2009-12-17

Previewing Easy Debian for the N900

If most users are to use desktop-grade applications on the N900, there needs to be a simple way to install them. Easy Debian will provide just that, but it's not quite up to the task yet. Advanced users willing to do some beta testing will find it exhilarating even now.

Click on the screenshots for full resolution.


Why a Separate System?

Current generation phones still have some of the technological limitations of embedded devices. The fastest flash device on the N900 comes with only 256MB of storage for the root partition. Even though Nokia adds a 2GB partition for /opt on slower storage, the size limitations preclude offering desktop apps directly in Maemo.

Even with more space, it makes a certain amount of sense to keep mobile and desktop apps separate. If a chroot environment gets damaged due to badly behaved programs, the phone and all other mobile apps in the Maemo repositories will still work.

Easy Debian solves both issues by running Debian programs from an image file users can place on the 27GB FAT32-partition. Once it qualifies for the Extras-repository, the average user will be able to install it from the Maemo package manager, and then new programs using Synaptic.





Beta Issues

The largest problem I ran into was that no KDE apps I tried are accepting input from the keyboard. It appears to be caused by a bit too much mobile optimization in the window manager. I wouldn't be surprised if someone is already working on a patch, but in the meantime Easy Debian must find a workaround before it can be considered ready.

Even now, though, Konqueror was already useful to me. Controlling it with a stylus works surprisingly well, and by specifying the address on the command line, I was able to quickly get some music off my smb share.


Another strange issue is that the default image file is so small there's virtually no room to install anything on it. This may have made sense with previous products, but the N900 has so much space that the only reasonable size is the full 4GB that FAT32 allows for one file (groan).

Advanced users can obviously create their own image, but why use Easy Debian in the first place if that's the case? (Although, to be fair, it does do more automation than just mounting the image, such as making the Maemo home directory available inside the chroot.)

Sound doesn't work, but we should remain hopeful that the Easy Debian developers somehow manage to configure PulseAudio right. I wouldn't hold my breath, but a fully functional PA would be wonderful. The N900 should be an excellent platform for testing network transparency features.

If the mouse pointer in desktop apps is off from where you're pressing, go to the phone settings and play with the recalibration tool.


My Advice: Ditch the Theming

The first thing I noticed was the horrible effects a mobile theme has on desktop applications. It's obvious that the intent is to increase finger-friendliness, but I am convinced that the developers will never get the themes to show enough content on screen. There's a reason the N900 ships with a built in stylus - so let's use it for what it was intended.

For comparison, here are some screenshots of atrocious "Maemo"-themed applications next to beautiful and usable KDE-themed ones, which really showcase the usefulness of Easy Debian:







Another application many users should find helpful on the go is Wireshark, which performed well, and would be totally unusable with a finger-friendly theme:



Games Need Keyboard Remapping

I installed Abuse, and while aiming with the stylus was a breeze, the game is unplayable unless you're left-handed. Several other games that didn't natively support keyboard remapping refused to work entirely, as I just couldn't press the right buttons at all. This is exacerbated by non-English keyboards that sacrifice up/down for extra letters.

The only solution to this problem is someone writing an easy remapping tool that lets players quickly substitute wasd for the arrow keys etc. (Actually, the only 100% playable option would be qw for up, a left, s right, zx down, because pressing a vertical and horizontal key simultaneously is too hard with wasd.)

But here's a screenshot anyway:

51 comments:

  1. Anonymous16:33

    Yeah ok, really cool, but where's the homepage / download link?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous11:13

    Easy Debian is currently in the extras-devel repository. When it's ready for the average user, it will be available in the extras repository. You use the phone's package manager to install it, so there's no download link per se.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You should give Easy Debian a spin again. It has come a long way.

    The workaround for the no-keyboard-input problem is a simple one! Open the offending app, then simply press the power button and dismiss the menu that pops up. The keyboard should work now.

    Easy Debian download page

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous08:27

    Try this - press the power button on the N900, dismiss it and then try keyboard input on KDE apps.

    ReplyDelete
  5. the developers will never get the themes to show enough content on screen. There's a reason the N900 ships with a built in stylus - so let's use it for what it was intended.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I wouldn't hold my breath, but a fully functional PA would be wonderful. The N900 should be an excellent platform for testing network transparency features.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You use the phone's package manager to install it, so there's no download link per se.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am thoroughly convinced in this said post. I am currently searching for ways in which I could enhance my knowledge in this said topic you have posted here. It does help me a lot knowing that you have shared this information here freely. I love the way the people here interact and shared their opinions too. I would love to track your future posts pertaining to the said topic we are able to read.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about information and love learning more on this. If possible, as you gain expertise, It is extremely helpful for me. would you mind updating your blog with more information

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about information and love learning more on this. If possible, as you gain expertise, It is extremely helpful for me. would you mind updating your blog with more information

    ReplyDelete
  11. On Mondays we make jewellery, and over the past few months we have been working on porcelain necklace, bracelets and porcelain earring, we make lots of our own beads from scratch and are planning to sell.Rather than just threading porcelain beads on to a piece of leather, string or thread, we use a series of knots to make a more interesting porcelain bracelet.Take two pieces of leather thong or cord - these should be at twice as long as you want your final porcelain pendant to be. glass seed beads are the most colorful and versatile beads.

    ReplyDelete
  12. interesting article , really good to read.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm impressed. You're truly well informed and very intelligent. Buy Toprol Online wrote something that people could understand and made the subject intriguing for everyone. I'm saving this for future use.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Really immersive to read

    ReplyDelete
  15. great work ! thanks for posting

    ReplyDelete
  16. Well, that’s a very nice topic. I agree with all your views. Thanks for making such thoughtful comments. Superb.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Your site is content rich and interesting. Many people will really assert that everything you say in your blog post is great. Should you keep on submitting entertaining articles or reviews on your website, there is always an even greater probability that a majority of readers will visit your internet site. Attic Insulation Ireland

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am thoroughly convinced in this said post. I am currently searching for ways in which I could enhance my knowledge in this said topic you have posted here. It does help me a lot knowing that you have shared this information here freely. I love the way the people here interact and shared their opinions too. I would love to track your future posts pertaining to the said topic we are able to read.
    Penis Enlargement | Penis Enlargement Pills | VigRX Plus

    ReplyDelete
  19. Can you try creating a digital picture frames? If you're willing to spend an afternoon ripping the guts out of an old laptop, though, it's entirely possible to build your own at a fraction of the cost.

    ReplyDelete
  20. A simple way to install them is shown here...very informative....:)

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is my first opportunity to visit this website. I found some interesting things and I will apply to the development of my blog. Thanks for sharing useful information.Hermes replica hermes birkin replica

    ReplyDelete
  22. Amazing article is written here. Thanks for sharing this with us...
    vrnjacka banja smestaj
    vrnjacka banja privatni smestaj

    ReplyDelete
  23. Whole thing is established nicely. If the download link would given, that would be just great. I am convinced and glad with their work.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The separation system makes it more comfortable to use.I had the doubt that is it making any trouble to use it separately?But the surprising fact is there is a separate space.Thanks for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm so excited. I really appreciate sharing this great post. Keep up your excellent work.
    bojanke za decu
    bojanke
    gledanje u solju

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi, thank Vermox Online for sharing this great info. Was just browsing through the net in my office and happened upon your blog. clomid Online is really very well written and quit comprehensive in explaining with a very simple language.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anonymous18:06

    lots of intriguing info here pharmacy technician salary it is great pharmacy info

    ReplyDelete
  28. This is one of the best post I've ever seen, you can include some more ideas in the same theme. I'm still waiting for some interesting thoughts from your side in the next post. One thing I just want to say is that your blog is so perfect!
    @ Vimax,Vimax, Vimax Pills, Buy Vimax Pills, VigRX, VigRX Plus, Buy VigRX Plus, VigRX Plus Online, VigRX Plus Canada,Penis Enlargement, Penis Enlargement Pills

    ReplyDelete
  29. Excellent post. I want to thank you for this informative read. I will bookmark this site and visit again..
    Banje u Srbiji
    Banje Srbije

    ReplyDelete
  30. Now there is no need Separate System. It is great post .thanks

    ReplyDelete
  31. Excellent post. I want to thank you for this informative read. I will bookmark this site and visit again...

    ReplyDelete
  32. I will bookmark this site and visit again. It is very informative. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  33. It appears to be caused by a bit too much mobile optimization in the window manager.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Easy Debian solves both issues by running Debian programs from an image file users can place on the 27GB FAT32-partition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for this incredible application! you made an awesome job with this useful tool!

      Delete
  35. nokia N900 is a powerful device. its more a tablet phone and its one of the best of by nokia

    ReplyDelete
  36. The browser isn't the only component that used to be closed, but is moving towards FOSS at an uncertain pace.

    ReplyDelete
  37. well done.it is really a good review.i like your thoughts.the way you expressed everything in details with pictures is just awesome.keep posting.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I didnt knew that the new N900 appeared. In my country i am confident they there are no any but i hope that someone could tell me where can i order from.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I'm really happy, enjoyed reading this amazing article and whole website, thanks a lot for this informations!
    online psychics
    live psychics
    online tarot reading
    angel card reading
    tarot reading

    ReplyDelete
  40. Anonymous06:44

    If a child, a spouse, a life partner, or a parent depends on you and your income, you need type of life insurance products. - Suze Orman

    ReplyDelete
  41. Dekho18:19

    This post is really very helpful for every person because he has tell and Previewing Easy Debian for the N900 which is really great. Actually, my brother is working in profit-clicking company and he has so many idea about that.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Excellent ! This is wonderful blog post.I might try to write a book to go along with my blog, but I will see. Looking forward for more post with useful tips and ideas.

    engineered oak flooring

    ReplyDelete
  43. Anonymous03:14

    check out
    physician medical billing services
    for all your medical billing needs.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

    ReplyDelete