A View from a Linux User on the Nokia Buyout



Dan posted about the buyout of Nokia’s Mobile Device division by Microsoft this morning. I pretty much expected this to happen.  Nokia always had great hardware and a great OS in Maemo. Some say they should have went to Android, but I think they gave up on Maemo way to soon.

Nokia had some of the best hardware just a few years ago before the iPhone and Android trounced them. The N series of Nokia phones had some of the most unique form factors. It’s the N series itself that led to 4 unique devices that had a lot of potential. I am talking about the internet tablet segment of the Nseries that started with the N770 (which I had reviewed here in my first post on Gear Diary). The N77o was followed by the N800, the N810 and ended with the only device that ended up being a phone, the N900.

I got to play with the N900 for a time and Judie covered it here.  The N900 and the devices that came before it all ran Linux.  Specifically, it ran Maemo which was a very user friendly version of Linux.

The thing I loved the most about Maemo was that it was based on one of my favorite versions of Linux which is Debian. The Debian distribution of Linux has always had one unique feature going for it which is the apt or Advanced Packaging Tool. The apt system is the system that Debian and the Maemo use for software updates and installation.  In many ways, Linux and Maemo had an app store before Apple and Google thought of it. All it would have needed was some polish and they would have had something that could have challenged both Apple and Google.

Some say they should have went to Android instead of Windows Phone. Maybe they should have, but the biggest shame is they could have beat both Apple and Google to market if Maemo had been something other than a Linux user’s dream OS on a phone. Instead, they squandered the work that had been put into Maemo by dropping it before well before it should have been.

Maemo fans who still held any hope of reviving Linux on Nokia hardware can now give up now that Nokia’s future is firmly a Microsoft one in OS, devices and ownership.


I think that Nokia gave up on Maemo much to soon. The N900, for what it was, was a good device even coming late in the cycle. I think that if they had kept working on Maemo they would have had something great. The N900’s interface was much improved over the N810. What would it have looked like today if they had continue to improve it? One can only dream.

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About the Author

Joel McLaughlin
Joel is a consultant in the IT field and is located in Columbus, OH. While he loves Linux and tends to use it more than anything else, he will stoop to running closed source if it is the best tool for the job. His techno passions are Linux, Android, netbooks, GPS, podcasting and Amateur Radio.