I’m writing this blog post actually on the plane to Dublin. There must be other conference goers on this plane, but I’ve only seen Suresh Chande, the mastermind behind FreOffice. Specially for the conference, I’m bringing a little netbook and a tablet to the conference, both with the KDE Mobile Framework installed. My N900 runs an older version of FreOffice, on Maemo. Meego isn’t really ready for use on the N900, and I need that phone as a phone!
The tablet is a WeTab, and while it certainly looks cool and has an intriguing user interface, it’s still Meego 1.0. When I got it, it was frankly crap. A couple of weeks and many updates later it’s actually really quite good. Some rough edges still, some apps, notably the eRreader, are still not very good. But the user interface, the browser, parts of the email client are good, as is repsonsiveness and speed.
The netbook is an Asus EeePC — and the first bit of hardware that is actually small enough to comfortably type on in the economy class. Lovely little thing, but it’s hard to switch between it and my thinkpad since the Fn and Ctrl keys are in the wrong order! I put MeeGo on it, of course…. There are many good things to be said about the MeeGo Netbook interface, but it’s not my preferred interface. the titlebars are too big and the window switch animation is too intrusive. And the twitter tab doesn’t have an identi.ca plugin!
Anyway, the KDE Mobile Framework is an interesting story. Most people will probably know that KO GmbH has worked together with Nokia to create a mobile user interface on top of the KOffice core, called FreOffice.
FreOffice is being developed right inside the KDE subversion repository, and saw a huge amount of activity this summer when Nokia gave a dozen interns in Bangalore the chance to work on FreOffice. Jaroslaw Staniek is now spending time cleaning up — not that the interns didn’t do a great job, but the activity was so frantic that there was little time for refactoring and introspection. If you have an N900, you owe it to yourself to install this app and play with all its features. It is the only free mobile office suite in the whole wide world…
Since FreOffice is built on top of KOffice, and KOffice is built on top of KDE, we needed KDE available in one form or another on the very constrained N900. And we needed it fast, since FreOffice had to ship as soon as possible, or preferably earlier. The temporary solution we came up with was to copy the KDE libraries, cut them down and then cut them down some more. This abomination unto Nuggan was named “libkok” and packaged for Maemo.
Of course, MeeGo has this no-forks policy, and besides, it would be great if other highlights from the KDE Software Collection could make it to MeeGo. So, last week, Kevin Ottens, Marijn Kruisselbrink and me have been really busy. Kevin has been working for a long time on creating a mobile profile for the KDE libraries, stripping out deprecated stuff, separating the components and cleaning up the build. Marijn has been packaging the kde libs mobile framework for MeeGo and making it available through the MeeGo build service. KO GmbH sponsors Marijn’s packaging work.
What I’m doing is porting KOffice and FreOffice to MeeGo using those packages — run a finger-enabled FreOffice instead of OpenOffice on the WeTab.
Fast forward a very intense MeeGo Conference… I simply had no time to blog, hardly even to dent.
I’ve certainly learned a lot during this conference about what MeeGo is, about the politics around it. And I’ve used MeeGo exclusively from Sunday morning to Thursday night. It was really quite usable, but I’ve seen Plasma run on the Lenovo Ideapad already 🙂
(The IdeaPad by the way, while not an entirely unwonky piece of hardware, clearly shows the way forward for laptop/netbook manufacturers: I think everything will come with a touch screen in the near future. I see people all around me trying to touch the buttons on their thinkpad screens when switching between the ideapad and their work laptop.)
I did manage to visit the National Gallery of Ireland, where there is a great collection of C19/C20 Irish and English art, as well as some Dutch, French and Italian masterpieces I’m very happy to have seen, like Velasquez’ kitchen scene with the supper at Emmaus or “Sunlight” by Orpen.
And now I’m at the KDE Mobile sprint in Berlin, trying to make the KDE libraries into packages suitable for MeeGo, together with Marijn, Chani and a host of other people.
Compared to a KOffice sprint everyone is very quiet and hacking very hard here — though we might have made enough noise for the weekend last night at the KDAB-sponsored dinner in the Greek Restaurant.