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Comparing the Freedoms Offered By Maemo and Android 244

Posted by timothy
from the they-canna-take-our dept.
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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Comparing the Freedoms Offered By Maemo and Android

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  • 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?

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:45AM (#29883819) Journal
      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.
    • 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.

      • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

          by glop (181086)

          You know, it's just one trade-off and it might not be much worse than linking C++ dynamically... Or Jitting Java byte code.

          I have owned an Agenda VR3 and a Zaurus. I can tell you that there are many ways to wast CPU cycles and that in any case it takes effort to avoid them. The Agenda guys spent a lot of time trying to optimize the binaries and resolve issues caused by C++. They might have had an easier time coding in Python and avoiding C++. Or not. It's a complex issue, so it's hard to say even now after

          • by guruevi (827432)

            The thing is, people like to make things look pretty before they put it on the market. The problem is pretty = costly. It costs in disk space, graphics design, rendering, cpu & gpu cycles, battery, .... All I want is my PDA to be like a Newton or an old Palm - it has everything you need, it does everything you want (even the 'difficult' things like written text recognition) but it's in b&w with crude (in today's standards) boxes. It would probably last for days on today's technology. But these days

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Microlith (54737)

        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.

      • by jo42 (227475)

        If you think WebOS is good stuff, you will orgasm non-stop for weeks once you see what is in the iPhone OS and SDK.

        • by Keruo (771880)
          Since Maemo is basically stripped down version of debian, you could theoretically:

          # apt-get install pearpc

          Install macos(the iphone version) on sd card, plugin and emulate it. (native speed since same architechture)

          N900 has powerful enough CPU and enough memory to pull that off.
          Ok, you might need some finetuning with sledgehammer to get the emulator to work, but this is theoretically possible.
    • by Fred_A (10934)

      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 : reasonabl

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @08:57AM (#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.

  • How do I choose? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:00AM (#29883269) Homepage

    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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dunkelfalke (91624)

      all the features you mentioned are available with windows mobile.

      • by SpooForBrains (771537) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @10:23AM (#29884305)
        Windows Mobile is like the two Matrix sequels or the Star Wars prequels. We pretend it doesn't exist.
        • by Tumbleweed (3706)

          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 u

      • by js_sebastian (946118) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @10:24AM (#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? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pit a b r e d.dyndns.org> on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @10:49AM (#29884671) Homepage
        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.
    • by schmidt349 (690948) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:11AM (#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.

      • 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!
      • 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.

        • by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:42AM (#29883767) Homepage Journal

          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.

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:51AM (#29883895) Journal

          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: (Score:2, Informative)

        by ap7 (963070)

        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.

      • 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.
        • I have a Treo 650 (basically a Treo 600 with some software updates and much nicer hardware) and with my bluetooth GPS module, the only functionality I'm missing is WiFi (and a PROPER camera). I always LOLed at the iPhone's AMAZING NEW FEATURES that the Treo series already had from day one. Even the ancient Treo 180 (I had one of those too!) had system-wide search and copy-and-paste out of the box.

          Since Palm jumped the shark with the Pre, I plan to get an N900 to replace my 650, as much as it makes my ski
      • 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,"
        Symbian OS. It's all there. It's been there for years.

        or vary the auto-SMS depending on the caller?
        Again, Symbian OS. Been there for years.

        Apple is going to be sweating bullets in a year or so.
        I'm going to be modded down for stating the obvious here, but the Symbian OS is years ahead of Apple in many technical ways and certainly more develope

        • by s73v3r (963317)
          Nokia has some badass phones running Symbian. Too bad they hardly market them here in the States, and no carrier wants to carry them.
    • 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.

    • by sonnejw0 (1114901) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:27AM (#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?
      • 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
    • by EQ (28372)
      "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.
    • 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.

    • 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...)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Late Adopter (1492849)

      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.

      The Palm Pre is what you're looking for (though I don't think there's a voip app yet... just that Palm doesn't have the ability to lock one out when it comes around).

      In all seriousness, I love the philosophy behind my Pre. It doesn't come with an install CD. There's no such thing as "Pre software". It works with internet services and data protocols you already have. Mail, chat, calendar, and contacts sync through Google. All uploads to the phone (ringtones, wallpapers) and downloads from it (photos)

    • You mean there are smartphones on the market that DON'T support those features?

      Hell, with the exception of that auto-SMS feature (which is awesome, by the way... I gotta find a way to do that) and the scripting, all my WinMo phones have been able to do these things... I was under the impression that only dumb phones still locked you in (i.e. only carrier-approved themes, ringtones, backgrounds and crap like that).

  • 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.
    • by vadim_t (324782) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:14AM (#29883451) Homepage

      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.

    • 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!)
    • by JohnFen (1641097) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:26AM (#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!

    • by BlackCreek (1004083) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:35AM (#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: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by vadim_t (324782)

        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

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by BlackCreek (1004083)

          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?

          I don't know if things got clearer since this article was written. Anyways, this is what I was referring to:
          """
          Furthermore, the difficulty of the toolkit switch between Fremantle and Harmattan is compounded by the fact that Fremantle will break compatibility with the Maemo 4.x-series, thus forcing two consecutive rewrites onto developers."""

          http://lwn.net/Articles/341391/ [lwn.net]

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by vadim_t (324782)

            The way you wrote it makes it sound like the N900 will provide an API that's already scheduled for deprecation. But what the article actually says is that the N900 will use Maemo 5, which won't be backwards with the Maemo 4 used in earlier products.

            I think the "new" word is the confusing part, if you said "the current MAEMO APIs will become deprecated" then it'd have made more sense.

            • No. I had it right ;-)

              What that article states is that

              1. MAEMO 5 ("Freemantle") breaks compatibility with MAEMO 4
              2. In 2010 "Harmattan" (MAEMO 6??) will break again compatibility with Freemantle, since it will replace GTK with QT at all the core stuff.
    • 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.
      • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

        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 so

  • by gr8_phk (621180)
    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.
  • by Ash Vince (602485) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:13AM (#29883419) Journal

    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.

    • 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...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @10:08AM (#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.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:37AM (#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: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by markkezner (1209776)
      Light on facts, but also seems to have a viewpoint to push. TFA points out that the Android Java VM (Dalvik) is nonstandard, giving it all the associated stigma that a free software oriented audience would perceive. He also claims that this will somehow lock you in to Google's web apps:

      ... forced to use Java with non-standard bytecode. One might even suggest that Google has done this on purpose, in order to limit interoperability and push users towards its proprietary web services.

      How Dalvik or its bytecode would accomplish this feat is left to the imagination. Anyone wanna clear this up for me?

      I posted a response in TFA that points out that the Dalvik VM is also free software licensed under Apa

  • 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!!!!!!!!!!
  • I'm so indecisive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rwa2 (4391) * on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:31AM (#29883631) Homepage Journal

    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.

    • by X86Daddy (446356)

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

      If your local Target still has any, grab a Zipit Z2 [zipitwireless.com] (warning: horrible flash and music). My girlfriend got one on clearance for $12.50; I got one for $25... We're running Debian on one and Angstrom on the other currently. Check out this guy's tutorials [hunterdavis.com]. It's got a 312MHz ARM chip, wifi, querty keyboard, MiniSD slot, and a 320x240 color screen. I'm currently attempting to tune Angstrom to the point that I get all the stuff I had on my

    • by nmos (25822)

      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 know what you're saying. I've been using a Sharp Zaurus 6k for years and it's a great device. The N900 looks like the perfect successor but there just aren't any GSM carriers with nearly the coverage of Verizon in my area. In contrast it looks like I'll be able to pick up an Android based phone soon from Verizon for around $100 and finally stop carrying

  • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:49AM (#29883851) Homepage

    - 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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

    • by ianare (1132971) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @10:20AM (#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.

      • 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...

    • - 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...)

  • Android and what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mafian911 (1270834)
    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
    • by loufoque (1400831)

      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.

  • by the ReviveR (1106541) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @09:57AM (#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.

    • by demachina (71715) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @11:07AM (#29884887)

      I think Google is designing phones for ordinary people to use. 99.99% of cell phone users don't give a rats ass about most of the things on your list. I grew up on X11 but I can see no good rationale for putting it on a mobile device for ordinary people to use.

      I imagine some people want Flash in a browser but Android is adding that. Me personally I suspect Flash on a mobile device will just drain the battery, hog the CPU and memory and make browsing generally sluggish up to the point your battery is dead. Might be OK if you are plugged in to a wall socket 90% of the time but at that points its not really mobile anymore is it. Video is the only compelling reason to have Flash, unless you have a taste for stupid Flash sprite games. Video in a mobile device would better be done by an optimized player in hardware like iPhone does on YouTube or like you could have with HTML/5. Unfortunately this requires the web to stop being so Flash centric.

      I doubt anyone really cares about Firefox. They want a browser that works and ViewKit or Opera is just as good or probably better in a mobile device than Firefox.

      MPlayer might be worthwhile but everyone has video players of one degree of quality and performance or another.

      I think I'm saying that everything about this thread coming from Maemo fanboys, including the original article, is probably an advertisement for why Android will win in the real world, while Maemo will thrive in the tiny little niche of open source fanatics, that the rest of the world is mostly indifferent to. Not to mention Maemo is locking you in to one hardware manufacturer and an incredibly small range of hardware, while Android is now on dozens of different platforms. How exactly is that freedom.....

  • the "freedoms" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nimbius (983462) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @10:10AM (#29884133) Homepage
    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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PeterBrett (780946)

      the "freedoms" 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.

      So, since you can buy an N900 without a carrier contract [mobilephonesdirect.co.uk], it's your dream phone, right?

      On the other hand, the contract I'm getting with my N900 gives me unlimited data transfer, unlimited SMS and a big chunk of free talk time. So I'm not particularly worried about "sucking down 5 hours worth of charge time in 3 days." Believe me that if my carrier tries to restrict the capabilities of the phone, it'll be returned to them before you can say "Jack Rabbit" -- and they'll have to take it back.

      But I guess you sh

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      My "Dream", aka the G1, is not tied to any particular carrier, does not have a service contract, and does not have a "new every 2" plan. I bought it outright and called T-Mobile to unlock it.

  • 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 Ma
    • by hardaker (32597)
      Err... I think you have some facts missing. I've written a quick Maemo5 app using vi and their SDK debian-based environment. (I've never used Eclipse for anything before).
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @10:56AM (#29884771) Homepage Journal

    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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