We delivered

Damned guys, we’re too shy about what we delivered. When the N900 was made public we flooded the planets with our blogs about it. And now?

I’m proud of the software on this device. It’s good. Look at what Engadget is writing about it! Amazing. We should all be proud! And yes, I know about the turbulence in Nokia-land. Deal with it, it’s part of our job. Para-commandos don’t complain that they might get shot. They just know. It’s called research and development! (I know, bad metaphor)

I don’t remember that many good reviews about even the N900, and that phone was by many of its owners seen as among the best they’ve ever owned. Now is the time to support Harmattan the same way we passionately worked on the N900 and its predecessor tablets (N810, N800 and 770). Even if the N9’s future is uncertain: who cares? It’s mostly open source! And not open source in the ‘Android way’. You know what I mean.

The N9 will be a good phone. The Harmattan software is awesome. Note that Tracker and QSparql are being used by many of its standard applications. We have always been allowed to develop Tracker the way it’s supposed to be done. Like many other similar projects: in upstream.

As for short term future I can announce that we’re going to make Michael Meeks happy by finally solving the ever growing journal problem. Michael repeatedly and rightfully complained about this to us at conferences. Thanks Michael. I’ll write about how we’ll do it, soon. We have some ideas.

We have many other plans for long term future. But let’s for now work step by step. Our software, at least what goes to Harmattan, must be rock solid and very stable from now on. Introducing a serious regression would be a catastrophe.

I’m happy because with that growing journal – problem, I can finally focus on a tough coding problem again. I don’t like bugfixing-only periods. But yeah, I have enough experience to realize that sometimes this is needed.

And now, now we’re going to fight.

55 thoughts on “We delivered”

  1. Para commandos? Do you know anything at all about the military and what they go through? No? Don’t fucking joke about it then. I don’t know who the para commandos are. Presumably paras who are qualified commandos or visa versa, but you don’t really get many of them.

    And they sure as fuck worry about being shot.

    1. Para commandos? Are you a para commando? No? Then shut the fuck up. Don’t put words into our mouths. We eat bullets for breakfast, civvie.

  2. @Bob: Yes, it’s a freakin metaphor. Get a grip and some perspective: I have a great deal of respect for these soldiers’ bravery and job.

    It’s because of that respect that I used their profession in my metaphor. I especially didn’t say that they don’t worry about it; that would mean that these people are crazy. Instead I think they are skilled and know professionally how to reduce and manage the risks they take. I said that they don’t complain about it (because they manage it).

    So ok, you understood the metaphor but didn’t t extrapolate to R&D engineers (who’s risk isn’t that great, but exaggerating is what you do when using a metaphor)


    ps. I replaced ‘likely’ with ‘might’, you could be right that ‘likely get shot’ was a wrong choice of words here. Could be interpreted as the difference between crazy and skilled, indeed (unintentional slip).

    1. @pvanhoof His stated name is “Bob Bobson”, which pretty much lets you know just how much even HE wants to take credit for his useless, stupid comments. If soldiers aren’t able to take a joke about dying in combat, they are almost certainly in the wrong job.

      On the topic in hand…

      What. The. Hell!? I am not one to get excited about software, but MeeGo did excite me, because:
      1. It was properly open source in a place where no such thing existed
      2. The phones would be manufactured by Nokia, who know a truck load about manufacturing good phones, thanks very much, and…
      3. It just looked good to use.

      Then they canceled it. It’s fine, I got over it, eventually. I moved on. Plenty more phones and OSes in the sea.

      After seeing the Engaget review, I’m totally not over it. Nokia have gone and offered a stellar MeeGo phone. It’s like getting a friend request from your ex.

  3. who cares whether it is open source, if it got no future? N900 created the excitment because many seen it as a first step into a bright future..

  4. @Pavel: I reply to that that it’s us who eventually get to define whether or not it has a future. Not some trojan-or-not CEO. I ask every competent developer to stop thinking that we can’t. We can and I’ll disagree with you if you’d claim that we can’t. In this context I’m not just some idiot: I’m one of the Harmattan developers. From day one didn’t the N900 have any future, yet we did it. We developed it. And look at today’s N9, which absolutely is the successor of the N900. Many of the N900 (and the N810, N800 and 770) ideas are in the N9’s software. They are!

    Ok it’s true. Ideas, among which the ‘open source’ ideas, aren’t transactional. They are indeed incremental. I understand that this isn’t ideal, nor ideological. Nor whatever. But it is influential. It is significant. It matters.

    It’s up to us to push for what we want. In a pragmatic way and step by step. We influence the sector. Unless we screw up by forgetting our pragmatism, favoring extremism of any kind or any direction.

    Why all that talking and philosophising? During Maemo we were all doers. And with the N900 we rocked. With the N9, we finally reached Nokia’s flagship product. It is up to us. We just have to realize that no imaginable amount, not even billions of dollars, can stop us.

    1. @pvanhoff @Pavel
      So the reason of why being open-source is not enough is that if eventually Nokia stops supporting the OS right after you buy the phone, you’re stuck without any security updates, or any serious bugs you may find a week later.

      Unless you can program C++, learn all the necessary frameworks and build systems, and find the bug yourself (or find someone else that is doing that).

      I WANT to believe, it’s just that Nokia seems pretty open about this not having a future. It’s just a matter of when.

      1. Ok, yes. If the N9 is a one-of-a kind Harmattan product then I can imagine that some people might not want it. But even with the low amount of N900s that Nokia sold (it was considered an experimental developer’s phone by the marketing and sales units afaik or at least imho), did a handful of people made all the necessary extra applications for it. That probably had a lot to do with the free devices that people were given at conferences like the Maemo one in Amsterdam.

        My call for doing is for the most part directed at those people. So indeed the guys who can program. I of course hope that the phone will be bought by many non-programming people, too. That indeed depends more on Nokia marketing than on us developers.

        ps. Distribution of free devices for developers at conferences is also something that I don’t make any decisions about ;-), don’t ask me. Hehe. I will, however, definitely try to convince the right people of doing such devices-for-developers programs again this time.

        1. First I agree with you – the N9/Harmattan is probably the nicest phone to develop on and I would love to do so. But the problem is the future. By future I really mean software ecosystem here. If I start developing an application for Harmattan I want to be able to use Qt5 when it arrives on my desktop. Will be a firmware update for the N9? Google just settled with the Phone manufacturers to offer 18Moths of firmware updates to all phones.
          Then if I choose to write an app, I want it to also run on my next phone. But as far as I know there is no roadmap for any MeeGo phones out there. Maybe the N9 will be the first and the last one. On the other hand Google published plans to put Android on IVI and fridges. So maybe I can run my app on my next fridge.
          Finally the Android ecosystem is already alive – there is an app to sync my tomboy notes and an app to control banshee. But for Harmattan there is nothing yet – and I really doubt it ever will…
          It should be clear which horse I bet on today. And I am neithar some random idiot. I developed YouAmp for Diablo and Arapp for Fremantle.

          1. We don’t know either. I guess if there’s enough market pressure that this could influence Nokia’s board to reconsider some of their recent decisions about the layoffs in Harmattan’s teams, and to develop more Harmattan based devices. In the troyan-horse CEO theory also that wont be enough, as in that theory the new CEO has a vested interest in Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS succeeding and MeeGo Harmattan failing. In the ecosystem context Harmattan needs apps to be developed, and fast.

            All I can reply is that future will tell. But what is certain is that if we don’t fight for the platform, that it’s definitely going to be gone and forgotten in a few months. I also think that even against all odds, anything is possible. If we try.

  5. Exactly. Congratulations to anyone involved!

    Open source software will always have a future, as lame as it may sound.

    If you get this device now, you can use it for many years, until it breaks, or for some people it seems – when they just want a new one. When you get your new device a couple of years from now, it might be from the same manufacturer as now, or it might not.

    But there surely will always be devices with an open source operating system inside. And most likely, it will have most of this stack (Maemo->MeeGo/Qt) in it (unless it’s Android of course…) so the apps and the platform will be there for years to come.

    Manufacturers and CEOs might change, but open source will always find it’s way into new devices.

  6. @Peter: The problem (on a N9 too, to be honest, unless we fix it before the release – which we intent to do) is that all your metadata (data about data) is atm. forever stored. Even if you delete it (this ain’t a secret, the Tracker project is all public and developed upstream – hence why Michael Meeks noticed the problem). I agree that this is a utmost and extreme problem. It’s absolutely unintentional and we absolutely intent to solve the problem. We have no intention whatsoever to breach your privacy by keeping a record of all data that you deleted (and given that Tracker is involved in a lot of the N9’s applications’ data, it’s most definitely a severe problem in my opinion). It’s an engineering problem and not something that we, engineers, have been asked to implement this way. We implemented it this way because it was a solution that worked ‘for the time being’. We will fix this.

    Apologizes, we’re working on this, etc, etc. Welcome to being informed about the development of a product while it is being developed ;-). I hope this gives you an insight into why it took us so long to deliver. Perfectionism is the enemy of the good.

  7. @yesyes: exactly. And as one of the guys in the open source world I stand behind and support Nokia’s Harmattan team. Because many of the people at Nokia’s Harmattan department understand open-source’s processes. I’ve been working with them for years. They are indeed doing a great job. And no it has not always been easy, in either direction. But I’m satisfied and in my pragmatism I endorse these people, this team of real people, at Nokia, as formidable supporters of what I would call ‘open source software development’: they get it.

    The N9, successor of the N900, successor of the n810, successor of the N800, successor of the 700, is their newest device. Nokia’s flagship of today which has received awesome reviews by, among others, Engadget. I want these people to be proud. Because they ought to be proud.

    1. All I can say is ask the people you know at the Harmattan team. Go to conferences where you’ll probably find them (FOSDEM in February, Berlin Desktop Summit in August, etc) and ask. You never know and it has happened many times before that things got opened after somebody just-asked. I’m not even sure why some of those are in non-free. Sounds like a simple packaging mistake to me, at least for some of those. Just bug the package maintainer about it.

      There’s no big conspiracy at Harmattan, they are all human people and sometimes they just make mistakes. Sometimes indeed, is something closed. But if there’s no good reason to keep something closed, the default is usually to just open it. See gitorious where even the debian/ packaging stuff of the projects that are being used in Harmattan is branched and opened. And yes, the committers in those projects are also the people of Harmattan and/or upstream. If you like(d) a piece of software they are working or have worked on: send them a thank you E-mail.

  8. PS: N950 is the successor of the N900, seems like most geeks do *NOT* want a device without a hardware keyboard.

    1. We can’t and wont comment on so called leaks (no matter how credible or uncredible nor will we comment on the credibility of the leak). The N900 is public, the N9 is public, so that’s all that developers will comment on (and even then we need to be careful). So sorry, no comment.

      ps. If you want a keyboard and a bunch of the very recent Harmattan software: put MeeGo on a N900 (which is possible atm afaik).

  9. @pvanhoof: Thanks for clearing that up. The N9 looks like a great phone, and I may just get one myself!

  10. awesome job done people behind N9 and to the comment here: I dont miind it doesnt have hwkb and I am geek. So people get over it or send a message direcly to the marketing/Nokia support. I am sure this decission is not done by engineers behind this cool new Harmattan OS.

    But things changes and as long as none of us have tested it we dont know if we ever will miss hwkbd at the end. The new UI llooks very promising.

    Now I am only waiting for the device to get released.

    I really hope it sells very well and we can see atleast one/two devices per year.

    Continue the fight I will support all of you working with Harmattan :)

    1. Indeed, the decision is not made by the engineers. Not the ones that I’m part of (although sure we give advise and opinions on things like this, just like you can). There are UX / UI designers, of course. They might have a voice in things like this? But for example also the operators, sales, management, testers probably have a voice?

  11. Congratulations to the Harmattan and N9 team, awesome piece of work here. Well i just bought an N8 recently (it was completely uncertain if N9 will ever release after the Elop debacle), so probably wouldn’t but one this year. But certainly i can think of getting one next year.
    You guys did a superb job, thanks

  12. I admire your attitude and I hope you are right, but I’ve been around long enough to know that it is not developers who drive decisions in companies.

    My enthusiasm was spent with N900 (great how you get only about a year of support on Nokia) and decision to go Windows route. N9 looks great, but I’d be a fool to invest more money and time in a platform that treats its users such.

    1. Almost everything of the N900 is open source my friend. That’s how at least the developers treated you. And note that convincing the right people, and! keeping them convinced, that open source is the right thing to do wasn’t always easy. And more importantly convincing them to on top of just dumping the code, work upstream for especially the key projects. I know that the mindset of not all teams at Nokia’s Harmattan is that it’s super important to work upstream. Having to convince more and new people is an ongoing process. And you sure need a heck of a lot of good reputation to convince another good team or developer about this.

      That’s why it was especially sad to see Ari leave Nokia. Ari was one of those guys who understood and even pushed for this, and he was the big manager of Harmattan. Let’s see now with the new people. A few really skilled and respected field commanders (me and my military metaphors …), like Urho, still understand it and are pushing hard within Harmattan. I have good hopes. The focus is on delivering now, though.

      Surprisingly much is driven by engineers. The whole 770, N800, N810 and N900 era had a lot to do with what engineers pushed.

      1. pvanhoof says:
        > Almost everything of the N900 is open source my friend.

        That is simply not true. Most of it is *closed*, as shown in a writeup done by Carstun Munk (stskeeps).

        pvanhoof says:
        > All I can say is ask the people you know at the Harmattan team. Go to conferences where you’ll probably find them (FOSDEM in February, Berlin Desktop Summit in August, etc) and ask. You never know and it has happened many times before that things got opened after somebody just-asked. I’m not even sure why some of those are in non-free. Sounds like a simple packaging mistake to me, at least for some of those. Just bug the package maintainer about it.

        This is so wrong. To get something open, go to Berlin? To be clear, those are *not* packaging errors listed above. Most of those even have bug reports with very long standing requests to open them.

        The “correct” way to get things opened via Nokia is their arcane “Licensing change requests” process, as described here:


        But many people, me included have wasted many hours on this process.

        There is near zero accountability in Nokia, which is why they failed so hard. Nokia has what looks to be some great phone, but most open/free software developers are outright hostile to Nokia. Perhaps you should have someone being a liason to this community… Oh, if you do, perhaps it is therefore time for a change…

        Is Nokia going to be able to keep a nameserver running for this phone? Will the repositories be down frequently? Will it be near-impossible to get something into the repo? Why should developers come back to Nokia? Your system is no more open than Android. Despite having “MeeGo” in the name (which is more open than Android), this is not Free MeeGo…it is Maemo still, with all its closed components.

        1. I’m just going to disagree. I work together with many prominent members of the open source communities of many projects on code that goes into Harmattan. And as for the N900, most of Fremantle is open. There are repositories to show in gitorious and in upstream projects. It’s in fact even the case that Nokia isn’t taking enough credit for the work it does and has done in many projects. It’s huge, I can tell you that.

          As for Harmattan, sure not everything goes as it should. And sure, not everything is always immediately open sourced, although a lot is (even immediately).

          And much of that probably has to do with keeping some of the UX aspects secret from Nokia’s competitors (although I must say that what happens in Harmattan during development is surprisingly accessible, especially if you know where to look — and a competent open source developer does). But most of the underlying infrastructure, if not all of it, is open source (and that’s not a little bit of code). More importantly is Nokia’s Harmattan team for those projects working with upstream. Not just dumping big chunks of code several months too late (like how it works with Android). You can often follow development day by day, commit by commit, developer per developer and project. Just check out the Maemo projects at gitorious. And who knows now that the UX is more public will more code be open sourced? We’ll see.

          But don’t worry. I already know that for some people it wont ever be good. No matter what. Also here is perfectionism the enemy of the good: the right way is to convince people, not hate them.

          1. pvanhoof says:
            > “I’m just going to disagree. … as for the N900, most of Fremantle is open.”

            Why not look at the numbers instead? For example, look here:

            Or check out this higher level overview. Note how much is in red. It isn’t just a little bit of UX stuff.

            The MAIN MAN at working on the N900 (stskeeps) generated numbers showing less than half was open. Why not agree with solid numbers instead of handwaving about your experience?

            > “But most of the underlying infrastructure, if not all of it, is open source (and that’s not a little bit of code).”

            Have you delved down there? I have. There’s plenty that is closed. You can’t even flash a kernel without proprietary tools, which were supposedly going to be released about three years ago. This took away the ability to roll new kernels after an update. Meh. Nokia had a bug in the proprietary boot code that caused phones to require reflashing if they had rebooted too many times, for example.

            I challenge you: find me ONE SINGLE PACKAGE that was open sourced due to being placed on the open source licensing queue. Zero have been. Quim Gil couldn’t name one either. It’s all hype and re-direction.

            To show that I actually have spent some time looking into this, you can check my old wiki page:

  13. Congratulations to all involved. I am looking forward impatiently to blogging about unboxing. And that’s VERY impatiently.

  14. Bob, take your medicine. It’s perfectly ok, normal and common to joke about soldiers (in america they are stupid too!), if you can’t take it then you have probably forgot your medicine again..

  15. I think lack of buzz on blogs comes from expectation not fulfilled. Most people expected truly MeeGo phone. What Nokia released is a mashup of proprietary and MeeGo. It looks great, but do not strike tinkerer’s string.

    1. No I don’t agree with this. I don’t think people already care that much about MeeGo-pure vs. MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan.

      The reasons why MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan still diverges from ‘the MeeGo that also Intel is working on’ have a lot to do with extreme time pressure on the Harmattan team, with a lot of miscommunication between Nokia and Intel (due to management changes, too) and lately a HUGE mistrust against everything that is Nokia by the Intel people (just read Arjan’s E-mails on the MeeGo mailing list for a few minutes: amazing and very depressing to read how much mistrust and anti-feelings these guys seem to have). I can understand some of that mistrust. The developers at Nokia aren’t responsible, though. Nor do the decisions mean that suddenly all the Nokia projects are necessarily ‘dirty’.

      If the Harmattan team ON TOP of delivering would have had to fully integrate into MeeGo, the N9 would probably not have been made public any time soon. We’d all still be debating, not coding. Not delivering.

      You have to keep in mind that the politics involved in merging Harmattan into MeeGo upstream are insanely, truly insanely, time consuming. And then read what the Intel guys want: they want to rewrite the entire metadata storage stack (which is used by a massive amount of applications in Harmattan) and use EDS for things that it’s not designed for. At THIS point in time? Whut?!

      Comon, that’s not even serious. That way you can’t deliver anything. Whoever at Intel came up with that idea didn’t do his homework. We actually did the comparisons and we published the results on the MeeGo mailing list after they made these surprise decisions. Even if that’s not our job. Our solution scores better on all the arguments they came up with and doesn’t have to be massively adapted. And no applications need to be 20% rewritten (some of them integrate very deeply with the metadata store, and do need a lot of query flexibility – something that EDS doesn’t have atm). If there’s one thing we did learn from the Harmattan project, it’s that rewriting entire stacks is often a stupid idea. Well then.

      And this is just about the project that I’m involved in myself. Many other teams have similar stories.

      Still is Harmattan step by step merging into or towards MeeGo. Much is already shared and / or planned. APIs are being defined. All this is happening. Meanwhile we see Arjan post on LWN that Harmattan isn’t MeeGo bla bla bla. Sigh. Black & white thinking. If it were all that simple, life would be beautiful. I go with Jaffa’s opinion in this debate.

      — Philip, who works on Harmattan since several years

  16. After reading _again_ some angry nerds complaining(welcome to world of open source) about semantics I just want to congratulate you guys. Keep up the phase and try to enjoy your moment! Your piece of work will be there , in open, to end of humankind, freely to look and poke around and be fixed. Because of you and people “who get it” inside big company as Nokia I believe that someday we might have our everyday life filled with computers and gadgets that communicate with each other regardless of hw manufacturer. Free of licensing and binaryblobs. Open playground to all hw manufacturers without having to depend on one manufacturer or software house.

  17. Yes! You delivered! Thank you! The N9 looks astounding, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. And I hope you will keep fighting to get Meego phones out there in the years to come, and that they will be as awesome as the N9. And I’m one of the N900 who thinks it’s the best phone I’ve ever owned :) And I’m hoping the N9 will top this! (and it look like it will!)

  18. Yes, you delivered, but too late. A normal company would have released lots of Maemo phones and tablets in 2010-2011, with a upgrade path to MeeGo. Nokia’s management is the biggest disaster I’ve ever seen. Elop is the last chapter of the horror show.

  19. if I look at the videos of the fantastic N9, and compared them with meegoCE on the N900. I understand that this is a joke for all of us! meegoCE is disappointing, slow, unusable, full of bugs.

  20. Are you re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic? And proud of the quality of the re-arrangement?

  21. I’m trying to desperately justify buying this phone. Up until now, I just can’t.

    I am the perfect target group for the N900. I have one, and convinced two other people to get one, and they’re all holding up great (riddled with community provided software though they may be). However I can’t shake the feeling that the N9, UI and software aside, is a step back from my N900 in terms of functionality. I don’t care that much about the question whether Meego has a future, since Nokia isn’t the only one involved and Meego itself can be tinkered with. But I’d feel scammed if I bought the N9 and had to give up lots of functionality my “ancient” phone does.

    The hardware is a kick in the face for OS enthusiasts (I feel), which is to a big degree about being able to fix things yourself. With the N9 however, you can’t even do a simple thing like exchanging your battery. I’ve never bought a device that inhibits me to that degree and I imagine I never will. Add to that the “rumours” that the first WP7 phone Nokia will release even has haptics and how they won’t release both devices in the same countries, I can’t help but not wanting to support a company that does that, no matter how much I appreciate the work gone into the N9 (and N900 etc previously).

    I’d rather support Meego itself and wait for a mobile phone that would actually be an improvement over my N900. I haven’t had any indications that my N900 will let me down before then.

  22. you are such an optimist… good to see. difficult for the mind to think that you r in nokia. nokia lost all hopes and banking on others like parasite. anyway all we wanted was an improved N900 with pinch zoom, better flash support, better time clock add on, better battery, less than 130 gms by weight, better portrait support, better keypad etc small things.. all nokia did was to change the software and rebrand….maemo was such a smooth os, how can anyone ignore and waste 2 yrs in developing a new os…..anyway N9 looks nice and congrats to ur team…

  23. “Nokia’s schizophrenic platform strategy and lack of long-term commitment make the device a non-starter. The new phone is a bit like the Titanic: a masterpiece of quality engineering and luxury craftsmanship that is doomed to sink on its maiden voyage. The ambiguity of MeeGo’s role in Nokia’s future product lineup and the company’s frustrating mixed messages to third-party software developers have already set up the N9 for failure.”


  24. To the more critical comments of the last few hours: I’m glad the criticism is mostly on Nokia’s management decisions, and not on the product itself. We worked insanely hard to make it happen. And that’s all we can do.

    To quote a friend: we did ourselves proud, even if Nokia management didn’t.

  25. The software on the N9 looks amazing. It’s just some of the hardware choices that have me disappointed. I think it’ll have massive appeal. The only thing that’ll stop people from buying it, is its very uncertain future, or its fatal future, rather.

    Well done on all the work you guys put into it though. I hope it fixes some of my annoyances with my N900 :)

  26. @Jon: you make some good points. Yet, at the same time it seems as we are at a rather unique position. Unless getting one of these N9s really breaks the bank, I think it could still be a good bet looking from an ecosystem + effort support and next level idea generation standpoints at the very least. Nobody has said either one has to get it at retail prices, there are surely bound to be some unhappy early adopters letting them loose on the secondhand market. So what if you’re a few months late, cost of all of these gadgets will keep dropping like a stone.

    1. For your work on QtContacts and its Tracker integration you should feel especially proud, Mathias ;-)

      The contacts API is used by a lot of software on the device and will probably be used by a lot of apps too. But yeah, I can imagine being exhausted. It was messy before you joined that project, but how it’s using Tracker now is a whole lot better.

  27. Congrats on the N9 release, hopefully it will show management that they made the wrong choice with WP7, though I suspect no evidence would ever convince.

    The “unofficial” N950 had me reconsidering the never again stance I took on Nokia when the GSM radio in my N900 quit 13 months after purchase and the Nokia service reps wouldn’t let me _pay_ to have them fix it. Their only solution was “buy a new one.” But the N9, without a hardware keyboard, is a no go. I guess I am still stuck with Android until someone makes a decent handset running Meego.

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