Those of us who live in the West generally look a little mystified and uneasy when there’s talk of arranged marriages. Living in a society where at best people choose their own spouse and at worst marry for the sake of the children, we somehow feel superior.
But it isn’t quite that simple. Arranged marriage has worked in some cultures for centuries if not millennia. So it can’t be all bad, can it? And people who understand it talk with some appreciation of the fact that good parents always want the best for their children, that choosing a spouse without the emotion and hormone rush that is ‘falling in love’ can be done with greater wisdom by those one step less involved, and that people who enter into such a commitment do so with an understanding of the work that will be involved in making it a success.
So what’s that got to do with Maemo? Well, on Tuesday of this week, the Maemo community woke up to discover that our ‘parent’ Nokia had entered us into an arranged marriage with Moblin, the mobile linux OS parented by Intel. To say it was a shock would be an understatement. First reactions were of horror, anxiety, refusal... all the sorts of things you’d expect from people in a state of mild trauma.
And the first 24 hours were characterised more by that shock than anything else. There was a sense of bereavement among those who’ve been with the Maemo platform for many years, and invested much of themselves in it. There was outrage and anger from some new users who felt that their new devices were being made obsolete before they’d recycled the packaging. There was resistance from the developers who found themselves facing a complete change of architecture (I don’t even pretend to understand, but Moblin is ‘fedora-based’ using rpm, while Maemo is ‘debian-based’ using apt – for those that ‘get’ this stuff). And there was anxiety from the end-user community that they might not be wanted in the brave new world, since Moblin has no user-community at all, only a developer community. The Maemo Council, just gearing themselves up for elections, were asking whether there is even going to be anything resembling a MeeGo council.
It was a scary, scary evening. People virtually held hands in the dark on twitter, IRC, t.m.o. while we got used to the idea.
But Nokia and Intel are not the sort of parents who would fix their child up with a stranger for the sake of a passport entitlement. They have put a lot of time and effort into making a match which should be a good move for both platforms and communities. We hope.
By Wednesday morning, the noises coming out of Nokia were mixed. The New Thing will run on a rpm base (like Moblin), be supported by the linux foundation (like Moblin) and probably use the Moblin tools. And it will be fully 'Open' (like Moblin). Beyond that, it’s up to the community to make of it what they want: no decision has been taken about things like what the community should look like, how it should be governed, what communications it wants to use.
Unfortunately, that rather leaves us in the dark. It’s all very well to say “we’ve decided stuff in this area but in that area it’s all up to you”. People on one hand are saying they dislike the decisions already made, and looking for guidance (or hidden agendas) in the things left undecided. A group of volunteers from the whole rich diversity of both communities is looking at forming a working group.
By Wednesday evening, the shock had worn off, and people were starting to relax again. There was a small outbreak of playfulness on t.m.o. as people breathed again. And now the work begins.
My personal goal is going to be to ensure that the new community is able to incorporate the very best of what end-users have to offer to the community-ecology. But that’s for another blog (next time!) Right now we are waiting, watching.
And one last thought: while some (most?) of the Moblin community are Intel employees, and may have had wind of this coming, one wonders how they feel about the change. A small, intimate group of colleagues suddenly thrown into something the sheer size of the Maemo community – must feel a little like watching the Spartan hordes seething over the plains towards you!
Texrat made the point that Maemo greeters should be MeeGo greeters. Someone point me to a MeeGo person, and I’ll shake their hand. Together we can make this work.
(Even is the name IS naff!)