Desktop Linux without the desk.

In a previous post I wrote about how easy it was to use Nokia’s N900 out of the box. Today I’ll give you just a taste of what’s possible when you unlock the its full potential as handheld Linux computer.

Hint: All you have to do to get started is activate the Extras-devel software catalog…

Firefox Mobile

Firefox Mobile:

You don’t even have to activate any extra repos to enjoy the Maemo-optimized version of Firefox — getting it is as simple as clicking on the Maemo Select shortcut on your home screen; Firefox should be front and centre at the resulting site.

This mobilized Firefox offers a number of improvements over the stock MicroB browser, including the clever implementation of tabbed browsing shown above. Getting to the tab menu is as simple as “pulling” the page to the right; pulling it to the left reveals another menu for settings.

Firefox seems to render pages about as fast as the default Maemo browser, and does a better job of fitting them to the N900’s 800 pixel-wide screen. But a major disappointment is that there are only limited plug-ins available, and not the vast library of add-ons that the desktop version of Firefox enjoys.

Ovi IMAP account on Claws

Claws Email:

Though Mozilla’s other big project is noticeably absent on the N900, another excellent email client is available — it’s called Claws. Here’s how Claws displays my Ovi Mail IMAP account, complete with all the mail folders I set up on the web.

As you can see I don’t use my Ovi Mail account very much, so there’s no need to spam me, is there?

Ovi IMAP account on Default Email App

And here’s the very same account accessed through the default Maemo client. The extra mail folders are there, but I have to scroll down to the next screen to see them. I prefer Claws’ more complete default view; others may prefer the cleaner presentation of the default app. There’s never anything wrong with choice…

AbiWord on Maemo


It’s almost a cruel joke that Nokia includes a read-only version of Documents To Go on the N900 when you consider that AbiWord, a fully-featured word processor, is just a few extra clicks away.

As you can see above, lots of options for rich text are on offer. And while I couldn’t get a screen grab of the save window, you can rest assured that AbiWord offers full support for a wide range of document formats, from .doc to .pdf to OpenOffice .odt files.

Now all we need is a Maemo 5 port of Gnumeric for spreadsheets. Since there’s already a version for previous-gen tablets that shouldn’t be too hard, should it?

As stated off the top of the post, this is but a taste of the wondrous FLOSS apps available for the N900. If there’s something specific that you’re looking for leave me a comment below and I’ll see if it’s available…


  1. AC you are the cruellest of the cruel! If you’ll remember back when I first was looking for a new phone I was all over the n900. And your constant upadates do not disapoint! However its the lack of 3g in canada (except on wind which doesn’t help me much) that pushed me to get the droid.
    So to answer your question via facebook, yes my droid does do that stuff (albeit a bit differently) but faster cause I’m on 3g!! Although abiword sounds awesome. I’m using docs to go right now but there are some other office suites out there for android but nothing that sounds as good as abiword. Hopefully one will come down the pipeline.
    Does maemo do flash? 10.1 is on its way for android and I can’t wait!

    Ps this was all written on the milestone!

  2. Nice post Andrew :).
    I’ve never heard of claws.

    The default email browser isn’t bad, but I really hated having to go through so many folders just to reach the inbox. Multiply that by 4 email inboxes, and it becomes a huge pain.

    Keep it up dude ^^. Open Attitude roXes0rz 😉

  3. I first got hipped to Claws through a netbook Linux distro called CrunchEee — the dude who rolled that OS made Claws the default mail client.

    Only difference between it and Thunderbird is that it uses maildir instead of mbox — in English that means each individual message is stored as a separate text file. There’s a nice little comparison here if anyone wants more info…

  4. Regarding Gnumeric:
    Nokia is currently porting KOffice to Meamo. Officially it’ll be read-only as Documents To Go, but as KOffice is fully GPLed, editig mode is probably just a compiler switch away.

Leave a Reply