In this edition...

  1. Front Page
    • BBC tech correspondent covers Nokia still ruling in face of iPhone & iPad
    • PUSH N900 US competition launched for hardware hacking
  2. Applications
    • Ken-Young on Orrery, bringing more stars into view than you can see
    • Hands-on Mozilla's pocket-sized Firefox mobile
    • Browser Switchboard makes it easy to define alternative browsers as default
    • ...and 8 more
  3. Development
    • Forum Nokia Developer Conference, 2nd March, Sydney Australia
    • Akademy KDE/Qt conference call for papers
    • Debian Etch rebuilt for Maemo
    • ...and 3 more
  4. Community
    • Testing Squad for Extras created
    • February sprint meeting minutes & actions online
  5. Devices
    • Porting Maemo's base to other chipsets/devices
    • Device quality assurance inside look
  6. Maemo in the Wild
    • 2009 Engadget awards - N900 nominee in 2 categories
    • A quick round up of the PUSH N900 Showcase last night
    • PUSH N900 London party pole-dancing robot video
  7. Announcements
    • Subscribe to MWKN to ensure you never miss an issue
    • Marina theme for Maemo 5
    • Hoops Frenzy available for $1.99
    • ...and 5 more

Front Page

BBC tech correspondent covers Nokia still ruling in face of iPhone & iPad

Rory Cellan-Jones is the BBC's senior technical journalist and, as with all the mainstream media, is often engrossed by Apple's product launches. However, he takes a closer look at the figures and points out that Nokia - as a worldwide company - are hoping to sell around 21 million smartphones in a quarter - as many as Apple might hope to sell in a year. Also note that mention of "mobile computers" in this category - Nokia is trying to point out, ever so quietly, that it's already in that new category described by Steve Jobs on Wednesday. He hasn't yet played with the N900, but mentions it as a sign that Nokia don't want to "get caught out again". The comments on the article also feature largely positive comments about the N900.

PUSH N900 US competition launched for hardware hacking

Following on from the success of the PUSH N900 invention competition in Europe (see the articles in the 'Wild' section for more), we’ve swung open the virtual doors once again, launching a whole new PUSH project dedicated to all the US hackers, modders and designers. [...] Now we want to see what the American hacker community can come up with. A panel of judges will choose the top three ideas from everything submitted, after which the finalist teams will be provided with a Nokia N900 and support from Nokia, to actually build their mod. Then, in March, a representative of these three winning teams will be flown to CTIA in Las Vegas, where they’ll get the chance to demonstrate their hack for final judging and the chance for their team to win cash prizes of $10,000, $5,000 and $3,000. Submissions can be made until noon (Eastern), 15 February 2010.


Ken-Young on Orrery, bringing more stars into view than you can see

Orrery is a new application, available in Extras, which shows you the night sky. Its author, Ken Young, says, it was originally written for Openmoko Freerunner phones, which have about 1/20 (really!) of the processing power of an N900. So I had to work hard to make the calculations run efficiently, or else it would have been unusable on a Freerunner. On an N900, it is quite responsive. The response to the application has been very positive and is worth checking out for any amateur astronomers.

Hands-on Mozilla's pocket-sized Firefox mobile

Ryan Paul of Ars Technica takes a look at the latest release of Firefox Mobile for Maemo 5. From Ryan's testing, the Firefox mobile's JavaScript engine is about 54% faster than that of the N900's native MicroB browser thanks to its more recent Gecko release (MicroB should be updated to match with a future Maemo 5). Firefox Mobile for Maemo demonstrates the flexibility of the Firefox Web browser and its potential to bring a desktop-like browsing experience to constrained computing environments. It is truly an impressive achievement, but it's only the beginning of what Mozilla hopes to accomplish on handheld devices. You can download Firefox Mobile directly from Mozilla at

Browser Switchboard makes it easy to define alternative browsers as default

The developer of Browser Switchboard is looking for testers and feedback on the beta version for Maemo 5. Browser Switchboard is a program which allows you to choose which browser to use as the default browser. It supports MicroB, Tear, Fennec/Mobile Firefox, and Midori out of the box, and can also be used to launch MicroB without having browserd running. With the publicity surrounding Firefox Mobile (Fennec), it is likely that an increasing number of users will want to change their default browser; so this is a chance to help with the development of a low-level utility of use to many users.

Foursquare social networking/geolocation service & game

Foursquare is an interesting service combining the virtual and physical worlds into a multiplayer game; as well as providing geolocation services and tangible benefits for its users. Barriosquare is a Foursquare client for Maemo, Foursquare is a social networking service that is both a game and an information tool with ties into Twitter and Facebook. You “check in” to various locations and then can have your location sent to Foursquare, Twitter, and Facebook friends. You can add “shouts” when you check in to add a statement along with your check in. It is an easy way to see who else in your friend list is in the area and even cooler you can leave and find tips that are location based and live in the cloud as virtual tags. I have found this most helpful at restaurants where people have left tips on what is good to eat or what you should avoid ordering. There is some huge potential here for expanding this tips capability and even having venues give you coupons if you login or other incentives to play the game. Screenshots of the private beta are available in Matthew Miller's blog post.

More info on community-designed levels for Angry Birds

Following on from our article in the last issue, Christopher Stobbs shows the custom levels he and craig garvie have been working on, complete with screenshots, video and installation walkthrough. Christopher concludes his guide, a big thanks to everyone over at and to Rovio. Now lets get playing.

Low-level recovery tools: TestDisk and PhotoRec

Luigi Cotignano has announced that he has ported TestDisk and PhotoRec. TestDisk is a powerful data recovery tool that helps to recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again. PhotoRec is file data recovery tool designed to recover lost files including video, documents, archives, audio files, databases and much more from disks and SD/MMC cards. It supports more than 300 file formats. Luigi is currently asking for feedback. Join the discussion linked below.

MaePad notepad/jotter for Maemo 5

Thomas Perl has announce MaePad for Maemo5. MaePad is an update to Maemopad+, an application for creating texts, drawing sketches and managing lists of things. You can manage the information you are working with by using a node tree that can grow as big as you want. It's currently in beta and you can find it in extras-devel, so standard caveats apply.

Comic widget in early development

Marcus Wikström has announced his Comic Widget for Maemo. I made a widget for myself so that I can get my favorite comic strips on the desktop. It turned out pretty nice so I decided to package it and upload it to devel. The widget currently shows xkcd, Dilbert and Sinfest comics. It's currently in early beta and you can find it in Extras-devel (standard warnings and disclaimers apply).

Nokia N900 running emulated SNES controlled with PS3 SIXAXIS controller

Tomasz Sterna has managed to get a PS3 SIXAXIS controller connected to his N900. This offers another controller input option for Maemo users on top of the existing Wii Remote option.

Extension enables Flash for YouTube on Firefox Mobile

Firefox Mobile has, in the interests of "user experience" disabled (but not removed) Flash support in their browser. However, it can be enabled on a site-by-site basis, and the 'YouTube Enabler' does exactly that: This add-on enables Flash on YouTube because the overall experience is pretty good on YouTube content. Firefox's extension-based architecture makes such addons simple to develop and deploy, and there are dozens of extensions already.

Showtime - TV listings app

rama kurvakat has released a TV guide application for Maemo which supports multiple countries by using the XMLTV format: I don't watch too much TV but I never like to miss my favourite programmes. I could always do with an app like this to display TV channel listings with a facility to set reminder/remote record. This does exactly that and only that. It's not intended to be a multimedia player if you know what I mean. The listings for the UK are provided by your editor in a side-project which predates Maemo by about 9 years! The application is now in Extras-testing, so it eager users should test and vote to help ensure quality software gets to end-users in Extras.


Forum Nokia Developer Conference, 2nd March, Sydney Australia

For developers in Australia, Nokia is holding no-charge event on 2nd March in Sydney: Forum Nokia Developer Conference 2010 is a free event for developers and content providers to learn about the latest business opportunities and tools for creating and distributing mobile applications. [...] Attendees will learn about the latest developments from Nokia including the Ovi Store, Maemo, Symbian^3, Web Run-Time and much more. Additionally, many of Nokia’s latest mobile devices and services will be on show including its first Linux handset, N900. Registration is open now.

Akademy KDE/Qt conference call for papers

The Akademy 2010 organizers would like to invite our community to the event: Akademy will take place in Tampere, Finland, from July 3rd to 10th. We would like to invite the Maemo community not only to attend the event but also to participate. Akademy is the leading KDE community event, and since KDE and Maemo 6 will share a common base on the Qt toolkit, this could be an interesting conference to participate in. Deadline for submissions is Friday, 23 April 2010.

Debian Etch rebuilt for Maemo

Jeff Moe, a new but engaged member of the community, has rebuilt Debian 4.0 ("etch") for Maemo 5 with the Maemo 5 SDK and sdbmock. 10,220 Source packages processed. 6,451 .debs produced. They were compiled against the current maemos-extras repository. They have no dependencies other than that. In other words, no package within the rebuild depends on anything else in the rebuild. Although only a first pass, and with much work (and discussion about how best to deploy them) to do, this is still a promising effort to bring large amounts of software to Maemo. GUI applications are likely to be fairly useless, as they won't fit within the style guides of the platform and will have tiny controls and wasted screen space. However, large numbers of libraries and command line apps will also be included.

PyGtkEditor: On-device syntax-highlighting editor designed for Maemo

Benoît HERVIER has released a new version of his popular editor for Maemo, PyGTKEdtior. It is now up to version v3.0.10 and is available in Extras. PyGTKEditor is a source code editor specially designed for devices running Maemo.

Windows: Python & Qt for Maemo development in half an hour

mike choy has published a getting started guide for Python & Qt development on Windows. Taking you through the install of his preferred IDE, Python and the Qt Designer UI tool it aims to get you up and running in 30 mins. This is guide for noobs who would like to get started in Qt development using Python on Windows XP.

Elena Reshetova interviewed before FOSDEM about Maemo 6 security

Elena Reshetova, the public face of Maemo 6's (in)famous security system, followed on from her introductory talk at the Maemo Summit in October with a presentation at FOSDEM this weekend. More details from FOSDEM will hopefully emerge, but before the conference she gave an interview with The main goal of the talk is to explain the basics of our platform security framework to people who are familiar with UNIX-like operating systems, and hopefully get feedback from them. We consider it to be very important to talk about our platform security framework, because we believe that it is the best way to improve it. That's why we would be glad to hear about suggestions or contributions. In your editor's opinion, the technical approach outlined in October seemed well architected; but details about how the business will use the technology has yet to be fully explored.


Testing Squad for Extras created

Valério Valério, the current Maemo Community Council chair, has launched an effort to ensure that applications in the Extras-testing queue gets processed in a timely and efficient manner: We’re correctly looking for some more testers, before start refining the Q&A processes, so if you like to test new shiny apps from our community developers, feel free to join the team, if you don’t feel ready or without enough skills for this task, you still can keep following the group activities and doing some testing in the easier areas. The applications in Extras-testing are available to all; but even if you don't join the coordinated testing effort, it's good form to vote on the applications from Extras-testing that you've had experience with.

February sprint meeting minutes & actions online's agile process means a monthly "sprint" meeting sets the goals of both paid and non-paid contributors for the month. Held on the first Tuesday of every month on IRC, the February 2010 sprint meeting was held on the morning of the 2nd. Highlights from the meeting include the deployment of Bugzilla 3.4 on, the beginning of GSoC 2010 planning, and the announcement of the March Community Council election.


Porting Maemo's base to other chipsets/devices

Nokia has released a new document outlining the requirements to make it easier to port the Maemo base platform to other chipsets and hardware environments. [The document] describes what is needed to port Maemo to a new chipset in the form of technical requirements. [...] The document also refers to a setup where the porting work is a combined effort by Nokia and the chipset vendor. However, it is also applicable to other types of porting and product creation related co-operation models. These requirements may indicate a wider hardware base for Maemo in the future, but will also benefit the community by providing a more consistent and easier-to-work-with base platform. Although it doesn't apply to any specific Maemo release it's, apparently, targeted at approximately the Maemo 6 timeline.

Device quality assurance inside look

Randall Arnold offers us a look at Nokia's hardware QA process and some input for Nokia on issues with N900 QA and hardware selection (especially regarding the microUSB connector) But my experience with the N800 showed that CARE employees and especially contractors can be disconnected from the new device introduction process. Not only might they be inadequately trained, but necessary systems upgrades can be overlooked. We could easily say that this is a consequence of a monolithic corporation and its bureaucracy but there’s ultimately no excuse for allowing such gaps to persist. They damage an otherwise respectable company’s reputation. Hopefully Nokia has actually managed to fix the microUSB issues, but users experiencing USB connectivity problems or who have their USB ports come out of their N900s should contact Nokia for warranty service.

Maemo in the Wild

2009 Engadget awards - N900 nominee in 2 categories

The N900 has been nominated for smartphone and gadget of the year in the 2009 Engadget awards; and voting is now open: The nominations are in, the picks have been sorted, and now it's time for you, the reader, to help us judge the best in tech from 2009! [...] Votes will be tallied until Monday February 20th, 11:59PM EDT. There are some interesting devices in many of the categories, not just these two.

A quick round up of the PUSH N900 Showcase last night

As mentioned in the last issue, this week the PUSH N900 programme reached its climax with a party showcasing the five hacks. For everyone that wasn’t at the event, and as a reminder to those that were, we were uploading videos over on the PUSH N900 Qik channel. There’s a few videos of the team interviews with the evening’s host, Robert Llewellyn, some shots of each of the teams’ hacks and even a few cheeky glances of the somewhat infamous pole-dancing robots. Despite having an invite, your editor was unable to attend at the last minute due to commitments at work. The realisation that Robert Llewellyn (aka Kryten in Red Dwarf) was the host has made this doubly harsh!

PUSH N900 London party pole-dancing robot video

A rather bizarre PUSH project was demonstrated in London last week featuring pole dancing N900-controlled robots.Quote=The stars of the show were easily the pole-dancing robots, apparently controlled by none other than the Nokia N900!


Subscribe to MWKN to ensure you never miss an issue

It's only our second issue, but the response on Twitter, and the general Interwebs has been very positive. We've tried to take on as much feedback as we could this week (thanks to folks like Jason Carter and Ryan Abel for their concrete suggestions and contributions). In particular, there are now a number of ways of staying up-to-date with new issues as they come out.

Marina theme for Maemo 5

Andrew Zhilin, the long-time Maemo and Mer theme developer and UI designer, has released an update to his Marina theme for Maemo 5: Dark, a bit glossy but calm blueish theme, packed with loopable wallpaper. First 3rd-party theme to be designed from scratch, every UI element is hand drawn (except for loading “flower” and navigation icons :). I really wanted to give it a finished professional look, hope you’ll feel it. The theme is available from Extras, and is also used as the default theme in Mer (the completely open source Maemo/Ubuntu hybrid).

Hoops Frenzy available for $1.99

SIO2 Interactive, the developers of an open source 3D game engine for the iPhone, have released a paid-for-copy of their game 'Hoops Frenzy': How many hoops can you get in 90 seconds? [...] Ideal for passing time, HoopsFrenzy allows you to challenge your friends with 6 unique level of difficulty, have fun! The source of the game, complete with the Blender models for the graphics and so on, is also available... for $199.

Magnetic Scrolls adventure games interpreter in Testing

Are you a Magnetic Scrolls fan? Luca Donaggio has announced MMagnetic, a port to Maemo 5 of the Magnetic Scrolls interpreter. In the mid 80's a small British team of programmers called Magnetic Scrolls inspired text adventure fans all over the world with their fascinating games and soon evolved into the European answer to Infocom. Magnetic Scrolls met the same fate with the other commercial text adventure producers and dissappeared with the conquest of the graphical games. But their thrilling stories, a trailblazing parser and excellent graphics made them an everlasting milestone in adventure game history. Enter the mag(net)ical worlds of Magnetic Scrolls. Games can be downloaded as Zip files (but they need to be unpacked before they can be used) from the site, as well as the interpreter itself.

MADDE tech preview updated for PR 1.1

The MADDE (Maemo Application Development and Debugging Environment) development kit has been updated to version 0.6.14. MADDE is an easy-to-use cross-compilation toolkit for Maemo development which is available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. The biggest changes are the updated target to PR1.1 and the change of the toolchain, which matches now the Maemo5 SDK. MADDE has a much lower barrier to entry than the full Maemo SDK, so users interested in developing on Maemo but daunted by the difficulty of installing the SDK should try MADDE.

Maemo 6 Platform Security software home now in gitorious

As already mentioned, Maemo 6 is going to have a device mode which has guaranteed application and system integrity from boot-up to userspace. The open source components of the security framework are now hosted on

Maemo's cellular software components' home now in gitorious

The open source cellular components for Maemo devices, which will be accessed through oFono in Maemo 6, are now hosted on; making them visible to everyone whilst still being under development, and easier for others outside of Maemo to collaborate on the code.

mStatus updates multiple social networks' status

mStatus is a small new utility to quickly update your social network statuses in a simple manner. It's developer, Daniele Maio, launched it saying, I'm happy to announce mStatus applet, [...]that, through the API implementations, lets user update their status on different social network in a quickly way!