Connecting open source and mobile users – the Nokia plan

13Mar08

Check out Nokia’s point of view on What Mobile Users Need and How Open Source Can Help, in the words of Ari Jaaksi (listenreadslides). Building upstream following community rules is in the heart of this plan. This is what Nokia has been doing, learning and contributing back a lot. Now it’s time to dive deeper.

More to come. If you have questions or proposals just shot.

Image: Dive into summer, by Ben McLeod (some rights reserved)



28 Responses to “Connecting open source and mobile users – the Nokia plan”

  1. 1 zank

    What they need?

    A nice ass? Yes please.

  2. Awesome to see Nokia working hand in hand with open source. Now if only the price wasn’t so expensive. I think seeing a “cheap” open source tablet/phone would be amazing. Maybe onlong the lines of the EEEpc.

    Hopefully I can get my hands on one soon.

  3. 3 MDK

    “Show me the code”.

  4. 4 frethop

    Nice presentation. Lots of buzzwords and not a lot of meat. Could you get specific? What’s “upstream”? You mention this a lot…”Upstream is where the thing really happens.” What’s “upstream”…what “thing”?

    You have a lot of metaphors — of swimming and icebergs — and not a lot of proof to back up your claims. I’m not doubting you. I’m just looking forward to the proof.

  5. huge thanks for posting the MP3, listening to it now.

  6. 6 qgil

    @MDK – not even “show me the code” is good enough. Show the code as soon as you develop it. Commit your changes asap. Share your plans. The goal is clear but the implementation is not simple.

    @frethop – What buzzwords do you see? I would say there is meat, but not many details. Details mean further planning and we want to air up our ideas first in order to define details together. “upstream” is not a buzzword but a usual term in open source development: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upstream_%28computer_science%29 . About proofs, isn’t Nokia a company that has shown several proofs of commitment in the mobile context? There are three devices in the market plus one announced to come with WiMAX, a big bunch of code contributed back, sustained backing to several open source projects and the support to the maemo community. It’s always possible to do more, but for 3 years of public activity is not that bad.

  7. 7 frethop

    I made two assumptions in my comments: you were talking about software and you were talking about the future, not the past. Nokia had done a marvelous job on hardware; the WiMax unit should show that yet again.

    As to software, I think Nokia’s methods — supply of the operating system, support of OSS development — can be a bit slow and cumbersome. Nokia had the advantage because it built a good software framework early, but now challenges are going to force it to fill that framework quickly — and not just with open source software. This is the proof I look forward to: proof of your statement “In my dreams I see Maemo … playing a useful and exciting role bridging OSS upstream products and regular owners of Nokia devices.” Canola and RTComm are examples here, but there have to be many more of these.

    As to buzzwords, there are not as many as I thought (sorry). But they are there: for example, “software ecosystem” “GUADEC” and “Debconf”. We know what they mean by no one else outside SW development does. There are empty phrases, which is probably more about context than anything else. “Upstream is where the thing really happens.” probably means “Contribution to core software is where Nokia’s focus is right now.” and the Brazil audience would know that. The worldwide audience does not have the Brazil context.

    Other phrases? How about “Alignment with upstream. Share plans. No forks.” Or “If we select an open source component is because we think it’s the best.” That goes without saying.

    Finally, I enjoyed reading the talk and look forward to the results that should come from the promises made. Thanks.

  8. 8 mikko

    @sdudenhofer: See if you can get your hands on a used N800. I’d say they’re “cheap”.

  9. Interesting stuff, but Nokia giveth with one hand, and taketh with the other:

    http://lists.maemo.org/pipermail//maemo-users/2008-March/009671.html

    It’s depressing that instead of an ever-progressing opening of source code, some bits are going the “wrong” way😦

  10. 10 qgil

    @frethop: Yes, we need to come up with a good plan to evolve maemo and committing to this plan is part of a “proof”. Understood and agreed.

    We are working on this maemo plan. The idea is to draft a basic proposal and discuss it with the maemo community and related projects until we have a plan thought to be good and useful for all. Ideas, requirements, etc are welcome. Tip; think of the mid term picture, not only the current issues.

    Buzzwords: http://guadec.org and http://debconf.org/ are not buzzwords. You might argue that they are very specific terms not everybody understands, but then again maemo is heavily based on Debian and GNOME, and the developers related to these projects know their meaning very well. “upstream” is also a term known by… upstream software developers (ultimate targets of Ari’s message. It has nothing to do with Brazil afaik. But ok, point taken.

    “Alignment with upstream. Share plans. No forks.” is really a precise message. Technical words indeed, but for a Kernel, Dbus, Mozilla etc developer the message is clear.

    ‘software ecosystem’ is a buzzword. In fact I’m increasingly surprised how fast “ecosystem” seems to be substituting “community” just as “open source” substituted “open source” a while ago. I see this as a result of new actors coming to this arena, therefore I’m personally unsure whether this is good of bad. Then again, as much as I like the term “community” it is not less of a buzzword itself…

    Thanks frethop for the marking. Our message and strategy needs to be solid, consistant, effective. With the help of people like you it’s easier to get there!

  11. 11 foo

    Fuck your marketing. Nokia are full of lies. Supporting software patents, working against Ogg. Fuck off.

  12. 12 qgil

    @Andrew: Nokia has to improve a lot explaining why/where open and why/where something else, and commit to that. Once this is clear all the moves of Nokia on specific packages would need just to make sense, whether someone agrees with them or not. I really don’t know now the case of these packages. Will ask.

    @foo: Software patents are a reality in the market Nokia operates. They are a reality in our day to day internally as well. If for you this is a reason not to play with Nokia, fair enough. Nokia needs to explain better as well how software patents affect our work in open source.

  13. 13 Mario

    Apologies for bugging this way Quim, but did you get my mail
    about discount code for Nokia N810? I’d appreciate the help
    with that if possible.

  14. 14 Nacho

    @foo: Software patents are a reality in the market Nokia operates. They are a reality in our day to day internally as well.

    Well, not everybody that is affected by software patents is lobbying in the EC to have them unleashed. Nokia should show the backbone to fight them, instead of choosing the path of least resistance to them that does maximum damage to those whom they pretend to be siding with. If Nokia lobbied against software patents in Europe, it is very likely that the patents would be blown out of the water for good.

  15. 15 rich

    I listened to the mp3 and all sounds good. However I was confused by Ari’s business realities when he talked of subsidised devices with network providers. I understood the point, but what is the relevance to Internet Tablets? Tablets are not subsidised and are free of networks. Was it a general point about cellphones and opensource, or a glimpse of challenges/ restrictions with future tablets?

  16. 16 Michael

    Zank: Thanks for the sexist and objectifying comment. And people wonder why there aren’t more women in open source.

    Quim: The least you could do is remove the comment. Better yet, you could have pointed out the sexism and objectification when it first went up.

  17. @Quim: thanks. At the moment – and for the forseeable future – I don’t *need* those packages open; it just stuck in my head very quickly when Jussi mentioned it.

    Clarifying the decision making processes would definitely help – as you say, people can disagree with them, but at least there’d be a common basis for understanding why Nokia’ve closed them.

  18. 18 qgil

    @Nacho, point taken. The story around software patents needs to be also clarified. In fact open source and patents at Nokia are worked in somewhat related but quite independent tracks. Stopping internally any progress on open source activities waiting for the strategy around patents to be evolved/changed would be unwise from our side, though.

    @rich, Ari was raising the collection of topics the open source community needs to take into account when thinking in the mobile & consumer electronics industries in general, as opposed to the computer industry. Note that the talk was done in the Open Source in Mobile conference, after a session about the LiMo Foundation and before Google’s Android, both focusing in mobile phones with open source inside.

    @Michael, I always had this policy of letting any comments go to my blog unless being spam. zank showed a sexism and bad taste that spoke by itself. I find the picture so beautiful I never thought someone could go down to cheap comments that way. I guess some people still needs a normal & healthy relationship with women.

  19. 19 Mikael Nilsson

    I believe one of the things you’ll learn after living in the FOSS community for some time is what a ticking bomb software patents represent.

    ALL the benefits of openness, community, volonteer efforts etc can end up completely eliminated by enforced software patents. It’s one of the few real threats against the open source model. And the danger is not so much with the big players like you, who NEED the open source community, but it is instead with various IP companies that DON’T need the community. They can use software patents for pure economic gain while destroying the community.

    Nokia is in a strong position to help stop that from becoming reality, and at the same time win HUGE amounts of respect in the community. The other side of that coin is that you will never be fully trusted and respected as long as you don’t take a stand against software patents. This is not the last you will hear on this matter, I guess…. Please, take this issue seriously.

  20. 20 Lexy

    Um… what about OGG?Nokia has f…d up OGG standartization in upcoming HTML standard.Great thanks from open source world, duh (just read according slashdot article to read all “thanks”).Yeah, proprietary H.264 and AAC which are patented so there could be no fair competition… and DRM… all this surely in open source spirit, of course🙂

  21. 21 MDK

    @guys: you have to realize that nokia is a *huge* company and blaming a tiny part of it (maemo team) for all nokia evil is a bit pointless. Assuming group responsability is not a way to win anything. Instead, I recommend looking at *this particular* thing quim is talking about (maemo) and supporting it so that the vision populates up.

    @guim: “@MDK – not even ‘show me the code’ is good enough. Show the code as soon as you develop it. Commit your changes asap. Share your plans. The goal is clear but the implementation is not simple.”

    I fully agree, as always. Though, as somebody working for another big company, I must say that it’s *definitelly* possible at this level (sharing code, comming changes asap, developing in the open). It’s both technically and legally possible to allow your developers to do so without making it a boureaucratic PITA at the same time. Covering yourself (I’m not talking here about you explicitly) behind “not simple implementation”, “patents”, “trade secrets”, “ulgy mobile business world” is just an excuse for not trying hard enough (or not actually wanting to do so).

    Having said that — as someone who’s trying to follow meamo development and wishing it all the best — I must say it’s pretty hard to follow you guys these days. Ie. look at maemo project stats/graphs on ohloh. The SVN activity is becoming smaller and smaller. Less and less commits in the open. The project even has “Decreasing year-over-year development activity” warning. This doesn’t map to well too the buzzwords, does it?

  22. 22 qgil

    @Mikael, at a personal level I have been following the No Software Patents campaign more years than I have been working at Nokia. I have an idea about the issue as it is perceived in the open source community, and lately I have been learning also how the very same topic is seen inside Nokia. I hope to see some progress here since a lot of the issue goes around lack of communication from Nokia’s side. It’s a complex topic but there is no reason not to move it forward and make it consistent with Nokia’s open source strategy.

    @Lexy: Ogg, DRM… sure, Nokia is not acting in all fronts as having a genuine and totally devoted open source spirit. Nor is the expectation people should have (in my opinion), at least not those understanding that Nokia has to deal with a commercial context that is radically different to, say, your preferred Linux distribution. But again, Imyself reckon that there is a lot to improve at least explaining why Nokia does what does, and does not what does not. Noted and hopefully we will be able to come back on the Ogg issue. In the meantime, it is also fair to say that making Nokia devices support the Ogg formats is not difficult, specially not the Linux/maemo powered Internet Tablets. Sure, the merit goes to third parties but well…

    @MDK, sure internal processes can be changed and be made compatible, friendly and efficient with open source practices. But changes in processes are never easy: you need a clear need, will, a plan and, generally, a clear gap between projects to introduce the changes without introducing more risk on ongoing works. This is not a excuse for anything, just a message that we are trying to improve these processes and I think we will get them right… at some point. Again, I hope to see real progress even if it won’t come tomorrow, and I consider it as well an essential part of Nokia’s open source srategy.

    My conclusion to this thread (and the comments in Ari’s blog) is that black&white doesn’t help nobody understanding what is going on and how to improve things. There is some people in the open souce community and inside Nokia willing to see pure black and pure white on things. Even if these colors are real and do exist, the reality we deal with everyday is in fact made from many gray levels and, even nicer, made also from many different bright colors.

  23. 23 The Badger

    “@Mikael, at a personal level I have been following the No Software Patents campaign more years than I have been working at Nokia.”

    Glad to hear it!

    “I have an idea about the issue as it is perceived in the open source community, and lately I have been learning also how the very same topic is seen inside Nokia. I hope to see some progress here since a lot of the issue goes around lack of communication from Nokia’s side.”

    Here’s a direct question, then: why are Nokia’s representatives lobbying for software patents in the European Union and in various other locations?

    Many people in the open source community have a very thorough understanding of the impact of software patents, so I hope that we don’t have to sit through a lecture about suiting up for big business, learning to live with “real world” constraints, the “business climate” of today and/or tomorrow, and so on.

    Awaiting a straight answer, but not ever expecting to hear one.


  1. 1 What Mobile Users Need and How Open Source Can Help at Internet Tablet Talk
  2. 2 Ari Jaaksi: The man inside Nokia who really gets Open Source [23 min audio]
  3. 3 Mozilla in Asia » Blog Archive » Nokia on working with open source
  4. 4 Digging in the Nokia-and-software-patents topic « flors
  5. 5 Nokia, the unknown open source contributor? « flors

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