So we need yet another Mobile OS? Intel and Nokia seem to think so and they have released MeeGo as an open source project.
Is this just another flavour of mobile Linux to confuse the issue?
It seems that the growing trend is to announce a new operating system targeting mobile devices. This is a strange idea because most of the power is in the hands of the mobile device manufacturers. In other words, most customers don't buy a handset and then install an OS on it; they buy a complete unit with a, hopefully, well developed ecosystem of OS and applications.
The whole phenomenon seems to have been stimulated by the need to compete with the iPhone and its radical multi-touch user interface and the entry of Google into the OS market with Android. If you throw in speculation about Goolge's Chrome OS then it looks as if operating systems are becoming increasingly interesting - especially so on the mobile front which in this case also means netbook devices and hardware that fits between netbooks and mobile phones.
Recently Nokia and Intel have teamed up to give us another alternative in an increasingly over-crowded market. If you take Nokia's Maemo OS, which runs on the N900 smartphone, and Intel's Moblin which targets netbooks then the result is MeeGo - which hopefully targets smartphones, tablets, networks and even more embedded technology like TVs and in car devices. It runs on Intel Atom and ARM based platforms.
The big problem with merging two operating systems is that it's a big job and after a promising announcement it could take some time before the details of the resulting system become clear. However, we have just reached a milestone in that the MeeGo source code has been released as Open Source - which isn't unreasonable as it is based on the Linux kernel. At the moment not all of the OS has been released and it is not clear if it will all be open source in the future.
You can also obtain bootable images of the OS for the platforms it supports - Nokia N900 ARM and any handset based on the single chip "Moorestown" Atom system. However the functionality that you get isn't going to be much beyond a command line OS because the UI components are included.
At the moment the release only includes the Base layer and the Middleware layer - the UI is contained in the User Experience layer. Meego's UI is based on Qt, Clutter and GTK+ and appears to have operating modes to sue both handheld and netbook devices. The middleware layer includes comms, Internet services, media services, data management, device and personal services.
From a developer point of view the important details are that MeeGo SDK supports C++ and there is a Qt user interface creator which acts as the main IDE. It is also going to be fairly easy to accommodate the major components of an existing application because this is yet another Linux based mobile OS and uses a well known approach to the UI.
Currently the website is promising a first release sometime in May and LG is promising an Atom based MeeGo phone this year. The big question is why bother getting involved in yet another mobile OS? At the moment the introduction of yet another environment to support doesn't seem like a plus point.
More information: http://meego.com/
Nokia and Intel have now released MeeGo 1.0 for touch based systems, tablets and in-car devices. MeeGo 1.1. which will include support for netbooks will be released later this year.