MeeGo Conference 2011

May 30, 2011

In a Nut-shell

The MeeGo Conference was held in San Francisco on May 23-25, 2011. Summary:

“I have to admit #MeeGoConf started off flat but community got me pumped, now back @ Intel & getting more pumped. Cool MeeGo stuff on horizon” – Bob Duffy (@bobduffy)

Community, community, community…

"Sitting in the hack space..."The MeeGo Community (mostly Maemo community members, Nokia employees, and former Nokia employees) made the conference exciting. It was typically their enthusiasm and friendship that pumped energy into the conference.

When the keynote failed to deliver any news or announcements about devices shipping. Meanwhile, the developers in the hacker’s lounge discussed how they could take matters into their own hands.

The keynote was failing to register with the community. But when they brought established community member Robin Burchell (w00t) was brought on-stage for a demo, the audience became more responsive.

Most sessions, as well, were stocked full of people who knew each other well from forums, mailing lists, IRC, and the Maemo days. Tweets coming across the wire identified which topics were hot or exciting. (E.g. the AppUp encapsulator wowed several in the community).

The hacker’s lounge was hands-down the highlight of the conference. Most were the same people that I interact with day-to-day on MeeGo mailing lists and IRC, but there’s something different about meeting them face-to-face. In fact, Arjan van de Ven said as much when I met him, “That’s what these conferences are all about — names and faces.”

Call to Innovate

The most important session I attended was: The MeeGo Architecture Update with Sunil Saxena and Arjan van de Ven. They discussed the changes that happened in 1.2 and some of the changes planned for 1.3. They also discussed how some of the decisions were made (which has been discussed ad nauseum on the mailing lists). But he also made a call for innovation.

Arjan said that he was disappointed at the list of improvements in MeeGo 1.2, and that there is not enough innovation happening within MeeGo right now. Meanwhile, Android is pumping out releases and innovation at the same time. MeeGo will not compete if it does not innovate. “We need to have a mindset in MeeGo to do interesting technology,” said van de Ven. For example, the plans for Qt 5 look very compelling, and van de Ven said, “Can I get it in October??”

And this is not a call for Intel to innovate. It’s a call for innovation within the community. The Architecture board has said that in the future they will not adopt immature technologies again — which is what happened with several of the technologies dropped for 1.2 (e.g. buteo). Instead, they will wait for the technologies to be more mature before adopting them in MeeGo. This means that those in the community must establish and develop the technologies first, and then they may be included based on their merit.

Important Sessions

Another important talk was Carsten Munk’s Transparency, Inclusion, and Meritocracy in MeeGo: Theory and Practice. Munk presented several different patterns for how groups work within the MeeGo community. Each pattern was evaluated for transparency, inclusion, and effectiveness. He also gave suggestions for improvement for each type. If you missed it, be sure to go back and watch the whole thing.

Auke Kok’s talk on systemd was particularly enlightening to me as a distribution maintainer for Indamixx. Kok outlined the history of fast booting in Moblin and MeeGo, and how systemd addresses the problems with that system. He also gave handles to how the new system is configured and extended.

My own session, Writing Interactive Audio Applications with Low Latency was well received. Afterwards, I was surprised to find out how many people outside of Pro-Audio were having troubles with PulseAudio. So, I plan to look more closely at what’s happening and see how I might help things. I was also told that my talk was the most technical talk they attended… so I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. 🙂

Booths and Demos

There were several vendors with booths in the expo area. This included Intel, Qt, Digia, ICS, Nomovok, and basysKom. Most of these were offering outsourcing and training.

Of particular interest was our own Indamixx 2 demo in the Intel booth (See videos from Engadget, The Nokia Blog, and Netbook News. We showed off our version of MeeGo that’s tweaked for audio, and people were very receptive. Probably the best reception is for the combination of Ivory (virtual midi keyboard) and Yoshimi (a synthesizer). But I’m biased, of course.

Nomovok was demonstrating their Steelrat framework. When vendors want to ship their own custom tablet, they help the vendors to do this from start to finish. They also include their own “Steelrat Framework” that accelerates the development of custom UX’s. They also sell their expertise on accelerated graphics. Very impressive vendor.

Round-Up

MeeGo is currently doing well as a starting point for appliances (set-top boxes, kiosks, PIM). The design and openness makes it very easy to create custom applications and user experiences. While tablet/handset/app-store experiences aren’t here today… they are coming.

The split between Intel and “the community” is getting better, but slowly. The Intel AppUp crew made great efforts to mingle with the community. Other key Intel folks seemed… hard to find. Perhaps word of this got out, because on the 3rd day the sessions seemed littered with Intel employees wearing black Intel shirts. (A good thing.)

Last year, I expected that the future of MeeGo would start with the 1.2 release. From the conference it’s clear to me that MeeGo has a future, and it will start with the 1.3 release.

Thanks

I would like to thank the Linux Foundation for sponsoring my trip. Also thanks to Intel for featuring us in their booth. And a world of thanks to Dawn Foster for her tireless effort to build community.