Maemo internals for everyone – software packages
As most of you may already know, N900 operating system is actually Linux. Maemo is based on Debian, to be exact, distribution well known in IT industry. When I was completely green with open source solutions the newest Debian version was 3.1 ‘sarge’ in testing branch. To be honest I was a little scared after first try and switched to something simpler. After some time someone said ‘lets make Linux distribution for everyone’ and Ubuntu came to daylight, taking lot of it’s internals from Debian and became very popular. In my opinion, taking backstage solutions from Debian to make user friendly mobile device was really good choice. But to the point…
One of the most vital advantages of Debian is it’s packaging system. Every piece of software is enclosed in file with deb extension called simply Debian Software Package. Such package is created for specific hardware platform if it contains application or library (in case of Maemo for ARM processor), or for any platform if provides graphics, text configuration files or documents. It also encloses information about packages needed to be installed before or the ones which collide. So called Advanced Packaging Tool or apt in short does all of checking and installing automatically and, what’s most important for us, it’s included in Maemo.
Ok, no more babbling, lets focus on how to use it. The simplest way you may want to try is downloading the package from the internet when it’s not yet available in catalogues. I’ve found that Maepad, note-taking application was updated recently but because of one bug is not available in extras-devel yet, so I’m still hanging on 1.1, when 1.3 is ready to download. If you want to install just open N900 browser and follow link to file maepad_1.3_armel.deb (name of this file contains package name – maepad, version – 1.3, and platform for ARM processor – armel, which is common for packages). After you click the link you will be asked how to open, use App manager and from this point everything goes the same way as in Ovi store, few more seconds and you have it installed.
This is not the only way to use packaging system, it’s far more powerfull, but this may be something for next time.