[Interview] MeeGo: The Inside Story

When MeeGo was first announced in February at Mobile World Congress, I was very intrigued.  What is this oddly named ‘MeeGo’ and what does it do?

Most folks are probably familiar with Linux, the open source operating system that is loved and embraced by hard core geeks and is the platform for many website and services you use every day (this blog is one of them).

For the last few years, Nokia has developed and coordinated Maemo, a Linux-based operating system for their Internet Tablets (reviewed on this site before).  Separately, Intel has been shepherding the advancement of Moblin, another Linux based project that provides a fast operating system for Intel Atom-based Netbooks

MeeGo is the unified project where Maemo and Moblin are combined, creating one operating system for portable devices of all types (including Intel’s netbooks and Nokia’s N900 and future Internet Tablets).

Interview Time!

Looking to find out more, I interviewed Peter Schneider, a marketing director with the Maemo team inside Nokia.

Q: How did MeeGo start…what brought Intel and Nokia together?

At Nokia, we have been involved with the Gnome Foundation because Maemo was build with cooperation from this group.   During Gnome related activities, our Maemo-involved team members got to know the guys from Intel.

After casual conversations and getting to know each other, we realized Moblin and Maemo share many aspects of the OS stack of the softwares.  We agreed it’d be best to not use separate branches of Gnome any more and decided to unify our code bases.

Q:  So who ‘owns’ MeeGo – Intel or Nokia?

Linux FoundationWe (Intel and Nokia) purposefully set up MeeGo under the hospices of the Linux Foundation.  So the MeeGo project gets technical contributions from both Intel and Nokia, but the project is ‘owned’ by the Linux Foundation itself.

Q: What are the benefits of MeeGo for both developers and consumers of portable devices?

For developers, the implications are huge.   Developers of mobile apps will now have a common framework in which they can develop and distribute their applications and services.  They’ll be able to aim their products are more people in various markets.

With programming languages such as Qt (pronounced like the word ‘cute), application developers can distribute an app on a Meego enabled laptop, Nokia MeeGo phone, and any Symbian devices.  That’s pretty powerful.

And for consumers, this benefit is present as well.  Presumably, you can run the same app on multiple platforms..look at Firefox as an example.

It’s now possible to run Firefox on your desktop, then sync your bookmarks and tabs over to your N900 for on-the-go surfing.  With the new framework..this can be extended to many other applications when they’re developed.

Q: What are the next steps with the MeeGo project?

In time, we’ll be rolling out the first version of MeeGo for a limited number of supported devices.  Keep an eye out – there’s cool stuff coming.

(As we have since learned, since my interview with Peter, that the N900 *might* be supported by MeeGo.)

Thank you to Peter for talking to Techcraver.com about the MeeGo project.  This open source project has quite a bit of promise and I’m interested to see how this all unfolds.