[maemo-users] [maemo-users] [maemo-announce] New OS 2006 firmware released

From: Eero Tamminen eero.tamminen at nokia.com
Date: Wed Jan 31 12:16:28 EET 2007

(this is not an official comment on anything, just my personal opinions)

ext Gavin O' Gorman wrote:
> On 1/30/07, Karl Bellve <Karl.Bellve at umassmed.edu> wrote:
>> Personally, I wish Nokia would have went with thunderbird and firefox
>> that could be improved by the outside community. Instead, they went with
>> buggy pieces of proprietary code that Nokia can't seem to fix on its own.
>> My other big complaint is that the entire device has to be reflashed in
>> order to run the new version of the OS. Why can't they update different
>> pieces, like the browser, or the kernel? Since the browser and flash
>> player hasn't been updated, I don't think I will update my Nokia 770.

I think some of the reasons are:
- Licence restrictions
- Hardware changes between the devices and dependencies on these
- API changes between the different releases (sometimes just reflecting
   the different hardware, sometimes for other reasons). You can read
   more on this from here:
- Supporting mixing and matching of different package versions
   would explode the (already very large) required testing effort.
   - If you really want to upgrade (a small subset of the components) to
     the very latest versions, you can do that using the development etc
     repositories (sardine/herring/bora etc). However, this is not
     supported for obvious reasons and you *will* need to reflash your
     device occasionally *when* (not if) things break

These things will improve with time as both Open Source components
and Maemo platform mature and the gap between them can diminish.

> I agree wholeheartedly with these points ! I would extend them further
> to ask why the 770 OS cannot be as open as a standard debian
> distribution.

(assuming you still refer to package updates)

Debian is not a "consumer" distribution, it's a "developer"
/ "Linux user" distribution.

Debian way would mean users doing largest part of testing, finding and
reporting the bugs instead of Nokia, right?  You know, these devices
are  not viable if they remain hacker devices, they're supposed to be
consumer device and consumers are not interested in testing things,
they want things to work when they buy a device.  More on package
updates as a general strategy below...

> That is, comprised of a standard kernel that gets the device up and
> running, with proprietary drivers available as binary .debs. All the
> various applications distributed and installable as seperate .debs.
> This way unwanted applications can be removed, for example, the
> ridiculous email client etc. Kernels should be upgradable with a
> simple apt-get, the package management mess should be cleaned up and
> fixed.

I'm not saying this would be impossible, but there are still a lot
of unsolved issues in this which are not solved in Open Source.

Note that for performance reasons the binaries & libraries on the
device are prelinked.  This is not automatically done when some
package is updated (would take too long time etc).  I.e. with the
central library package update, your device will get slower + use more
Flash and RAM.

Also, on a mobile device, it's much more likely that the battery runs
out, or drops out (if user is a bit thoughtless). If this happens when
you're running dist-upgrade, you've bricked your device.

On a mobile device it can easily happen that there's not enough free
space to do dist-upgrade.  I haven't tested it, but I don't think
dpkg/apt handle dist-upgrade running out of space.  Once again,
consumer would have bricked her device.

Except maybe for the time taken to do backup & restore, re-flashing
the device is both faster and easier than dist-upgrade.  The backup &
restore could be improved somewhat, especially in regards to application
installer though.  Automatic restoring of packages after reflashing
could be risky though.

> The advantage of opensource is in its flexibility and customisation.
> Nokia have negated this by imposing a very rigid structure around the
> 770. That's fine in itself, but don't pitch the device as opensource
> and be surprised when people get annoyed with the lack of control they
> have over it.
> Luckily for me, the one application I use very regularly, the
> opensource FBreader, is highly stable. Otherwise I'd get very annoyed
> with the device.

	- Eero

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