Tuesday, November 30, 2010

MeeGo Conference 2010, Dublin part 1 -Nov 29th

By Toni Nikkanen

The MeeGo Conference, hosted by Intel and Nokia 15.-17th of November 2010 in Dublin, Ireland, was a developer event packed with people, technical information, energy, and surprise announcements.
The conference started on Monday, but on Sunday a lot of people had already arrived, and were catered for by various pre-conference sessions – both technical and fun. I already got a taste of the big talent present at the conference, for example I got to see an impressively fast map application for the N900 called CloudGPS made by one developer, Damian Waradzyn. If you have the N900, I suggest you try it out!
Monday was the day of the keynotes, and of the surprise announcements.
The key point in Doug Fisher’s (Intel) keynote, in my opinion, was the MeeGo way of working: Inclusion, Meritocracy, Transparency & Upstream First. To drive home the point of Inclusion, Carsten Munk, the lead developer of MeeGo ARM, was invited as a co-presenter on stage. This was a bit exceptional, you rarely see Intel and ARM standing side by side on stage.
Upstream First deserves special attention. It is a point all projects utilizing open source software should take note of, because it can provide benefits for everyone involved. The idea is that if you are using open source software made by others, and if you make improvements to it, you should submit your changes to the original project. The benefit to you is that you don’t need to maintain your own fork of the software, saving you a lot of work when you want to keep up to date with the latest updates to that software. And as a good side-effect, the whole ecosystem benefits too!
Alberto Torres from Nokia reinforced the developer story with a sure grip. The message: Write MeeGo apps with Qt and QML. That’s it, it’s that simple. And, your apps will work also on Symbian and numerous other platforms, too.
The first surprise was that everyone attending the conference will get a free Lenovo IdeaPad Tablet (powered by an Intel CPU and running MeeGo, of course) on Tuesday. The audience cheered!
After the break, Dominique Le Foll from Amino gave his reasons why going with MeeGo was the right choice for the digital set-top box maker. For them, MeeGo was like a turbo on their software team – thanks to it, they were able to start working on their software already when their hardware was still being designed. Traditionally they have had to wait until finalized hardware, before starting work on the software. This alone cut their turn-around time from 18 to 6 months. Le Foll also underlined the benefits of the Upstream First principle in their work.

The real surprise announcement came during the Q&A session with the MeeGo Technical Steering Group: Valtteri Halla (Nokia) and Imad Sousou (Intel), chaired by Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation. In the middle of the Q&A session, Jim Zemlin called AMD VP of software development Ben Bar-Haim on stage. They announced that AMD is joining the MeeGo project, providing MeeGo support for AMD chips and products. If it was exceptional to see Intel and ARM on stage, seeing Intel and AMD on stage working on the same project was even more so.
Ben Bar-Haim also explained how the Upstream First principle was a major factor in deciding to put their support behind MeeGo.

The day continued with interesting technical and community-related sessions. Of those, I would summarize some interesting points: Wayland is going to become the display server of MeeGo in the future, replacing the aging X11 system. Qt is going to gain Qt Quick Components, which are reusable QML UI components, and also Qt3D, making it easy to create 3D applications with Qt and/or QML. The QML developer story is going to be completed by Qt Quick support in the Qt Designer and with QML Observer (a “QML debugger”).
I also found Dr. Till Harbaum’s session on MeeGo on the Beagleboard inspiring: -"with cheap hardware and powerful software, your imagination is now your only limit!"

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