Clearing the Air About MeeGo

MeeGo Still Has Solid Community Support

Sure, being a journalist may look like the glamorous life: the free peanuts in coach, the press rooms tucked away in the far corners of convention centers, the looks of disdain when you introduce yourself. It's like a dream come true, isn't it?

But, as the comic books say, with great power comes great responsibility... and part of that responsibility entails correcting things when you don't clearly communicate someone's message.

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On Wednesday, while not misquoting him, I misinterpreted a statement from Canonical's Marketing Manager Gerry Carr, filtering Canonical's decision to develop Ubuntu Light and discontinue work on the Ubuntu Moblin Remix as a permanent move away from Moblin (now MeeGo) technology.

Carr e-mailed me some clarifying viewpoints. Let me emphasize that he wasn't asking for a correction--I asked him after he contacted me if I could share these comments to me in this blog, because I felt it was only fair he had a chance to make sure his point got across.

"The first thing to say is that it is not a binary decision around Ubuntu Light and MeeGo. I know it is easiest to see them in direct competition but, for us, doing one does not mean not doing the other. We are pursuing Ubuntu Light as it's great for the Instant web market and the challenges there. Unity will be a great basis for the next Ubuntu Netbook Edition. However, were a customer to engage us for a new Ubuntu Moblin Edition, presumably a MeeGo Edition, we would certainly look at it if the commercials were right. So we are not closing the door on that. As a matter of fact, Mark [Shuttleworth, Canonical's founder] spoke on Monday at the [Ubuntu Developer Summit] keynote about integrating ConMan from MeeGo--about 23 minutes into this video.

"So, as you know, it's a big wide open world and we want Ubuntu in the middle of it, delivering any number of user experiences including MeeGo, Ubuntu Light, Unity, Ubuntu, and whatever else makes sense," Carr wrote.

It's important to note the distinction, because it affects the conclusion of Wednesday's article: that MeeGo was seeing at least one major vendor walk away and in the face of increased competition from Android, it needed to be adopted as a platform by a mobile hardware vendor soon. Technically, that conclusion hasn't changed: MeeGo, in my opinion, needs to have some adoption progress. But the supposition that Canonical had outright dumped MeeGo forever was not accurate: Canonical will put together a MeeGo-flavored distribution if asked.

And there's more evidence that the situation is not as dire as I painted earlier this week. Fedora Community Manager Paul Frields got back to me this morning with a very detailed status update on how MeeGo fits within the Fedora Project. I'll just get out of the way and let you read the bulk of his reply:

"The Fedora Project, and particularly our special interest group for small devices, the Fedora Mini SIG, has substantial interest in MeeGo as a next-generation platform. The Mini SIG is following the MeeGo work to see how we can integrate its revolutionary interface and other development to provide an enhanced user experience for small devices in Fedora. This is made easier by the high degree of remixability and upstream compatibility that Fedora maintains.

"MeeGo features some leading-edge technology choices--btrfs, for instance--that coincide to a great degree with Fedora's position as a leading-edge free and open source software platform. Our community has already done a substantial amount of work in the btrfs upstream, developing its features and integrating it early with Fedora releases. We're also actively involved in further whittling down startup time by spearheading the new upstream systemd project. And although MeeGo is undoubtedly its own animal, software from Fedora has played a significant part in bootstrapping the project.

"These and other similar factors give me encouragement about the future opportunities for collaboration between the MeeGo community and the Fedora Project. Fedora already offers a number of customized alternatives to our downloadable flagship product, which are called spins. We currently offer a spin that features the Moblin Core architecture, and my expectation is that leading up to and following the release of MeeGo, we will be offering a MeeGo-based spin. In that spin we have the capability and the opportunity to converge the standard Fedora configuration with MeeGo's architectural standards, such as turning on btrfs by default.

"The basis of the success of open source as a practice is collaboration. MeeGo represents an opportunity for the Linux community to work together on a fascinating and revolutionary new experience for small devices. For Fedora, and hopefully for the rest of the community, that's a more attractive and consistent approach than creating a separate, forked codebase, or worse, assuming a closed development model. The community should embrace the inherent strengths of the open source model that have resulted in the rapid expansion and adoption of free and open source technologies. I'm excited about the prospect of collaborating with MeeGo as we do with many other projects," Frields wrote.

Clearly, given Frields' statements, the Fedora folks are fully behind the MeeGo interface... which paints a much rosier picture for the continued success of MeeGo. Having Fedora involved (and, by inference, Red Hat) means that MeeGo will have solid developer support beyond it's own community going forward.

Is this enough? From a development standpoint, there no apparent sign that interest in MeeGo is flagging: Fedora is very gung-ho on MeeGo and I've been told the current grumblings about Android's openness are, right or wrong, causing some developers to look at MeeGo with more interest.

I am still concerned that more hardware vendors aren't picking MeeGo up as a platform, particularly in its former existence as Moblin. Any shakiness I have about MeeGo will be settled once more product announcements are made.

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