Moblin + Maemo + Linux Foundation = MeeGo

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Intel’s had their Moblin mobile Linux distribution for some time. Nokia’s had their Maemo Linux distribution for awhile, too. Neither one really gained much traction in the development community. Along comes Google and everyone’s like “OMG Android!!1″ which must’ve really ticked off Intel and Nokia. In an effort to create a Linux distribution suited for new mobile devices — not just phones — Intel and Nokia are teaming up with the Linux Foundation to create MeeGo.

Yet another Linux distribution, right? Stifle that yawn for just a little longer, and read what Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin has to say:

I’d like to point out four key advantages to MeeGo:

  • MeeGo was built for powerful next generation devices from the ground up; instead of a cell phone system trying to work in netbooks or a desktop system trying to work on phones, MeeGo has powerful computing in its DNA and will take advantage of new hardware form factors the industry hasn’t even dreamed up.
  • It’s truly open, meaning it’s aligned with upstream components (like the Linux kernel, X.org, D-BUS, tracker, GStreamer, Pulseaudio and more) and takes full advantage of the open model. This reduces fragmentation and complexity for ecosystem partners and will make Linux as a whole stronger.
  • Qt and application portability. Developers can target multiple platforms (Windows, Mac, Symbian, etc) and devices with a consistent application API and have them run across a broad range of devices. Consumers will want to access the same apps on various devices. Qt and MeeGo make that possible. Because it already reaches so many platforms, Qt is a safe bet for developers. Because it is already well used, it will make it easy to bring many apps from Windows and the Mac over to Linux.
  • Cross-device support. Closed platforms (like Apple’s iPad) drive up costs for consumers and limit hardware choice. MeeGo is multi-architecture and can power a broad range of devices from your TV to your car to your pocketable computer to your phone. Consumers can keep their apps and use different devices from different producers.

Personally, I think this makes a lot of sense. Shepherding a Linux distribution is hard work. It takes a lot of effort to build and maintain a vibrant developer community, and it takes a certain attitude to really drive an open source project. It’s never been clear to me that Intel or Nokia really got it when it came to the Linux mindset. By moving their Linux efforts under the umbrella of the Linux Foundation, MeeGo should have a much better chance of survival, and should be a real contender against Android for future devices.

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