Monday, March 26, 2012

Using Nokia N9 in Korea

It’s been almost 3 months since I started using a Nokia N9 as my secondary phone, which is a Linux based smart phone released by Nokia on October 2011. In this post, I will introduce what Nokia N9 is and how to use it in Korea, because it adopts an open source mobile platform which means that anyone can be involved with the project.

Nokia N9
Unfortunately, N9 is the first and last MeeGo phone, but it seems to be close to the Maemo platform, because it uses Qt as the UI framework and the Debian package system. In addition, N9 is the first mobile phone to embrace WebKit2 which supports the multi-process model, so you can build WebKit for Nokia N9.

Korean Support

Actually, I had been having trouble with using N9 because it doesn’t support Korean language officially, so there is no Korean keyboard and Korean fonts by default. Fortunately, a Nokia Korean engineer developed a Hangul keyboard and its debian package with Korean fonts. I think he might have worked on this in his free time. I am very grateful for his efforts.  You can find the source code of the Korean keyboard from Gitorious.

N9 User Group in Korea
In addition, there is a small N9 user group in Korea, so I got some information on how to register N9 with Korean wireless telecommunication operators such as SK Telecom and KT. Interestingly, the saleswoman in the phone shop was able to set it up without asking any questions while registering it, which shows that N9 UI is very intuitive to use.

Developer Support

It’s quite easy to install developer packages in N9. You can run an X-terminal and browse the directories to check which system libraries are installed. Furthermore, if you want to develop a QT application, you can even install the QT SDK and developer tools in your Linux, Windows, and Mac.

Installing Gtk+
Gtk+ had been used as the default UI widget until Maemo Fremantle, but N9 started using Qt by default. Fortunately, a hacker did the porting of Gtk+ for Maemo Fremantle to N9, so, you can install the same Gtk2.14.7+ on N9.

What about the next model of N9?
I think that Nokia didn’t give up their generic Linux platform although they chose the Window phone platform instead of MeeGo. I expect that Nokia will continue on releasing Qt based smart phones in the future because a true Linux platform will be their hidden key someday.

Anyway, if you want to make your own mobile platform or test its component software, N9 would be a good test bed for you.