MeeGo scales, because Linux scales

To me, and a lot of people, it’s obvious why MeeGo scales to a wide variety of devices, but apparently that’s not clear to other people, so I’ll try to explain why that’s the case.

First, let’s divide the operating system:

  1. Kernel
  2. Drivers
  3. Adaptation
  4. System Frameworks
  5. Application Framework
  6. Applications

“Linux” can mean many things, in the case of Android, Linux means mostly the Kernel (which is heavily modified), and in some cases the Drivers (although sometimes they have to be written from scratch), but all the layers above are specific to Android.

On Maemo, MeeGo, Moblin, and LiMo, “Linux” means an upstream Kernel (no drastic changes), upstream Drivers (which means they can be shared with other upstream players as they are), but also means “Linux ecosystem”; D-Bus,, GStreamer, GTK+/Qt/EFL, etc. Which means they take advantage of already existing System and Application Frameworks. And all they have to do, is build the Applications, which is not an easy task, but certainly easier than having to do all the previous ones.

Now, the problem when creating MeeGo, is that for reasons I won’t (can’t?) explain here, Maemo and Moblin were forced to switch from GTK+ to Qt. This might have been the right move in the long term, but it means rewriting two very big layers of the operating system, in fact, the two layers that differentiate the various mobile platforms for the most part. And this of course means letting go of a lot of talent that helped build both Maemo and Moblin.

For better or worse, the decision was made, and all we could do is ride along with it. And maturizing MeeGo, essentially means maturizing these two new layers being written not entirely from scratch (as Qt was already there), but pretty much (as you have to add new features to it, and build on top).

Now, did MeeGo fail? Well, I don’t know when this UI can be considered mature enough, but sooner or later, it will be (I do think it will be soon). The timeframe depends also on your definition of “mature”, but regardless of that, it will happen. After that, MeeGo will be ready to ship on all kinds of devices. All the hardware platform vendors have to do, is write the drivers, and the adaptation, and they already do anyway for other sw platforms.

Needless to say, the UI is irrelevant to the hardware platform.

So, here’s the proof that the lower layers are more than ready:

Just after a few months of announcing MeeGo IVI, these guys were able to write a very impressive application thanks to QML, and ignore the official UI.

The OMAP4 guys went for the full MeeGO UI. No problems.

Even though Freescale is probably not that committed to MeeGo, it’s easier to create demo using it (Qt; Nomovok) rather than other platforms. It’s even hardware accelerated.

Renesas also chose the Nomovok demo to show their hardware capabilities.

MeeGo 1.1 running on HTC’s HD2

One guy; yes, one guy. Decides to run MeeGo on his HTC, and succeeds. Of course, he uses the work already done by Ubuntu for HD2, but since MeeGo is close to upstream, the same kernel can be used. Sure, it’s slow (no hardware acceleration), and there’s many things missing, but for a short amount of time spent by hobbyists, that’s pretty great already.

This is one is not so impressive, but also shows the work of one guy porting MeeGo to Nexus S

And running on Archos 9. Not very impressive UI, but the point is that it runs on this hw.


So, as you can see MeeGo is already supported in many hardware platforms; not because the relevant companies made a deal with Nokia or Intel; they don’t have to. The only thing they have to do is support Linux; Linux is what allows them to run MeeGo, and Linux is what allows MeeGo to run on any hardware platform.

This is impossible with WP7 for numerous reasons; it’s closed source, it’s proprietary, it’s Microsoft, etc. It’s not so impossible to do the same with Android, but it’s more difficult than with MeeGo because they don’t share anything with a typical linux ecosystem; they are on a far away island on their own.


14 thoughts on “MeeGo scales, because Linux scales

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  4. “This is impossible with WP7 for numerous reasons”

    Comparing MeeGo with WP won’t gain anything – Nokia has made it’s decision – the basic decision likely by the board in September, and the point of no return was two weeks ago. The future of your CEO, and likely also the future of your board, depend on the success of Nokia+WP, and there’s now no way back. It is anyway impossible to evaluate before 2013 whether the WP strategy of Nokia is a success or a failure.

    Nokia might release one MeeGo device (my guess is that it won’t be a phone), perhaps to fulfill some contractual obligations, and I’d bet it will then drop MeeGo completely at some point in 2011 I simply cannot see how it would make sense to spend money on developing a competing platform.

    WP and what happens with Nokia are mostly irrelevant to the future of Meego, what matters is whether there’s enough commercial interest for MeeGo between Ubuntu (has the same advantages you list for MeeGo, and Canonical made a very smart move with Linaro) and Android (quite attractive for phone manufacturers).

  5. Nokia are still invested in Meego. Fact.

    It has great potential, but is clearly not ready yet with a long way to go before it can take on the best of Android or iOS.

    Releasing a Meego device now as Nokia’s ‘saviour’ would not have been received well. It still needs more time – possibly years to provide a true alternative to the current ‘icon’ based OS’s that have flooded the market (Android and iOS in particular). Meego would have just got lost in the crowd (and been less ‘polished’ to boot!).

    Nokia are still comitted to Meego as it’s no.1 ‘internal’ OS. The time pressure has now been removed.

    It will be a true compelling alternative in the future when it is better than the best. Just not now . . . .

    Strategically it makes sense.

  6. @Adrian Nobody is saying otherwise. I wrote this post because some people don’t see this fact; MeeGo scales to a wide variety of devices quite easily.

    @MeeGo fan I work in Maemo, and believe my software has enough quality to be in products. If I can’t make products in Nokia, I’ll do them somewhere else. Many people believe the same way. Besides, the Linux way of innovating is by evolving. You can see it by comparing the Nokia 770 to the N900. If that’s going to stop, I don’t see any hope.

  7. The portability of the Meego it self, the UI frameworks etc. look promising. But Intel will for sure integrate the AppUp store into Meego. How will the applications be handled to work on so different platforms (aka ARM versus x86)? It’s clear for applications written in pure QML, in Adobe AIR etc. But there will be for sure a lot of applications written natively in C++ etc. Will the developer be responsible for test + build + delivery of the application for all platforms?

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