Me Tizen, You Join?

Mobile Linux characters have been acting out lately like they were in a bad adventure movie.

Maemo lopes slowly and reluctantly toward its fatal date with the sunset.  MeeGo blinks in the same sun and finds its full commitment gone.  And like a battle-tested Phoenix, Tizen emerges from the ashes of twice-burned, thrice-shy skepticism.

Such is life in the largely undeveloped desert ecosystems outside the expanding stockade walls of Appleworld, Microsoftia and the remaining fading few. 

I knew something was developing on, under or around MeeGo for the past few months but until I dropped down in SEA-TAC airport last Tuesday evening I had no idea it was so drastic an overhaul.  Of course “drastic” is in the eye of the beholder, and just like Maemo-to-MeeGo before it, the Tizen announcement has polarized those affected into two basic camps: those seeing the change as necessary and evolutionary versus those seeing it as unnecessarily destructive.

As noted in the previous article here, I’m trying not to rush into judgment.  Yes, the move to an HTML5 focus is disruptive but is it necessarily destructive?  Well, many Qt developers thought so at first, but Nomovok’s assurance that they will provide support for Tizen + Qt should encourage most if not all.

Developers are an important part of any software-oriented community, of course, and that was especially true of Maemo.  But community goes far beyond coders.  The enthusiasts need to be sold on Tizen, too, and that isn’t going to be easy.  Will it require another Dublin-scale event to sway the cynics?  It sure couldn’t hurt.

And then there’s governance.  Intel was more hands-on than Nokia was with Maemo, and there were grumblings about MeeGo governance and transparency.  This is noteworthy since only the diehards stuck with the migration from the former to the latter.  Now the move to Tizen threatens to fragment the open source community even further.  Keep in mind that many are still trying to keep Maemo alive in some fashion, and it didn’t take long for the dedicated MeeGo community to float similar proposals.  OpenSUSE was quick to reach out and offer one possibility, and there will surely be more.

That said, I do expect Tizen to attract its own following regardless of skepticism.  Many will undoubtedly be drawn from web-centric developer pools, in all likelihood including the uncertain WebOS community (unless the rumor of acquiring that operating system prevents a mass exodus).  At some point I expect to see further convergence in the mobile Linux realm.  It’s inevitable.

I’m personally on the fence for now.  I invested in Maemo– that went bust.  Put even more effort into MeeGo– poof.  But as with many bloggers who devoted miles of text to both ventures, it’s the rebranding that mostly affects my participation.  After all, I have yet to write a line of code for either (although I am preparing to try my hand at Qt) and have been mainly involved in community building, cultivating and advocating.  Most of the projects I have worked on will translate well to Tizen; indeed, I see starter activities like MeeGo Greeters as necessary for speedy ramp-up.  Same for solving essentially unanswered questions such as “Why MeeGo?”.

But I’m not just going to analyze and criticize.  I have some more suggestions:

  • Pick a talking head, and have them talk.  There were times of silence in Meegoland, and that’s just not acceptable.  Even a frequent “we still can’t say much, but here’s what we can say” can do wonders.  And try to limit messages to the owner of the message to ensure accuracy… but by all means make them highly available!
  • Forget the “because we say so” answers.  Just excise that habit completely from your response vernacular.  They do damage to your credibility.  Same goes for automatic defense of any decision– you might just be in the wrong.  If strong, knowledgeable members of your community say so, be prepared to hear them out… and if you must counter, do so with facts, not emotion.
  • Foster some fun.  At AppUp Elements 2011, Bob Duffy asked our community panel what the AppUp/Tizen communities could do better.  I suggested contests, and I see them as an easy, popular way of injecting fun and excitement into the experience.  Consider this:  you only really need one reward offered in any contest, not one per participant.  And people thrive on fun competitions.  AppUp has already held some cool coding contests, and Meego did so with tee-shirts for conferences.  More, please.  Maybe create a Ministry of Fun?
  • Support regional/local outreach.  The Linux Foundation was right to let this activity grow organically from grass roots, but stronger support would have been helpful.  We were working on budgets for this at MeeGo, but I’m guessing the shift to Tizen is what stifled that.  I’m expecting that to be revived now.
  • Kill the Genie.  Seriously.  What a creepy mascot.  And how does it associate with Tizen?  Why not design something around the actual concept of Zen?  If you don’t, though, I will.  Maybe a contest?  😉
  • Speaking of branding: the logo font has got to go, too.  It makes me think of balloon animals.  Let’s change it.  Significantly.

There are others, but I’m tapped out for now.  More to come as I get to it.

One thing I will say that’s been done right so far is one of those small-but-big details: a .org for the domain.  That speaks volumes.  Now let’s hope the rest of the walk matches the talk.

All thoughts welcomed.

(and in case the joke of the headline doesn’t translate universally, it’s a play on the old “Me Tarzan, you Jane” line related to Tarzan movies)

27 responses to “Me Tizen, You Join?

  1. I like the community contest for a new character. Looking at the genie more, it looks like his body is a knot, swirled (tied) up. So I do like that. What I really don’t like is the face. Even if they just removed the face I’d be happier

  2. Pingback: Me Tizen, You Join? | Tabula Crypticum | Maemo Meego

  3. I have to say i like most of it.. I like the name, the font but so much the genie. They should chose a better mascot. As you said it is to complicated for a logo.

    I do not feel as alienated as i did with Maemo/Meego merge. I think that merge soften me up a bit and made be try to see things in perspective. Maemo was in many cases the perfect device for me. It used Apt and GTK. It was not as locked down. Had a good UI. And then came Meego and disrupted everything. With RPM, QT and stuff… Looking back on it now makes me smile.

    If we just can have a standard “gnu/linux” build i am sure everything will work out all-right. I am looking forward on getting accounted with Tizen. I hope they don’t invent something stupid as Aegis. It ruined Harmattan for me. That they keep their promise on open governing and that both back-end and front-end are open. Tizen could be for mobile like Debian is for desktop. It could become total awesomeness!!

  4. Or are we starting to see a pattern of distracting OS development. Start with some halve baked platform (moblin) and suck up one successful community after the other. Make sure to drain as much energy out of developers by offending about anything against good community interaction. Be more bleeding edge than fedora, and use their much hated package system (that for sure will not work on resource constrained hardware). Slowly throw away anything that works for something that will work even better (soon).

    My advice, start with development once you have the hardware in your pocket, which is for sale, e.g. maemo5 or harmattan.

    • I get what you’re saying, but I still think bringing relevant dev platforms into the equation is useful for bootstrapping a developer community. But eventually, you’re right: the retail hardware HAS to show. Just look how the N950 galvanized the MeeGo community!

      So come on, Samsung: show us the hardware!

  5. I am frankly dismayed by the developments, although I wasn’t totally surprised. Intel has let down a lot of commercial entities with their turnabout on meeg, esp. the GENIVI conglomerate.

    I think that politics played a part here. gnome/gtk/fsf politics have prevailed. Theyhave been plotting to throw out QT in favour of gtk ( as they did with moblin/maemo). As one poster above, he feels most “confortable” with gtk – religion and plitics, NOTHING else.

    So intel has cowtowed to these people and decided to start from scratch, ONCE again. Is it any surprise that Nookia broke ranks ? the problem was not nokia, it was intel all along.

    I don’t think that this venture will go very far either. intel is not to be trusted anyways and most vendors found out. they are way too behind in chips for smartphones and are too inept and incompetent to ever catch up. With all their monopoly money and marketing clout, they haven’t come close to catching up with nvidia and ATI, how can they beat qualcomm, which itself is a big co. now with lot of cash and the ubiquitious ARM, with a lot of mindshare and marketshare ?

    RIP, tizen or ( gnome or) whatever.

    • I can’t blame anyone for doubt. I have my own. Right now I’m pulled in three directions, community-wise, and I’ll either have to participate at a different level than before or… maybe pick just one. For now I’m going to do less talking and more listening…

  6. The ‘Genie’ – I thought it was an extracted tooth. Well.

    I’m not too enthusiastic. I don’t see a reason to start all over again. “HTML” 5 (which I don’t consider HTML any more – industry won over reason, once again) could have been slapped on top of everything. Hey, even Nokias S40 lets you develop standard-conformant web applications using HTML and JavaScript. – It’s just that nobody wants to code an application in JavaScript if there’s an alternative.

    The point that you could still use Qt “because Tizen is GNU/Linux” is not valid. It does matter if Qt is part of the official stack (and people know a Qt application will run on any Tizen device) or will only exist as an esoteric add-on like this Novomok thing; something that needs to be added – if the user is allowed to do so. Why get excited about Novomoks “Tizen plus Qt” if all handsets/tablets will have generic “Tizen without Qt”?

    It’s nice and all that to have at least some grand-child of what could have been an open operating system for the mobile space (Maemo). But from what I see, it’s one step to the left, two steps backwards and losing half of your memory on the way. All I keep thinking is: Where could Maemo have been meanwhile? Maemo 8 could run my stereo and my tablet now… It’s this “stop, go back, start new” that drives me mad. Do we really expect Tizen is here to stay? What’ll be next year’s name?

    • What has you soured on HTML5, Oskar? The Canvas object? Something else?

      • “HTML” 5? Guess that’s too far off topic, but I’ll try to mention a few issues. First, HTML means HyperTEXT Markup Language. It’s supposed to be used on text. Its original idea was to identify the semantics of parts of the text. That’s what worked best. There was a movement similar to “HTML” 5 years ago when they tried to push other information into the standard, namely things that cover appearance. History showed that wasn’t such a good idea, so they separated it again and made style sheets handle such things outside HTML. Now instead of reducing HTML further, “HTML” 5 pulls in the whole issue of so-called web-applications and mixes them with a language designed for text markup. From a design point of view, this is not a wise thing to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ll see a CSS-like system to separate behaviour from semantic markup in the future.

        Then, of course, there’s this whole issue of how “HTML” 5 was designed in the first place. One single person taking the role of “Mr. I Know What’s Best”, dismissing ideas and not allowing certain discussions. This is not the open way of creating internet standards.

        Most importantly, “HTML” 5 killed a far more exciting route the web was about to take. With XML based standards, modular versions of XHTML would have allowed mixed applications to be built upon a very rudimentary version of HTML. Combined with efforts from the semantic web community, these concepts had the potential to take the web to a whole new level. It would have been easier to write browsers, easier to extend the web, easier to share content. It is telling that it were the established companies behind the well-known browsers who sabotaged this development by starting “HTML” 5. Having this new web with a simple, clear structure where everyone could write a simple browser (whatever that word would have meant in a better future) wasn’t what they needed business-wise.

        Why do people fall for “HTML” 5 today? Because they’re told that a brand new, revolutionary “video” element will replace Flash. Which is plain wrong. What may one day replace Flash is an agreement between browser vendors to support a set of codecs natively, the way they support JPEG, GIF and PNG. You don’t need the “video” tag for that. (Firefox plays Theora files well from within an HTML4 “object” element, no need for “video” at all.) But this one myth sells “HTML” 5 to the masses today. Nobody cares that it’s actually a few companies dictating what the web must be like in order to fulfil their business needs.

  7. Pingback: Randall Arnold: Me Tizen, You Join? | MeeGo

  8. I have asus eeepc x101 and would like to have sugar
    I have wetab and know I can run sugar but there are so few wetab
    steel rat did not get my nook meego
    aakash uses android

  9. I like the logo. Android was clearly designed by lawyers – it’s as close to R2D2 as you can get without George Lucas suing you. And If your going up against Android – what would you rather have in your phone a late-70’s robot or a Genie? Magic?

  10. Well, I hope something comes out of Tizen. I liked my Nokia N800 and have been following Maemo, then Meego. I even spent time learning Qt and Gtk before that. And now I don’t really think Intel is serious about anything here.

    Furthermore, they have not stated a single reason why Tizen offers to consumers or developers. They have not shown any UI concepts, not shown why a user would want one, not announced any product roadmaps, not shown why development is any easier than Android or iOS (both supported by native apps as well as PhoneGap if one wanted JS/HTML). Is Tizen innovating in any way? Or is it just a me-too political effort?

    If one really did care about open-source and community, why not support something like KDE’s (or gnome) mobile efforts instead? They are a real community based project, with real open credentials and no secret dealings. Their code may be a bit immature, but they have something to show today, some actual UI innovation, a solid development environment and complete openness to contributors.

    I did join some community efforts to popularize Meego. This time I won’t be joining in any efforts, will sit on sidelines as an observer till something is actually released and instead look to contribute to Plasma Active.

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  12. I only have 1 question:
    will N9 be updated from MeeGo to Tizen? i mean officially because i think the community will work on that.

  13. Kalle Vahlman

    It’s not the Nth platform restart that is destructive really (that happens in open source all the time anyway, new stuff replaces old).

    It’s the timeline: Tizen was announced with a note “MeeGo people come and join” after which for a month nothing happened. And then nothing happened some more. And I’m not surprised when soon another month has passed and *still* nothing will have happened.

    Business can be made based on press releases[1], communities can’t. Communities need code or something else tangible. Tizen community has rumors and vague hints. Good luck with that.

    It doesn’t matter who dropped the ball, the ball fell through the floor.

    [1] Although I suspect that in this case MeeGo business was lost and no Tizen business has been gained…

  14. Dear Valued Customer,

    Thank you for contacting ASUS Customer Service.

    Hi, for this issue,X101 is using MeeGo 1.1 which can’t be upgraded to Tizen.

    If you continue to experience issues in the future, please do not hesitate
    to contact us.

    Best Regards,

    ASUS Customer Service

    is eee pc x101 still supported. will it be updated from meego to tizen ?
    I got update working but there have been no new updates.

    see update modifiy keyboard layout of dutch and spanish
    and can not uncheck this update
    see no new apps for education

  15. Pingback: More Post-MeeGo Musing: Community Echoes | Tabula Crypticum

  16. Pingback: More Post-MeeGo Musing: Community Echoes | PHONE INFORMATION RAKUS.US

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