to kick some serious ass.

Still, sometimes you have to respect the maker's original vision. Some things aren't meant to be continued beyond an originally envisioned ending, like Babylon 5. Imagine trying to make more of that after such a perfect ending!

Re:How do I choose? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 5 years ago | (#29884747)

I have some bad news for you...

They're making a Mad Max 4.

Win Mobile features (5, Insightful)

js_sebastian (946118) | about 5 years ago | (#29884321)

all the features you mentioned are available with windows mobile.

Additionally, you get a lot of nice extra features, like random restarts, battery monitor that always reports full battery, battery that lasts 1 full day when you're lucky, touchscreen that sometimes responds to your touch (sometimes even to do what you want it to do!), apps that cost much more than I am willing to pay and don't do what I need, plus a generally clunky and inconsistent UI.

I have a windows mobile phone and I will NEVER make that mistake again.

And before I get flamed: I know, many of the problems I have are specific to the device, not to windows mobile, so I have also blacklisted LG for my next purchase. Still, the OS makes you feel like it's windows 98 all over *shiver*.

Re:How do I choose? (3, Interesting)

PitaBred (632671) | about 5 years ago | (#29884671)

Which is great, as long as the phone is running. In my experience, WinMo phones need a firmware reset every couple of months or else buttons and functions start flaking out, which is completely unacceptable for a phone. It has happened with every WinMo phone I have seen.

Re:How do I choose? (5, Insightful)

schmidt349 (690948) | about 5 years ago | (#29883401)

That auto-SMS idea is amazing, and one of the reasons why even as an iPhone developer I'm annoyed at Apple for locking us out of making apps to fill in that kind of functionality. I respect that they need to make sure the phone doesn't blow up whatever network it happens to be running on or ring up a $500 bill for the user, but you would think that something that cool would be really trivial to write now that everything else is in place.

Another idea: why not have the phone give you a couple of options on the auto-SMS that you can write yourself, i.e. "in a meeting right now," "at the theater," "soldering my fingers to the windowsill," or vary the auto-SMS depending on the caller? I don't know if you can roll this kind of functionality yourself on Android, but if you can Apple is going to be sweating bullets in a year or so.

Re:How do I choose? (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 5 years ago | (#29883533)

My Samsung i760 running Windows Mobile 6.1 does just that - if I ignore (press end while its ringing) a phone call a little window pops up asking if I'd like to send an SMS to the caller, and I can choose from a set of pre-canned messages or create a custom message. Really quite handy!

Re:How do I choose? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 5 years ago | (#29883925)

You don't even need a Windows Mobile device or even a smartphone for that feature. It's built in on most LG phones.

Re:How do I choose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29883575)

http://gnobal.net/dindy

Done already at least once, though I wish Dindy would work well with the brilliant Locale.

Send to voice mail (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#29883585)

why not have the phone give you a couple of options on the auto-SMS that you can write yourself, i.e. "in a meeting right now," "at the theater," "soldering my fingers to the windowsill," or vary the auto-SMS depending on the caller?

In other words, you want "away messages" for voice calls. Can land lines receive SMS where you live? Otherwise, it isn't too much of an improvement over the existing "send to voice mail" button.

Re:Send to voice mail (3, Interesting)

Sparr0 (451780) | about 5 years ago | (#29883767)

screw "send to voice mail". I want the phone to *PICK UP*, play one of a selection of pre-recorded messages, and then allow the caller to press a button if they really really want to interrupt, or answer the question in the message. 200MHz on an ARM is plenty of power to implement this.

Re:Send to voice mail (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#29883895)

Can land lines receive SMS where you live?

I don't know about now, because I haven't had a landline for a while, but they definitely could back in 2005. The text of the message was read out by a voice synthesiser and you had the option to replay it when you received an SMS. This is in the UK, so it may be different in other places. They occasionally get celebrities to record the voice samples used for the synthesis. For a while, Tom Baker was doing the voice, so it sounded like you were being sent a message by The Doctor.

Re:How do I choose? (2, Informative)

ap7 (963070) | about 5 years ago | (#29883999)

In S60v3 Nokia phones, when you choose to send the SMS, you are presented with the standard SMS writing interface, with a basic template already filled in saying 'Sorry, I will call later'. Simply press send. If you so choose, you can edit it to whatever you want and then press send. Its been around for a long time and I am kind of surprised other phones still have not copied this.

Re:How do I choose? (1)

angryphase (766302) | about 5 years ago | (#29884269)

Most phones offer message templates. Create any generic salutation or excuse you can think of and then simply select the call from any call log application and in most cases you can send a templated SMS message without fear of being told off for not answering your phone.

Re:How do I choose? (1)

SpooForBrains (771537) | about 5 years ago | (#29884401)

The Handspring Treo (yes, before they were taken over by Palm) had this. In fact, usability wise, the handspring Treo 600 has not been bettered by any device since.

Re:How do I choose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29884741)

treo had it, sharksms i believe

Why does T-Mobile suck? There's a map for that. (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#29883539)

I choose the one that will install on the hardware I own. or the one that has the most pro user functions and anti carrier functions...

Unless you live in the United States, where carriers don't offer a discounted service plan that comes without a subsidized phone. The article mentions the "Even More Plus" plan that T-Mobile has recently added, but as Verizon puts it in newer commercials, "there's a map for that" with T-Mobile even to a greater extent than with AT&T.

mp3 ringtones that are not locked out.

Ringtone lockouts have at least a token rationale: ASCAP and BMI (and foreign counterparts) have to be paid for public performances of major label music.

Re:How do I choose? (4, Insightful)

sonnejw0 (1114901) | about 5 years ago | (#29883587)

Why would you want to send an auto-SMS and waste a text message when you don't answer a call? Isn't it implied that if it goes directly to voicemail that I'm busy and I will call back? Are the people that call you really that paranoid that you don't like them that they need an SMS to tell them that you didn't answer your phone but you still want to be friends?

I mean, sure, it's great that the phone's OS allows that kind of open development and all, but ... honestly?

Re:How do I choose? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#29883945)

I've never used this functionality on my phone, but it's worth noting two things. Firstly, lots of people these days are on unlimited texting plans, so sending the text doesn't cost them anything (and only in the US can you find people stupid enough to agree to pay to receive texts). On my phone, the response message is tied to the profile, which can be changed in a couple of button presses. You can define the message to say when you will be free, so the caller gets some feedback, rather than just having to guess when you might be answering your phone. If you go into a meeting, you can set it to auto-respond with 'I'm in a meeting until 3, call me back after then' and then you can send that to anyone with a single button press.

Re:How do I choose? (1)

EQ (28372) | about 5 years ago | (#29883753)

"There are features on my S60 phone that I dont see anywhere else". You don;t see them -- I have, have you looked at the N900/Maemo? Sounds like the Maemo phone is what you want - it likely does all that because you have root access, and its Linux/GTK, so compile it yourself. Plus it runs python no problem etc.

Most smartphones can. It's the carrier that locks (1)

Fastfwd (44389) | about 5 years ago | (#29883939)

Most phones have that. It's the carrier that locks those features.

There is no technical reason why mp3 ringtones would be locked out. But US carriers will sell the phone as subsidized(binding you to a long term contract in the process) and then earn extra money on mp3 ringtones downloads which are sometimes as expensive as the full track from itunes.

Your choice. Buy an unlocked phone full price and then pay for service without a contract
or
Get into a contract and limitations on the phone software

Re:How do I choose? (1)

CaptainZapp (182233) | about 5 years ago | (#29883949)

If I press end on a ringing call it will SMS that person with a "I'm really busy right now, I'll call you back as soon as I can" That is a ROCKING feature that I dont see on any of these phones.

My 9300 (Symbian under S80, sadly discarded) has another SMS killer feature: You can schedule SMSes and I haven't seen that anywhere else.

Re:How do I choose? (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 5 years ago | (#29884067)

Not at the operating system level, but there are about 10 different sms schedulers for WM.

Don't have a texting plan... (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | about 5 years ago | (#29884647)

If I press end on a ringing call it will SMS that person with a "I'm really busy right now, I'll call you back as soon as I can"

Great, you just cost me $0.20, just to send me information I already could have figured out from the fact that you pressed "end" while I was trying to call you...

(I feel that with or without a texting plan, the carrier charges for SMS are complete bullshit...)

The writer is clueless about end users (2, Interesting)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | about 5 years ago | (#29883317)

The reason the providers lock the phone to their service (besides profit) is support. They only need to support one variation of the platform. More than that is way too costly. The end user in the U.S. wants support from one place not two. If they didn't do this then the average (idiot) user would hear "this is an issue with your device, contact the manafacturer" and "it is your service provider that is causing your problem, contact them". When you want support, you don't want to chase around to get it.

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (5, Interesting)

vadim_t (324782) | about 5 years ago | (#29883451)

There's more than one kind of end user.

As an end user, and potential programmer for the platform this is precisely the sort of review I wanted. It doesn't work for the non-technical user maybe, but there will be plenty reviews for those.

Personally as an user I want lack of restrictions and don't give a damn about support -- I've never ever called it for anything I own.

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (1)

pjr.cc (760528) | about 5 years ago | (#29884101)

I couldn't agree more...

as a loves-to-hack-around-in-linux type, both the platforms are intriquing and the nokia's more-like-linux abilities make it something i'd buy to play with (i.e. a secondary phone that im not reliant on). The android based ones also have a similar attraction, but ultimately if you wanted to do something more-like-linux on them you'd be doing alot more work.

Personally, i've always had in the back of my mind the idea of writing a text-based (ncurses) interface to a phone just to see how functional it could actually be and see how fast you could actually make it.

Maybe someone will (or already has) port maemo back to the android devices...

Still, its an interesting read.

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | about 5 years ago | (#29883517)

You need to install a dummy package that simply involves agreeing to the risks associated with root access. They could simply say "if you agree to it, to waive the right to software support." It would be reasonable to do this because obviously they can't help someone who was convinced to run "rm -r /*" as root. (By the way, do it, it's super-fun!)

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (3, Funny)

FictionPimp (712802) | about 5 years ago | (#29883723)

Luckily, I was able to find another computer to post from.

You sir are an asshole. :-p

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (1)

synoniem (512936) | about 5 years ago | (#29883789)

Well, I do rm-r /* quite frequently and do not see the fun of it. But maybe that the lack of fun is because I do it in a chrooted environment to clean it up.

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | about 5 years ago | (#29884785)

'rm' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
operable program or batch file.

Hmmmm, yeah, super fun !

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (5, Insightful)

JohnFen (1641097) | about 5 years ago | (#29883569)

There must be a nontrivial market consisting of people like me who don't care about support as much as they care about functionality.

The Maemo looks good. It's the first smartphone that I'm actually excited about!

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (3, Insightful)

ultrabot (200914) | about 5 years ago | (#29883681)

The Maemo looks good. It's the first smartphone that I'm actually excited about!

That's because it's the first "phone" that's actually a real computer, not a locked down piece of plastic.

I just got an N810, and I'm loving it. As a double-plus, you can actually get a used one cheap now that everybody is buying an N900.

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (1)

beerbear (1289124) | about 5 years ago | (#29883897)

except that it's not a phone.

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (1)

Ptur (866963) | about 5 years ago | (#29883931)

I just got an N810, and I'm loving it. As a double-plus, you can actually get a used one cheap now that everybody is buying an N900.

Oh please don't. My n810 is frustrating me like hell whenever I try to do anything else on it than read email, chat or open *simple* webpages. It is underpowered and unsupported (no future updates for you), the only good thing about it is the display.

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (4, Informative)

Ptur (866963) | about 5 years ago | (#29883985)

Let's correct my support claim a small bit: There is actually good news for the n8x0, it's called Mer (http://wiki.maemo.org/Mer [maemo.org] )

Pathetic (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29883615)

And the most clueless /. reader just revealed himself.

This is even worse than being clueless. You're insane.

Why should we have to suffer locked devices just because some braindead users will not understand "INSTALLING THIRD-PARTY SOFTWARE WILL VOID YOUR GUARANTY" written in bold red ? We're grown-up, you're pathetic, I'd hate to be your kid.

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (4, Insightful)

BlackCreek (1004083) | about 5 years ago | (#29883679)

I second this.

Most users don't need root, nor have any need for source code access. Most users have access to support from the manufacturer, and are fine with that.

Judging from this guy's questions, he already had a conclusion, and started asking questions to justify his points of view. The article is flamebait beginning to end. Some notes:

  1. In practice, any Gnome/KDE GUI app will simply not run properly in the display resolution of a phone, and not lend itself well to a touch screen interface. When you want to talk about the great stuff you can do with MAEMO, and you decide to illustrate with XEYES, I say you are out of touch with reality.
  2. Android forces a rewrite of even Java code, but it also provides full application isolation. Nowhere the security advantages of it were considered.
  3. Android is also offered with root access from Google (ADP) and with the Geekphone from Spain. The fact that you can also buy it in a locked state, doesn't disqualify the platform.
  4. As a developer, I also care about the fact that the new MAEMO APIs are scheduled for deprecation before its release. Having a stable, well documented API matters. A lot.

The N900 will (hopefully) be a great phone, no need to go on bashing the competition in order to promote it.

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29883865)

In practice, any Gnome/KDE GUI app will simply not run properly in the display resolution of a phone, and not lend itself well to a touch screen interface

You have many valid points, but are you aware that the resolution of the entire Maemo range thus far (ie 770, N800, N810, N900) are all 800x480? That's the same as the original 7" Asus EeePC and significantly better than most of the smartphone competition (often 480x320).

True, desktop applications will work better on a desktop machine with keyboard/mouse, but Maemo is surprisingly capable. As long as you're willing to use the stylus, most desktop applications would work reasonably well as long as right-click/hover-overs weren't required and it was reasonably thrifty with CPU/RAM.

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (1, Interesting)

vadim_t (324782) | about 5 years ago | (#29883869)

Most users don't need root, nor have any need for source code access. Most users have access to support from the manufacturer, and are fine with that.

But I'm not "most users" and will choose precisely on criteria like this. I assume I'm the intended audience. Not everything has to be written for the layman.

In practice, any Gnome/KDE GUI app will simply not run properly in the display resolution of a phone, and not lend itself well to a touch screen interface. When you want to talk about the great stuff you can do with MAEMO, and you decide to illustrate with XEYES, I say you are out of touch with reality.

But this is mostly unimportant. It may not look perfect, but it should be fairly simple to fix the UI, especially when compared with writing from scratch or rewriting significant amounts of the codebase.

The xeyes thing IMO simply illustrates that you can run any random thing on it without fuss -- which has huge value in my view.

Android forces a rewrite of even Java code, but it also provides full application isolation. Nowhere the security advantages of it were considered.

As somebody who wants an advanced phone that can be used as a computer and not as a restricted platform I don't really find it much of an advantage. What I want is pretty much a tiny Linux box that fits in my pocket and makes calls. And it looks like that's what it'll be.

Android is also offered with root access from Google (ADP) and with the Geekphone from Spain. The fact that you can also buy it in a locked state, doesn't disqualify the platform.

Ok, this is interesting, didn't know. Still, that I'm one of the few people with good access to the device lowers its value for me. I may be able to mess all I want with it, but if other people have to jump through hoops to use anything I come up with then that's annoying.

As a developer, I also care about the fact that the new MAEMO APIs are scheduled for deprecation before its release. Having a stable, well documented API matters. A lot.

Please elaborate on this?

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | about 5 years ago | (#29883693)

that seems no different than the world of PCs and 3rd party applications. Since phones are becoming more like PCs by the year, why should the expectations based solely on support be any different? I mean its not like the support people are incapable of figuring out a problem is caused by a 3rd party software and telling the user to bother them instead.

Re:The writer is clueless about end users (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | about 5 years ago | (#29883811)

By the OP's reasoning, the whole Internet thing could never have worked. Who could think that an ISP could possibly run a helpdesk that supported an entirely random selection of hardware and operating systems? It would have been impossible. But it happened.

Yeah - I put time at a helldesk. We had all manner of odd calls (one dude even asked for us to print out bible passages for him so he could come by and pick them up). But the majority were pretty straight forward and entirely in scope with getting someone online.

what the fuck is maemo? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29883321)

In other words, it hasn't been getting a lot of press.

Maemo (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 5 years ago | (#29883393)

I was disappointed that there's no Ekiga for Maemo on the N800. There is however a non-video-supporting version of Skype. I also downloaded all the maps for the non-free mapping software wondering how long those would be available.

Re:Maemo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29884211)

Sounds like you have a Maemo device. Have you tried Gizmo which appears to be a SIP client and hence broadly similar to what Ekiga does (albeit not open source). That said, when I last tried it (mainly for the video-calls), the video-calls were unusable and the audio-calls were worst than Skype.

Not really an article (2, Insightful)

Ash Vince (602485) | about 5 years ago | (#29883419)

This is just a blog by someone unknown that is also very light on facts.

He seems of the opinion the Maemo owners will be better treated if the root their hardware because Nokia make it slightly easier to do. The problem is that we do not yet know what Nokia will make you agree to in order to install the gain root privileges application. In my opinion they will make you agree to voiding your warranty anyway so that will put you in the same boat as most android owners.

Even if Nokia do not then most carriers will, and the vast majority of phones are purchased through a carriers discount so the user does not end up paying full price for the handset.

Re:Not really an article (1)

megamerican (1073936) | about 5 years ago | (#29883645)

On their official wiki homepage [maemo.org] one of the main articles is Getting Root Access. [maemo.org]

It only provides a warning that you may damage your device and does not mention breaking a warranty, EULA, TOS, etc...

Re:Not really an article (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29884093)

It only provides a warning that you may damage your device and does not mention breaking a warranty, EULA, TOS, etc...

It's also worth noting that the warning links directly to the instructions for reflashing the device (with the obvious caveat that any data that isn't backed up will be lost). So even if you shoot yourself in the foot as root, they're more than happy to point your toward the stack of bandages in the corner.

Re:Not really an article (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29883699)

The problem is that we do not yet know what Nokia will make you agree to in order to install the gain root privileges application

Using Maemo 4 running on a Nokia N810 (the predecessor to the N900) as an example, the exact disclaimer is:

Nokia has neither created nor delivered this software and is therefore unable to guarantee that the software will not harm your device. Installation will be at your own risk. Continue anyway. Ok/Cancel

My experience with the N810 indicates that the Maemo system is extremely open. It's not merely slightly easier to get root access, it is significantly easier compared with jail-breaking an iPhone or hacking root onto an Android device. It is literally installing a third-party package (either gainroot or openssh) via the usual GUI package manager and takes a couple of minutes. Your data is not wiped, nor will your root-access be revoked upon the next firmware upgrade (which doesn't wipe your data either on the N900).

Re:Not really an article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29884509)

YANAL. Gaining root on your phone does not void your warranty.

Oh good (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | about 5 years ago | (#29883437)

I've been waiting for just such an article. I've been curious about the ease of use and development comparisons for awhile now, let's see....Websense noooooo!!!!!!!!!!

Equally poor (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29883595)

No need for the conundrum. Each sucks. You may like rude and crude, so like those that have come before, some will rave and some will rant. Most, by a long way, will never know either.

I'm so indecisive (4, Interesting)

rwa2 (4391) | about 5 years ago | (#29883631)

I pre-ordered my N900 through Amazon a few weeks back. I figured it'd be easier to get Android working under Maemo than the other way around.

Also, Maemo has a pretty long history of development. I was actually planning on buying an N810 a few months ago until I found out that the N900 might actually have a decent GPS.

Plus, Android phones will be cheap and easy to come by... so hopefully I'll get one for my wife and get to play with it there. But what I've always really wanted in my pocket was a little debian box, and the N900 is pretty much the first thing that fits the bill in that respect. I could care less about the smartphone bit, other than the network connectivity, and of course the fact that I shouldn't need to carry a separate mobile phone around with me anymore.

I played around with Familiar linux (from http://handhelds.org/ [handhelds.org] ) on an old IPaq for a while, but it was always a bit frustrating that the hardware support wasn't completely there. So it shouldn't be too hard for Nokia to improve upon that experience :P

I really do hope Google caves in to the demand for a native google maps / google earth application on the Maemo, though.

Re:I'm so indecisive (1)

s2theg (1185203) | about 5 years ago | (#29883995)

'But what I've always really wanted in my pocket was a little debian box'

Heck yes. That is a major selling point for me. Plus, I personally find Maemo to be a lot slicker than Android.

Opensource geeks need to be more savvy. google does make a decent search engine, but they are a lame, rusting, evil company that does not have your best interest in mind. Don't reward their convenient use of opensource software, and don't consider them to be better than Microsoft. In the end, google will always do what's best for google.

openmoko (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29883673)

if you really want open then go for openmoko. it can even make phone calls these days. i just got one :-)

Don't forget Palm's WebOS!!! (3, Informative)

SCHecklerX (229973) | about 5 years ago | (#29883851)

- unfettered access to the linux subsystem (ie, need adblocking? You can replace /etc/hosts with an ad/malware blocking version! You can patch many aspects of the phone this way, go check out the patches on precentral)

- if you are a web developer (html, css, javascript), you already know how to write code for this phone. It's that easy. The SDK is freely available, and RUNS FINE ON LINUX. No need to keep a windows box around just to write some phone apps.

- like all the other apps, controlling the US is also done via javascript. Many features can be unlocked just by uncommenting some code.

- and for just plain old users... the interface is very clean, consistent, and beautiful. It stays out of your way. Some of the included apps aren't as powerful as they maybe should be, but that is what the openness of the phone and the homebrew community is for.

Re:Don't forget Palm's WebOS!!! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29884163)

Maemo has all of this, with the added advantage that you don't have to write applications in an arcane scripting language unless you really want to.

Re:Don't forget Palm's WebOS!!! (3, Interesting)

ianare (1132971) | about 5 years ago | (#29884265)

WebOS is definitly a step up in terms of freedom and ease of development compared to anything out there today. It's biggest problem is a lack of apps. This is where maemo really shines, any linux app can be ported with minimal effort, in most cases it's just a few UI changes.

minimal porting effort? (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | about 5 years ago | (#29884799)

WebOS is definitly a step up in terms of freedom and ease of development compared to anything out there today. It's biggest problem is a lack of apps. This is where maemo really shines, any linux app can be ported with minimal effort, in most cases it's just a few UI changes.

Don't underestimate the difficulty of "a few UI changes"... You're talking about taking a UI which in all likelihood doesn't even fit on the phone's screen, and redesigning it so it'll not only fit, but work nicely...

Coding in a web API? OH, JOY... (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | about 5 years ago | (#29884769)

- if you are a web developer (html, css, javascript), you already know how to write code for this phone.

What if you're a real developer who knows a little bit of web development and despises the entire process?

(Actually, though, I'm sure the process is a lot less painful without the client/server side split and the involvement of server-side code in PHP or whatever emitting HTML and Javascript code...)

No lawsuits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29883881)

Gee, the choice is easy for me. Which is less likely to file a lawsuit when I use it the way I like.

Google has already sent a cease and desist order http://www.engadget.com/2009/09/24/google-hits-android-rom-modder-with-a-cease-and-desist-letter/ [engadget.com] to a system modder. Can't use Android anymore.

I've been running Maemo on a Nokia N800 for a few years now. Mostly happy, but the apps and gui could be a little more polished. I've built and installed a number of apps, but usually, I just use the app installer - debian based, so it rocks.

Re:No lawsuits? (3, Informative)

DesertBlade (741219) | about 5 years ago | (#29884593)

Hey AC, The lawsuit was a cease a desist on including copyrighted software in his releases. Namely Gmail and other Google Apps.

Android and what? (2, Interesting)

mafian911 (1270834) | about 5 years ago | (#29883885)

This article seems to push pretty hard for an OS that hasn't been getting a whole lot of press. That being said, I'm not sure Maemo is in a position to take on Android.

First, consider the fact that "anything that can run on a desktop can run on Maemo". This sounds like an incredible freedom, but it makes me wonder how much care and innovation went into their mobile framework for developers. Android goes out of its way to provide access to everything a mobile developer would care about: text messaging, the camera, open GL surfaces, the sensor controls... even core functionality can be completely replaced. Want a new home screen? Want a new dialer? Their Activity and Intent framework is very well designed to accomplish anything you may want to accomplish on a *mobile device*. If the Maemo is all about putting a desktop computer in your pocket, I'm not sure how convenient that will be for mobile developers.

Second, consider market penetration. Android is showing up everywhere: phones big and small, net books, GPS devices and e-book readers. Maemo is on one device. Nokias phone. Sure, it may end up on more devices in the future, but will any of these devices *not* be a Nokia? Maybe. Google has done a lot of pushing, however, to give Android visibility. Google has done a lot to cater to developers. They even went as far as releasing the operating system and an emulator for developers to get started before an actual device ever hit the market. Android is going to see more market penetration than Maemo, if not only because Google is going out of its way to make it accessible.

Third, what does their content model look like? Do they have a market application? How difficult is it for developers to publish apps? How do they safeguard against malicious software? Android has a very accessible market. Securing their very open market is a strong permission model, which allows developers to write the code they want to write, without getting their hands slapped (unlike the iPhone experience). I don't know what content model is in store for Maemo, but it will need to be equally well thought out.

In conclusion, I applaud Nokia for taking one further step in the direction of openness. But I'm not convinced that Maemo can stand up to Android. "Super open!" and "desktop like!" aren't going to win the mobile war.

Re:Android and what? (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 5 years ago | (#29884329)

Second, consider market penetration. Android is showing up everywhere: phones big and small, net books, GPS devices and e-book readers. Maemo is on one device. Nokias phone. Sure, it may end up on more devices in the future, but will any of these devices *not* be a Nokia? Maybe.

Just consider the iPhone and your point is moot.

Re:Android and what? (1)

mafian911 (1270834) | about 5 years ago | (#29884451)

iPhone does indeed have a lot of market penetration. But that doesn't mean that other OSes don't stand a chance. We have seen a lot of supposed "iPhone killers" fail to dethrone the iPhone, but I believe Android has an actual shot to level the market share. Ironically, they may achieve this the same way Microsoft achieves this on the PC: make your OS available on as much hardware as you can.

Re:Android and what? (1)

Carewolf (581105) | about 5 years ago | (#29884717)

His point was that Apple has a much smaller market share than Nokia. If something only ships on Nokia that means 10+ times bigger market share than something that only ships on Apple. And iPhone apps doesn't seem to have problems despite the severely limited market.

The biggest problem is that Nokia has so many platforms, and if you limit the market to only smartphones Nokia is only 2-3 timer bigger than Apple.

Re:Android and what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29884499)

Maemo has deb repositories and a graphical apt front end for installing software local to the device. The process of stamping an app for public consumption is increasingly becoming more formalized.

Downloads can also be found on maemo.org http://maemo.org/downloads/Maemo5/ . Nokia also has "maemo select" http://maemo.nokia.com/maemo-select/applications/ and they're promising an ovi store presence.

Maemo wins hands down (5, Insightful)

the ReviveR (1106541) | about 5 years ago | (#29883965)

From my personal opinion Android simply doesn't stand a chance. While Android does run Linux kernel it doesn't have X Window etc. It's glorified java platform that doesn't even support full java spec. You can do anything with it, but things will take a lot of work.

Maemo on the other hand is what I see as a 'real' Linux platform running software stack which makes it pretty trivial to port existing apps to it.

Stuff I currently run on my N810:
-Real browser looking firefox with flash support
-MPlayer for playing nearly any format I can throw at it...
-Gnumeric for spreadsheets
-Battle for Wesnoth, Beneath the steel sky, Duke Nukem 3D when I feel like playing something
-Vnc server & client
-Gjiten for translating stuff to Japanese. Japanese symbols display nicely etc.

Only thing I'm really missing is the phone functionality. Even if the only improvement to N900 would be adding that, I would be happy. Adding processing power etc. makes it a must buy for me.

the "freedoms" (2, Interesting)

nimbius (983462) | about 5 years ago | (#29884133)

are an illusion. so long as either device you buy is tied to a draconian carrier its just another big ass phone screwing up the line of my pants and sucking down 5 hours worth of charge time in 3 days. the phones may be free, but their features, options and abilities will quickly be restricted at the carrier level.

A phone with freedoms is a phone that doesnt require service contracts or "new every 2" plans for hardware. Its also a phone that lets you question and subvert greedy carrier tactics and, god forbid, gauge and monitor a carriers network performance independently from their own claims of most reliable and most coverage. buy either one, but remember the freedom stops after the transceiver driver comes up.

Re:the "freedoms" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29884391)

n900 is only being sold unlocked right now. Given it's not tied to a carrier, the cost isn't subsidized so you have to pay the actual price of the hardware. http://www.nokiausa.com/find-products/phones/nokia-n900

Yippee! Cry the app vendors (1)

phonewebcam (446772) | about 5 years ago | (#29884207)

Another format to write for, because like iPhone, Android, J2ME, Symbian, WebOS, & win mobile just isn't stretching us enough.

my 2 cents (1)

Corson (746347) | about 5 years ago | (#29884635)

I've been exploring development options for both Maemo and Android. These are OS-es for mobile devices with relatively low hardware performance. That is why, IMO, native code is better than managed code for these platforms. On Adroid it is possible to run native code but not in GUI mode, which requires the Dalvik SDK (Java-like, therefore managed). There is an Android emulator available where you can run your code irrespective of the development tools you choose, with the restriction mentioned above. The Maemo emulator, on the other hand, is part of an SDK which is built into a particular Linux image and is Eclipse-based, thus limiting the choice of development tools for this platform. If I choose Linux as a development platform for mobile devices then I expect to have the freedom of Linux; AFAICS, with Android and Maemo that is not the case.

Moblin, iPhone, WebOS and more.. (1, Flamebait)

turb (5673) | about 5 years ago | (#29884765)

There's a number of options out there. I'm going to speak as a developer for this reply.

Nobody and I mean nobody that allows development on their device is really and truly operating as an open source project. Them's the facts of the matter. There is definitely a sliding scale of open here with lots of gray areas here and there. Take the iPhone, at least as a dev you get access to early release software prior to release. For android can you go and find the 2.0 SDK anywhere? Nope. So much for Verizon's claims about 'droid being 'open'.

Be it Android, PalmOS, iPhone, Maemo, Moblin, whatever do any of these projects have open mailing lists setting directions of the project? Nope. Everyone of them get's an EPIC FAIL in my book for openness. Granted all of them at least allow you to develop apps. If you're someone making a living making apps, then that's going to be 'good enough'. As a developer you just nee to pick the ecosystem that makes the most sense to you.

However if you're a traditional open source developer looking to participate, the bad news is, "sorry" ... no one is really catering to that in my opinion. But is that kind of "cold" treatment really something that has ever stopped open source developers? Let's not forget that a Maemo, Android, Moblin, Palm's WebOS all include open source packages at least does mean that they have to continue to get their code from the community. Granted they can effectively fork and port their patches forward time and again, but you'd hope over time they'll learn... get involved with the community, work with the community .. be open... time will tell. Least across the board things have come a long way and we're not saddled with a 90% windows (mobile) market share. Competition between OSes for cell phones sure makes for exciting times.

Kind of an interesting metric. (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 5 years ago | (#29884771)

None of the metrics really have anything to do with the average user.
1. Freedom from crashes. random, and forced resets.
2. Freedom to find the applications that I want to run without having to write them myself.
3. Freedom from having to learn a complex and inconsistent UI.

Most smart phone users really want and need a good smart phone first. Most users will never want to root the phone. How free and open a consumer software system is of little concern if it is not functional. I would love to see Android and Maemo put in the hands of a new smart phone users that doesn't know FOSS or the GPL from a hole in the ground just to see how functional they are. I would also like to see a comparison of the SDKs from a programmers point of view. Finally we can talk about how "free" they are. All of that is important but usability really is very important and it wasn't talked about in this story at all.

I have yet to play with Maemo but my next phone will probably be an Android device. I don't want to be on the AT&T network so the iPhone is out. WinMo doesn't really thrill me, and the PalmOS still lacks voice dialing and video recording. My wife loves her PalmPre but I am disappointed with the SDK and the fact that it still lacks video recording and voice dialing! MY STINKING SANYO FEATURE PHONE CAN SHOOT VIDEO AND DO VOICE DIALING.
Right now I am torn between the Samsung Moment and the HTC Hero I just hope that we see them get 1.6 and 2.0 updates very soon.

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