What went wrong with MeeGo? 'Nokia lost faith in the project'

LXF: How important is documentation for potential users?

DN: It's vital. Documentation is homework for many projects, and I think of documentation as marketing documents. It's a way of communicating to people what you do, what problems you solve, and very easily they can see, "OK, this project solves a problem that I have." That's the way I see the website, that's the way I see the documentation, that's the way I see user forums - enabling people to be able to see very quickly that this is a project that I should be interested in, that I would like to use, that solves a problem that I have.

LXF: Is the open source in oVirt part of its big sell?

DN: For a start, you don't have many free, free as in cost, data centre virtualisation projects out there. But beyond the freeness, the free cost, oVirt is built on KVM, the node is also built on libvirt, so we can handle anything that libvirt can handle. For storage, we can use block storage, NFS, distributed storage like GlusterFS; and the server is a JBoss application - it's completely Java and completely open source.

I can see companies who are interested in deploying at scale being interested in being able to make changes to this project, and that's where the open source component comes in; who has an interest in being able to change the project? We're never going to have a college student coming in and making significant contributions to oVirt. That's not the type of project it is - you need a minimum level of hardware to see the benefit of a project like oVirt.

Again, this is going back to my basic way of thinking about community - who has an interest in contributing to this project? And don't try to sell the project as something it's not to people who won't be interested in it, and will be disappointed if they try and engage with it and don't get what they expect from it.

LXF: What went wrong with MeeGo?

DN: The easy answer to what went wrong with MeeGo is that Nokia lost faith in the project. Then the question is, how did that happen? I think that happened because MeeGo came about from the marriage of two different platforms: Moblin and Maemo.

I really like David Eaves' (the open government activist) framing of how you negotiate a new look for common interests, rather than horse trading over positions.

LXF: This was Intel and Nokia?

DN: Yes, and Intel and Nokia, I think, during the foundation of the project were horse trading over whose components would get into the programme. They'd both invested heavily in their platform and didn't want to see that investment lost. It's completely understandable.

But the result was a platform which, at the time the MeeGo project was launched, Nokia was a few months away from shipping what eventually became the N900 and the N9. After MeeGo launched, it was a year, more than a year, before they launched those devices.

I think there were cultural issues, as there always are when two large organisations work together, but also issues in terms of quality and integration work.

LXF: Didn't Intel and Nokia build different user interfaces?

DN: Yes. Again, that was a decision that Nokia made that completely made sense as far as I was concerned. That the UI layer that they had been working on for Maemo 6 - they were literally months from releasing a device - all of that work would have had to be redone. They said "let's cut this corner for this first version, and we'll fix it in the next version". But even cutting that corner, all of the integration work took much longer than anybody expected.