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Popular tags: Mozilla, SeaMonkey, L10n, Status, Firefox

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June 21st, 2011

The Day Of The Next Generation

Technology. The current frontier. These are the voyages of June 21st, it's ongoing mission to find strange new releases, new devices, and new software. To boldly go where no day has gone before...

This is surely an interesting day. Nokia has just presented the Linux-powered Nokia N9 with a completely new UI and it's surely a very slick device, interesting UI concept, and no matter if system-wise this midway point between Maemo5 and full-fledged MeeGo can be called "MeeGo" legally, having a mass-market phone out there that comes with a fully open "real Linux" is awesome.
The N900, which feels old, slow and clunky nowadays, has a damn good successor - even though the keyboard-attached N950 version has been blocked by carriers and is only available as a "loaned" dev kit to people creating N9 apps. I hope to see that N9 device out there soon, and perhaps it's done well enough that the absence of the keyboard can be taken, but I'd really need to test it for that. Also, I hope that enough of the UI stuff can be opened enough that MeeGo proper can ship it as well. Until all that clears up, I'll keep testing the MeeGo N900 Community Edition, which is shaping up nicely as well. Hopefully open-software phones have a future with all those moves (and I surely hope other vendors will chime in as well, as Nokia can't be fully trusted in that way any more).

But there's much more: I just saw Mozilla people on the US West Coast join IRC at 5am their time and start their work day - Firefox 5 is going public today as the first one off our new release process. While it doesn't ship a lot in terms of new features, the big thing here is that it kickstarts the new process that will get us new Firefox releases every 6-12 weeks that are easy to update to because they don't have a ton of new stuff but still a number of nice features. This time, CSS Animations are probably the only larger thing (next to performance improvements), and most users won't notice them yet, unless they look for some demos. But, the important point is that they're ready and so we can ship them to hundreds of millions of people, not needing to wait for a major version coming in a year or so. It's (going) out there, right now!
This is also the first release I have been there in "Crash Scene Investigation" for its whole cycle, and we learned a lot about a number of things in this cycle, including that we need to attract more people to the Aurora and Beta channels to get even better data, but also that there are some classes of crashes and hangs we need to take a closer look at, and we are doing that. All in all, our beta numbers of Firefox 5 have been quite good, we expect it to be at least as stable as Firefox 4.0.1, probably somewhat better.

In addition to this, Mozilla is shipping the probably last security update to Firefox 3.6, Thunderbird ships a security update for 3.1, and, very importantly, Firefox 5 also ships for Android and the before-mentioned N900 (maemo5) today, right at the same time with the desktop Firefox!

Not enough, though: The SeaMonkey team has just finished up building the first beta of SeaMonkey 2.2 and will ship that to its beta testers later today. This version has the same web-facing features as Firefox 5 (including CC Animations) and the security fixes shipped in other versions today, as well as a number of smaller fixes to SeaMonkey code, some of which have been found since 2.1 has been released.
I'm informed that the team will try to ship the final 2.2 release as soon as possible in the next weeks, hoping that this first beta will do well in testing.

And it's surely possible that this day has even more in store, it's not over yet! ;-)


By KaiRo, at 15:35 | Tags: Firefox, MeeGo, Mozilla, N9, N900, SeaMonkey | 8 comments | TrackBack: 1

February 12th, 2011

Device Vendors: Think MeeGo Now!

If you're a mobile device (say, smartphone or tablet) creator (manufacturer, vendor), now is the best time for you to start making MeeGo your prime strategy!

Here's why:
  • The project is very much alive, and has support from at least Intel and AMD, and a few others, including still Nokia.
  • The MeeGo system is ready in its bases, with the world-class Linux base giving it all stability and security you need. The applications need some polish and getting them to fully work, but most of the bits and pieces are there, and you'd need to do the finishing touch and polish on any other system as well. And with Firefox 4 Mobile, you get the most fully featured mobile web browser available on the market - and it's already there!
  • With MeeGo, you're not bound to any specific vendor as data store or a single, specific application market - community repositories for applications are available for anyone to use, but you can easily put your own services into what you deliver by default if you like.
  • But now, after the Nokia+Microsoft announcement, as a device manufacturer, you don't have to fear to have massive competition from Nokia on your hands soon within the still small MeeGo ecosystem - which is good as you can easily get even #1 on this emerging market.
  • You have a great community of Maemo and MeeGo enthusiasts that already now await any device that runs that system - without you even building up any market. Nokia has already done that for you as well as made most of the system available, they just didn't make use of what they created. You can.
  • And if you dare to play the openness card and mean it, you have not just enthusiasts there, you have an army of beta testers and developers for your devices and software who are more than willing to work with you (without any payment - though they'd love device donations to help testing) to make the devices and software better. And they'll do a lot of spreading the word, helping your marketing, also basically for free! (Well, all they take for it is the rights to their own freedom.)
About the only thing you need to give up is the "boom" effect of presenting the new device, as the community will know about it during development. But then, this even works well for a lot of software projects.

You instantly gain a fellowship of your products even when they're not out in the open yet, and people who are willing to help you to make the product a success. Which device manufacturer can say that?

I go, we go, you go MeeGo. Now.

By KaiRo, at 18:56 | Tags: MeeGo, mobile | 12 comments | TrackBack: 1

February 11th, 2011

Hände weg von Nokia!

Ja, die Nachricht klingt aktionistisch, aber das ist nicht mal die primäre Motivation hier. Ich kenne einige Leute, die sich nach neuen Smartphones umschauen, und nach der heutigen Nachricht einer Kooperation zwischen Nokia und Microsoft kann ich jedem nur abraten, ein Nokia-Gerät zu kaufen.

Die Gründe sind erst mal ganz auf der logischen Seite:
Symbian soll ab heute für die Firma nur mehr als Geldkuh diesen, aber wird nicht mehr wirklich weiter entwickelt (das hatte ich fast vermutet) - was aber heißt, dass es kaum sinnvoll ist, ein solches Gerät zu kaufen und bald ohne jeglichen Support da zu stehen. Auch Entwickler wird es wohl kaum noch reizen, neue Apps für ein sterbendes System raus zu bringen.
MeeGo als Nachfolger von Maemo wurde als experimentelle Plattform für zukünftige Entwicklungen zurückgestellt und dient nur mehr als mögliche langfristige Perspektive für eine nächste Generation. Das mag für ein paar Hardcore-Entwicklungsfanatiker wie mich noch eine Option für irgendwann bieten, aber für Benutzer ist es erst mal belanglos.
Windows Phone 7 (WP7) als neue Plattform bei Nokia wird wohl noch einige Zeit dauern, bis es auf Geräten erscheint und rund läuft - nach bisherigen Berichten hat das System selbst noch seine Probleme, ganz zu schweigen von Anpassungen an Nokia-Hardware. Da ist nicht damit zu rechnen, das bald etwas massentaugliches kommt.

Also, für einen Benutzer, der ein Gerät will, das funktioniert und auch mittelfristig unterstützt wird, ist jegliches Nokia absolut die falsche Wahl jetzt und in naher Zukunft (obwohl die Hardware der Geräte bisher immer sehr gut war).

Aus dieser Sicht hat Nokia damit ein desaströses Geschäftsjahr angekündigt (Investoren stimmen mir da zu, derzeit sind die Aktien 13% im Minus - an einem einzigen Tag!) und nach diesem Jahr ist die Firma ev. so günstig zu haben, dass Microsoft sie dann ganz einkauft (böse Zungen mögen meinen, das war die Strategie hinter der Positionierung von Ex-Microsoft-Manager Elop als CEO bei Nokia). Also auch wirtschaftlich sollte man derzeit besser von Nokia Abstand nehmen.

Aus der Sicht eines Mozilla-Community-Mitglieds, das einen mobilen Firefox verwenden will, ist durch die Verhinderung von nicht-C#-Programmen bei WP7 die neue Nokia-Linie genauso tot wie das mit ähnlichen Regeln ausgestattete iOS (iPhone) oder Symbian, für das nie ein Mozilla-Port geschrieben wurde. Mit der Unsicherheit, ob und wann MeeGo wirklich für einen normalen Markt brauchbar wird, scheint nur Android (mit allen seinen Tücken und Krücken) übrig zu bleiben - jedenfalls auch kein Nokia.

Aus der Sicht des Open-Source-Fanatikers und jemandem, der die möglichst volle Kontrolle über seine Geräte haben will, ist natürlich jedes ganz oder teilweise geschlossenen System ein Greuel, sei es iOS ganz oben auf der Skala, oder WP7 oder sogar Android (obwohl das noch das kleinste Übel von den dreien ist). Will man ein wirklich zugängliches Gerät, bleibt derzeit nur, sich mit dem alternden N900 zu begnügen - oder darauf zu hoffen, dass MeeGo-Geräte doch noch kommen. Möglicherweise kommt ja auch jemand anderer als Nokia und bietet Geräte, die mit diesem System gut laufen. Mit vielen in der Community hat Nokia durch die heutigen Ankündigungen allerdings das Vertrauen gebrochen, denn Microsoft ist für die meisten davon kein großer Freund - und man hätte genauso die ganze Firma auf eine schnellere MeeGo-Produktion einschwören können, denn Maemo 5 war nicht wirklich ressourcenhungriger als WP7, so weit ich weiß, hätte also mit etwas Polieren und Auffrischen (Maemo 6 a.k.a MeeGo/Harmatten?) die gleiche Stellung haben können.

Das alles macht jedenfalls alles in allem sehr stark das Bild, dass man wohl derzeit nichts angreifen sollte, wo "Nokia" drauf steht (außer man hat es schon gekauft).

Schade, denn bis heute war ich eigentlich ein Freund dieses Unternehmens. In Zukunft werde ich wohl deutlich offener gegenüber Alternativen sein, und hoffen, dass doch noch etwas wirkliches offenes wie MeeGo (oder etwas vergleichbares) auf den Märkten verfügbar wird. Vielleicht sollte ich mir in Zukunft auch Palm/HP nochmal näher ansehen, WebOS kann nicht schlimmer als Android sein. Bis dorthin funktioniert mein N900 aber auch gut kann vieles, was ich will.

By KaiRo, at 16:57 | Tags: Fennec, MeeGo, Microsoft, N900, Nokia, WP7 | 1 comment | TrackBack: 1

January 2nd, 2011

First N900 impressions

I have mentioned in recent weeks that the touchscreen on my N810 stopped working (I could track it down to a problem with the ribbon coming out of the screen, right adjacent to its plug to the main ribbon, but that's nothing I can really fix) and so I have been looking for getting some kind of replacement for the usual tasks I performed on that device - mainly using ssh to get into other machines, do GPS tracking/mapping and accessing the web.

Now, I value the openness of the Maemo OS2008 system on the N810, as it's a full Linux that easily lets you have root access and install whatever you want on the device - even alternate operating systems if you wish to do so. Compared to that, even Android is a closed system (not to mention iOS or WinMobile). The Nokia N900 already came out in 2009 with the next version of the OS, Maemo 5, but that was some time ago, and meanwhile MeeGo had been announced as Maemo's successor (with the same level of openness) and new devices with that were originally expected for late 2010, so I had been waiting for those to jump to the new generation immediately, being eager to test MeeGo and Firefox 4 Mobile (which isn't available for the N810 any more).

Well, with the N810 problems and the delays in getting MeeGo handset versions ready and therefore the delay in the new devices becoming available, I finally settled for trying to get a used N900 from eBay - and I finally did win an auction for one at just 177 Euros. Not fully trusting private-to-private remote transactions, I didn't really want to believe it though until I finally had it in my hands a few days ago.

At first, I was a bit weary to do too much on Maemo 5 (and even more to use it as a phone), as I'd really like to go testing MeeGo, which has images for N900 available, but I figured I first should see how well the device itself works with the system it comes with. I updated the system to its latest release (which made it go into some strange start-install-and-reboot loop and had me actually flash it with the new version) and look for the application I liked to install, Mappero and Firefox being among them. And I even tried to get over the data from both the N810 and my Symbian phone, which worked fairly well (though getting SMS messages over required some fiddling with community-provided tools).

Once I tried and put the SIM card from my phone over into the N900, I realized I really can use the new device for that purpose as well - even though a few smaller improvements of the contact app would be helpful. Still, it works better than I expected. Even Firefox 4 Mobile (beta) works well - it's not very fast at startup but I expected it to be worse, and it performs reasonably well even with multiple "tabs" for being a full browser with all web-facing features that desktop Firefox 4 has.

All in all, for being more than a year old technology, this device still holds up better in comparison to the current generation that I would have expected, and it completely grew on me even in the just two days since I put it into full use. OK, it has some slightly rough edges, but I'm both used to doing beta testing (which this doesn't feel like, actually) and using very open Linux-based systems.

Oh, and I figured that while playing (Open!) Dune II is not that comfortable with a touch screen (but fun on a mobile device) it's absolutely awesome to play tuxrace with the accelerometer controls! ;-)

By KaiRo, at 15:17 | Tags: Firefox, maemo, MeeGo, mobile, N810, N900 | 1 comment | TrackBack: 0

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