Linux

MeeGo encroaching on iPad turf with new Linux-based mobile OS?

Intel and Nokia teamed up to form the open source project MeeGo, a new Linux-based mobile OS aimed at smartphones, netbooks, and yes, tablets.

In the midst of Apple's iPad tablet mania, Jack Wallen asked the question, "Where are the Linux tablets?" An announcement this past week might provide part of that answer. Nokia and Intel have created a Linux operating system called MeeGo that is designed for portable devices from smartphones to netbooks -- and would seem to be a good candidate for an iPad-like tablet. Sarah Perez (MeeGo: A New Linux OS to Fight iPhone, iPad and More) reports:

The new OS is a combination of Nokia's Maemo and Intel's Moblin, both Linux-based computing environments. This partnership is notable not just for combining two different Linux platforms under one roof, but for its cross-platform support of both Intel and ARM chips, the latter currently popular in mobile devices like Apple's iPhone thanks to its low power consumption needs.

The Linux Foundation jointly announced that it will host the MeeGo OS project aimed at devices "including pocketable mobile computers, netbooks, tablets, mediaphones, connected TVs and in-vehicle infotainment systems."

The Linux Foundation's MeeGo project welcomes contributors and encourages developers and others to get involved at the site or find out more about joining the Linux Foundation at http://www.linuxfoundation.org/meego. Moblin and Maemo contributors are encouraged to participate at MeeGo.com.

Of course, no one is actually saying that they're going after the Apple behemoth, but the implication is that this OS would be perfect for a tablet. Om Malik at GigaOm pours a little cold water on the sizzling excitement, however, pointing out that there are only so many developers to go around on all of these mobile projects:

I'm not sure if this is going to really impact Apple.... Why? Because the merged OS is coming to the market at a time when there is already increased demand on an increasingly precious resource: developer attention. The lack of developer attention is one of the reason why Maemo and Mobilin have not been able to get any serious traction outside their own organizations. The developers - who have multiple choices - decide which platforms succeed and which ones become roadkill. For now, developers are betting on Apple's iPhone OS and Google's Android.

So MeeGo will either be an iPad killer or just roadkill, depending on who you ask. Do you think this project sounds promising? Is it intriguing enough to pull developers away from the iPhone and Android?

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

9 comments
ssalter
ssalter

Android isn't ready for netbooks, so probably not for tablets, either. If Meego is, and can be used on the next generation of the Nokia Booklet 3G as true integration of phone and computing functions (decent-sized screen and full-keyboard input for standard computing uses, long battery life - a Nokia strong point - with flexibility for standard linux apps and user customization) it is a winner

fergusfog
fergusfog

What does that mean? A product that isn't out yet, and arguably is rubbish, and you're placing it as the incumbent? Like or loathe i-whatever, I object to this toe-the-line lazy journalism. There were plenty of tablets/slates before Apple had their wonder-idea.

indigo196
indigo196

iPad = larger iPod not a tablet. Linux is not a hardware manufacturer. You can run Linux on existing non-Apple tablets, and several multi-touch based tablets.

User3D
User3D

Part of the title of this article says it all... "Linux-based" I like the idea of Linux but it saddly reminds me of the time of DOS. Remember? MS-DOS, PC DOS, DR-DOS, FreeDOS, PTS-DOS, ROM-DOS, JM-OS, and several others like ... ... AmigaDOS, AMSDOS, ANDOS, Apple DOS, Atari DOS, Commodore DOS, CSI-DOS, ProDOS, and TRS-DOS Way too many versions of Linux are floating around. Everybody has a better idea.

seanferd
seanferd

have doomed it to the roadkill category by virtue of the name alone. Unless maybe it doesn't expose itself to actual device users at all. Or is that where marketing has discovered the tastes of consumers are heading? Maemo always sounded interesting (but I don't use mobile devices), so I hope it isn't roadkill.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It seems to still be mixed blessings for the Maemo folks. Maemo 4 is on the N810 devices. Maemo 5 is the new production version on the N900 devices. Maemo 6 is being replaced/merged into Meego 1 The biggest question seems to be if the N900 will get a Meego firmware update. It hit shelves a few short months ago and the people who've paid early adopter pricing are wondering if Nokia has just hosed them with a deadend OS and device. To be honest, it's also had a chilling effect for those like myself who are still watching the N900 prices drop. With the expectation of two or three years use and at least one OS upgrade in that time, the N900 was the obvious replacement for my N810. Part of the Nokia MIDs draw is that it will live through a few OS updates and delivers a very open platform for those who want to delve beyond the vendor's limited function list. (Imagine Apple encouraging third party devs and jailbreaking.) Further, the N900 is a bit of hardware that the software has not fully made functional yet. There are still glaring omissions such as no SMS on a device supposed to be a smartphone. Portrait mode finally comes with the latest firmware update. Will Nokia continue to polish Maemo 5's lacking functionality to fill out the hardware? Developers are also waiting for more details from Nokia. It's not the first time Nokia has half baked then dropped a project. Do they develop for this new system now and have it pulled out from under them half baked? On the up side, anything they develop within QT will run across all Maemo/Symbian/Moblin devices provided they have the QT libraries kept up to date. It's still tossing the devs into the dark with yet another "primary way" to develop software for the devices. Granted, with it becoming an openly hosted distribution, maybe it'll gain the stability that Nokia direction has been missing. That brings us to the development community. A lot has developed around maemo.org but will Nokia continue to work with the user community? Will the community migrate to Meego or die out with the stagnation of Maemo? The webmaster behind maemo-guru.org has already closed up shop and rolled the domain back into symbian-guru.org. Most of us are hesitant to see official announcements from Nokia. They have yet to directly answer the question "will the N900 get Meego?". All answers so far have been indirect and smelling of marketing spin. Nokia needs to figure it's head out and give some clear responses back to the N900 owners and us future buyers. Are we hosed on the N900. Are we waiting for an N910 that will get future updates? Are we back in the market looking for a new PDA vendor? (cause, the other options have some pretty big tradeoffs from Apple's closed controls through to Google's invasive data collection.)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I've been mucking with maemo for the last few major releases. It really is a nearly complete distribution. About the only thing I miss is a full iptables in the kernel (lacks forwarding and some other things). The distribution overall probably only needed to get more developers working out of the primary repositories instead of personally managed ones and polish up the software available. I haven't looked at Moblin personally but it's supposed to be a pretty complete distribution also. Pulling the best from both for the resulting Meego would be very interesting. For me, the questions are will the Maemo community will migrate, how open will Meego remain, will Nokia continue to support existing hardware like the N900. The community has produces a growing library of applications which will hopefully be easy to port or at least get recreated on the new platform. The openness of the platform and hardware means being able to run things outside of an app store's gui listings. I need my ssh, nmap, metasploit and other non-standard toys. Also, maemo6 had rumors of an open NIC driver; this has been a sticking point for some years for those who go beyond the "standard uses". Of course, Nokia's handling of the community, existing customers and future ones may make the difference. If they are focusing on Meego development with the intent that the N900 will get a firmware update as it would have with Maemo6 then things look much brighter. And for the love of Baud; why, oh why, are they dropping .deb to use an rpm packaging system? apt-get and .debs was a big draw for me with Maemo. After years of RPM hell, I don't wanna go back even if the package managers have finally been fixed. Give me .debs and aptitude any day. But, we'll see how it goes. There is a lot of potential in the consolidation; it's just a matter how badly it tosses the existing communities and software libraries.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

Hadn't thought of it,... but you're right. I second and endorse your opinion. I-Pad has no turf!

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