‘Where did you get that?’ – a word on catalogues.
Recently I’ve met some comments under my posts asking where to find this or that. I understand not everyone may be such devotely commited to Maemo and N900. I was waiting for this phone for about half a year. After first information about GSM stack for Nokia Linux-based device, that came around Mobile World Congress last year I was anxiously digging web for any news about upcoming release. Finally when I got it from pre-order I started to install everything I could find, including stuff from extras-devel and extras-testing repositories, but slowly… one by one…
First thing you may need to know is that Nokia holds only well tested applications in their extras catalogue. That’s why it only counts 176 apps (when writing this post) and that’s not enough for me.
Apart from well tested, there is also catalogue like extras-testing, where you can find things that need some more attention from testers while waiting to be approved. When you download something from here you will find a notice that this software is not yet tested and may be harmful for your device. Frankly I don’t fully agree with that opinion, the N900Fly application in ‘proper’ hands is far more harmful than any one from testing and guess where you can find it. But still you can find errors, glitches, performance issues and something that is most painful for me, packages that are not optified (which technically may block system updates or even receiving messages, so really nasty ).
Another catalogue is extras-devel, here you can find everything what is still under development and may be considered unfinished and even more unstable. Some of applications may not even install because of missing dependencies or errors in installation scripts, some may leave garbage after uninstall and still they may be harmful.
So why do I install anything from devel or testing? First of all because there is lot of interesting stuff, some of it you can find here in my reviews. Second of all I know what I am doing and, more important, what to do when I break something in software. Did they make any harm to my device? You may say yes, PR1.1 update didn’t come to me over the air, but it’s not a big deal, you can connect USB cable and update using Nokia Software Updater.
So finally, when you read something I wrote and you cannot find the application to install for your N900 or you installed but cannot find features from description, try visiting http://maemo.org/packages/ and put it’s name in search, there you should find short description, latest releases in each repository and version history for package. If the application is in devel or testing catalogue you can consider adding it to your device if you’re willing to try with unstable software.