It has been a long journey for me in the open-source mobile front. And it all started around 2 years ago, when I received my beloved N950.
Actually it started quite some time before.
Be Qt !
I entered in the Qt world 5 years ago. As an user of KDE3, I wanted to develop for KDE, so I learnt C++ and Qt. I had fun hacking small stuff, like some UI with Qt widgets, or some Plasmoids for KDE using either C++ Qt, or PyQt. It was fun, I was young, and was just learning. It was the time when I used to double-delete pointers, or use the same name for local variables and class members.
Then, with Qt 4.7, something new appeared: QML and QtQuick. The new declarative language was designed to make UI more dynamic and easier to create. I was skeptical at the beginning, but decided to embrace it, to learn the future-proof solution. While the scripting part annoyed me (I always loved pure C++ for more performances), I found it particularly nice to use, and fun to play with.
In the mean time, I followed Moblin, a nice OS for Netbook that was developed by Intel, before seeing that Nokia, the developer of Qt, and Intel, the developer of Moblin, decided to merge it to create MeeGo, an OS for smartphones, netbooks, that will use Qt.
/Me Go to mobile
The development of MeeGo was, at best, hard, and at worst, chaotic. However, the community was nice, and there were a lot of interest from all over the world. I liked the fact that an OS would be developed to the open, but did not contributed much to it. I was still a beginner, and even failed to install most of the development tools.
For about 2 years, I was still a young padawan, learning Qt, C++, and stuff around Linux and mobility in general. In the meantime, MeeGo was clearly dying. Nokia first abandoned the project, as it was not in the best economical shape, and I felt that Intel was also struggling to do the project alone.
But suddenly, one morning of in summer 2011, everything got kick started. The Nokia N9 was announced, being the first and last MeeGo(ish) phone from Nokia, the N950, developer edition got announced, and I received one, thanks to Nokia, via the MeeGo forums.
The N950 was my first experience for mobile development, and it was a pretty good one. I had a lot of fun hacking apps, and the internals, discovering how to change the lockscreen and tried to hack some apps. Sadly I did not released any of them, because of lack of time, and lack of polishing.
The small ship to escape the burning platform
Of cause, I missed one very important event that is February 11th, where Nokia announced that they would go Windows Phone. For me it was quite a shock, as I was betting everything on the Nokia Qt (+ MeeGo) strategy. Having Nokia not doing any Qt product again made me wonder if I was even doing something meaningful.
And once again, a new spark triggered a whole new set of events. In this bright Suiss summer one year ago, Jolla announced on Twitter that MeeGo was actually not dead, and that a group of guys wanted to continue working on a Linux and Qt based smartphone.
Actually, I was waiting for it. The creation of the Mer project, and Nemo mobile, that were continuation of MeeGo core, and MeeGo community handset UX were some hints that MeeGo was continuing, at least on the community side.
In the meantime, I learnt more about UI / UX by studying most of the available platforms, created this blog and JollaFr with nsuffys. I also joined Mer and Nemo IRC channels and met some awesome people, starting with Faenil, but also Iekku, known for the weekly bug triage she is doing for Mer and Nemo. There was also a friendly hacker, known as Stskeeps, that used to help me discover Mer and Nemo.
For those who don’t know, Stskeeps or Carsten Munk, is the Mer project architect, and was also the initiator of the libhybris project, that enables the use of Android drivers in glibc based environnements. I also met some other people, like w00t, that I have heard about in the MeeGo project, or sledges(Sim), qwazix, Venemo etc. Quite a few nice hackers.
So far, yet so close
More events, came, and everything got faster and faster, leading to the end of the year, where finally Jolla will release their product.
In November I attended Slush, and met Faenil, Qwazix, and fk_lx IRL. fk_lx is an enthusiast from Poland that got involved in the open basis (Mer / Nemo) of Jolla’s Sailfish OS more recently, and his contributions, especially in the Dolphinaric initiative, have to be underlined.
Slush was the most exciting event I went. The reveal of Sailfish OS was truly amazing, and I just felt in love with the UI, and the unlike movement.
Be sure to watch and rewatch the announcement video as you can feel the emotion of the team, that are so proud of revealing such a nice product.
My article about this event: Sailfish, a breath of fresh air in UI
In February I went to the Mobile World Congress, following Jolla’s track to their small boxes (they didn’t had any booth 😦 ). I was not alone, this time Nsuffys came with me, and we met for the first time even if we collaborated on JollaFr for 8 month.
We were welcomed warmly during the Jolla blogger meeting, and I received my first Jolla tee-shirt here.
(I’m on the right, Nicolas on the left, and Iekku just between us 🙂 )
In May I got invited by Jolla for the reveal of the Jolla phone, aka the Jolla love day, where I met quite a few more people, like Jason, that manages JollaUK, and the ones behind JollaSuomi and JollaTides. Faenil and fk_lx were here too, and it was good to see them again.
For this time, I just remember the nice and long discussions we had with Jukka Eklund, Iekku, and also Joona Petrell, and Alberto. Once again, emotions and joy since the Jolla phone is really a nice and beautiful product. I also got an “I’m the other half” tee-shirt 🙂
My articles about this event:
- Announcement of Jolla phone, joy and sadness
- Announcement of Jolla phone, between professionalism and failure
Sadly, I missed the Devaamo, and will probably miss SmartDevCon as well ( 😦 ), but in the end of June, I went to an internship at Jolla. It gave me stuff to do during the whole summer holidays, and I could finally understand the feeling of being inside.
I always wanted to blog my experience in the company, but didn’t find any energy to do it. Maybe I will do it one day. In short, I would quote Stefano Mosconi, when he welcomed me: “I just want to show you that, basically, inside the company we are not different, we are just like what we look like outside of the company, opened” (well, I don’t remember the exact sentence, but that’s the idea)
It was really exciting and nice to work in Jolla, and I would really love to go back to Tampere again as soon as possible.
At the beginning of the internship the release day seemed to be so far away, but time flies, and the end took everybody by surprise. Suddenly, there were only 3 or 4 month left. So close …
Just after my leave, Stefano thanked me on Twitter 😳
History repeating itself
Today, (most important parts of) Nokia got sold to Microsoft.
While I broke my links between Nokia long ago (just after the N9, knowing that they won’t support it for long), I still had sympathy for this company, that edited Qt, and made some amazing phones like the N95, E71 (E63) and N900, N9 (N950). I found their Windows Phones not that bad, and even liked the 1020, maybe not enough to consider buying it but still.
Now that Nokia is no more a phone manufacturing company, something more died in me. For me it is the death of the good old Finnish phones. Of cause, Jolla is still around and I hope that they will succeed, but I will remember today as the day that I cut all the links to Nokia.
I shouldn’t bother so much about the past, but I’m a kind of nostalgic guy. Yet, after a whole day of thinking, I found that this news is a good one. It is just about history repeating itself. Several companies were former giants, and had to go through a reconstruction process to reborn as a different entity, and it is what exactly Nokia is doing.
Nokia won’t make phones, but they used to make boots and paper before. And I know that Finns are skillful, slightly introverted but skillful and that they can create great things. Maybe, after some years, Nokia will reborn as a different company, that might offer localization services, or medical devices. Maybe they will become a different giant, and a company that I will appreciate again.
Well, only time will tell, for both the future of Jolla and Nokia. And it is time to stop looking nostalgically at the past. The future is ahead and exciting times are yet to come !