why the n900

I received a n900 last week and it is several levels of awesome.

I do not really consider myself a gadget geek. My wife might disagree with that assertion due to all the devices littered around the house. However, my previous cell phone was almost ten years old. Thats right, I bought my last phone at the turn of the century. I would say that fact alone removes me from the gadget geek school.

That ancient phone and the n810 were a really nice combination. I could access the net via DUN over bluetooth (http, ssh, etc..) and make phone calls. I wanted to merge the two devices and I knew the n900 would do that. That ability alone made the n900 worth waiting almost a year for. (That was when I started getting sick of having two devices.)

While the n900 is a spectacular device it definitely is not the shiniest. Google and Apple have that covered. With that in mind I keep getting asked why spend more for less? Why not just get a droid or iphone with access to all the apps, multi-touch, etc.. etc..


You will never see that on the n900. Not because the devs at nokia are security geniuses, nor because the maemo community lacks hackers. That post will never be needed for the simple reason that there is a rootsh in the apps repository. Yes, that is right. My phone comes with immediate and easy access to root.

I am definitely NOT a linux geek, nor an adept hacker. I will probably never use rootsh, but other people will and I can benefit from their efforts. As I discovered with the n810 there will eventually be a need to get access to root. And when some hacker creates /sbin/butterfly they will do it without having to bit twiddle the boot loader.

The n900 is a great compromise between the draconian iphone and the loose freerunner. It has its binary drivers and inaccessible hardware (you probably can’t hack the wifi or cell radio easily.), but offers an open debian based linux distro.

One last point that probably needs yet another post, while the droid is open-ish when compared to the iphone, it is still just another way for google to get ads in front of you. While this is not inherently bad, I am not comfortable paying someone so they can market to me.

Comments (2)

  1. Brenton wrote::

    You’re touting default root access on your phone like it’s some big, glorious thing that the others never thought, or wouldn’t do before. Your phone is the simply the first iteration, the one they want people to develop on.

    The first Android device, the HTC Dream, was the exact same way. The developer phone that you could (and still can) order from Google was rooted. They now have the HTC Magic available as a rooted developer addition as well.

    If a carrier wanted the N900, I think you’d find that they would want some level of non-rooted-ness to (yes, dare I say it) your Maemo device as well. Carriers like to limit functionality of phones to bottleneck users into one of their pay-per-use schemes (like SMS).

    Also, despite what you think, you just paid $400+ to be marketed too. Turn your phone over and you will see a fat Nokia logo staring at you. So effective was their marketing you, like an unwitting pawn, have blogged about their product with a favorable review.

    If Maemo takes the world by any kind of storm, you (just like all Android and iphone fans) will find free, ad based software available for your phone. It’s inevitable, you can’t run from it. The only difference will be, Droid owners saved $400 by getting a subsidized phone instead of paying full cost.

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 6:10 pm #
  2. Binary drivers and inaccessible hardware? That’s not true at all. All the drivers are open source, even the phone link, at least at kernel level. The only closed driver is in user-space: SGX (not much option there), and of course the DSP and cellular firmware is closed.

    Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 7:25 am #