Home > Uncategorized > Why I root for MeeGo instead of Android

Why I root for MeeGo instead of Android


MeeGo is a flavor of Linux, with a similar purpose as Android in the mobile computing space (being a versatile, open-source OS for phones, tablets and other mobile devices).

I root for MeeGo because it has a lot of advantages over Android and iOS:

  • More open than Android, the source code repositories can be read by anyone, and anyone can contribute at least patches. Any device manufacturer can take the source code any time and try to slap MeeGo onto its device.
  • Has a lot of optimizations for both ARM and x86 (Intel & Nokia cooperation), so it is relatively easy to deploy it on both hardware architecture. (Important for manufacturers.)
  • It uses a more standard Linux kernel than Android so it can follow the progress of the Linux kernel much more closely than Android (continuously better device support…etc).
  • It is a real, full-blown Linux system. The user interface – while nicely optimized for touch –  is based on standard X-Windows technology, so EVERY current Linux software can run on it without major porting work (e.g. Firefox, Open/LibreOffice, Thunderbird). Tablet optimized and non-tablet-optimized software can run next to each other. Of course you need a keyboard and mouse for the non-tablet apps.
  • Imagine the Motorola Atrix: Due to the previous point, you wouldn’t need a separate Webtop environment for desktop applications, one, sophisticated shell can handle all applications concurrently. (in the case of the Atrix, the currently shipping Webtop environment is dumbed-down, static, non-extendable Linux desktop which integrates poorly with the concurrently running Android apps)
  • Among other technologies, it can run full-blown Java apps as well, not only Flash, like Android. This could be a strong differentiation in an enterprise environment.
  • It is absolutely imaginable to run Android apps in the MeeGo environment  if the developers decide to support it (Dalvik is just another VM like the Java VM and dual/quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 with 1GB RAM can run as many VMs as you want). This is going to happen on the BlackBerry Playbook, there is no reason for not implementing it in MeeGo.

I believe Nokia has made a HUGE mistake by choosing Microsoft WP7 for its primary platform. MeeGo has a much better chance of becoming a real, multi-vendor OS solution that seamlessly replaces Symbian. It would give as much differentiation for Nokia as WP7 does and it would fit better with the current customer base of Nokia (a lot of which will never buy a WP7 phone).

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  1. David (FSF Supporter)
    April 8, 2011 at 03:16

    The FSF is also working on Iced Robot as an Android replacement with similar advantages as those you cite for MeeGo

  2. April 8, 2011 at 03:42

    I’m currently in the market for a WIFI-only phone/hand-held computer. My first attempt at this was with the Maemo based (Meego’s predecessor) Nokia N900. I use Google Voice / Talk and was hoping for tight integration with the phone’s default dialer, contact manager, and messenger.

    Unfortunately, all I had access to were some fairly rough third party applications (with their own dialers and contact managers). I’m now leaning towards an Android based unlocked phone as this looks to be a much better option for what I’m looking for. It also has some much nicer looking third party applications (XBMC controller, Dvorak touch keyboards, etc), and just overall better support and much better, and newer, out-of-the-box hardware options.

    Had Nokia marketed the N900 and Maemo better, and not ditched it for Windows Mobile 7 it might have been a much stronger platform than iOS or Android, but unfortunately that’s just not true currently. Philosophically, I like Meego/Maemo better, but from a pragmatic standpoint Android is looking to be the stronger offering currently. Google is definitely not approaching Android as I hoped they would, but they are definitely much more sympathetic and supporting of FOSS than Microsoft, and, if you’ll excuse the cliche, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

    I will be verifying that I can do everything I want to do via the emulator in the Android SDK and proceeding from there with the selection of hardware. I do hope Meego succeeds and continues to grow, but currently it’s not the right fit for me (and admittedly I have some very specific platform needs that most others will not have).

    Thanks for the post!

  3. Craig
    April 8, 2011 at 04:10

    Meego seems like it would be suited for vertical markets (custom software delivered on specific hardware for a specific use/customer) where customization is key and customers don’t customize it much after.

    Really at this point, will anyone notice another phone OS? Sure there are tonnes of Linux apps (toolkit availability matters more so than X-Windows in my mind) but if there isn’t a healthy eco-system of developers creating cool and fun apps (like there is for Android/iOS/WP7/blackberry), no one is going to buy it (and now developers are being asked to develop for 4 platforms, why one more?)

    And I’m not sure that WP7 is a mistake for Nokia at all… MS is a marketing machine and there is plenty of value in the Windows brand, along with a healthy eco-system of developers. Add to that a non-exclusive deal and they can hedge their bet by offering multiple platforms on their phones.

    Really… someone could take the RIM approach and make Android software run on it, then they just need to find a unique angle that makes the Meego powered device that much better than the established players.

  4. Craig
    April 8, 2011 at 04:13

    (vertical markets and also those who make products/devices… such as fridges, tvs, etc… where the ‘branding’ of the OS doesn’t matter so much to the customer)

  5. Jack
    April 8, 2011 at 05:56

    Samsung’s investing a lot in E17 and may use the libraries and mobile interface as part of a Linux OS. I forget its name, but there is a standard Linux distro the Linux Mobile partners are working on that has nothing to do with MeeGo or Android.

    To be honest, KDE-mobile or something Qt/ETK based may be the best option for getting Linux to look awesome and work fast on phones, without making a virtual environment like Android.

    Also, something that might be interesting for mobile- Gnome-Shell and GTK3 seem to use a lot less memory and CPU than GTK2 and Gnome 2 with compiz or likewise. If OpenGL ES works with Gnome-Shell in the future, it’s totally feasible to get GDK working on OpenGL ES and do a fully mobile environment without changing hardware or graphics drivers on these devices. That’s really exciting.

    I think it would be awesome to have a full Linux environment on ANY phone, since that would open the door for full customization. If you can get MeeGo running, you can likely get everything else running and do your own custom setup. As long as we eventually get phones that can at least have normal Linux installed on them like we install CyanogenMod now, I’m happy. The main issue is that we need a cross-toolkit theme that makes Qt and GTK stuff work on screens that tiny. Bigger buttons, 0 padding, etc. etc.

    The difficulty in scaling these desktop applications to a mobile form factor is why Android caught on so much faster than normal Linux. It may go great with tablets, but until most applications have a ‘mini-mode’ like Banshee, F-Spot, Amarok, etc, we’re gonna’ have a hard time doing this comfortably.

  6. April 9, 2011 at 21:26

    I wrote a post very close to this awhile back – http://jeffhoogland.blogspot.com/2010/08/why-this-linux-fan-roots-for-meego-not.html

    My only worry is that QT is a bit bloated. Personally I’m now hoping Samsung’s Enlightenment using Linux may pop up and be viable soon :)

    Oh also – there are already demos of Android apps running on Maemo – it will be coming to Meego as well.

    ~Jeff

  7. Lucian Armasu
    May 2, 2011 at 19:13

    I also think Meego would’ve been a much better alternative to Android than WP7, but I can’t say I would prefer it over Meego. Meego, if it will ever be successful, will suffer from the very same problems Linux has suffered in the consumer market. Even Android with its slightly more closed approach it’s starting to be hurt by “fragmentation”. I actually want Android to be *more* closed – about as closed and *standardized* as Windows is for PC’s (WP7 is too closed). To become a true platform for the long term and continue to be successful with consumers it needs to be standardized quite a lot. I would also want Google to have more control than carriers. Because it’s still pretty open, carriers get to have too much control. I’d rather have Google telling them what they can do and can not do.

    Meego ecosystem will not be able to do that. Meego would end up more like Windows CE(or worse), where the manufacturer can do pretty much whatever they want with it, and they’d have to answer to no one. Sure there might be recommendations from the Linux foundation, but there will be nothing forcing them to actually follow them.

    Sure from the point of view of a hacker, Meego will be preferable to Android even, but overall I wouldn’t say I would like it myself. But Meego becoming successful in all kinds of devices that Android isn’t even in yet (fridges, cars, etc) will be great for the world, because everything will become “smart” and they wouldn’t have to pay licenses to Microsoft either, or to obey Google’s policies. But there won’t be such a thing as “Meego ecosystem” for smartphones. It will be way too fragmented, just like all the Linux distros.

  8. ansar
    June 6, 2011 at 09:27

    I think Nokia made good decision in choosing WP.Given Symbian platform making them incompetent in higher and mid range.Still they are not dumping down Meego.Rather,they chose to concentrate on WP.On the other hand,WP is miles ahead of UX compared any other OS available to date and matured too,and can be released in midrange given the control by MS to Nokia.Problem with Meego is itself being the full blown linux.They cannot be scaled down to be used in midrange where Nokia loosing grounds to Android.In high end, Still work in progress for Meego.Still not ready for prime time.What holds up is open to question.May be the Maemo/Moblin integration should be to blame.But the potential of Meego is something we can look forword.And Sorry to say that it is no replacement for Android,because of the ecosystem it has.

  9. July 28, 2011 at 09:50

    :) Bemanfaat

  10. September 15, 2011 at 06:16

    There has to be something better than Android eventually. I think it getting to be more like Windows. Bloated and such.

  11. September 21, 2011 at 01:20

    I don’t see what Meego is offering that sets it aside from the other OS’s. Open source is not enough to compete against the big guns. It’s great for developers but its not going to be enough in what I see as an already saturated market.

    • Soltész András
      September 21, 2011 at 09:10

      As the article says, MeeGo is the most standard from the Android/WebOS/MeeGo pack so it can run full Linux applications without any functional porting (recompile).

      This may not be a strong point for phones (although Atrix-like phones provide a real desktop too) but it is strong point for tablet/netbook like devices which are designed to be flexible, all-round machines (not only video/browsing tablets).

  1. July 25, 2011 at 20:56

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