Episode 9

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Computex Review


  • MeeGo Tablet Announced
  • Suse Meego Distribution Announced
  • Linaro Project Announced
Mark Hatch and Justin Noel

Intro: Welcome to ICSNetwork's This Week in Qt, the ten minute podcast that keeps you informed of significant events that may impact your engineering projects. If you have not yet heard about ICS, please visit our website at www.ics.com. As an organization, we believe we have the best independent team of Qt engineers in the world. Whether you're starting a new project or need help removing that insurmountable roadblock that every project has, please contact us at sales@ics.com.

Mark: Good morning. This is Mark Hatch. I run the Qt business here at ICS, and with me today is Justin Noel and this is This Week in Qt. We're going to change the format just a little bit today and specialize in the announcements and events surrounding the COMPUTEX trade show that just happened this week. A lot of exciting thing happened relative to Qt, and we're going to focus the entire This Week in Qt on that show and the events surrounding that show. As kind of a word of background for those of you who don't know, COMPUTEX is the second largest computer show in the world, some 35,000 attendees. In fact, the only show that's really larger is the infamous CeBit show in Germany. So let's first talk about the news coming out of Computex. Justin what did you see?

Justin: Well I saw a steady stream of news coming straight out of Computex. The most interesting, to me at least, was the announcement of the MeeGo tablet, which is one of the cornerstone hardware platforms for MeeGo. This is kind of like an iPad-style device it seems. It got great reviews on engadget and gizmoto and these things. The idea being that it is a tablet; it runs MeeGo and has a specialized desktop system where you have a different panes for social networking or web browsing or entertainment. And you can manipulate these panes sort of independently, so it's kind of having three home screens in one. And of course, as everybody knows, MeeGo is actually the combination of the old Maemo project combined with the Moblin project from Intel. So these two projects that used to be gtk-based, got together and decided that going forward, it would be entirely Qt. And that's what MeeGo is. MeeGo has an entire library with it called Direct UI, or DUI. That's an entire touch-enabled widget set, on top of Qt. And it looks like it has a lot of potential.

M: So if you're doing user interfaces with Qt going forward, especially if you're going to be doing anything in the touch screen area or the small screen area, you should keep an eye out for information on DUI, right?

J: Yes, and it's amazing how fast they're actually writing these applications. It was only maybe at most six months ago that this project was really launched. And from the demos, they have applications for small embedded devices, such as phones like the N900, but they have these same apps ported in a larger version to this tablet - things like audio and video apps, there's a book reader. There's a whole, entirely new desktop system. It's amazing how far they've come in such a short amount of time.

M: I looked at the Engadget videos and it was really cool the way they did those three panels. One panel was a vertical panel or column was kind of dedicated towards your books and what you were reading there. And another panel, was that social networking, you can move that up and down. And then there's that third panel which was videos.

J: Yes, and I think you could even brew your own. It kind of reminded me of almost like a slot machine, how you could whip them around like wheels.

M: They had the detailed view, which looked kind of more like a Apple iPad with the traditional icons all over the place which is pretty normal. But it was really interesting, very creative, that three panel that they showed off. If you guys haven't seen that demo, you should really go to Engadget and search for MeeGo tablet and take a look at that, or Gizmoto if that's your preferred website.

J: Yes and there are some really cool videos online of the tablet, or even the more phone-type of interface stuff and the things that MeeGo can do. It's pretty cool. Another interesting thing, so I went to the MeeGo website, to go check out some of these things after seeing all this great stuff coming out of Computex, and I did notice that there are two other platforms that seemed to have a very sparse web presence. One of them was an automotive platform. And the other one was a television platform. And both of those sound fascinating to me.

M: We knew we got a handset and now at Computex, we just saw the shoe drop that it was a tablet. You can imagine Intel demonstrating that it's kind of a reference implementation of a tablet. It's going to see a lot of people who probably don't want to spend that royalty on a tablet and send it off to Microsoft. They'll look very seriously at an option where the build materials are much cheaper without that royalty. And you say, well gee, what are these other markets - there's television and auto. Well that's interesting.

J: Yes, I recently bought one of the Samsung televisions that has a very rudimentary app system and it's more like widgets than anything else. It would be really interesting to take something like that and put the power of Qt on top of it and find out what new things you can instantly think of.

M: So what else did you see?

J: Well I was mostly interested in the MeeGo stuff. Another interesting announcement was SUSE announced that they are going to prepare a MeeGo distribution. They will take all of the packages and software from MeeGo and make it into an installable platform for netbooks. So whether it's an ASUS or a Dell netbook, there would sort of be a SUSEfied MeeGo distribution that you can install right on top of it.

M: That's pretty cool. Well if you think about it, Intel's not in the distribution business for Linux and neither is Nokia, for that matter. So having SUSE as part of this deal and providing a hardened distribution with a long history in Qt with KDE and supporting that and having them provide that as a distribution for people who want to run it one their netbooks or whatever platforms is a nice step forward, isn't it.

J: Yeah, I think there's a lot of potential.

M: You know, one of the things that fascinated me was an announcement that happened at the same time at Computex called Linaro. You can find it on Linaro.org. It was a group of people that basically came out of the ARM community. Now if you think about it, MeeGo, is committed to run, not only on the Intel Atom platform, no surprise that Intel is one of the founders of this kind of group, but it's also committed that they're going to run it on the OMAP and some of the ARM platforms. In fact, if you go to the MeeGo website and go look for downloads, you'll see that there's one for the 900 which is an OMAP, TI OMAP-based phone. And what happened with Linaro is we saw people almost spearheaded by the ARM consortium, which is a group that actually owns the ARM IP for the chipset out of the UK, which includes companies like IBM, Samsung, TI, FREESCALE, ST-Ericsson, coming together to say - what we want to do is make sure to optimize Linux for the ARM distribution. So they're very careful to say, we're not here to create a distribution, we're trying to optimize parts of Linux for the ARM architecture and inject that into upstream distributions. They actually mentioned MeeGo by name there, which was kind of interesting. As I was kind of looking through everything, I thought, gee I wonder if they had picked out a user interface toolkit. And the reason why I ask is that one of the people we're endorsing was the old LiMo Foundation, which was a gdk-based distribution for embedded systems. So when I went and dug through the website there, one of the things that I found was that when you go in the working groups, they endorse Qt too. So the Linaro platform and the stuff that they're going to be optimizing for the ARM platform, and I assume injecting into MeeGo, is Qt-based too.

J: That's interesting. What I find really interesting about that is that it's a project that is endorsing Qt that doesn't have Nokia as a major player in the title.

M: That's exactly right. I mean these are people that in some areas are actually competitors to Nokia. Samsung makes TVs, but they also have the phone area. Ericsson has some competition there. So that was a fascinating set of announcements too.

J: So it was definitely an interesting time at Computex.

M: Yeah, it was a tremendous trade show which seems to be getting a lot of great play, especially in the embedded area. And with the emergence of Qt through MeeGo, it looks like something that people should keep an eye on. And if you're doing embedded products, maybe it's something you ought to look at next year to attend, either as a vendor or as an attendee and find out what's going on. So, this is Mark Hatch and Justin Noel we're going to sign off on this special edition of This Week in Qt at Computex. Thank you very much.

J: See you all again next time!