Something I have been meaning to do for ages is to have a go with a MeeGo image on a Nokia N900. MeeGo is a Linux distribution intended for embedded devices and netbooks. It is the merger of Nokia's Maemo project and Intel's Moblin project and aims to produce a distribution suitable for use on set top boxes, mobile phones, tablets, in-vehicle entertainment systems. It is also backed by The Linux Foundation who are already offering a training course in it. At the end of October MeeGo v1.1 was released which includes an installable image with a user interface for the Nokia N900.
In the 21st century people are surrounded by computers. Mobiles, set top boxes, netbooks, nettops, laptops, even in the car. Back in February 2010 Intel and Nokia decided to merge their Linux efforts, Moblin and Maemo, into a new distribution called Meego. When you go to the Meego site you will see that straight away that they going to design this distribution for all of these devices, making it a very interesting development. On 31st March an announcement was made that some Meego images were available, so I was keen to have a look at it. Unfortunately I managed to build an image but have not got it to run, but I thought I would document what was involved anyway. The documentation and code are actively being worked on so I hope to have a working image soon.
I like programming, I like mobiles, so naturally three months into my trial of the Nokia N900 my curiosity turned to how you might write your own applications for this very capable device. Notice I've said “applications” not “apps” here, as maybe “apps” doesn't really do it justice, especially with full sized applications like Abiword being ported. The device is really a pocket sized Linux computer with goodies such as a high resolution screen, GPS and Infra Red all thrown in so it has a lot of potential for creative application developers. You can develop code for it using tools on your laptop or if you just want to experiment a little you can even write Python programs on the device itself.
Since my last blog post on the Nokia N900 I have been experimenting more with this Linux powered device and thought it was time to go a little further to see what it could do. Just over two years ago I wrote about using the Asus EEE PC as a “server in your handbag” running Apache 2, MySQL and PHP. I could not help wondering if such a feat was possible on the N900, after all it is a Linux machine, a small computer, but running the LAMP stack on a mobile phone? Maemo, the N900's operating system is a derivative of Debian, but the packages needed have not (yet) been ported, however, there was another route: Easy Debian.
Just before Christmas I had a delivery of a large mysterious black box. There was no obvious way to open it, on the top was engraved “Nokia – connecting people” and on the front a mini usb socket. Also packaged was a USB lead and a card telling me that this was a Nokia “hackerbox” and telling me a web site to visit for clues on how to open it. I managed to connect up the box to my computer and got a terminal session going to “log in” to the box, admittedly I used Google to find out how to get in (as I am not very good at puzzles!). Dramatically, when the right command was issued, the top of the box popped open and a puff of smoke emerged. Inside was a the Nokia N900, a Linux powered mobile phone, accessories, a plastic fox and a nice bit of cake.