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What Timo Jyrinki talks about

Posts tagged with 'tizen'

Timo Jyrinki

I'd like to modify my discussion comment and earlier thoughts into a short blog post touching only some of the technical concerns voiced, and my opinion to those.

Claim (my version): Ubuntu/Canonical is going the "Google route" to become another Android, while Android has not benefited the Linux ecosystem in any way, forking everything

Firstly, Ubuntu is open to development and community for also mobile and tablet - Android has none of that, just code drops that get modded. (yes, some people have a problem with CLA like Canonical's or Qt's, I have no problem with those - let's keep that discussion elsewhere). Ubuntu contributes back to Debian and upstream projects like Qt - those upstream projects it's not upstream of itself. There are not too many free software mobile UIs for example. SHR has some E17 apps, Nemo Mobile a handful of Qt apps and so on.

Secondly, I disagree about Android - even in its current shape and after creating everything from scratch with mobile on mind, Android has done tremendous things for the free software community, kernel development, mobile device driver and making things like Replicant possible. If those aren't directly seen on the desktop side, that's because it's not the desktop and most free software desktop users don't use free software mobile products (usually at most a vendor provided Android).

I feel people get too attached to software projects or even the desktop in general. The money to pay desktop has traditionally largely come from the server. As a discussion-heating example Wayland has been a great promise for 5 years and continues to be, yet no products use it (software products like distributions or hardware+software products). That's not a problem per se for a great and ambitious project, but it means no interested party has taken it to create products. I was very excited about Gallium3D and Wayland in 2008, but somewhat optimistic in believing they would conquer the world in one or two years. In perspective, I've always seen the "version staring" a common habit in enthusiasts me included. I think it extents to "shiny development projects that should be taken into production use immediately".

The Nokia N9 triumphs all other 2011 mobile phones in general and even the current user interfaces like iOS, Android and Windows Phone in general usability ideas (if only it'd run Cortex-A15 instead of OMAP3..). It uses X.org and Qt 4.7. Jolla's plans for their first phone at the end of this year? Qt 4.8, no Wayland. Like N9 which otherwise had unfortunate fate, I hope Jolla will sell millions of free software wielding products to the masses. The biggest problem with X.org is, though, the drivers, generally zero support from vendors so hard to make products. Hooking into Android EGL drivers and building on top of that seems a good compromise at the moment. Note that from product creation point of view it's not the non-shininess of X.org that IMHO is the blocker. Wayland and Mir may help on the driver side.

I want products!

I'd love to see more push to have actual products on the market, since otherwise we don't get free software to the masses. If Mir helps Ubuntu to do that in one year, fine (I don't know how it's going to be). Yes Mir is a new shiny project, but it's a very product/target oriented project one. If Android would be open as a project, it wouldn't hurt - other than feelings attached to the other projects especially by the core developers and fans of those - if it was the superior alternative from product creation perspective making all of X.org, upstart, systemd, Wayland, Pulseaudio, D-Bus, glibc less interesting to product creators while even more interest would go to Android. It's not so now, Android is not an open project in any sense, even though still beneficial for free software. Ubuntu will keep using a lot more of the traditional stack anyway than Android (which also just got rid of BlueZ), but I have zero problem of changing any of the components if it's visioned to be required to get finished, ready to use products out. IMHO the key is to get products out, and I hope all the parties manage to do that.

Of the traditional GNU/Linux desktop distributions only Ubuntu seems to be adapting for the mobile in large steps at the moment. The other distributions in the mobile playing field are: (Android/)Replicant, Mer/Sailfish, Firefox OS, Tizen, added with OpenEmbedded based distributions like SHR. Have you used those on a daily basis on your devices? I believe you should. I think KDE will bring with its Plasma Active - currently focusing on building on top of Mer - mobile power to the traditional GNU/Linux distributions, but otherwise it's all up to the new players - and Ubuntu.

Like many know, I used Debian exclusively on my primary phone for ca. two years before switching mostly to N9. During all that time, I already pondered why people and distributions are so focused on x86 and desktop. And the reason is that that's what their history is, and I stared at the wrong place - desktop distributions. I dismissed Android and some of the small newcomers in the mobile distro playing field, but it seems that big changes are needed to not need completely new players. I think Ubuntu is on the completely right track to both benefit from the history and adapt for the future. I still hope more developers to Debian Mobile, though!! Debian should be the universal operating system after all.

Disclaimer: I'm an Ubuntu community person from 2004, Debian Developer since 2008 and a contractor for Canonical for ca. 1 year. My opinions haven't changed during the 1 year, but I've learned a lot more of how free software is loved at Canonical despite critics.

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Timo Jyrinki

Ubuzen in the Bay Area

Enough said.


You can reach me most probably at the UDS on the Oakland side, and most directly via IRC if you don't see me.

Edit: Launch!

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Timo Jyrinki

I have a few thoughts based on the yet another round of debate where marketing clashes with free software advocation and technical details. Nothing new in the debate itself, but I'm adding a couple of insights.

Marketing is not highly respected by many technical people, and neither by the people wanting more advocating than the messing up with facts and feelings that the marketing does. I'm all for advocating free software, but it's currently not something you can use for marketing to win big markets. If we advance to a world where free software is as wanted as the green values today are, it can be used in marketing as well similar to all the ecological (according to the market department at least) products today, but alas the benefits of free software are not yet as universally known. Since it doesn't say much that touches the masses, advocating has a negative marketing effect since it takes space away from the potentially "hitting" marketing moves, in those cases where you target the big masses in the first place. "Open" this and that has some marketing power in it nowadays, but it's a mess of different meanings that probably doesn't advance libre software freedoms as such. Wikipedia has probably been the biggest contributor to advancing general knowledge of software and culture libre. Disclaimer: I'm not a proper marketing person, some more professional might have better insights in this area. If I'd be a proper marketing person, I'd decorate this blog post with fancy pictures so that more people would actually read it.

Some of the marketing can be done without sacrificing any of the advocation. The fabulous Fedora campaigns, graphics, slogans and materials are a great example of those and do an important job, even though Fedora isn't reaching the big masses with it (and Fedora isn't targeted for OEMs to ship to millions either). But they do hopefully reach a lot of level people on the grassroots level. I hope as a Debian Developer that more people valuing the freedoms of free software would help also Debian as a project to reach more of its advocation potential and developers from the more proprietary world. But I'm happy that at least some free software projects have nowadays true graphical and marketing talent. Even though not as widely known, freedoms of the software users including for example privacy aspects are a potential good marketing tool toward a portion of the developer pool.

Let's not forget that Android conquered the mobile market without using the brand power of Linux. The 30+ million people who know Linux a bit deeper than just "I've heard it" already run a Linux distribution like Ubuntu, but we need hotter brands than a project name of a kernel to reach the bigger masses. Call it Ubuntu, Fedora, or something, but no matter do what it needs to ship it to millions. AFAIK mostly Ubuntu and SUSE are shipping currently via desktop/notebook OEMs, and more Ubuntu than SUSE. Others aren't concentrating on the market, which is a very difficult one. Ubuntu is doing a lot more mass population advocating for free software than Android has ever done. Note for example the time any user tries to play a video for the first time in a non-free format - Ubuntu will tell the user about the problems related to those formats and asking a permission to install a free software player for those (or buy licensed codecs), and the Ubuntu Help texts describe a lot of details about restricted formats, DRM et cetera. Not to mention what happens if the person actually wanders into the community, discovering Debian, other free software projects, free software licenses and so on. Meanwhile Android users never notice anything being wrong while watching H.264 videos or watching DRM Flash videos. Granted, like Boot2Gecko debate shows, it may be a partially similar situation on shipping desktop Linux variants as well, in order to actually ship them via partners.

Anyway, the best example of brands is MeeGo. Even the LWN editor does not get into dissecting the meaning of MeeGo on Nokia N9, because "there has been no real agreement on that in the past", but just uses the brand name as is. That is  the power of brands. Technical people debate that it's not really MeeGo, it's maemo GNU/Linux with a special permission from Linux Foundation to use the MeeGo brand name, and then counter-argument with that the MeeGo is an API and maemo matches the MeeGo 1.2 API which is actually just Qt 4.7 API. And actually, as proven by the LWN example, it's not even "technical people". For most of technical people Nokia N9 is MeeGo as well. Only the people who have actually worked on it plus the couple of other people migrated from maemo and MeeGo.com communities to Mer project understand the legacy, history and the complete difference between the Maemo Harmattan platform and what MeeGo.com was. Yet at the same time like all GNU/FreeDesktop.org/Linux distributions, they are 95% same code, just all the infrastructure and packaging and polishing and history is different.

For 99.9% of people who know what MeeGo is, MeeGo is the cool Nokia smartphone, one of its kind and not sold in some of the major western markets, and/or the colorful sweet characters of meego.com shown at one time on a couple of netbooks. That is the brand, and the technical details do not matter even to the technical people unless they actually get into working on the projects directly.

To most people, the Linux brand is a mess of a lot of things, while other brands have the possibility at least to have a more differentiating and unique appearance.

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Timo Jyrinki

Since I think I just summarized a few thoughts of mine well at LWN, I'll copy-paste it here:

I can grumble about Android from time to time, but I do not say that it sucks. Extreme views are what are annoying. Android is what it is and it's great as it is, even though it could be different as well.

When it comes to discussing about free software and mobile phones, I'm especially annoyed by two types of comments:

1. People essentially saying that there is no value in an open project, ie. free software code dumps should be enough for everybody. I'm interested in the long term viability of free software projects, and it is hard to have successful projects without there being all sorts of factors that make up a good project - like transparency, inclusion, meritocracy. Even though the mobile projects have had little resources and a hard road, it's not useful to forget about these goal in the longer term. For example Debian, Mer, SHR, KDE Plasma Active have some of these in the mobile sector. I hope the best for them (and participate).

2. People complaining about something being not 100% free software, while not themselves actually even interested in it for other sake than complaining. When I've been talking about free software mobile phones, from time to time there is someone complaining about eg. not open GSM stack, wlan firmwares etc.. and to put it sharply probably writing the message from iPhone, while I'm reading it on Neo FreeRunner. If the complainer would be Harald Welte, I'd probably listen and agree with him.

 So there. For more civilized discussion.

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Timo Jyrinki

Almost forgot to post this. My mobile phones running free software in photos. From left to right:



All of that software running on the devices is more or less free software, with Harmattan obviously being by far the least free, especially applications, but still better than any other on-the-shelf phone software *), and the others being 99% or "Ubuntu like" free ie. possibly with firmware and a few driver exceptions. N9 needs some bootloader work still before Nemo, Debian, Ubuntu etc. can be run there. I've collected a few things about N9 from this point of view at a wiki page.
*) Not sure about every Android phone, but Android is not openly developed anyway so it's hardly a similar free software project such as freedesktop.org projects or Qt

I gave my N900 away now since obviously I cannot make full use of each one of these. I'm multi-SIMming my N9 and the GTA02a7 Neo FreeRunner for daily use, while the other FreeRunner and N950 are purely for tinkering related purposes. The development FreeRunner will get on upgrade to GTA04 once it's available, and then hopefully that can be made into a daily usable phone as well.

By the way, see you in FSCONS in Gothenburg next weekend. Even rms will be there, which is always interesting of course :)

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Timo Jyrinki

The MeeGo community is frustrated with the news of the MeeGo brand being abandoned. Some are understandably angry or otherwise not happy about how Linux Foundation, Intel handled the Tizen announcement and community in general - or more like how they didn't handle it at all. Last week Openmind 2011 happened to be arranged in Tampere on the very same day as Tizen announcement came alive. It was good in the way that it lead to the fact that Nomovok's CEO Pasi Nieminen was able to initiate the "Reigniting MeeGo" session not just by talking vague things about future, but actually about the process which led to Tizen and the unfortunately brief initial PR about it. Pasi is intense on emphasizing the quality and role of Qt in Tizen as well, even though officially Tizen is all about HTML5 and apparently from Samsung's part at least EFL is provided as a native toolkit. However, the promise of Tizen compared to MeeGo is reportedly that the toolkit is not specified in compliancy documents, so HTML5 with WAC is the main/only "3rd party apps" layer whereas others can be offered case-by-case. This means that unlike before, the underlying system can be built on top of practically any distribution (theoretically) and using whatever toolkits and other techniques wanted. Obviously the "Nordic System Integrators" are probably all very keen of using Qt to produce more of Nokia N9 quality user experiences in various products.

Taking the corporate hat off, I as a community member am also puzzled. The only reason I was not completely blown by the news was that I didn't yet manage to get involved in MeeGo community on a daily basis, since I'm involved with a dozen communities already. Instead I've been more like scratching the surface with MeeGo Network Finland meetings, IRC activity, OBS usage for building a few apps for MeeGo Harmattan and MeeGo proper etc. But I can somewhat understand how people like Jarkko Moilanen from meego-fi feel. They have given a _lot_ to the MeeGo community and brand, all taken away without hearing or pre-notice.

So where to now for MeeGo community? Tizen is one obvious choice. However, for all the talks that even I started this post with, Tizen is still vaporware today, and the dislike of how community is being treated might make it easy to consider other options. Also, if Tizen's reference implementation has lesser meaning, it might also mean less to actually be "in" the Tizen community than in MeeGo. I met Jos Poortvliet at Openmind, and he invited people to openSUSE. There is a lot of common ground with MeeGo and openSUSE - strong OBS usage, RPM packaging, community side focused on KDE and therefore Qt.

I would like to now point similarly to Debian! If one is tired about corporate interests and not listening to community, there is no match for Debian's 15+ years history, purely volunteer based, trust based organization, and first of all scope. While openSUSE has traditionally focused on desktop (even though like Jos pointed out they are open to all new contributions and projects), Debian has always had the "universal" scope, ie. no boundaries besides producing free software operating system for various purposes. There are over 10 architectures maintained at the moment, including the ARM (different ports for ARMv4 and hard-float ARMv7) and x86 from MeeGo world. There are even alternative kernels to Linux, mainly the GNU/kFreeBSD port. There are multiple relevant plans and projects like the Smartphones wiki area, most noticeably Debian on Neo FreeRunner. I have run Debian on my primary mobile phone for over 2.5 years, although now in the recent months I've had dual-SIM in my Nokia N950 as well (Debian not yet running on Nokia N950 or Nokia N9 - but it can and will be done!).

What Debian may lack in both good and bad is corporate funding, if you don't count the still quite respectful contributions from Ubuntu to Debian (it's in Ubuntu's interests to contribute as much possible back to Debian, so that the delta remains small). For each and every aspect, it needs a volunteer - there are a thousand volunteer Debian Developers, and at least a double of that of people without the official DD status but who still maintain a package or two among the 25000+ packages in Debian. That means also that one my find it more lucrative to join a project that has paid people to do some of the "boring parts", more of fancy web tools, including for bug handling and build systems like the OBS (which I do love by the way). On the other hand, there is no other project in my opinion where what you do really matters as much.

To find out more about Debian from MeeGo perspective, please see the recent mailing list post Mobile UXes - From the DebConf11 BoF to the stars where I wrote most of the MeeGo (CE) part when I was asked to and known of my MeeGo involvement.

Last but not certainly least, there is the Mer project - originally "maemo reconstructed", ie. making Nokia's "not really distro" into a real distro by filling in the void places. Now it's obviously MeeGo reconstructed, and they aim to be the MeeGo they always wanted MeeGo to be! Read the post for details from Carsten Munk and other key Mer people. They share the love for Qt, and want the core to be as lean as possible. They also aim to incorporate the most community like aspect from MeeGo - MeeGo CE - as the reference vendor in Mer. They also aim to be Tizen compliant - and when Tizen comes alive, I wouldn't see why the Tizen reference implementation couldn't be used for saving resources. Maybe Nomovok and/or others could offer the Qt maintaining part.

So, it might be that Tizen itself is enough for most people's needs. The key point however in this post is not to fall in agony if one corporate based project takes big turns - it has happened before, it will happen in the future. There are always enough political and business reasons from some points of view to do Big Changes. But the wider community is out there, always, and it's bigger than you think. You should consider where you want to contribute by asking yourself why you are/were part of for example the MeeGo community. Aaron Seigo from KDE asked us all this question in the Openmind MeeGo Reignited session, and I think it's good to repeat.

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