#meego Community Website Meeting

Yesterday, members of the #meego community gathered in an IRC channel to discuss what sort of services the community needed. It was a well attended covering topics from build services and repositories to forums and mailing lists. Every once in a while the discussion would drift off into religious views about one system or another but the meeting was well run and rapidly brought back to the topic at hand.

According to the logs, forty-five different people spoke at the meeting, which hopefully brings a broad representation of the community as a whole. However, since it was on IRC and talking about the details of the services provided, it may well have been a self selecting crowd that left out the largest and most important group, the end users. Many of the decisions being made are likely to affect end user experience, and I believe many of the end users really don’t care a lot about whether or not a given application is completely open source, or if it depends on components that are not open source. I suspect that many of them, likewise, aren’t especially concerned with whether or not the people doing quality assurance are third party people that have access to read the source code or not. However, these seemed to be the issues that many in the meeting were most interested in.

The importance of the distinction between the developers perspective and that of end users was brought home to me by an article in Rethink Wireless today about a TNS report that found users are now swayed by apps as much as carrier brands.

Every day, I receive emails from various organizations launching new applications for the iPhone asking me to review and blog about the applications. I always respond with a question about their plans to be made available on other platforms. Typically the response is that maybe they’ve considered porting the application to Android at some point, but they’ve either never heard of, or not seriously considered porting to the N900, Maemo or MeeGo.

I remember years ago the difficulty of getting corporations to consider Linux and even now the difficulty of getting home users to consider using Linux. Given what I’ve seen of the MeeGo community so far, I have doubts about MeeGo ever getting beyond being a toy for hobbyists. This is unfortunate, because MeeGo has the potential to become a great platform and a chance to illustrate the advantages of open source development.

Can Intel, Nokia and LG step in and help developers focus on the bigger picture? I don’t know. However, until something like that happens, I’ll keep playing with my N900 as a great cell phone for hobbyists. I’ll kick around Moblin and eventually MeeGo on a netbook or two, but I’m unlikely to spend a lot of time taking what I’ve written and packaging them for wider distribution and I’m probably even less likely to recommend Maemo, Moblin, or Meego to anyone except my geekiest friends.

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