Wed, 23 Nov 2005

Maemo is not a distro

So, as it turns out, Maemo isn't a Linux distro. It's a Linux image. If you want to remove packages, guess what? You lose! They have dpkg installed, but initially it thinks it has no packages installed, because ... it doesn't. Everything in the image has been carefully placed there, and then forgotten about. I think that by only filling up the flash half-full, they figured that nobody would ever want to delete something from the base package.

I worked on handhelds.org's Familiar distribution. We shipped images, sure, but those were images that had been created by the package manager, and retained all the package manager information. So, for example, if one package was found to have a problem, it could be upgraded to another package. I don't see how Nokia can do incremental updates except by pretending that an update package is a completely new package to be installed.

It really looks like Maemo has started back in 1999 and is intending to reproduce all the mistakes that we made. It would be better if they made new mistakes.

UPDATE 11/24: Tomas points out that Maemo isn't even TRYING to be a distro, so my anti-thesis cannot be correct. He says that the 770 is just an embedded device. If you want it to do something different you should expect to reflash it. Perhaps he's right, but I never thought of the 486 EISA machine sitting next to me as an embedded device, and yet the 770 has more resources available to it. Why should a computer cease to be a computer simply because it fits in your pocket?

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