Back from the Maemo Summit 2009 with a N900 in my pocket!

October 12th, 2009 Comments Off

I just got back from the Maemo Summit 2009. First impressions: WOW! The most impactful part of the summit is of course the fact that Nokia gave out nearly 300 brand new, fresh from the factory, N900 devices. I’ve been using the device now for several days non-stop. Ordinarily I would say I am an extraordinarily picky person when it comes to devices, but the N900 gets no major gripes from me. Sure there are a couple gaps here and there, but overall: A+. A longer review may be coming soon. for now, some short reasons:

  • Rock-solid stability. 4 days of hammering and not a single lock up or crash
  • It’s got a HUGE range of functionality, including a browser powerful enough for Hulu, Youtube and *desktop* version of gmail
  • Open Source? Check
  • Keyboard? Much improved over the N97, definetly bordering on ‘good’ but not ‘great’.
  • Linux? Check. Hackable? Check. Easy to code for? Check. Hell I was able to write a homescreen widget in python ON THE DEVICE ITSELF!. Thats right, I created a new widget using just the device’s xterm and vi editor as tools. (More on this in a future post)

But thats not all that important. The N97 could do (almost) everything the N900 can, So why am I jumping off the wall excited? Because the N900 succeeded marvelously where the N97 fell on its fact: Its FUN to use!

The UI is gorgeous; it never lags; the composited transitions are phenominal and the multi-tasking is better than my netbook!

Back this all up with a very engaging open-source community and friendly nokia developers and you really get a whole experience that is years ahead of the competition. (I’ll mention why I think Maemo in the long run is a huge leap ahead of Android/Pre despite their linux backends in a future post).

Anyway, back to the conference. Overall organization and execution were flawless, things went off on time and comfortably. There were always snacks and drinks around as well. The talks themselves varied immesnely in quality as is usual for a conference like this. On the whole they were highly informative and if nothing else served as a huge motivator for me to develop on Maemo going forward.

P.S. : I am using Bluetooth Dial Up Networking (DUN) right now to write this post. This feature has been lamented for not working
out of the box on the N900. I spoke to some developers who assured me this was not because Nokia didn’t want to add this feature, there was simply not enough time to build it into the UI (perhaps itll be native in the future?)

There are instructions for making this work online which (when run as root) work like a charm! Cheers!

P.P.S. 1) A huge thank you to Dr. Jon Smith at the University of Pennsylvania for sponsoring my trip. 2) A hello to Raif Blanford and Zeeshan Ali — two new friends from the conference!