A while ago Intel and Samsung announced a new initiative under the Linux Foundation umbrella: Tizen. Tizen is a Linux OS for embedded use building on HTML5 and CSS. Cool? Well, maybe. If you’ve been involved with MeeGo, the Linux Foundation’s previous embedded Linux OS, you’re probably not too happy right now. Yes, MeeGo will have to go. For them, as Richard Dale wrote, it’s ‘Tizen or Tizen’t’. The MeeGo community had no say in the merger of Moblin and Maemo to MeeGo, nor did they in the birth of Tizen. Surprised?
Don’t be. Remember OpenOffice.org? MySQL, Solaris? Large companies have shown time and time again that they change direction easily.
I’m not talking about companies like Red Hat or SUSE. They depend on the communities behind their products. But that’s not always the case. Some companies build community around something, but drop it on a whim. At a MeeGo meeting in Tampere (Finland), Aaron Seigo told the attendees to man up. If you want something, you simply have to make a plan and do it. If a big company wants to help, fine. If they don’t – that’s fine too. Aaron explained that this is how KDE’s Plasma Active project is set up. By building on both openSUSE and MeeGo and partnering with five or six smaller companies, their project will continue, even if some partners back out.
MeeGo teaches us the same lesson as the OpenOffice.org debacle did. You need an independent entity if you want to make sure your community lives. Unfortunately, the Linux Foundation is a collaboration of companies and has clearly proven not to be a community-owned organisation. If you are involved in a community, think about continuity. If your community is crucial for a company, you’re reasonably safe. They might make decisions you don’t like, but so do other community members sometimes. If you depend on a company which has no real stake in what your community does, however, things are different. You need to start thinking about the future!
So what’s next for the MeeGo community? They can of course keep working on MeeGo. The Linux Foundation has said it will stay around for a while longer. But it’s not in the interest of Tizen to have a vibrant and active MeeGo. It probably won’t be. So either the community finds a new place (with or without forking the MeeGo codebase) or MeeGo will disappear.
As I love MeeGo and what they do, I asked the MeeGo community to join openSUSE. We’re a community much like MeeGo – young, flexible, innovative, open. Continuing to build MeeGo on top of openSUSE would be possible, especially now there is an openSUSE ARM project (started after the openSUSE Conference last month).
We did build MeeGo on openSUSE before, with Smeegol, and MeeGo uses the Open Build Service as well as openSUSE tools like Zypper. A perfect match, I would say. I’m sure our work on an openSUSE Foundation would be reassuring for them as well. But I’d also be quite happy to see the MeeGo community build their own place and openSUSE would be happy to work with them wherever they go.
I just hope they’ll find a place where they can keep doing the awesome work they have done in the past years!