I want Linux in my pocket, ASAP, KTHXBYE

Unlike some people, I appear not to have been swank enough to score an N800. This probably indicates good judgment on Nokia’s part, given how little I’ve been able to contribute with my 770. :/ The really unfortunate part, in my mind, is that I’m not that disapppointed. I love my 770, but the complete flakiness of getting internet access with it (even here in New York City where the density of wifi is very high) is very frustrating, and means that I rarely take it anywhere anymore. If I could reliably get internet with the 770/800 (read: cell/EDGE) I’d christen it the Greatest Device Ever; it would always be in my pocket and I’d frequently abandon my laptop. But I can’t, so instead most of the time my 770 is a very nice paperweight- and sits with my other paperweights, on my desk. (Easy/transparent calendar/addressbook data sync, like iPhone promises, might be a partial replacement for always on networking, but that doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon either. :(

So… I’ll probably look at getting an openmoko after my spring exams. The spec looks solid if not great (no EDGE?), my motorola has shitty, shitty software that deserves to be ground into the earth, and an always-ish on data connection sounds like a blessing I can’t get in the N800. The software load will probably be determinant here- how flexible will it be? Will it really sync with my laptop’s calendar/addressbook? But at the moment it at least looks promising in a way that the N800’s lack of reliable network and sync does not.

Tangent: it seems odd that maemo, the platform, won’t be used by the openmoko folks- instead it looks like they’ll be duplicating(?) work by having their own maemo-like gtk-derived base classes. Not sure why this is (perhaps the various proprietary bits in maemo?); it would be interesting to find out, but I’m not holding my breath.

17 thoughts on “I want Linux in my pocket, ASAP, KTHXBYE”

  1. > Not sure why this is (perhaps the various proprietary bits in maemo?); it would be interesting to find out, but I’m not holding my breath.

    I think it’s because maemo demands an 800×480 screen and then proceeds to waste most of it. ;-)

    – Chris.

  2. I guess I was assuming that was fixable by porting maemo once, rather than porting every maemo app individually. But I’m totally talking out my ass at this point :)

  3. Phones and the N770/N800 have quite different user interfaces, though that’s likely to become less true if the iPhone manages to do both things in a way people like.

    Maemo’s UI APIs are also a bit crufty, but that should get better as they start using newer version of GTK+.

  4. Maemo is also not really a finger touchable UI. My understanding is that OpenMoko supports a finger touchable interface for all apps. That alone requires an entirely different paradigm on the UI design. But not having used an OpenMoko I too may be totally talking out of my ass.


  5. Phones and the N770/N800 have quite different user interfaces,
    I think that is primarily because no one has done anything innovative in phone UIs in… well, ever. Hopefully Apple will force people to rethink that.

    Maemo is also not really a finger touchable UI.
    This is a more fair point; though I wonder if that is something Nokia might not want to rethink for at least some classes of operations. (Beside’s Apple’s move, IBM has added finger/touch for their newest tablet PCs, and it seems even more appropriate for a nokia-size tablet than a laptop-size tablet.)

  6. I hear Openmoko project is actually looking into reusing parts of maemo, for example the theme engine:


    Also you have to remember that lots of stuff that happens in Maemo is contributed to upstream, and that the design of widgets are that of Nokia, which may or may not be what Openmoko wants.

    P.S. They have a second wave of codes later, mail Quim or Carlos (and lie about contributing plans) in case they just forgot you or happen to have “loose” codes ;)

  7. It’s largely because maemo requires it’s own special nokia fork of gtk: http://www.vanille-media.de/site/index.php/2006/10/28/gtk-theming-woes-for-embedded-guis/ :

    “The usage of X11 and Gtk+ as the GUI foundation for embedded devices is increasing steadily, however the Gtk+ theming possibilities are merely adressing the needs of desktop systems. Of course, I am not the first one realizing that. Nokia decided to fork Gtk+ for their Maemo UI — between you and me, one of their worst decisions as developers really hate having to compile a seperate Gtk+ version for Maemo developing. Consequently, this is a no-no for our project.”

  8. What exactly do you mean when you say that you cannot reliable get the 770 online via cell/EDGE? That its Bluetooth connection is unreliable, or that you wish the 770 had integrated GSM support?

    One use case for the 770 that doesn’t require Internet connectivity is e-books. Try FBReader if you haven’t already. webscription.net sells DRM-less e-books in open formats; I wish more publishers did it that way.

  9. I’ll second the thing about the 770 being able to get on line just fine with a cell phone – I’ve used mine extensively like that. I had thought it would be a bit limiting to not have the phone but on reflection I decided that it wasn’t much of a problem – I carry the phone anyway and it lets me reuse the one phone subscription and do things like upgrade the connection to 3G while keeping the N770.

  10. Kalle, Koen: thanks for the links; very interesting.

    Mark, Marius: Even aside from my phone not having data at this time, I want to carry *one* device in my pocket. The 770/800 is big enough without having to carry another device basically to function as a modem. IMHO this is one of the reasons iPhone is likely to be a big success, esp. as flash gets bigger/cheaper- it’ll replace not just phones but also iPods. Less devices in pockets + same-ish functionality = more happy customers.

  11. I carry my phone to function as a phone – the fact that it can also be a modem for other devices is just a nice bonus. I’m vaugely surprised that your phone can’t do data to be honest, it’s not something I’ve even had to think about for a long time.

    I’d not like to have to use the N770 as my actual phone since (as you say) it’s far too large and it’s not really a good form factor for the application even at that size, being generally the wrong shape to be comfortable. A bluetooth headset would help there but even the then the N770 (and N800) are far too large to carry as constantly as I carry my phone. Of course, the large form factor is dictated by the screen size which is for me one of the most important wins that then N770 offers.

  12. I got my N800 this morning (the Fedex guy woke me up). I got mine for free, from Nokia directly (in order to write a review for it).

  13. Another reason for not going with maemo is that Michael Lauer is an openembedded.org developer. The community behind OE is quite strong and comprises i.e. the NSLU people, GPE, Opie etc.

    OE is gentoo-ish crosscompile environment, much easier to set up than maemo. Imho a very good decision.

  14. Marcus: More good data. Glad to hear they aren’t reinventing too many wheels.
    Eugenia: Thanks for your data! Not useful to anyone, except to make people jealous that you have one and they don’t, but again- thanks for sharing!

  15. No reason to be discomforting on my message. I am sure you can get a discount too, you just need the right connections, or you need to show off URLs and screenshots of your gtk apps to the right people so they can get to know you.

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