The open-source world in your pocket

    Before I tell you one story that made me rediscover the open-source world, a small prelude is the results of the poll “What first comes to mind when you say 'Linux on the phone'?” :
    66.9% - Android
    20.02% - Maemo / Meego
    13% - other options

    But, no, don’t be afraid, I’m not going to breed another flame on the topic of whether Android is full Linux. We all already know that the point is not Linux as such, but that it was essentially an entry ticket to the open-source world for most of us. Thanks to Linux, many people learned about free open source software, and realized that this is a completely different world - much more worthy, harmonious and, not afraid of the word, spiritual.
    The world that you are free to improve infinitely. A world in which the principles of freedom and mutual respect are key moral principles. A world in which programs are written to work, not to sell. A world in which the computer does not believe that it is smarter than you. A world without viruses and reboots, after all.

    These are not necessarily Linux-based systems, but it has so historically happened that Linux has become the flagship of this world. Having once been in this world, then it is difficult to understand how you can live in a world of closed systems. And, in fact, my story is about how I twice experienced the discovery of the open-source world for myself - first on desktops in the early 2000s, and then on the phone, which is always in my pocket.

    Open-source world on the desktop

    I won’t write much about open source for myself - at that time I was a high school student, I was passionate about programming, sitting out evenings in the computer science cabinet, and nothing boded of trouble. But one day a friend brought a disk with the Red Hat Linux 5.1 distribution kit (not Fedora or RHEL, but much earlier), and I, solely out of idle interest, decided to give it a try. Yes, there was still a very crude system, there it was necessary to calculate the modelines for my monitor with pens to start the X, but I was struck by how deep I can dig, and how much the whole system is obedient and malleable - it makes itself understood and recognized. And it bribed, captured and delighted!
    Later, I learned about the magnificent atmosphere of mutual respect that prevails among developers, the programming culture that is developed by participants in open-source projects, the incredible successes that Linux has achieved in the embedded sector and much more. And although at that time I heard a lot about Linux (“this is a system for geeks, it has few programs, it has no future!”), Returning to Windows would be as stupid and pointless as deliberately returning to prison after release !

    Open-source world on phones

    And now a certain number of years have passed. Gigahertz was growing, computers were decreasing, and at some point I had the thought - I want Linux on the phone. And what - I follow the news after all, read reviews, because a lot of everything has already been released on Linux. I heard about openmoko, about maemo, about some other developments, but - and this is very important but - I had no doubt that Linux on the phone is Android ! And not otherwise! In fact, for a month I had been eyeing different models, comparing inches and megahertz and, again, nothing boded ill.
    Quite by chance, my boss spoke about his friend, who had a Nokia N900. I listened in half-ear, getting ready to tell about the read news about the latest Android-smartphone. But after the phrase “He can even run Open-Office on it in the end!” I became interested. I immediately got into the reviews, I realized that this is really a phone in which Debian actually runs, and it is available in the context of “went to the store and bought”.

    I bought it on the same day, and to this day I am tormented by the thought - how could I not know about THIS before? Why was I so sure that linux on the phone is Android and not otherwise? But, let's leave these considerations to Nokia marketers.

    I can only say that I again experienced this delight, which grips you from the realization that what power and freedom is opening before you! Only now is it in your pocket and is available at any time! This is really full Linux - despite some closed components, the whole system is based on open components - on xorg, gstreamer, pulseaudio, dbus, hal, telepathy and so on. This is a very slender and magnificent system, and still, holding the N900 in my hands, I feel the same benevolence as on the first day of purchase.

    And yet - what is Linux on the phone

    In the context of all of the above, it becomes clear that the only system at the moment that can bring to the phone everything that the world loved Linux for is Maemo / Meego. Even if the Linux kernel is used on other systems and the sources are available, this does not make the system as open and free as we are used to understand the word Linux. Maemo and MeeGo were born Nokia, but raised and raised in the open-source community, and on the same worthy principles and principles.

    Now I regularly listen to such words to Maemo and Meego - “this is a system for geeks, there are few programs for it, it has no future!”. We know, passed!

    Conclusion and Bonus

    In general, with this article I wanted to give a chance, just like me, to learn that “Linux on the phone” is not a dream, but an accessible reality, and to describe in more detail about the Nokia N900, as the first and last real representative of the open world -source on phones.

    But I ended up on the list of those lucky ones who received the Nokia N950 nominal devices. This phone is the dream of hackers. This is the only heir to the N900, but, alas, there were only 250 registered devices (!) And they were not for sale. HOW MUCH is this magical device, I still can not. I’m just getting used to this brutal linux computer every day, apparently covered by the fantastically intuitive and licked interface of an ordinary fashionable smartphone, and then I launch the terminal and write in vim code directly on the phone - with its keyboard. And I don’t even know if I have the moral right to brag or be proud of this miracle ...

    But one thing I can say for sure - the open-source world has long been really available on phones, and those daredevils who are not indifferent to this world - just take a closer look.

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