Intel, Nokia Hold Their Breath as Devs Start Noodling With MeeGo
Does the world need another open source operating system for mobile devices? That's the question Intel and Nokia's mobile ambitions hinge upon. The two companies are hoping that developers who get at look at their joint MeeGo effort -- released in part on Thursday -- will say "Yes."
The MeeGo community, formed by Intel and Nokia, on Thursday released the MeeGo distribution infrastructure and operating system base to developers. Images released are Intel Atom-based netbooks; ARM-based Nokia N900; and Intel Atom-based handsets running on the Moorestown chip.
Over the next few days, the MeeGo community will post more releases.
The Thursday release consisted of the MeeGo distribution infrastructure and the operating system base from the Linux kernel to the operating system infrastructure up to the middleware layer, said Imad Sousou, cochair of the MeeGo Technical Steering Group.
Three builds were released for developers to begin testing work: a Nokia N900 build; an Intel Atom build for netbooks; and a Moorestown build for smartphones.
The downloaded images currently will boot into terminal because user experiences for them have not yet been released, Sousou said. In future, the images will boot from a USB stick or be directly flashed on the devices from developers' Linux PCs.
Reference user experiences for netbooks and handsets will be released next. The MeeGo road map calls for MeeGo 1.0 to be released in May; version 1.1 in October; and new releases every six months from then on.
"The project release of MeeGo version 1 is targeted for the second quarter of this year," Intel spokesperson Suzy Ramirez told LinuxInsider.
MeeGo teams will present updates in a day-long event April 15 at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, which will be held in San Francisco.
Where MeeGo Is Going
Intel and Nokia will take different routes to implementing MeeGo, Chris Hazelton, a research director at the 451 Group, told LinuxInsider. "Intel will leverage MeeGo for mobile and embedded devices while Nokia will use it for smartphones and tablet computing devices," he explained.
Nokia using MeeGo in a tablet was to be expected, as the company developed Maemo for a tablet device.
The Intel Atom Developer Program will provide developer support for apps targeting devices in various categories, Intel's Ramirez said.
MeeGo, formed in February when Intel and Nokia merged their mobile operating systems, Moblin and Maemo, uses the Qt application development environment. This lets developers write apps once and run them across multiple devices ranging from smartphones to netbooks to tablets to television sets to in-vehicle infotainment systems.
"The MeeGo common core includes the various key subsystems -- including the core operating system libraries, the comms and telephony services, Internet and social networking services, visual services, media services, data management, device services and personal devices," Sousou said.
MeeGo will run on multiple devices, so consumers will be able to keep their MeeGo apps when they change devices or upgrade, Ramirez pointed out
Devices running MeeGo should be available later this year.
"We expect MeeGo-based products to begin appearing in the second half of 2010 based on the respective OEM and OSV (operating system vendor) product schedules," Ramirez said. Neither Intel nor Nokia has announced any specific products yet.
Netbooks and PCs running MeeGo are probably just around the corner -- Linpus Technologies joined the Linux Foundation Wednesday to play a role in the MeeGo Project. The Linux Foundation hosts MeeGo, and Linpus is a popular Linux distribution for the consumer PC market.
Intel-based MeeGo devices from other manufacturers will be available through the AppUp center, Ramirez said.
MeeGo Projects and RPM Repositories
The Git source repositories for several MeeGo projects are available here.
MeeGo projects include MeeGo QEMU, the version of Qemu used in the MeeGo software development kit; MeeGo Multimedia repositories; tracker, an all-in-one indexer, search tool and metadata database; MeeGo Bluetooth; and MeeGo Cellular.
QEMU is a processor emulator that relies on dynamic binary translation for speed and is easy to port on to new host CPU architectures. Think of it as a hosted virtual machine monitor.
Git, which focuses on speed, is a distributed revision control system designed and developed by Linus Torvalds for Linux kernel development. Every Git working directory is a full-fledged, self-contained repository with complete history and full revision-tracking capabilities.
MeeGo RPM repositories include MeeGo Weekly Snapshots and MeeGo Testing.
RPM is a combination of two things -- a software package file format and software packaged in this format. Originally developed by Red Hat for Red Hat Linux, it's now used by many GNU /Linux distros. It has also been ported to some other operating systems such as Novell NetWare after version 6.5 SP3; and IBM AIX post-version 4.
Bugzilla is available here.
Will MeeGo Lift Its Backers?
Intel and Nokia are both pinning their hopes on MeeGo, but this may be a case of too little, too late.
"I'd say the two of them wanted to combine their not-very-successful attempts at mobile operating systems and see if they could get more wood behind the arrowhead," Bernard Golden, CEO of Navica, told LinuxInsider.
Intel "wants to make it easier for device manufacturers to not have to pay a tax to someone who owns the software stack," Golden pointed out. For Nokia, its old model is breaking down in the face of challenges from the iPhone and Android, so MeeGo is important to the company, Golden stated.
However, Intel and Nokia may have their work cut out for them.
"Samsung and Panasonic recently looked at MeeGo and said 'No thanks,' and without a compelling product in the market running MeeGo, the consumer won't even get the opportunity to buy it," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told LinuxInsider.
MeeGo may also have a problem attracting developers.
"Right now, there are three platforms getting most of the developers -- the iPhone, the iPad and Android," Enderle pointed out.
MeeGo falls below the second tier -- which consists of RIM, Palm and Microsoft -- and needs to fix this problem, he said.
Still, Intel and Nokia might have a chance, if only because they're so big.
"MeeGo has got two major companies behind it, so it has the chance to get some attention and generate market presence and awareness," Navica's Golden pointed out.