Software freedom lovers: here comes Maemo 5


There are few days in your life where you feel part of something historic. Today is one of these days for me, and I believe also for any software freedom lover out there. Maemo 5 has been launched together with its damn cool hardware body, the N900. It contains everything you knew about the Internet Tablets plus an evolved UI plus the little feature that raises the eyebrows of all your friends: yes, now it makes phone calls.

We have published a ton of information, pictures and videos about the software and the device as seen from a user perspective. Go to and enjoy this beauty made of basically the same components many of us have in our Linux laptops. Below you have few additional thoughts for those caring specifically about Linux and free software.

Maemo 5 is a computer platform that happens to fit in your pocket: OMAP Linux Kernel, Xorg server, GStreamer, Telepathy, Tracker, GTK+ (Qt also available) and many more. The telephony stack is also there and SMS also works, but this doesn’t mean that Maemo is now transformed into a smartphone platform. Landscape mode by default, 800×480 amazing display, full qwerty hardware keyboard, a Mozilla based browser providing you the WWW as you are used to get it… We are just expanding the concept of what features a computer that is always with you is supposed to have.

No-phone-fans, are you still reading with some suspicion in your eyes? Look at this screenshot then (CLI guys please forgive me):

"Jailbreaking" Maemo 5

Exactly. If freedom is your concern then you don’t need to “unlock” or “jailbreak” Maemo 5. From installing an application to getting root access, it’s you who decide. We trust you, and at the end it’s your device. Nokia also trusts the open source community in general and the Maemo community particularly helping in getting casual users through the experience path. The N900 might just be a new and successful entry point for a new wave of open source users and developers.

But get no confused: even if a skilled Linux developer can get in the deep insights of the system, Maemo 5 is actually a beautiful and smooth gem for mobile users. I’m personally proud of the work done by the Maemo designers and developers building this beautiful and useful UI on top of Xorg, OpenGL ES, Clutter, GTK+ and our Hildon application framework. A showcase of open source UI.

There are many areas where Maemo 5 excels thanks to open source championing:

Multitasking, with that powerful OMAP3 processor being pushed by the Linux kernel and plenty more components up to Hildon, performing a very visual and usable dashboard. You need to see the videos. The implementation is very nice and makes you fly between apps, web windows and tasks. Little note: the dashboard windows are not simple snapshots, they show you the real content in real time!

I can’t describe with words the feeling of listening on the air, through my bluetooth headset while commuting on the train. And then a call comes and you can answer pressing a button. Simple? Not with Linux & OSS until recently. 3G connectivity playing together with BlueZ, PulseAudio, GStreamer and Media Application Framework: beautiful.

It’s also refreshing to see conversations with your friends where SMS & instant messaging are mingled, thanks to Telepathy magic. Adding chat, microblogs and the likes to the mix is up to whoever wants to push it, since the framework is open.

The camera is also impressive, all sustained by GStreamer. Together with good lens and an impressive display, even my pictures look cool (sometimes, and the camera is not to blame). No hurries to transfer or upload the pictures to see them in a big screen: you get a fair impression of the real thing right there with your device. The Maemo team has several hobbyist photographers and all of us are waiting impatiently to get the green light and start uploading pics.

I could go on and on but today I better leave you with the good news. Application developers, the next post is for you.

149 Responses to “Software freedom lovers: here comes Maemo 5”

  1. 1 rvr

    Congratulations! It’s a dream smart-phone for open source lovers! 🙂

  2. 2 Prasanen

    I am impressed. And relieved. Finally there!

  3. qgil, epic win.

  4. 4 Michael

    This sounds 99% “I want one” but the fact that Maemo 6 will be Qt based really kills the deal for me, sorry

  5. 5 Ana

    Congratulations to all the maemo team!

  6. 6 Faheem

    That terminal screenshot is awesome. Congrats to all the people behind Maemo 5 and may it kick ass! 🙂

  7. 7 yerga

    Congratulations Quim, and to all the team behind Maemo Devices.

    The wait was worth it.

  8. 8 qgil

    Michael, enjoy the GNOME festival that this Maemo 5 is. I bet there will be time and skills to enjoy GNOME in the times of Harmattan as well.

  9. 9

    sudo gainroot did it for me 😀

    now, only question remains if there will be a non-phone coming…

  10. 10 Juanjo Marin

    It’s amazing device for showing Maemo’s potential !!! Congrats to Nokia and Maemo developers.

  11. 11 Hazzl

    Finally, I know why I have been holding off buying an i-Phone! Thanks so much to everybody involved in this effort (which includes all N-8?0 developers/users)!

    Of course the announced switch to Qt will mean saying good bye to lots of well known tools. But hey, it’s all Free software in the end.

    Just one last question: is anybody in the Maemo team working on handwriting recognition especially for CJK-Languages?

  12. 12 Ignacius

    Hi Quim!

    I must say I’m in love with this gadget and I’m going to go after it for sure. But, what is a little bit annoying is the fact that there seems to be no support for MMS messages. In my opinion, and coming from Nokia, with it’s celular background, it’s a mistake.

    Congrats and keep the great work!

  13. Just curious- any particular reason why everyone is linking to and not (which appears to have no news about the release?)

  14. 14 thp

    Awesome 🙂

  15. Sad to see there is no support for vorbis/ogg. But I like everything else about this device.

    And the video is really impressive. 🙂

  16. 16 nate

    > Sad to see there is no support for vorbis/ogg. But I like everything else about this device.

    It should be trivial to add it through Gstreamer plugins.

    Which I would almost immediately. I use Icecast2 to stream OGG Vorbis audio to my computer at work. It would be fantastic to do the same for a phone. Also it has the capability to stream video… so maybe I’ll watch TV over the internet from my house, too.

    And CONGRATS. I am looking forward to seeing this monster of a phone. This is just about the first time I’ve ever been excited about a consumer hardware since I was about 15.


    As far as Gnome vs QT, I couldn’t give a shit less. After Maemo 5 it will be up to the Gnome folks to keep improving the platform if Gnome types want to keep using it! Otherwise I am sure Maemo 6 will rock.

  17. 17 antimonio

    Everybody is saying that it makes phone calls but I don’t see anything about “GSM” on the specs or if it’s tri-band or not.

  18. 18 Josh

    Looks even more awesome than the pre-release information suggested.

    Definitely going to buy one. One question, though: any chance of a developer device program? I want to know whether to wait for that or just go ahead and buy one as soon as they become available.

    I obtained a developer device discount for the N800, and that got me hooked on the Nokia tablets and Maemo in the first place. I can’t wait to try the N900 with all its available power and polish, and I already have lots of ideas for what I’d like to do with it.

  19. 19 Josh

    The specs mention quad-band GSM.

  20. 20 Max

    thank you and also a big thaks at the entire maemo team!
    great job and keep up your open source spirit! 🙂

  21. 21 prometoys

    Oh Quim, did I told you that I love your style! 😀

    Looking forward for more… See you in Amsterdam.

  22. 22 nona

    No way I can still justify spending time on Maemo as an app developer. The experience with the 770 already put me off, but even disregarding that – it’s difficult to spend time developing software for a platform that will be dumped in the release just after. It’s a shame really, because it’s a nice looking phone otherwise.

  23. does it support mms? can’t find any mention of it

  24. 24 Timo

    >> Sad to see there is no support for vorbis/ogg. But I like everything else about this device.
    > It should be trivial to add it through Gstreamer plugins.

    It’s not about the triviality but whether the vendor claiming software freedom love supports free media formats or deliberately removes the support from GStreamer base packages – instead of showing leadership by supporting something that makes the whole free software world more viable and a better place for everyone.

    Besides that fact the device looks awesome. I’d just hope on an advance on this subject – open/libre standards are even more important than (some) free software, especially in the world of digital media which is so cluttered with problems and self-interests of various parties like MPEG-LA and all others collecting royalties and restricting usage.

  25. 25 Aleksey

    It’s easy to babble in web about free software etc. but the truth is that Nokia just cannot include codecs which may have submarine patents. And as we see from HTML5 Video debate and this case, apparently Nokia is thinking that there might be patents. They have probably examined the subject “a bit”.

    It’s sad but true. And very much reality.

  26. Good work, congratulations. I’ve been using Maemo for years, still have my old 770, and use my N800.

    We’ve been struggling with no support for Ogg, Vorbis and Theora all time and, as others said, it’s still not there.

    I don’t really care what your reasons are for not supporting them: it’s a deal breaker. I’m not going to buy one more of your nice toys until you officially support free media formats, and promise to ever break them.

    Really a pity, because this is going to be one heck of a device, but still.

    Thanks for all your good work.

  27. Obviously we all have to make our own assessments of patent risk/reward, but while Nokia (Nokia’s lawyers?) are dicking around I’ll be over in the corner, happily using my HTC/Google phone to play my oggs. Which is really a bit of a shame, but it just works right out of the box, which ogg never reliably did on the N810 even after I went through the 10,000 hoops to get it installed.

  28. 28 r

    Hi Quim!

    Congrats on going public with this. The N900 sounds like an exciting piece of hardware. As for “software freedom”, can you clarify on how much freedom the the device will allow exactly? Will I be able to take an N900, rebuild stuff from source, flash that, and actually use the thing? I don’t necessarily care about each and every UI application, but all hardware and placing/accepting phone calls should work.

    Nokia has an unfortunate track record of marketing Maemo as “open” or “free” and later shipping devices (N770,800,810) with a variety of proprietary (closed source, binary only) drivers (e.g. wifi on the N770) and other components (dsme, bme, etc.) without which the devices won’t even have essential functionality such as basic power management (in the sense of charging the battery). The corresponding bug has been closed as FIXED without an actual resolution. The wiki page indicates that the situation hasn’t changed significantly and won’t change in the foreseeable future for strategic reasons (“differentiation”).

    If this has been addressed with Maemo 5 and the N900 then all I can say is “Hats off to you” and “I’ll buy one”. Otherwise I think you should be a little more honest in your communication with the open source world – you’ve built on their work, they deserve it.



  29. it looks awesome!

    I need to buy a new phone to use it or i can install it in my N95 replacing the long forgotten symbian?

  30. 30 Tsiolkovsky

    Damn this really looks like an impressive smartphone+. Nothing else comes close and it is a huge plus that it is based on open source technologies and so open in general. I’m also sad that there is no support for Ogg Theora and Ogg Vorbis, I sure hope this gets added in updates to the Maemo 5 operating system. I also have one question. Since Maemo is open source, is there any way people can start translating the software into other languages? I would love to help with translation.

  31. I was soooooo excited for this device until I realized it doesn’t run on the right frequencies to do 3G on ATT. I have a N82 which doesn’t do 3G either and I vowed my next phone would have it, so much of the “smart phone experience” is lost if you lack that speed. I tried T-mobile, but their coverage is rubbish where I live. Sooooo sad now!

  32. Yay! Apparently the spec list Iitially saw was incomplete! The one here: lists the ATT 3G bands! hurray! though it looks like it lost the FM RECEIVER that the N series usually has. I use that shockingly often… oh well, I suppose if I’m choosing, I’d rather have 3G.

    /me is all excited again!

  33. 33 grant

    Maemo is not qt based. See

    I would love to see illuminae running on this, and who knows, maybe mine eventually will be. But deal killer, give me a break!

    There is the neo which is only 2G ?2.5G?, there is a home made 3G phone built on a gumstix with gsm modem, and there is this. Nokia is trying an experiment which I hope works out for them. Who knows, the carriers may kill the phone (not wanting an open phone on their networks since they cannot charge for every app etc.). So, instead of complaining, you may try supporting this bold and _very_ welcome move from Nokia.

  34. > though it looks like it lost the FM RECEIVER
    > that the N series usually has.

    The specs mention an “FM transmitter”, it’s probably an error in the description: I’m guessing they actually meant “receiver”.

  35. I don’t want to spoil your excitement, but as someone who is seeing a platform as a combination of hard- and software, I’m not yet convinced that the n900 is bringing the free hardware movement any further. Can we reflash it with an own stack and everything will still work? On the n800, you had to let go of wifi, power management, and misc. other things, if you were to go this route. I hope it’s better on the n900…

  36. 36 Aleksey

    It’s FM transmitter of course. It’s a bit odd that there’s no receiver but transmitter is a must on devices like this: just start playback & transmitter and then tune your car radio to same freq -> profit. No wires and works in older cars as well. Of course there are also other ways to use it…

  37. Aleksey, that reasoning breaks down a bit when you notice that the car navigation software that Nokia shipped by default on my N810 comes with a bunch of .ogg files for their voice messages.

  38. 38 foo

    Ewwwww, flash. And why did Nokia fork Debian instead of putting pure Debian their your mobile devices??

  39. 39 Aleksey

    Well, Google is foxy little thing. They do the software but it’s not their device so it’s not their arse in the line but HTC’s. And one might think that HTC has control over this matter if they want to use Google-brand on their phones… Of course I might be wrong.
    Anyway, Ogg playback is just one install after purchasing. Maemo is not perfect but it’s in totally different league than Android and all other viable options (at least until Symbian has opened).

  40. 40 Aleksey

    …And one might think that HTC has NO control over this matter if they want …

    Sorry for spamming.

  41. Nicola: Well, I doubt it’s an error, I’ll just hope it was omitted. 🙂

    Aleksey: I’d have agreed with you 5-10 years ago. These days, I’d wager that most people who need transmitters have them, and if they don’t, they are extremely inexpensive. Further, you can get a car stereo with a front-mounted line-in for less than $100. If they were including a transmitter in a low-end device, it would make sense, but in a device like this it seems silly to me. People in the demographic that this is surely targeting with it’s guaranteed over $500 price tag are unlikely to need it.

    My consolation in losing the FM receiver is that w/ 3G I should be able to stream the programs I usually listen to via FM. I’d still rather have it than not though…

  42. 42

    iirc, the SDK indicated a chip that could do FM both ways, so i am not fully sure whats going on with those specs…

  43. 43 Kees

    This announcement is an incredible step for FOSS, Nokia and end user. All this power at your fingers it’s simply untrue and surpasses the feelings I had when I first touched a Nokia 770.

    Thanks so much

  44. 44

    there is a blurb about it supporting multimedia messaging with other phones that have similar support. but yes, adding a simple MMS next to the SMS would have made that very clear…

  45. 45

    Say what now? Is this a reference to the next full release of maemo going Qt? Then consider that this release will have GTK as primary and Qt as a optional toolkit, and the next one will flip them around. But as maemo makes extensive use of dbus and similar, either toolkit will be fully usable.

    If instead this is about new releases of maemo dropping official support for existing hardware in preference to new ones, welcome to the tech rat race that is mobile phones…

  46. While I would love to see OGG supported out of the box on the N900, I have to say that adding OGG support to the default media player on the N810 took me exactly one step. After that I was able to open OGG files through the file manager.

    Best of luck to Nokia with the N900 launch! I have another 18 months left on my current cell phone contract, so I won’t be an early adopter, but as a happy N810 user I certainly hope this paves the way for subsequent iterations of Maemo-based devices.

  47. qgil, Thank You very much. Also a BIG Thanks to the Maemo team! Wow, Wow & Wow!!!!!!!

  48. He didn’t say Maemo *is* Qt based, he said *Maemo 6* *will be* Qt-based. Nokia have already announced that Qt is coming to Maemo.

    Since they own Qt, it provides a rich application framework rather than just the UI stuff of GTK+, and it also runs on Nokia’s other platforms, it’s fairly obviously the long term direction for Maemo.

  49. 49 mrmcq2u

    #1 Aren’t all phones unlocked by default, locked down by operators rather than manufacturers.
    #2 Is there a chance that I’ll have over 500euro’s burning a hole through my pocket and when October comes around the phone is a no show in the republic of Ireland?(still no android phones here :/ )
    #3 Will I be able to buy directly from nokia and have them deliver to Ireland?
    #4 How did you make this so freaking awesome?
    #5 You guys rock 😀

  50. 50 Serge Kurilovich

    Hi Quim!

    Great news!

    Amazing device!


  51. 51 Mike

    MMS is so lame.

    Use mail, it’s like a micro computer and everybody should have one.

    Nobody complained about the iPhone not having MMS, because it sucks anyway 🙂

    Besides, with many phones you can’t receive MMS while online otherwise, so maybe if I am connected to my Mail server all the time, I would never receive the damn MMS.

    Furthermore: MMS are overly expensive. Use Mail here 😉

  52. 52 Mike

    Might be, that is not yet updated.

    That’s why everybody is linking to the real side 😉

    Repos will probably be up soon and stuff..

  53. 53 Mike

    Of course it has ogg (I bet).

    It just not mentioned, because you don’t get “user” customers by claiming ogg support.

    Submarine could be everywhere.

  54. 54

    only “problem” is that not everyone has a mail account, at least not one they can easily access from their phone at any time of day, but if you have a phone you have MMS (unless its 5+ years, or a non-3G iphone).

  55. “From installing an application to getting root access, it’s you who decide. We trust you, and at the end it’s your device.”

    After years of Microsoft and Apple’s DRM propaganda, nice to hear! I just can’t wait for N900 to start using it 🙂

  56. 56 mece66

    I’ve never been this excited about a device before. I’m pretty much ready to put on my special maemo5-development-shorts and get to work. A great day for open source!

  57. We’ve been struggling with no support for ogg? Really?

    Try installing ogg-support on your tablet. It works perfectly fine for me and you can bet the community will provide the same thing for the N900 when it’s available.

  58. 58 BK_man

    Will it be ugly on Mac OS platform as Symbian is?

    Buyed Nokia E75 three months ago and decided to go to iPhone 3GS for now because there is very poor integration between Symbian and Mac OS:

    No password manager with synchronization (look for 1Password), no good GTD client (look for OmniFocus), no good note-catching application (look for Evernote).

    I hope this will be covered in the future on Maemo devices as it covered now on Apple iPhone with App Store.

    Maemo is a great platform (I’m proud to have Nokia 770 & N810) but it’s need to grow up for a couple of years.

    As I said, I’m going to iPhone for the moment because I have only Apple platform at home.

  59. Can anyone enlighten me if this thing has digital compass (magnetometer)?

    I can’t find this information anywhere and dread that answer is no, since all AR projects I’d like to start kind of depend on it.

  60. 60 Jonathan

    It doesn’t run on the N810?

    Screw you guys. Seriously.

    I was a 770 early adopter, bought 2 N800s, one subsidised by Nokia, and an N810. I was /so/ upbeat about this platform for /so/ long – and now this. Again. No – strike that: again again.

    For you *still* not to have got hold of the concept that we want to upgrade our damn devices *across* major releases is just … appalling.

    /me puts a few things on ebay and checks out Android phones. At least /there/ they don’t make a big play of the openness and continually disappoint. At least /there/ I *know* I’m on a contract that deliberately renders the hardware irrelevant after 24 months.

    I’m off. L8rs.

  61. 61 Hans J. Koch

    I second that. For me that makes the difference between “I’ll buy one” and “I’ll wait until they understood what open source means”. And Nokia, please don’t tell stories about “you have to” without proving how much you’ve tried in vain.

  62. You know, Aleksey, I’d be much more sympathetic to the woes about the evil submarine patent fears if Nokia didn’t do a lot of strong lobbying for software patents (eg. in the EU). Their part of the blame for the problem is not insignificant, so hiding behind it is somewhat of a double standard.

    Meanwhile, it would indeed be nice to know, as was wondered below, how free the software on the platform really is and can one effectively use it with a fully free GNU/Linux system.

    I won’t be buying this anytime soon with Nokia’s track record, but let’s see how things develop in the following years. I might have to eventually if they actually shoot for decent openness and competitors don’t do that or disappear.

  63. I’ve been putting off upgrading my phone for some time. I have a nokia 6600, ancient but with series 60 and python it is fun. I also have an N770, a bit underpowered and no sim card 😦

    Android phones were tempting, but this for me beats them hands down.

    Porting my series 60 python apps to this ought to be trivial.

    Can’t wait for the thing to be out.

    Just one question, what is the battery life like?

  64. You might consider keeping in mind that the new version of Maemo relies heavily on hardware-accelerated OpenGL and other such features. Making it run on older devices would require a lot more than a simple port.

    Meanwhile, the (still fairly young) Mer project will provide support for older devices using as much of new Maemo as feasible.

  65. 65 nona

    My whinging was indeed mostly about the QT about-face. It just felt very random, and almost all of Maemo’s direction feels like it’s decided on just Nokia’s whims. (Not just the QT thing, rumours like that webkit was a no-no for “business reasons” instead of technical merit). Maybe I’ll get back to Maemo if and when there’s non-Nokia devices using it and a real “community” develops, but as it stands now Nokia (and Maemo by extension) lost my trust.

  66. Hello Maemo team. First of all a HUGE congrats on a GREAT OS and a device to match. Last October I ditched Nokia because there was no phone in the near future that was going to work on T-Mobile US. I made a leap from N95-3 to Android (G1) ONLY for the 3.5G goodness. At first it was a weird feeling but then I started liking the OS. Today I made a choice..I’m going back with Nokia… You did me proud. And here’s my question… I have an N810. I like it..The apps are cool but one that I’ve been waiting for is Sling Player. I was sad to abandon it after I switched to Android and was waiting for Sling to release Android client. Their response was “No plans to do it it”. Then there’s Hava Player.. Available on S60, WinMo, Maemo but not for Android..again a strike against them. I asked Have people about their plans – reply; We will see how the market will shape up. Yesterday got another reply; No plans for now (which is beyond me since Maemo version is linux based so why not port it to Android.. Ah heck with that. So the key question is, will the apps for N810 work on N900 (Maemo4 vs Maemo5)? I just want My Have software to work.

  67. Congratulations! I am out of words.

  68. complicated stuff

  69. 69 Dans

    #1 Yes.
    #2 Hope not.
    #3 Yes.

  70. 70 pongkiat

    Thanks for all developers of Maemo 5.
    Now it’s time to change my N800 to N900 🙂

  71. 71 Daniel Dickerson

    Unfortunately AT&T’s HSPA frequency is 850/1900, the n900 only does 900/1700/2100, so no 3G on AT&T. Looks like it’ll only be EDGE.

  72. First, I would like to thank all maemo developers for their ongoing dedication and open source spirit!

    Second, I also would like to thank Nokia for it’s continued efforts of bringing Linux and related software stack to the market. Guys, it’s tough to push Linux and other FOSS technologies to consumer devices and at the same time offer as much freedom to the device and software as Nokia does with it’s N770/n800/n810/n900. Especially where eryone screams iPhone around you. (I mainly talk here about he mainstream
    mobile device market, not just techies).

    Third, if software freedom matters to you, I think it makes sense to show your support by buying and using this device given it’s features, power and capability. I personally plan on buying this beauty when it becomes available in the US.

    I think it’s going to be a very tough competition for this device from HTC myTouches, Apple iPhone and the much rumored Apple tablet.

    At the end of the day, don’t forget that there are companies trying to bring Linux to the mainstream and this a sign of a relief and hapenness for many of us. Let’s try to help them anyway we can.

    I also wish that maemo can be ported to other devices, including iPhones. That would be so cool. This way freedom will get to the next level!

  73. add a gyro and support skype/flashwebcam sessions and you got a phone that will
    Slaughter the iPhone and upcoming phones. Everyone will copy the idea.
    Def should work on getting the phone smaller eventually as tech leads to industry builds at smaller nm denominations. Compiz and Gnome I presume? With custom plugins for Compiz? or Gnome + Custom OpenGl E.S. 2.0 software?

    Quake3 should rock on this phone, the iPhone is no good for mobile gaming, this should have potential.

  74. Thanks for all this feedback!

    Nobody claims Maemo is the 100% free mobile OS and the N900 is the 100% free mobile device. I claim is currently the most interesting combination for a free software lover thanks to its standard Linux stack, possibility to modify the platform and access to the root. The % closed helps Nokia getting a sustainable business model and reaching consumer appeal. If 100% freedom is your goal Maemo 5 and N900 is a good starting point.

    We haven’t got the time to experiment with alternative OS with the N900, but considering that already the N8*0 series got Debian and Android ports I believe it is a reasonable goal. We encourage or any other developer effort to come up with Maemo variants or alternatives running in Maemo devices. One of the beauties of Maemo is that you can get rid of it if you wish.

    Ogg support. Speex is supported out of the box. About Vorbis/Theora, see . Like someone said, “it’s complicated”. Then again, if you don’t mind a one-click install then it’s easy to have it. Yes, we understand the difference of shipping it pre-installed or as downloadable.

    And Nokia vs patents… c’mon, maybe it’s time to review that meme. It’s been a long time that Nokia IPR strategy is friendly to open source software and developers. Symbian going OSS, Qt relicensed and pushed as axis for application UI and development, Maemo now pushed as high end platform…

  75. Good to see that Nokia is finally using Maemo 5

  76. I was planning to buy an Android mobile, but know I’m getting in love with the N900 and I have to re-evaluate my preferences.

    Molts records i l’enhorabona, Quim!

  77. 77 FaberfoX

    Congrats guys, I really hope to see it in Argentina soon, by then I’ll be off my N78 contract.
    My carrier (Personal, the other 2 here both carry the iphone) should be seriously targeted by you. If not, I’ll get it off contract, even if I have to import it.

  78. Just the way I thought it would be, but better:

    🙂 I am SO buying this thing!

  79. qgil; okay, let’s review the Nokia patent meme. You cite examples where Nokia has used and even developed many pieces of free software. However, they also ship many pieces of proprietary software (their own in addition to the third party stuff) even on the hypedly open Maemo, and there seems to be little effort on their part to help make the internet tablets usable with free software – though I’ll grant that the jury is out on this new device; too much hype, not enough information.

    Also, these matters are completely irrelevant to the patent issue, where Nokia has been actively hostile to most everyone in the field (except for the large companies with their portfolios and armies of lawyers), free and proprietary developers alike. Please provide examples of Nokia patent policy improving instead, if you wish to review this issue.

    I’ll review what I know of the past:

    Though it has been a few years, I’ve personally been on the other side of the table at consultations at the Finnish ministry of commerce a couple of times representing such groups as the Finnish EFFI, CS department of my University and the information society working group of the Green party (nowadays I’m in the recently officialized Pirate Party, not to leave the wrong impression). My first-hand experience with them is not flattering in this matter.

    Also, though again a few years ago, my friend had to leave Nokia due to his conscience getting the better of him due to this issue: . And, of course, during the EU swpat rounds, Nokia lobbied really hard for them, even threatening at least Poland that they’d move business elsewhere if they didn’t get in line in the Council of Ministers.

    I know of exactly one “positive” development; Nokia did promise at one time not to sue people for using the official Linux kernel (no modified versions, such as, emm, everything people are actually using since distros typically patch it), reserving the right to withdraw the promise in various circumstances. Further, it’s unclear if they even have any relevant patents, and the kernel itself is a small part of any actual operating system.

    But, I’ll be glad if you can provide evidence about this alleged change of direction in these matters. I do not wish to be unfair to Nokia, even if at least in the past they’ve been unfair to the global society at large.

  80. Mikko, you are talking about 2004 and we are here now in 2009. In the meantime Nokia has put open source in the core of its software strategy with Linux, OSS Symbian and Qt. Of course the company keeps playing the IPR game but this is no different with any other company.

    You ask for proofs of change of Nokia IPR policy. Well, do you have proofs of Nokia enforcing its IPR to free software projects? I’m not aware of any.

    Nokia is a big corporation that tries to make big business. Its agenda might not always fit your agenda. I think this is obvious to everyone. I’m just trying to point out that currently Nokia’s open source strategy is actually quite beneficial to the open source community. Even if it has 2 or 3 things you disagree with.

  81. qgil, it’s not really of significance if Nokia themselves are enforcing anything against free software, as long as they are for a regimen that in and of itself is destructive to free software and

    And of course Nokia is a big business, with even internal conflicts of interest I’m sure. However, my original point simply was that Nokia as a company cannot honestly play at being the victim of the evil software patent regime when it’s done its best to even extend said regime. It is also a fair assumption that lacking public statements or other evidence to the contrary, that hasn’t changed. It’s you who wanted to review the situation further, so I did.

    Yes, they’ve done some good things for free software, which is okay, but hell, even Apple and Microsoft have contributed. (Okay, slightly unfair here, I’ll grant that Nokia _has_ done more good than them.)

    Aside from patents, there is still the fact that their tablets at least in the past have been designed from the ground up requiring non-free software, so hyping them up as the panacea for free software people is… well, again, dishonest.

  82. WOW!

    Until now I was dead set to acquire an iPhone, despite its difficult interaction with Linux. I am now drooling in front of the N900… I can’t wait to be able to play with one.

    As a hardcore Linux user, I’m interested to know about native Linux sync for calendar/contacts/music/videos/etc… Is the N900 going to be like many of the OSS-based devices, with only Windows/MacOS sync capabilities, or will we have a proper out-of-the-box experience for sync with Evolution/Rhytmbox/Amarok/etc.. though Opensync/Conduit/Multysync/drag-drop/Etc..?

  83. Oops, in my previous comment the thought in the first paragraph was cut short; of course, it should have read something along the lines of “destructive to free software and other independent developers and small-to-midrange companies alike.” Sorry about the inconvenience.

    (Personally, I think fostering such a destructive environment in such a strong way more than makes up for Nokia’s contributions, but YMMV on that.)

  84. Mikko, Nokia does not “play at being the victim of the evil software patent regime”. The company has an IPR strategy and an OSS strategy and tries to do its best in both fronts.

    I’m not hyping Maemo 5 and the hardware that comes with it as a panacea for free software people either. I just believe that this combo will become the best option available once they are released.

    You might disagree and have other opinions and preferences, which is fine and cool.

  85. Well, I don’t know about you, but the big words right at the start of this article are quite high, and IMAO dishonest, hype for a quite limited freedom product. But I suppose some of us may have low enough standards that it doesn’t seem dishonest to them, so maybe I can’t judge them too harshly on the honesty department. (This here is the best reconciliation I can honestly offer 😉

  86. 86 Jeroen

    Any news on how open the telephony stack will be?
    The WiFi module seems to have gotten a lot more open w.r.t. the N810:
    I can’t find any info on the GSM chipset or telephony stack though. Does the GSM modem require a proprietary driver?
    Is oFono being used on the N900? It would seem awfully soon after their initial release, or is this the reason for Nokia calling this a “mobile computer” and not a smartphone? 🙂

  87. 87 The Badger

    Hello again, qgil!

    “Mikko, you are talking about 2004 and we are here now in 2009. In the meantime Nokia has put open source in the core of its software strategy with Linux, OSS Symbian and Qt.”

    OSS Symbian is currently mostly vapourware, and there are plenty of companies freeloading off Linux. I breathe in oxygen, but does this make me the best friend of all the plants on the planet? And as we all said in previous discussions about this, a lack of blatantly public lobbying against Free Software interests doesn’t mean that Nokia’s representatives aren’t pushing extended patentability as part of “standards” advocacy. I think we even dug up some examples of this before as well, and I see that such stuff is even around from earlier this year, too.

    “Mikko, Nokia does not “play at being the victim of the evil software patent regime”.”

    Yes it does. Every time someone asks why Nokia won’t support some codec out of the box, or why Nokia insisted that Vorbis be dropped from HTML 5, the responses are always about the “uncertain patent landscape”. That would almost get the company off the hook if it weren’t for the patents-in-standards lobbying mentioned above and Nokia’s membership of various patent cartels.

    “You ask for proofs of change of Nokia IPR policy. Well, do you have proofs of Nokia enforcing its IPR to free software projects? I’m not aware of any.”

    But we are aware of Symbian getting junk patents granted in the United Kingdom. Mere uncertainty about getting sued is enough to warn people off a certain area, and who says that enforcement would lead to any publicly perusable settlement?

    It is precisely uncertainty about corporate policies which feeds mistrust of companies like Nokia. Although you would have everyone follow the magician’s left hand, it’s not only appropriate for some people to watch the right hand, it’s also appropriate for those people to remind the first group about the bigger picture. Sure, a relatively open device is a net gain for people who want to run Linux on a phone, but few people have technology as their sole motivating factor when paying a company money.

    It may make your job frustrating when people mention software patents or – widening the aperture – the various surveillance-related scandals Nokia has brought upon itself, and you may complain that it has nothing to do with Internet tablets, Maemo, Linux or whatever, but not everyone lives in a one-dimensional space where other concerns don’t matter. And those other concerns even inform those who only care about Linux on a phone: if the company is capable of making nasty strategic decisions about, say, selling or promoting surveillance equipment, one has to wonder about the company’s integrity across the board.

    This isn’t an anti-Nokia thing: when IBM is loved by some for their antics, despite also propping up software patentability, it is a requirement that people call such companies to account when, for example, IBM uses patent claims in its litigation against SCO; instead of cheering and clapping because “SCO is one of the baddies”, IBM’s reputation should be tarnished.

    It’s sad that the Nokia attitude is all about supposed leadership through failing to do negative things publicly (“you can’t say that we’ve sued anyone recently”) rather than through actually doing positive things. Until that attitude changes, don’t expect vast increases in trust in the company.

    Sorry if this takes the edge of your spin, but that’s what we’re here for.

  88. 88 squadlessenger

    Congratutaions .
    Can I keep up .I am just starting a blog and having problems so just imagine……

  89. Ah The Badge, you again giving lessons about personal integrity behind a virtual mask…

    Companies pursue leadership doing positive things like releasing innovative products. In the case of Maemo, doing positive things include also contributing a vision and a big load of code and support to several free software community projects.

    If you are concerned about Nokia’s corporate responsibility you could better invest your energies at . I know already what you are trying to explain. 🙂

    About ethics and integrity: at the end a corporation is simply an economical entity. If you dislike a corporation don’t buy its products and don’t work for it.

    Forgive me if I’m still happy celebrating an announcement that I believe represents a nice contribution to the success of free software in the industry and in our societies.

  90. 90 Kachal

    The N900 looks good and pleased to see that Maemo5 finally has a calendar in it! Please don’t get this the wrong way!! BUT is it going to be possible to run Windows 7 on N900 ? I have been playing with 7 rc on my little netbook and it absolutely ROCKS!!

  91. 91 horst lederhosen


    First, try to accept that the world is imperfect. Now, once you have accepted it, it is logical that what really matters is the direction of change – towards better or towards worse?

    N900 means that growing percentage of Nokia phones are now based on Linux and free software. Also, many components that were closed source in maemo (wifi driver, tracker, dsme, etc) are now open.

    The direction of change is therefor right. You can argue that it is not fast or complete enough. But we have the very real example of openmoko fail. It pretty much shows that end users prefer smooth and reliable user experience and advanced hardware over uncompromising freedom. If Maemo doesn’t make ensuring smooth user experience #1 priority, it risks following the openmoko path.

    Until there is strong evidence that users believe that freedom is more important than iphoney user experience with locked-in appstore, adding freedom to the product is always a secondary goal. This is of course where YOUR and pirate parties help is needed – unwashing the brains of masses 😉

  92. Horst; I’ll just note that you seem take it for granted that Maemo couldn’t be free at least for the Nokia-coded parts and still provide for a smooth and reliable experience, what with having some experience with the base Maemo platform on their earlier devices, and slight experience with phones to boot. Might one dare guess that the Maemo team were probably better off resource-wise than OM, which you compare them to quite glibly, but of course, I don’t know about that.

    Basically, to all those who say “it’s a good start”; that was said also about the first Internet Tablet, and then it was true. It _was_ a good start. However, the starting line is pretty much where they’ve been satisfied to remain.

    (OM, by the way, isn’t quite dead yet, but I’ll grant it seems likely in the short to medium term. At least they spawned some actual free smartphone stack development, maybe that’ll prove useful later on others’ hardware if not theirs.)

  93. 93 Lucifer!

    I can’t wait to see Maemo+Qt! (Qt only, non GTK+ 5h1t) I also prefer QtWebkit (I really hate Mozilla stuff, it’s to slow!)

    qgil: “Nobody claims Maemo is the 100% free mobile OS and the N900 is the 100% free mobile device. I claim is currently the most interesting combination for a free software lover thanks to its standard Linux stack, possibility to modify the platform and access to the root. The % closed helps Nokia getting a sustainable business model and reaching consumer appeal.”
    100% agree!


  94. 94 brokenz1

    I hope, I have it soon in my phone 😀

  95. Love that open by default behavior! 🙂

  96. Grate!!! I have it soon in my phone too.
    my wordpress for goood trip…

  97. WOW,i wonder how it looks like.

  98. 98 Faidon Liambotis

    I wonder, will you ship a “PC Suite” (or Ovi Foo or whatever) that will work on standard GNU/Linux desktops?

  99. congrats for the launch!

  100. 100 fela

    N800 was a really a breaking device: nice screen, linux inside, open source, lots of applications, fast, wifi, two SD cards, battery life to infinite (i.e. even a week for me). And it was cheap.
    I hope N900 will have a half of his battery life… And, is not what I call cheap…

    By the way, is what I was dreaming for years…

    Thanks a lot guys, I want it…

  101. 101 Anton

    re true open source

    Michael Widenius’ recent lecture about software licenses had the message: if it is partly closed, it is not open.

    So, the simple question is: can I have a complete recompile purely based on source and flash the N900 device with the result? Yes or no.

    There’s quite big difference in being active in the open source field and to truely act as a open source community member. Trust, trustworthiness, transparency…

    Ogg discussion in this thread shows the Nokia standard transparency. They do not explain their position to the question posed but point fingers at other parties. Naturally nokians doing the public discussion are instructed so so they are not to blame. It just shows their ability to ever be really transparent…

    Most likely it is going to be a great device and also have a decent success. It is not going to be a revolution because… it is not open.

  102. Quim,

    How would closed source drivers increase Nokia’s sales? I could understand if some apps are proprietary, but drivers, I do not.

    I wouldn’t mind loosing all the fancy dandy apps if they were proprietary, as long as all the drivers are Free Software.

    It would allow other fancy apps to be written, or porting other stacks (like the OM one), to better hardware.


  103. Anton, no matter how open or closed you or me consider Maemo, the fact is that Nokia is contributing a big amount of fresh code in key areas of the Linux and free desktop stack. Also many developers inside and outside Nokia can work professionally developing free software thanks to the investment done in the Maemo project. I believe this is beneficial to the free software community and I’m actually convinced that those benefits reach the very own software your are probably using in your laptop right now.

    Rui, most of those closed drivers don’t even belong to Nokia and they come with the hardware components we select. If you have a sustainable business model for the companies developing these drivers based on free software I’m sure they will be interested. I reckon is not a simple equation.

    Maemo has been always clear saying that free software is a means, and not an end, to develop innovative consumer products. Maemo doesn’t aim to release 100% free software running on top of 100% free hardware. There are other projects trying to reach that goal in a sustainable way, that actually also benefit from a % of the work Maemo is doing pushing Linux and the free desktop technologies to the mainstream.

  104. good subject

    wait another

  105. Quim said:

    «And Nokia vs patents… c’mon, maybe it’s time to review that meme. It’s been a long time that Nokia IPR strategy is friendly to open source software and developers. Symbian going OSS, Qt relicensed and pushed as axis for application UI and development, Maemo now pushed as high end platform…»

    Well, no matter how much sugar coating you’re using, Nokia is still one of the strongest lobbies for Software Patents in the European Union.

    Please don’t try to “sell” the argument that they’re friendly, they’re not.

    There’s lots of plain aggressive insults and bullshit in this page:

    Let’s pass that page through the bullshit filter:

    BrandWe think that “open source” reduces our brand value
    Differentiation Our proprietary software is much better, just use it
    Legacy We don’t want to be shamed by the garbage we forcefeed upon you
    IPR & licensing issues Software Patents are good, just buy the freaking licenses from us.
    Security Since we sell dangerous products, we take your freedom away so you don’t make the mistake of getting proof they’re crap (like their batteries, which the phones must know the limits of)
    Third party Just accept that we know best and choose from the best

    Sorry, disappointing. Will wait for the competition unless this changes.

  106. Maemo has been always clear saying that free software is a means, and not an end, to develop innovative consumer products. Maemo doesn’t aim to release 100% free software running on top of 100% free hardware. There are other projects trying to reach that goal in a sustainable way, that actually also benefit from a % of the work Maemo is doing pushing Linux and the free desktop technologies to the mainstream.

    What about our rights as software users? Without them, “Linux into the mainstream” is meaningless.

    There’s no valid reason for these proprietary drivers in the N900, at best you could argue about third party components, but *who* chose them? Nokia, so they could have it fixed.

    But they don’t want to because they’re not friendly, yet. And they will not be, if we accept them as they currently are.

    Nokia’s N900 is quite appealing but it’s NOT an open phone, it’s still quite far from it. At least they’re a bit more honest than Google’s Android.

  107. So, the simple question is: can I have a complete recompile purely based on source and flash the N900 device with the result? Yes or no.

    Quite clearly the answer is no:

    Let me give you an example: Nokia’s batteries are dumb. So dumb, in fact, that their phones have to know what batteries they carry in order to not overcharge.

    What if the battery was smarter, and had a way to tell the operating system it’s full? If a little company like OpenMoko had it, why wouldn’t Nokia have it? It’s one of the most dangerous equipments in the phone, so I guess that’s what they refer to when they talk about security and some of the energy related software is *closed*.

    That’s evidence of crappy hardware.

  108. 108 chris_van_vel

    Hallo! Do I have the possibility, to download and install applications directly on the device as you can do it on the iphone with the app store or with the market on an android device?


  109. 109 Sean

    “Nokia’s batteries are dumb. So dumb, in fact, that their phones have to know what batteries they carry in order to not overcharge.’
    Rui Seabra

    Nokia are king of making phones, they even give the user ability to change it themselves. Plus nobody wants to hear your whining.

    This N900 looks hot, I think there are millions of people like me who have been using nokia phones for years, and will look forward to buying a true handheld computer from them. Brand loyalty alone will go a long way to make this phone sell.

  110. 110 Faz

    Very nice!!

    Finally, the single device that I always wanted since purchasing my first Nokia Communicator.

    Time to break the sad news to my Communicators (E90, 9500, 9210, 9000i) and Tablets (N810 & N800).

    Now if only Nokia offered trade-ins… 🙂

  111. 111 Gabriel Schulhof

    Umm, sudo gainroot only works if the device is flashed to be in R&D mode. It does not work on the device as it will be shipped (Production mode). If you try to become root in Production mode via “sudo gainroot”, you will get the following message:

    “Enable RD mode if you want to break your device”

    … and you will be refused root access.

  112. You can install rootme from the Application Manager and it works with the OS that comes out of the box.

    More at

  113. Sorry, I meant installing ‘rootsh’, the simplest way to get root as documented in that wiki page..

  114. 114 ragsx

    This really had made my week, I can’t wait to put my thumbs on this sleek Nokia.

  115. greaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat

    wait another

  116. Wow, finally hw-acclerated OpenGL!!! Quim, this is ultra sweet! I’m so glad to finally see this! Congratulations to the Maemo-team (in the community and at Nokia)!

    Best regards …


  117. The GL seems to be ultra-proprietary and dubious PowerVR though… But lest someone think I’m one-sided, one can’t place too much blame on Nokia for that, regardless of whether one’d like to ;). The embedded graphics processing market seems to be pretty much dominated by PVR stuff, which along with them being not quite open fellows (as dominant player are wont to be) is the real problem, and quite a nasty one.

    One could hope that some enterprising coders who on the other hand are content to buy the Nokia product but still wanting to run it on free software will find it sufficient motivation to start tinkering with free drivers, but remains to be seen if anyone will, and if it’ll prove feasible.

    Plus there are other Linux ARM/PVR products around/arriving also, such as Always Innovating’s (…) Touchbook (not N900 competition, but a mini-notebook). Seems quite an interesting device in theory at least; waiting on experiences and input from early adopters though before making my purchase decision. Aside from the PVR they also do seem to be going at it a bit more openly (if their hype is to be believed, anyway, we’ll see :).

    ‘course, it’d be better to get a co-operative vendor for modern embedded graphics, but lacking that, getting PVR devices into the hands of more potential developers is, one supposes, the least-worst thing…

  118. 118 anonim

    Any plans on having something similar to iphone store/andriod store?

  119. 119 Faz

    Maemo Select
    “Maemo Select is the place to discover the most popular downloads from the Maemo community and Ovi Store. Choose your favourite applications, themes, and wallpapers to personalise your Maemo device.”

  120. 120 ReS

    only let down is Adobe Flash™ 9.4 support you need 10 😀 then its perfect 😀

  121. 121 Petter

    Aleksey, Anything might have submarine patents that’s why they are called that, MPEG-LA etc don’t guarantee that you gain access to all the necessary patents by buying the patent licenses from them. The real reason is rather they more likely want a clean framework gstreamer has a lot of crap in it and that they buy codecs from some other software company. Mozilla and Opera dares to include Vorbis and Theora support. Latter is a almost 700 people software company. As well as Google in Chrome. But common at least the Phone/Tablet is open to 3rd party codecs. They do contribute to open source too.

  122. 122 Edward Borland

    Can’t wait to buy one.. I’m in Indonesia now, maybe from Singapore or Australia soon? Any dates or prices for those regions? Looking forward to using ssh and doing admin on the servers with the phone!

    @qgil – appreciate your patient and considered responses in this thread. Congratulations on a cracker of a product. 🙂

  123. 123 jjcamargo

    Is there a release date for Mexico??? alguna noticia para los usuarios mexicanos?

  124. i say Maemo 5 is to iPhone what the Huge Meteorite was to Dinosaurs 🙂
    May the force be with Maemo !!

  1. 1 Ludovic Hirlimann (ludovic) 's status on Thursday, 27-Aug-09 13:49:20 UTC -
  2. 2 Software freedom lovers: here comes Maemo 5 « flors | Information Technology
  3. 3 Thomas Thurman (marnanel) 's status on Thursday, 27-Aug-09 14:42:51 UTC -
  4. 4 Izaac Zavaleta (jizaac) 's status on Thursday, 27-Aug-09 14:43:38 UTC -
  5. 5 Nordpiraten (nordpirat) 's status on Thursday, 27-Aug-09 15:06:00 UTC -
  6. 6 революцията започна, свободата е всичко « Поглед към Nokia и мобилният бизнес
  7. 7 Scott Nesbitt (scottnesbitt) 's status on Thursday, 27-Aug-09 23:52:41 UTC -
  8. 8 Foro.Carajal.Info » Blog Archive » N900 officially out
  9. 9 Top Posts «
  10. 10 Gil: Here comes Maemo 5 |
  11. 11 Adesuyan Bobby (bigbrovar) 's status on Friday, 28-Aug-09 06:21:22 UTC -
  12. 12 iPhone, bra eller anus? - Sidan 34 -
  13. 13 Nokia Launches Maemo Powered N900 - Page 2 - Erodov
  14. 14 Its Official - N900 with super Specs Announced. - Page 3
  15. 15 Software freedom lovers: here comes Maemo 5 « flors | Scheduling software live today
  16. 16 Software freedom lovers: here comes Maemo 5 « flors | New Software
  17. 17 Travis Reitter: N900 and Maemo 5 goodness |
  18. 18 N900:sta tulee jättimenestys!! « Rakas sijoituspäiväkirjani
  19. 19 Software freedom lovers: here comes Maemo 5 « flors | RARWarez Blog
  20. 20 N900 w/ Maemo 5 – this will be my next phone « Al4
  21. 21 Nokia’s Free Software bullshit and insults in Maemo « FU-BAR
  22. 22 Sergio Fernández (wikier) 's status on Wednesday, 02-Sep-09 10:38:55 UTC -
  23. 23 Travis Reitter: N900 and Maemo 5 goodness « Newslifesite's Blog
  24. 24 The Outside
  25. 25 Nokia N900 - ein G1 Nachfolger ohne Android ? -

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