Google’s Android mobile phone operating system has a long — and mostly troubled — history on Maemo based devices. I remember the first attempt at getting Android working on the N800 and N810 was started by some industrious hackers at the forums of InternetTabletTalk.com. I tried to find that old thread, but it either has been lost to the elements of internet-time or my search skills are lacking.
Either way, I remember that the main attraction was just being able to boot into Android and have a working touchscreen. More of a proof-of-concept than anything else.
Then along came solca and his termed “NITdroid“. And with him came the hope of a fully-functioning and daily-usable version of Android for our old Internet Tablets. Over time solca and company got more and more things to work, like WiFi, application installation, battery monitoring and charging, and general stability. I remember enthusiastically installing the latest and greatest version of NITdroid whenever there was a new release, and helping out with debugging whenever I could.
Slowly, my own enthusiasm waned, and, apparently, so did everyone else’s. Though I wasn’t following the project when it got abandoned by solca, from what I hear there were some components he could never get working (sound, Bluetooth, etc) and at some point stopped trying.
After this, there was a long period of silence on the Android front. It never seemed that the hardware on the N810, and especially the N800, was good enough to run Android well. Additionally, newer versions of Android become more and more robust, leading to a need for newer hardware. This need was satisfied with the release of the N900, which lead to new-fangled interest in getting Android to run on a Maemo-based device.
In November of ‘09, bri3d on talk.maemo.org got version 2.0 of Android (Eclair) working on the N900. His work was built on top of solca and company, but was very rough with most services unusable. Moreover, he didn’t have much time to spend on the project, so it quickly needed a new maintainer. The reins of NITdroid were then briefly taken by bdogg64 with him trying to work out issues with the kernel and display. Eventually he got the touchscreen, keyboard, and WiFi networking working. Things were moving in the right direction!
Soon after that dj_steve at talk.maemo.org starting working on the project. This is were things really started to get interesting. With the help of e-yes and Jay-C, dj_steve made many “breakthroughs”. Some of these include:
- Android 2.2 (Froyo) as base system
- Working bootmenu with dynamic kernel loading
- Touchscreen working and calibrated correctly
- Keyboard working and correctly mapped
- Charging and battery reporting (WIP)
- Accelerometer (WIP)
- Sound via speakers and headset
And development has been fast and steady, as this 277-page (and counting) and 2767-post (and counting) thread can attest to. In fact, this post and these numbers are probably already outdated.
Now, I will again take the plunge and try to install Android on my beloved Maemo-based device (last time the N800, this time the N900).
I will, however, be saving that for part 2 of this article since I haven’t yet received a MicroSD card I ordered the other day, and that is item 1 on the “list of things you need before installing Android on your N900″.