back to article Meltemi is real – Nokia’s skunkworks Linux

Sources tell us that Nokia is developing a Linux-based replacement for its S40 phones, called Meltemi. The news was leaked, accurately, by the Wall Street Journal last week. Now we can confirm it. The codename turned up in an internal communication we saw in April, referring to opportunities for redundant Meego staff “in the …

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The saving of Nokia.....

I hope so, I really do.

My E65 is still an excellent 'phone. First and foremost it is a 'phone.

But it will die one day and a non Windows Nokia will be fabulous.

Don't trust Google with Android, am not going to pay silly money for an Apple [which, as you say, is not that good at being an actual 'phone] so maybe my Nokia E65 will last the next 12 months until these Meltime's come on line.

Is it me, or does it sound the cry of an Ewok : Meltimiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!!! ?

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Megaphone

Good Luck with this attempt

..after botching how many Linux phone platforms ? Was it two ?

I am sure Nokia would have a loyal Linux developer base if they didn't dither all the time and if their Linux platforms were in the price range of Android or (better) Samsung Bada devices. Linux developers want to tinker with their devices and they want to be sure they can buy a compatible device next year.

Maybe Nokia could do something innovative such as a Linux phone wich can be connected to a proper second display and a proper keyboard ? Imagine the Linux hacker developing apps in a bar with his hacker friends...

But that means getting off the Nokia Horse Of Beancounting and being much more like Google and Apple. I guess it requires small teams and simple management organizations. It means going for an extendable, simple platform instead of a grand plan which takes years to implement. Don't try to be perfect; solid is good enough. And please don't make the same silly mistakes of the past again. Your platform must exist a bit longer than it did in the past.

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This is the first thing for a long time I've heard about Nokia that hasn't made me think 'omg wtf are they doing'.

Maybe the positive reception for the N9 in the few places it has shipped has helped some people see the light.

It will take me more than a few Microsoft sponsored gartner studies to make me believe windows phone will ever be anything but a flop.

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WTF?

"Windows phones will occupy the budget smartphone segment, not Linux."

I'm not sure how you came to that conclusion.

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Megaphone

Good Luck with this attempt

..after botching how many Linux phone platforms ? Was it two ?

I am sure Nokia would have a loyal Linux developer base if they did dither all the time and if their Linux platforms were in the price range of Android or (better) Samsung Bada devices. Linux developers want to tinker with their devices and they want to be sure they can buy a compatible device next year.

Maybe Nokia could do something innovative such as a Linux phone wich can be connected to a proper second display and a proper keyboard ? Imagine the Linux hacker developing apps in a bar with his hacker friends...

But that means getting off the Nokia Horse Of Beancounting and being much more like Google and Apple. I guess it requires small teams and simple management organizations. It means going for an extendable, simple platform instead of a grand plan which takes years to implement. Don't try to be perfect; solid is good enough. And please don't make the same silly mistakes of the past again. Your platform must exist a bit longer than it did in the past.

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Bronze badge
Meh

put out to pasture in a s***hole

>Nokia completed the transition of Symbian staff out to Accenture last week.

Errr, I can't think of too many things less fun than joining Accenture.

Better to have been laid off and to get severance rather than have to quit that dirthole.

Locally, our power utility, BC Hydro, has terminated Accenture's back office contracts and in the RFP for the replacements it specifically states that Accenture is barred from submitting a bid this time around.

Far as Linux/S40 goes - great news. I bought an S40 in 2008 and it is ___dated___.

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Anonymous Coward

Try IBM!

>Errr, I can't think of too many things less fun than joining Accenture

I can, try joining IBM! When IBM bought PwC Consulting they made also sorts of nice promises, but a few months later we all had our borg implants and that was that. You had to stop helping the client and just see how much IBM shit you could fit them up with.

Clients with back office support by IBM were especially screwed. Ask Air New Zealand about IBM support.

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Childcatcher

what's a 'budget smartphone'?

Wouldn't Windows make for a big-budget smartphone?

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FAIL

Errr Symbian?

Nokia really is a basket case. Looking for a small, lightweight in-house OS that can replace Series 40? Oh yes.. that would be Symbian. Surely it would be better to use *that* than try and write a new OS. Remember how long MeeGo took?

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@Errr Symbian?

Errr... no

Symbian isn't likely to win any great following now and if it was so easy to do what you suggest it would have been done.

How about taking Linux and:

- make it so it can make calls and ONLY that. Rudimentary gui/contacts/text/alarm clock.

- stripped enough so that batteries last.

- put all phone stuff in hardware, not OS. better for batteries.

- take out anything else. starting with J2ME. if you need Java, get a smartphone, not a S40-Linux.

- no touch screen stuff. that's not what a S40 is about.

Once you have that and you can sell it to the Luddites and the 3rd world, then who knows, this might be an escape hatch away from WinMo. In fact, I bet that's what this project is about.

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Windows

I need a stiff G&T...

This is getting fuc*king ridiculous...

Is Elop certifiable?? Yet ??

This seems not to be a company going down the drain, but commiting kamikaze by trying to destroy a mountain by flying a hang-glider into it.

Sheesh.

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Unhappy

The *ultimate* downfall of Sybian

Outsourced to Accenture.

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What a difference an M makes

Good luck Googling Sybian (NSFW)

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Silver badge

Nice typo

Have the batteries run out on yours? ;-)

Ulm as centre of software development? Can't get my head around that except that Nokia is always good for a new surprise.

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Anonymous Coward

might want to use the following search term minus the quotes "Sybian -Venus"

That was an education

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Headmaster

Check out http://www.uni-ulm.de/en. The university has been an incubator for many mobile tech companies and has a good track record of turning out quality programmers. There a quite a few small mobile software houses in ULM that specialise in mobile apps and mobile firmware.

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Anonymous Coward

there's nothing like

common platforms and common tools to help a manufacturer produce ranges of products quickly and cost effectively

and to provide a stable ecosystem so that third party developers can develop apps for the products in the same way

oh wait ...

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FAIL

Argh

The idea was that Symbian (after a suitable sliming down of the UI) will replace S40 for featurephones and MeeGo will replace Symbian for smartphones and QT will unify the environments.

Then Elop came in and WP7 will be for smartphones and MeeGo was knocked on the head and Symbian was outsourced and QT ended up in limbo.

Now they're starting a third new Linux OS to replace S40 and bringing QT back in, all on a shoestring R&D budget. And smartphones will stlll be WP7, possibly.

Note to Nokia management: Just stop bloody re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. The work has been done. Just execute it and get the phones out there. If you must use WP7 then all you need to do is get QT on it.

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Paris Hilton

A Slimy UI

Do they think there is a market for that?

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Coat

There probably is... if they leave the "m" out...

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Happy

@Goat Jam

There already is and I was using it. I was posting via mobile.

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Sshh

If Elop finds out about Meltimi...

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Anonymous Coward

re: The *ultimate* downfall of Sybian

No, I won't go there...

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I still don't hold out much hope for Nokia's future. This will probably give them a better shot at survival than WinPho, but I still think they've screwed themselves for too long to ever be a significant presence again.

Then again, I'd love to be proven wrong. They used to make very nice phones.

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S40 has no problem

S40 is a mature, extremely fast and responsive OS. Qt port also proved it can be extended.

S40 has NOTHING to do with Symbian. S40 is also the reason why people still buy Nokia. S60 confuses people, it is the interface name/method which came with 7650.

Their new partner and future owner will sure support their linux ambitions, the OS almost killed them. You think?

I also have my personal reserves about Linux on a low power device while something already working/mature exists. When we speak about S40, we talk about ridicolously long battery life (12 days seen on 10xx) and stability (months!), extremely fast startup etc.

They will really go bankrupt taking down the country with them if they dare to fix a working thing. Seriously. S40 line isn't a toy to play with.

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Anonymous Coward

"S40 has no problem "

It does have a problem... it doesn't earn the company any money

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Anonymous Coward

"I also have my personal reserves about Linux on a low power device while something already working/mature exists."

Sheesh! Linux has been on handsets for years. You can argue whether the Motorola A760, say, was a good product or not, but eight years later I think we can all allow developers the luxury of developing for a modern operating system even in the embedded space. (Where "embedded" isn't what it used to be - or still is at the low end - but now offers what was once workstation-level capabilities.)

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It isn't S40's fault

If a company is dumb enough to spend billions without any income, you can't even imagine the costs for breaking a working thing and restart development especially with a partner like MS.

Just making sure J2ME works equally/exactly same on such a configuration will cost amazing price IF they can convince developers.

You think Linux will be open source? OMA DRM, MOAP, WMA DRM, various operator agreements?

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Anonymous Coward

Smartphone intrigue

I'm curious what they have planned for the non-"budget smartphone" market? A successor to the N9?

It begs the question, who is going to cater to the upper end of the smartphone market? I can't see fruitphones stepping up to fill that role.

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Anonymous Coward

Coat, done.

> in April, referring to ... “... the Meltemi organisation”

Let's see, April. Hmmm. Meltemi - isn't that awfully similar to melt my? Melt my S40. April. Hmmm?

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Anonymous Coward

apparently

Meltemi is a wind (in the monsoon season, dangerous to shipping)

so expect some more Nokia flatulence

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Black Helicopters

Still hope

I'm still waiting for a non-developer-only replacement communicator for the E90 with UK availability. If it is running Linux, that has to be a bonus once XDA developers get their hands on it and I reckon it will outlast it's second battery.

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Symbian was screwed by itself

When Symbian went "open source" I was one of many that tried to get Symbian building and running on a simulator. Never have I seen an OS that needs so many quirky and non-integrated build systems. It also had to run on Windows. No wonder the whole "open source" effort came to nothing.

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What they need is strong leadership first

They need a strong personality to lead Nokia, one that has zero tolerance for politics and other BS. One who looks at what users want, and THEN decides on the platform to deliver this through. It is brutally irrelevant which OS you choose other than from the perspective of (a) keeping it under control (unlike Android) but (b) making it easily accessible for 3rd party developers to create an eco system.

Linux CAN possibly offer this, but there the control is an issue. Symbian still is another route if applied sensibly, and I think it was HTC who demonstrated that even with Windows you could make a decent UI, but I suspect it will create too much overhead, and hands a degree of control to Redmond to no right thinking CEO should be willing to accept.

But before anything can happen, Nokia needs to go back to its technical roots - kill the bureaucracy and the stifling political, MBA driven culture. Because then nobody wins..

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they do have a strong personality - their name is microsoft.

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Go Nokia!

Give us proper phones again and save us from this ocean of bland, flowery Gameboys.

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Mushroom

@Andus McCoatover

Hardly certifiable,they are in the extinguish phase now.

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Meltemi is a wind

The word means a hot dry wind in Summer over the Aegean Sea - which can be dangerous for seafarers. Make of that what you will in this context

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Money, Perception and Power

The Money: Microsoft and Nokia

The Perception: Nokia is going "open" and is strong enough to do what is good for all. (Google "do no harm").

Perception side note: MS will control the US marketplace by only making MS/Nokia products available for pseudo-free choice. The rest of the world will have the option of thinking on it's own about it wants.

The Power: MS has used its' legal team to make sure Nokia pays licensing for either OS, hence, making money from either direction.

Note: Methodology of ex-Microsoft employees reminds me of Goldman Sachs suggesting employees take time in their career to find placement in key businesses and government.

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Anonymous Coward

"Money, Perception and Power #

The Money: Microsoft and Nokia

The Perception: Nokia is going "open" and is strong enough to do what is good for all. (Google "do no harm").

Perception side note: MS will control the US marketplace by only making MS/Nokia products available for pseudo-free choice. The rest of the world will have the option of thinking on it's own about it wants.

The Power: MS has used its' legal team to make sure Nokia pays licensing for either OS, hence, making money from either direction.

Note: Methodology of ex-Microsoft employees reminds me of Goldman Sachs suggesting employees take time in their career to find placement in key businesses and government."

Totally agree - this is just a play to make microsoft look like it is a friend of open source to the government. Linux is dead at nokia with microsoft calling the shots.

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Silver badge

Meltemi, Harmattan, Chinook, Freemantle, Sirocco...

Nokia's been using winds as codenames for years. Volkswagen also discovered them recently too (Sirocco, Passat, Bora), and let's not forget the well-travelled "Ghibli" - used by Maserati, but before that, the WW2 Italian aircraft maker Caproni, whence the renowned filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki adopted it as the name for his animation studio.

On the topic, this is good news. The problem with MeeGo was that it was a "Linux distro" for mobiles (and other platforms, I know). This meant that there were many ways to write applications and services - a native widget set, and also Qt, and a browser for web apps too, and myriad installable packages that you had to support... a lot of complexity that needs to be maintained at every release. This is what is killing Symbian - the need to maintain compatibility with APIs that are well past their sell-by date.

Series40 has been successful because it exposes only one API to developers: J2ME. Underneath, the "Domestic OS" is free to change to adapt to new hardware... it might even be a Linux kernel (but I don't think it is).

Similarly, I expect that Qt/Meltemi will be Linux-based, but it won't be a Linux like Debian or Fedora, or even MeeGo: there would be no "native UI toolkit" exposed. Istead, *all* application development will be via the Qt APIs, and the exact mapping of these features to OS functions will be free for Nokia to play with as they see fit. (Again, my guess) only the core functions of Linux, like the POSIX libraries and things like sockets, will be available.

Using Linux greatly speeds up base-porting; using Qt greatly improves applications' resistance to a change of the underlying OS.

For a parallel, think of MacOS/iOS - they're BSD underneath, but almost none of the applications are written to the BSD APIs.

If you consider that what smartphones do today, featurephones will do in two years, then there's a major explosion in mobile applications coming...

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Linux

Think of..

..the iPhone. It's a stripped-down MacOS/BSD. Or that mysterious thing they call "Android". It allegedly runs on Linux ! No kidding !

No man, Linux can indeed run on a phone. It's proven now.

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Silver badge

Life before 2007...

Motorola sold a series of mobile phones in 2003/2004 that used Linux as their OS. These, like Meltemi, were targeted at the low/middle end of the market. There's nothing inherently resource-hungry about the Linux kernel; it's all the crap that gets loaded into a typical distro that Nokia are trying to avoid with Meltemi.

Android is perhaps the worst example: it might be Linux underneath, but it's crippled by the bytecode-based application stack.

Qt, unlike Android/Dalvik, is native machine-code, which means the CPU is immediately more productive. The same benefits of course apply to Samsung's Bada, and this is why Samsung are keeping Bada as an ongoing product. Despite directly costing them money to develop, Bada is actually cheaper than Android. Android might be free, but the CPU and RAM it needs to run adequately most definitely are not. When you're shipping hundreds of millions of devices in a product family, the higher bill-of-materials costs for Android are more significant than the single, upfront R&D cost.

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Stop

Not entirely correct

..because you can also code in C or C++ for Android. It's called the Native Development Kit.

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