Nokia and Intel are collaborating on a joint operating system called MeeGo, and while the news was announced in February, new details have slowly been emerging.
MeeGo is a combination of two operating systems: Nokia’s Maemo, an open source development platform used on the N900 mobile computer and Intel’s Moblin project, a netbook and embedded platform.
MeeGo is designed to work across a range of mobile products, including netbooks/laptops and consumer appliances, but it’s likely to show up first in Nokia smartphones.
What We Know Already
Nokia’s N900 is an accurate reference point for MeeGo’s characteristics and how the operating system will be implemented on future smartphone devices.
MeeGo will start as a refined version of Nokia’s Hamarratan platform, which is the successor to Maemo 5. It’s going to include features like a user interface developed with Nokia’s Qt toolkit and framework, standardized telephony applications through the oFono initiative, a previous partnership announcement between Nokia and Intel, and a bigger focus on Web services and how they work with other Linux programs.
Overall, this leads to better out-of-the-box functionality for end-users, more accessibility to development tools, and opportunities for developers and carriers to use the power of Linux while staying within their markets.
Longtime Maemo developers and users have said that MeeGo does not seem as open as previous versions because of features like moving to support Qt-based user interface features (where the open-source GTK was the previous toolset), and a greater emphasis on “community development” of features that will not be ported to previous Maemo-based devices. However, the increased attention to MeeGo from Nokia and Intel communities, as well as the 27 companies that currently are doing some development might remove disadvantages that exist now.
The operating system is being developed to run on Intel processors. The company’s Atom line uses a microarchitecture designed for portable devices and relatively low power, but still using the Intel Core 2 Duo instruction set commonly found in Windows laptop and desktop processors.
What Is Not Known
As recently as two weeks ago, MeeGo has been released in a “terminal only” version so that developers can start poking around the toolkit and seeing how it’s put together. The user interface is still being fleshed out, and much like Maemo 5, there will be an official style guide for the platform, in addition to other style and user interface guides that licensees will also offer.
The first MeeGo smartphone devices aren’t expected until the end of the year, which follows Nokia’s Hamarratan timeline. It is unknown at this time which companies are going to release smartphone devices besides Nokia.
For more information about MeeGo, visit the MeeGo website.