Grant McWilliams

Tech Gadgets Blog Yet another Linux based Mobile OS (is there hope?)

Yet another Linux based Mobile OS (is there hope?)

As a long time Maemo user (OS2007 on a Nokia n800, OS2008 on a Nokia N810 and Maemo 5 on a Nokia n900) and really like having an open Linux mobile platform. Even though I get shorted on all the Android apps out there I have virtually everything I need (short of Yelp and OneBusAway apps) and a whole lot more. Having a full featured Linux OS on my phone is very useful for a variety of reasons one of which I get a real terminal. I have an app that uses rsync to synchronize my media server to my phone so I never have to manage my music/podcasts via the mobile interface. Multitasking on the n900 is amazing in comparison to Apple's iOS or Android.

However, the n900 keeps getting older and I'd like to have something newer. I'm not about to give up my awesome mobile OS though for a nice piece of hardware running a Java stack. Let's not forget that Nokia make phenomenal hardware even if it was expensive. Their stuff is rock solid and I've had to reboot my n900 fewer times in the last 18 months than I did per week on my Android 2.2 phone.

With all of that in mind I've been waiting for a replacement for Maemo 5. Nokia was working on Maemo 6 then merged their efforts with Intel's Moblin which proved to be a disaster. It took an extra 2 years to get nowhere before Meego 1.2 was released. Nokia put it on one phone, the n9 (which I'd still like to have) and then abandoned it. Intel then announced it was going to carry the torch alone which nobody believed since Intel can't design a piece of software to save their lives. Soon after they too abandoned it. The community project of Mer picked up the source code and started working on it which was supposed to be used by the Vivaldi tablet which never went anywhere. 

Intel then partnered with Samsung to work on Tizen which hasn't gone anywhere either. So where does this leave me? Using my couple year old n900 for a bit longer. However, there may be yet another ray of hope (but I'm not holding my breath) - Sailfish OS. 

Apparently Sailfish OS from Jola is based on MeeGo but I'm not sure if it's using the Mer codebase or they forked it from MeeGo. Here's a video of Sailfish OS running on a Nokia n950 (my dream phone) and it looks pretty neat. They're saying that they will be able to release in early 2013. Until I see something I can buy or use I'll wait patiently and try not to get too excited. 

Tech Gadgets Blog Yet another Linux based Mobile OS (is there hope?)