[dot] Mobile and Embedded Day at Akademy

Dot Stories stories at kdenews.org
Fri Aug 15 14:20:22 CEST 2008

URL: http://dot.kde.org/1218802017/

From: Jonathan Riddell <>
Dept: weeny-computers
Date: Friday 15/Aug/2008, @05:06

Mobile and Embedded Day at Akademy

   This year Akademy held a dedicated day for mobile and embedded talks.
 With Trolltech being owned by Nokia, mobile is suddenly a hot topic for
KDE and several variants of Qt and KDE on mobiles were in progress at
Akademy.  Read on for an overview of the talks.
    Open Citymap on Qtopia
     The day opened with Kate Alhola from Nokia showing off the Nokia
N810.  As already reported, the talk was followed by handing out the
devices [http://dot.kde.org/1218580876] to the audience.  Her blog says
[http://blogs.forum.nokia.com/blog/kate-alholas-forum-nokia-blog] she
hopes to see lots of Qt and KDE applications in Maemo Garage
[https://garage.maemo.org/] soon.

     Koen Deforche from EmWeb showed off Wt, a Qt like toolkit for
webpages.  It is intended for use in embedded devices without their own
display but which can run a small web server to provide their user
interface.  Wt itself is a C++ library which closely follows the Qt API
and compiles into a programme featuring a built in web server.  Wt is
GPL and uses a similar dual licence to Qt for proprietary uses.  If you
like Qt but you need to write an embeded UI with web technologies, Wt
seems like a perfect fit.
   Taking apart an OpenMoko phone.
     Ole Tange said he had a dream.  He wanted a mobile device which was
open to hacking, used free software and worked as a phone and PDA.  He
found his dream with the OpenMoko, a mobile phone made by FIC, a
Taiwanese company who were fed up of making hardware which was then
rebranded by US companies.  OpenMoko has recently changed to using
Qtopia, the mobile platform from Trolltech.  As a free device we are
able to work on ideas that do not interest companies making closed
platforms, one suggestion was to programme the phone so when a
salesperson calls you can have it say "press 1 if you are selling
something".  Another suggestion was to use the motion sensor to test if
you are cycling, in which case you do not want a call.  One more was to
turn off the phone when in a cinema but turn it back on automatically
after the film.  After the talk he took out his screwdriver and showed
how to take apart the device.

     Bling was on show next with Leonardo Sobral Cunha and Artur Duque
de Souza from OpenBOSSA showing off QEdje, a port of the Enlightenment
Edje library to Qt.  They make applications for Nokia N810 and other
devices and showed off the slick user interfaces they have made.

     Making KDE technology available to embedded devices was the theme
of Eva Brucherseifer's talk.  She used Decibel as an example of a KDE
library that would be interesting on mobile devices.  She hopes there
will be more code shared between KDE and mobile platforms in future.

     Student projects were the topic of the next two talks.  Firstly
Mickey Leroy showed off his university project which he did at the De
Nayer Institute, home of Akademy.  Open Citymap
[http://code.google.com/p/opencitymap/] is an application to show and
edit Open Street Map from within a Qtopia device.  It made maximum use
of the small screen space available on a mobile device to create a
usable interface.  It also uses QtScript to allow plugins with custom

     Knut Yrvin from Trolltech was the mentor for the Open Citymap
project.  He spoke about his experience of mentoring student projects. 
Many students tended towards chosing simple projects over ambitious ones
which would have results in the real world.  It also takes up his time
of course and as a frequent traveller he is not always able to respond
quickly.  Given the good results from Open Citymap though we can hope he
continues with student projects.  It was also pointed out the good
results we have been getting from Google Summer of Code.

                            PANEL DISCUSSION
   The Panel
     The day closed with a panel discussion on the topic of Driving
innovation with Open Desktop Technologies.  Shane Martin Coughlin a
lawyer with FSFE opened by saying he wants to make more technology
available to more people and that needs free software and genuinely open
standards.  Aaron Seigo said free software opens doors that can span
between different companies and their devices and we will see lots of
crossover between different devices.  Knut from Nokia said free software
lets you get on without just debugging and fixing existing software.

     It was asked what is it about free software that allows crossover. 
Aaron emphasised the social aspect.  Innovation does not happen in a
vacuum, with free software people can experiment more and work together.
 He is a desktop guy but today he is on a mobile panel, that sort of
crossover does not happen outside of free software.  Shane said free
software gives a grant that lets people take changes and do what they
want with it.  The biggest challenge going with open desktop is it is
more complex than any one person or company can go with.  There will be
technical and cultural problems crossing borders, problem is how we move
forward with global developer and user base where there are different
cultures.  We will have to innovate with licencing and platforms.

     Knut pointed out that in Africa people have mobile phones as their
first computer.  Only a small fraction of the world use PCs,
increasingly the rest use phones first.  He told us that the Trolltech
CEO said the challenge to the mobile industry is it needs to change its
business model from proprietary software since software is becoming
commoditised, it can be installed at no cost and that will change
business models in the same way as happened with the internet.  The next
step is letting applications flood into devices.

     Aaron said that the majority of software is written on high powered
computers.  Not many people rushed to write apps for XO, while plenty
did for the iPhone because it is a more interesting device.  You can not
try and bring the people writing free software now to do mobile stuff if
it's not interesting and sexy for them.  Instead we need to make user
interfaces span from one side to the other.

     Sven, a programmer from Nokia said they introduced standard
libraries as a lowest common denominator.  It will take time for people
to learn how to do everything on small and limited devices, but we will
get there.  If you are able to do it you will then get much more
performance from desktop devices as a result.  Cross platform is
important too, people using second hand machines do not have a choice
about platform so it is important to be able to work on as many devices
as possible.

     It was asked if the desktop is still relevant.  Aaron said it is
massively important, we are deploying 50 million desktops in Brazil, MS
and Apple have plenty more of course.  It used to be desktop was the
only game and embedded was maybe done by some people over there.  Now
desktop is on a continuum which includes embedded. As desktop developers
we can question ourselves in how we build our user interfaces so they
are more componentised and work on a range of devices.  He challenges
everyone in the audience to write software which is more aware of its

More information about the dot-stories mailing list