The six of us laughed out loud as we filed into the sound-proof broadcast room that peered over the dark green expanse of Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. The irony of a private meeting between an otherwise open group of people was understood by all. Still, the only way that the current Maemo Community Council (along with Nokia employee, Tero Kojo) was going to find any sense of relief from the constant conference noise turned out to be in a room designed to keep others out. Privacy wasn’t the point of this meeting, though. First, these sorts of events are the only time that the Council is ever able to meet face to face. Second, there weren’t a whole lot of people at MeeGo Conference 2010 who would care much about what we were talking about. But, in our opinions the subjects which we discussed were quite important to our corner of the open source world, and may impact the future of Maemo quite extraordinarily. Glasses of wine and pints of beer accompanied a conversation that was both highly interesting and very fun.
Over the next weeks and months, some of the things the Council discussed will be further investigated within the Maemo Community. Other items of interest will just begin to happen. But, the main thing to understand is that Nokia is still very interested in supporting this community and allowing us to carry forward in exciting ways. There are still plans to sponsor the community infrastructure (website, paid employees, etc.), ideas about opening various pieces of Maemo source code that are still closed, and helping us to develop a successful community SSU. Likewise, there are still plenty of Nokia employees — even those who have been permanently reassigned to MeeGo — who want to continue helping us to be a world class open source software community. If you’re unsure of what MeeGo means for Maemo, understand that the Maemo Community’s job is not complete. We may be entering a new phase of life, but there is still more to come.
Initially, the more-than-evident differences brought by MeeGo Conference 2010 were quite astounding to some of us old Maemo hands. The event was part trade show, part conference, and part hackathon — but mostly, trade show. There were private rooms for companies to make deals in. A large contingent of attendees had probably heard little (or nothing) of Maemo and what Nokia was bringing to Intel’s new edition of Moblin. Many people were there to see how MeeGo might impact their bottom lines. But, as the conference proceeded, it became very clear that Maemo’s impact on the future of MeeGo would not be lost — or forgotten — anytime soon. Once in a while, I would take a moment to survey the crowd in order to pick out those people who were fondling their N900s and smile, proud that Maemo was still important to a few of us. And, as most birds of a feather know, it doesn’t take long for flocks to reconnect. That’s exactly what happened last week, as most of the Maemo crew found each other talking about Maemo, hacking on applications, and mostly just enjoying each other’s company — like a gathering of chaperones at a high school dance, conversing by the punch bowl as the kids did their thing.
As MeeGo Conference 2010 transitioned from the weekend Early Bird Events to the official conference to the “Unconference” on the last day, many positive things became clear. My own observations solidified the fact that the Maemo Community is still important. Likewise, MeeGo (Nokia, Intel, and The Linux Foundation) understands its Maemo roots. The community who made Maemo what it is garner a lot of respect from those who have followed its story. While MeeGo is most definitely the future of Linux-based mobile computing, it is also the offspring of Maemo. In fact, if Harmattan had remained a Maemo-centric product, this year’s Maemo Summit may have looked and felt quite similar to this conference. Sure, us Maemo types might have have known a lot more of the attendees, but the content would have been the same. It might just be time for us to admit that Maemo, as parent, has finally finished the rearing process and it’s child’s turn to grow and flourish.
But, Maemo is far from dead. In fact, if we continue to look at Maemo as the parent and MeeGo as the child, Maemo will remain very much a guiding authority in the future of MeeGo (and whatever may come after that). Maemo has learned a lot over the years and can lend a lot of expertise to those just now coming to MeeGo and the open source world. And, after having looked at some of the current and future iterations of cross-platform Qt development tools, the fact that GTK+ is still being discussed as a viable solution within MeeGo, and knowing that support for a variety of programming languages is growing, Maemo may be more important that you think. The vision of those who are in control of MeeGo is that applications created for Maemo can work just as well within MeeGo and vice versa — with very little refactoring. If you’re waiting for directions as to what you should do next, stop waiting. Continue developing for Maemo or start developing for MeeGo. In the end, both will support each other.and,
This is what I came away with from MeeGo Conference: the fact that MeeGo and Maemo can coexist in ways that I had never thought of before. Until now — a little more than one week after MeeGo Conference 2010 — I was sure that MeeGo was the only future. Now, I see Maemo as something much more than a stepping stone, but that of a parent whose child is ready to leave home and make a name for herself. Yes, it can be sad to say goodbye, but there is immense joy in knowing that we had a hand in the upbringing and we will always be the place that our child comes home to.