Göteborg isn't just a lovely sea port on the coast of Sweden, welcoming visitors with a warm sea breeze and the sound of sea gulls...it's also home to the group of guys that ported Opera Mobile 10 to the Nokia N900/N800/N810 Maemo platform. They call themselves the Smooth Sailing Team: Fredrik Öhrn, Gustav Tiger, Vjaceslavs Klimovs and Anders Höckersten. We caught up with the team following today's release.
What was the best thing about working on the Maemo build?
Using and playing with a phone that runs full-blown Linux was an exciting experience in itself, but working on such an awesome mobile browser port, on such an awesome platform was truly a delightful engineering experience.
The Maemo environment is a lot like any standard Linux installation, which means porting from desktop Linux applications is about as convenient as it gets for Linux nerds like us. The fact that you can use GDB for simple on-device debugging is just icing on the cake.
As Anders mentioned, it's a really easy platform to work with, but the best part is that since it's a hobby project there is no boss to tell you what to do and what not to!
How did you guys get started on this version?
Fredrik Öhrn had been working on a port of Opera Mobile 10 to the N800 for his own use for a while when Nokia announced the N900. Several of us at the office immediately decided to buy one, and after that the idea to collaborate on a port of Opera Mobile came quickly. Building on the foundation Fredrik had already built, we quickly got an initial version up and running. After that, it was just a matter of smoothing out the edges and fixing all the annoyances we found when using it for ourselves.
I've been a long time happy N800 user and have always tinkered with running various iterations of Opera on it. My first attempts used our Opera Devices SDK product but creating a good user interface requires quite a bit of work. Thanks to Opera Mobile 10 it all became easy as pie.
Which piece of code took the longest to write?
There actually isn't that much Maemo specific code in there so I guess the most time was spent juggling our core code base, making sure to get the most out of our latest and greatest features.
From my point of view, the build scripts for the build packaging. Hacking the native title bar so that it would respond to clicks the way we wanted was also quite time consuming. Nokia obviously did not intend for us to do that!
Now that the first preview build for Maemo has been released, what's next?
First, we plan on eating the traditional release cake. Then, we will see what bugs are most annoying to the community, and see if we can fix those. A small tip: your pet bugs get fixed a lot faster if you send us bribes.
Any fun anecdotes for our Opera fans?
While digging through the source code for the Hildon GTK widgets I noticed that a clipboard workaround for the original Opera browser is still in there. Guys, you can drop it now, it's not needed anymore!
Thanks to the Smooth Sailing Team and their efforts! For an overview of this preview build's new features and improvements, see: Opera Mobile 10 for Nokia N900 and N800/N810 (Maemo) – Standards support.