In this edition...

  1. Front Page
    • Maemo Community election: nominations open
  2. Applications
    • Command line sharing plugin allows SCP and private webserver publishing
    • Quick Launch provides four shortcuts to apps on status menu
    • OCR hack whilst waiting for PhotoTranslator
  3. Development
    • New QA rules for command line applications wanting to get into Extras
    • Mer^2 snapshot 40 - hackers needed to complete Fremantle backport
    • Integrating MADDE & Qt Creator on Windows & Mac OS X for easy cross-platform Maemo development
    • ...and 2 more
  4. Community
    • Nokia's Maemo Developer Advocate is Ronan Mac Laverty
  5. Devices
    • Hardware hacking to convert N810 to into cellphone
    • MeeGo initial low-level build by end of month, targetting Atom & N900
    • Home-made solar charger
  6. Announcements
    • Prismic Wallpaper Manager
    • Intel & Orange announce Atom-focused MeeGo services tie-up
    • Array: stylish, simple, grey/black theme
    • ...and 2 more

Front Page

Maemo Community election: nominations open

The next Maemo Community Council will have their work cut out for them with the large shifts in Maemo caused by the MeeGo announcement. Dave Neary has opened the nominations for the next six-month term of the community council. Eligible candidates can be nominated by anyone in the community (although they have to accept the nomination to make it on to the ballot paper) or can put themselves forward as a candidate: To nominate yourself or someone else for the council, please email the maemo-community mailing list with a clear email header. I encourage people to outline their vision for the council and their personal goals as a council member when nominating themselves. At the time of writing, only Randall Arnold and Andrew Black are candidates in the field. Nominations will be accepted until 16th March, but if you're thinking of standing - announce early and announce often!


Command line sharing plugin allows SCP and private webserver publishing

Thomas Perl and Tuomas Kulve have been collaborating on a project to allow arbitrary commands to be used in Maemo 5's "sharing" dialogue ("share via email", "send via bluetooth", "share via service"). An initial proof-of-concept has been published, and Tuomas has been using it to get http URLs with meta information to IRC. The Irssi script needs to be modified to match the directories and IRC servers in use and both the script and the sharing plugin are still missing most of the error checking and extra functionality. Nevertheless, they’ve worked for me for the past weeks. This opens up the user-friendly "sharing" dialogue to some hacker-friendly possibilities.

Quick Launch provides four shortcuts to apps on status menu

Daniele Maio has released Quick Launch, a community implementation of a Brainstorm idea from February. It's basically a statusbar item that shows four buttons each of which can be configured through a control panel applet to set a shortcut to your preferred applications. Quick Launch is currently available from Extras Testing (usual disclaimers and warnings apply).

OCR hack whilst waiting for PhotoTranslator

Daniel Would has hacked together an optical character recognition system on his N900 to decode text from photos: This was inspired by a demo by Cybercomchannel called phototranslator. It looks cool and I’m looking forward to them making it availiable for people to try. However I am not a patient man… So considering they mentioned they simply used Tesseract I figured I could just have a go myself. Daniel uses this as an example of why this can be a great phone for developers (leveraging existing software simply and easily), but that packagers are also required for such hacks to be useful to an end-, or even power-, user.


New QA rules for command line applications wanting to get into Extras

Valério Valério has announced that the quality assurance rules for command-line applications to get into Extras have been finalised: Command line applications are a special case when uploading to Extras, so they should address two extra rules, a custom application manager icon and a detailed description. You can use two variaties of the CLI icon: the standard version that can be applied directly or the custom version that can be applied on top of another icon. The CLI application description should clearly says that the application only runs from the command line. This should meet the requirements of publicising high-profile command-line applications (such as OpenSSH Client and nmap) whilst also making it clear to end-users what they'll get with the package.

Mer^2 snapshot 40 - hackers needed to complete Fremantle backport

After the MeeGo announcment, Carsten Munk decided that Mer would, as Mer^2, focus on backporting as much of Fremantle as possible to the N8x0 in the shortest, most effective way. The first snapshot of Mer^2, "snapshot 40", has been unveiled. Stskeeps describes it as, what will turn into the Fremantle backport on N8x0. It's Mer without the idealism and with realistic short-term expectations. It's to put it simply, Fremantle base system and some UI packages put on top of Debian 5.0. Packages are built using some OBS tricks. It is closer to Fremantle than Debian and many Debian packages may break on it. It does not yet have a proper non-GL desktop for N8x0. What is planned is to whip the old desktop into feeling a little like Fremantle desktop. I will need some volunteer GTK+ coders for this. It's very much a developer preview but for anyone willing to help out with boot shell scripts, GTK+ hacking, theme development and other tasks; now's the time to get stuck in to something that'll give lots of value to old N8x0 devices.

Integrating MADDE & Qt Creator on Windows & Mac OS X for easy cross-platform Maemo development

MADDE provides a Windows, Mac OS X and Linux toolchain for Maemo development; and Qt Creator is Nokia's strategic Qt development IDE, for the same platforms. There are now instructions on how to integrate the two on Mac OS X and Windows: This is a guide on how to enable MADDE in QtCreator. This is part of the technology preview. After following this guidance you are able to build your sources within QtCreator for your device, and deploy, run and debug your applications with few mouse clicks from your OS X installation. MADDE and Qt Creator will, almost certainly, form the backbone of mainstream MeeGo mobile development and provide a step-change compared with the complexities of Scratchbox. A similar step-by-step guide for having a native, Qt-oriented, developer-friendly IDE on Linux will be published shortly, according to daniel wilms.

alarmd GUI for scheduling events under development

Tim Lee has announced the first release of Alarmed, a GUI front-end to Maemo's alarmd framework. alarmd is Nokia's proprietary, mobile-friendly, cron replacement. The application allows the setting up of commands to run at certain times, and includes a script which can reset the data counter, which allows the automatic reset everytime the user's mobile phone contract rolls over. In the announcement, Tim says, I wrote a small app that acts as a GUI front-end to maemos alarmd scheduler back-end. It's written in python and uses the PySide bindings to Qt. PySide is under heavy development at the moment and is both unstable and unreliable. A major new release is expected within weeks or months which will fix some of the knows issues with Alarmed. Alarmed is currently available from Extras-devel (standard warnings and disclaimers apply), testers and contributors are welcome.

Tinymail 1.0 released

Tinymail, the email backend powering Nokia's Modest email client, has reached version 1.0. For N900 users, the release shipped with Maemo apparently contains more or less the same code.


Nokia's Maemo Developer Advocate is Ronan Mac Laverty

After a long search, Ronan Mac Laverty has taken on the role of Maemo Developer Advocate; a Nokia position to evangelise and promote the platform to developers - both amateur and professional. A long time Nokian, he says, I have been watching the growth of Maemo for many years, from its first early days as a small project in Nokia to the release of the first handset. Unfortunately, my work has steered me away until recent, so until last year I never really knew just now much fun Maemo development actually is. [...] As a developer advocate my role is to support the developer ecosystem and help guide Nokia’s contribution, for the benefit of both. So, my goal is to listen, and to understand the issues, pain points, good things, etc. and investigate how Nokia can help. We wish him well in his new role, and hope to see him at developer conferences and Maemo/MeeGo-related events soon!


Hardware hacking to convert N810 to into cellphone

A user on has implemented a hardware hack connecting a GPRS module to an N810 through a serial adaptor and USB hub. I bought Telit GE865 gprs module [...] and make pigs fly. Telit module can do calls with no more than a earpiece, mike, two resistors & capacitors, a battery and an interface with N810. Cheap or particularly hardware-hack interested N810 owners now have a way to get their very own near-N900 Maemo device.

MeeGo initial low-level build by end of month, targetting Atom & N900

Valtteri Halla, one of the two members of MeeGo's "Technical Steering Group", has published a blog post describing the efforts underway to move MeeGo from "day zero" (the announcement) to "day one" (when the real work begins): he most important question is of course about the code. We hope to move on here very quickly now. Nokia and Intel have set the target to open the MeeGo repository by the end of this month. I guess this is something that finally will signify the real "Day One" of MeeGo project, a genuine merger of moblin and maemo. What is scheduled to be available then is the first and very raw baseline to a source and binary repository to build MeeGo trunk on Intel ATOM boards and Nokia N900. Many people have read that last statement to mean MeeGo will be fully supported and a usable OS on the N900. However, your editor would draw your attention to the phrases "first", "very raw" and "baseline". Having alternative Linux-based OSes boot on an N900 is not particularly troublesome (see Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu and Mer); however there's a large difference between a developer platform and a usable, day-to-day, end-user phone OS.

The blog post has - as is to be expected - been well commented on, and it's refreshing to see Valtteri getting involved; responding to, and participating in a conversation with, his audience.

Home-made solar charger

A hardware hack involving a 1W solar charger for RV batteries has been put together to charge an N900. Got this on sale for $15 a while back and assumed, correctly it seems, that it would work with the N900 as it had worked with the E71. An inexpensive cigarette-lighter charger like this makes for a simple mobile charging solution.


Prismic Wallpaper Manager

Iolite Technologies has released the Prismic Wallpaper Manager a $3.75 application that offers easier wallpaper management that hooks directly into Interestingly, this is the second application that's offered as a standalone-deb after payment through PayPal, which makes for a complicated install process, with users required to resolve dependencies manually and no option for automatic updates. Get the newest, highest rated, most downloaded wallpapers at the touch of a button, or browse hundreds of wallpapers in over a dozen categories to find 'the right look' for your N900. PR1.2, the forthcoming major update to Maemo 5, is said to have a feature whereby any 3200x480 image on the device will be shown in the built-in "Choose wallpaper" dialogue; potentially undermining some of the feature set of Prismic.

Intel & Orange announce Atom-focused MeeGo services tie-up

Intel and Orange have announced plans to partner on future Atom-based mobile devices running MeeGo. Orange is hoping that more of its users will make use of devices that are powered by Meego, though it will have to come up with some enticing new products and services soon. According to the firm, 75 per cent of its subscribers are 'yet to embrace mobile Internet'/. The partnership, while signaling operator interest in Nokia and Intel's joint venture and likely to increase developer interest in the platform, is worrisome because of Orange's history of invasive and buggy customized firmwares. This may have a negative effect on perception of the platform and may say troubling things about what MeeGo will permit for manufacturer and operator customization. It will also be interesting to see whether the specific mention of Atom and Intel is indicative of the fragmentation of MeeGo which is considered Android's achilles heel.

Array: stylish, simple, grey/black theme

Johannes Siipola has released Array, a new theme for Maemo 5. I worked on this for quite a while and it seems to be almost perfect now. Let me present you the Array Theme, a clean and stylish grey/black theme that will make you N900 look great. The theme is currently available in Extras Testing (standard warnings and disclaimers apply), testers are welcome.

Initial port of IPTraf network monitor

An initial port of IPTraf, a console-based network monitor, has been released for Maemo 5. It is described as, An IP traffic monitor that shows information on the IP traffic passing over your network. Includes TCP flag information, packet and byte counts, ICMP details, OSPF packet types; general and detailed interface statistics showing IP, TCP, UDP, ICMP, non-IP and other IP packet counts, IP checksum errors, interface activity, packet size counts. Although console-based, IPTraf has a full-screen, menu-driven interface and an icon to launch it from the applications menu. It is currently available from Extras-devel (standard warnings and disclaimers apply), contributors and testers are welcome.

Symfonie, directory-oriented music player with equalizer, under development

Talk-user "code" has announced Symfonie - a Qt-based, file/directory-oriented music player for Maemo 5 with an equalizer. It's currently under development and in the Extras-devel repository (so standard warnings apply). In his announcement, he says, The original intent of writing this application was that I need an simple media player to play mp3 files by folders. I didn't want to tag my music library nor create play list manually. I use directory to manage all my music files because I can group them into exactly the way I wanted. Thus this application is created. He describes it as "lightweight" but a known bug is "high CPU usage"; so an impact on battery life is to be expected whilst it is under development.