Tablet OS2008 Beta Notes


A beta of the new firmware for Nokia web tablets was released for the N800 and I upgraded this afternoon. As always, though I wish it was simple as an apt-get upgrade, it was still super easy to do - here's the instructions. A nice touch is that I made a backup of my N800 and saved it to one of the memory cards, and as soon as the new OS came up, it asked me if I wanted to restore from that backup (which it found automatically). That was *very* nice, though none of my apps came back, I read someone else online that said theirs did - so I may not have checked that box when backing up initially, make sure you do.

BTW, the download of the firmware from the official repositories was insanely slow - like 7 hours to download slow. I didn't notice there's a unofficial torrent out there until it was too late, but have downloaded it and am seeding it overnight for those who come after me. Also, this is a BETA release and things are definitely not working perfectly yet, so be aware - you might want to wait a few weeks for the final version.

If you do take the plunge with the release, you're bound to end up on the site, and once you start mucking around you're going to start seeing a million release names, version numbers, code names, etc. Here's a quick overview of all the code names/OS versions.

Nokia 770

* maemo (1.0) - OS 2005
* maemo (1.1) - OS 2005

* mistral (2.0) - OS 2006
* scirocco (2.1) - OS 2006
* gregale (2.2) - OS 2006

Nokia N800

* bora (3.x) - OS 2007

Nokia N810/N800

* chinook (4.0) - OS 2008

Each release is often referred to by version number, the most recent being Maemo 4.0.

Yes, you're not imagining things, there are easily four different ways to refer to the latest OS: Tablet OS2008, 'chinook', Maemo 4.0 and "the one that comes with the N810" (which I've seen most often). So in addition to the three main releases (2005, 2006, and 2007), there's sub releases, code names and also a unsupported version of OS 2007 for the 770, called the "hacker's edition" (which is what I have on my 770) as well.

One of the reasons this is important beyond knowing which SDK to grab for development is when adding application repositories to your Application Manager's catalog. If you keep the Distribution field empty, it will default to the name of the current release, or you can add one in manually. So before I upgraded my N800, the default would have been "bora" and now it's "chinook". Some repositories, however, have different names or never update, etc. so be aware of this - i.e. an older repository could stop working - adding in 'bora' or 'mistral' might fix it.

Like I said before, not everything is working perfectly yet in the beta, and not every app has been ported. The Downloads section of the site has only 37 apps for OS2008 as of right now, so you might want to check to see if your favorite app is updated yet before upgrading. Here's a list of working 2008 OS software. The one I was super interested in was FBReader for Maemo 4.0 which happily works fine.

Let's see - some quick comments:

* The new menu system is nice. I like the focus on big menu items (what used to be the "thumb" view) and the general cleanness of the design.

* The way to flip through apps using the Home menu is cool. (I'm *pretty* sure that wasn't there before).

* The new browser based on Firefox 3.0 alpha is crashing *a lot*. In fact, trying to go to is crashing it, which is not particularly ideal. Update: This has to do with a restore bug

* The touchscreen thumbpad keyboard is faster, but something is messed, and now when you hit enter, it doesn't clear out text boxes. It really screws up entering URLs in the browser, chatting and using the X-term. I.e. the three things you'd most likely use a thumb pad for.

* I've had one spontaneous reboot already. Not good.

* I'm not sure if I read it, or imagined it, but I think the N800's CPU has been clocked up to the N810's speed with this release. I think. The whole OS does feel snappier regardless.

That's about it. In short, I can't wait for the final release as the bugs are a bit annoying, but in general the new OS is a great upgrade, and I'm psyched that Nokia and the community are still putting resources into it, and making sure that older devices are upgraded on new releases.


Update: The Firefox bug has to do with restoring your settings... so don't do that. :-)

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