From Moblin to MeeGo to Tizen, Oh My!

It seems like just yesterday that Linux Girl was chuckling over the choice of “MeeGo” as the name for the merger between Maemo and Moblin, and now here we are all over again.

“Who named these platforms, a Lord of the Rings fan with a speech impediment?” Slashdot blogger goldaryn wondered back then, and the observation is still apt today.

Tizen is the latest member of this Tolkienesque family, of course, thanks to the new effort led by Intel and Samsung. Asus reportedly stands loyal to MeeGo, but even the Linux Foundation appears ready to put it out to pasture.

“While Meego will remain a project at The Linux Foundation, we see industry leaders lining up behind Tizen,” wrote the Linux Foundation’s Jim Zemlin in a blog post last week on the new launch.

Combined with news of the offer Microsoft made that Samsung couldn’t refuse — not to mention Nokia’s new little hobbity-sounding Meltemi Linux project — it all added up to a heaping helping of change in the mobile world.

‘I Don’t Know What the Deal Is’

“It isn’t a good thing,” opined ‘Bill, Shooter of Bul’ on Slashdot. “I don’t know what moblin was like, but Maemo was pretty much a fully complete, working operating system that shipped on actual devices. The merger with Moblin set them back a couple years. Nokia would have been better off to decline the invitation to merge with Moblin.”

Similarly, “Meego is dead, Webos is dead …and I don’t feel very well,” wrote Chrisq.

And again: “I don’t know what the deal is,” began forgot_my_username. “I had an Amiga 1000… loved it (superior in sooooo many ways) ! Then Commodore blew it. Then I had the Nokia 770… loved it! But, Nokia never really did anything with it.

“Then I got the Nokia N800 … loved it! But, Nokia blew it. Then I saw the N9… I want it… then Nokia Blows it before even releasing it,” forgot_my_username added. “WTF?!?!?”

‘Way Too Late’

Similar thoughts could be heard down at the Linux blogosphere’s Litigious Lion cafe.

“Moblin, Maemo, Meego, Tizen in less than 2 years? STOP ALREADY!” exclaimed Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by “Tom” on the site. “Nobody cares. Really. All this latest name change does is shout ‘Disorganized!'”

Tizen’s plans to target smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, netbooks and in-vehicle infotainment devices with a software development kit due next year are “*way* too late,” Hudson added.

“Smartphones? Android and Apple iOS are the duopoly that even Microsoft can’t crack,” she asserted. “Tablets? Amazon’s $200 Fire tablet is shipping within 2 months. It’s the dingo that just ate RIM’s baby (which can now join HP’s WebOS and Google’s Chromebooks on the ‘costs too much for what it does’ field of broken dreams). As for netbooks, they’re a dwindling market for a reason.

“They should have just renamed Meego ‘Me-gone’ and been done with it,” Hudson concluded. “Going by past performance, it’s only a matter of time before tizen becomes tiz-ain’t.”

‘An Already Overcrowded Field’

It’s not surprising to see MeeGo fade away, Slashdot blogger hairyfeet agreed.

“What was the market for it?” he explained. “The masses couldn’t care less about ‘free as in freedom,’ as the massive sales of iDevices are living proof of — you have to bring something more.

“Instant on? ExpressGate and SplashTop has that covered,” he said. “ARM devices? You have Android, several Linux distros, and next year a really bad Windows port, so no growth there. Design? Sorry but Apple beats it easily.”

In the end, “it was another Android/ iOS cell phone OS ripoff in an already overcrowded field,” hairyfeet concluded.

‘An Obsolete Piece of Hardware’

“All this is really about trying to give relevance to Intel’s Atom processor,” opined Roberto Lim, a lawyer and blogger on Mobile Raptor.

“I do not think highly of the Atom,” Lim added. “It is an obsolete piece of hardware that Intel manages to flog on the consuming public with the ‘cooperation’ of hardware manufacturers.

“With AMD’s Fusion (also x86), the Atom should be dead by now,” he asserted. “But Intel is Intel. Tizen is open source, but ultimately it is an open source effort to support Intel’s x86 monopoly.”

For the future, “I for one am looking forward to the rise of ARM, which should foster more competition in the processor market,” Lim concluded.

‘A Very Good Thing’

Consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack was more hopeful about Tizen’s prospects.

“Not sure if it will make a difference in a saturated market, but I do hope it makes a niche for itself,” Mack told Linux Girl.

Chris Travers, a Slashdot blogger who works on the LedgerSMB project, also saw reason for optimism.

“As even low-end processors become more powerful, it makes sense to consolidate onto a few similar kernels — such as Linux and *bsd — on phones,” Travers opined. “This helps ensure better reliability and code sharing across phone platforms. And as Linux becomes more heavily used in higher-end phones, it becomes the logical choice for low-end phones.”

Travers’ prediction looking ahead? “This will help cement Linux as the primary kernel on cell phones; over time, other kernels will be relegated to niche status,” he concluded. “For a fan of embedded Linux, this is a very good thing.”

‘You Can Still Use Debian If You Want’

Finally, blogger Robert Pogson connected it all back to the power of free and open source software.

“The rapidity with which players can produce a new OS for smart thingies is one evidence of the superiority of FLOSS,” Pogson told Linux Girl. “By being able to borrow what works from disparate projects freely, anyone can replace some parts with better parts and come to market in weeks or months rather than years like that other OS.

“There was nothing particularly wrong with MeeGo, and now we have yet another alternative, Tizen,” Pogson concluded. “Folks, you can still use Debian GNU/Linux on these things if you want.”

Katherine Noyes has been writing from behind Linux Girl's cape since late 2007, but she knows how to be a reporter in real life, too. She's particularly interested in space, science, open source software and geeky things in general. You can also find her on Twitter.

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