Mer (software distribution)

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Mer
Mer Logo.png
OS family Linux
Working state Current
Marketing target Mobile
Package manager RPM Package Manager
Supported platforms ARM, x86 and MIPS
Kernel type None
License Open source
Official website merproject.org
mer is middleware; it lacks the Linux kernel and also lacks a UI like Plasma Active

Mer is a free and open-source software distribution, targeted at hardware vendors to serve as a middleware for Linux kernel-based mobile-oriented operating systems.[1] It is a fork of MeeGo.[2][3][4]

History[edit]

Relations of Mer and the mobile operating systems incorporating it and also of the projects it was forked from.

Its aim was initially to provide a completely free alternative to the Maemo operating system, which was able to run on Nokia Internet Tablets such as the N800 and N810 (collectively known as the N8x0 devices).[5][6]

It was based on Ubuntu 9.04, and with the release of Maemo 5/Fremantle, a new goal emerged: "[To bring] as much of Fremantle as we can get on the N8x0."

Shift to MeeGo[edit]

Mer suspended development at release 0.17, since focus had switched to building MeeGo for the N800 and N810 devices.[7] By then, MeeGo was available and supported by a much wider community.

Collapse of MeeGo[edit]

The development was silently resumed during the summer of 2011 by a handful of MeeGo developers (some of them previously active in the Mer project), after Nokia changed their strategy in February 2011. These developers were not satisfied with the way MeeGo had been governed behind closed doors especially after Nokia departed, and they were also concerned that MeeGo heavily depended on big companies which could stop supporting it, as was the case when Nokia abandoned MeeGo as part of their new strategy.[8]

This was once again proven to be a problem after Intel, Samsung and the Linux Foundation announced they are going to create a new operating system called Tizen which will abandon most of the MeeGo legacy and especially application development APIs, focusing on HTML5 and using the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL) instead of Qt for native applications.

Revival[edit]

After the Tizen project was announced, the revival of the Mer project was announced on the MeeGo mailing list,[2] with the promise that it will be developed and governed completely in the open as a meritocracy, unlike MeeGo and Tizen. Also, it will be based on the MeeGo code base and tools, aiming to provide just the equivalent of the MeeGo core with no default UI. The APIs for 3rd party application development are included, meaning that Qt, EFL, and HTML5 would be all supported on the platform, and maybe even others if widely requested.

The project quickly started to gain traction among many open source developers who were previously involved in MeeGo, and it started being used by former MeeGo projects, such as the former MeeGo reference handset UX, now rebased on top of Mer and called Nemo Mobile, and a couple of projects targeting tablet UXes such as Cordia (a reimplementation of the Maemo 5 Hildon UX) and Plasma Active emerged on top of Mer. Equivalent Mer-based project of the former MeeGo IVI and Smart TV UXes are not yet known to exist.

The aim of the Mer community is to create, in a solid way, what previously was unable to be done with MeeGo; Mer is to become what MeeGo was expected to be but has not become. Mer aims to become the MeeGo 2.0 when the Linux Foundation finds that it complies with all of the MeeGo requirements.

Goals[edit]

Some goals[2] of the project are:

  • Openly developed with transparency built into the fabric of the project
  • Provide a mobile device oriented architecture
  • Primary customers are device vendors, not end-users.
  • Have structure, processes and tools to make life easy for device manufacturers
  • Support innovation in the mobile OS space
  • Inclusive of projects and technologies (e.g. MeeGo, Tizen, Qt, EFL, HTML5)
  • Governed as a meritocracy
  • Run as a non profit through donations[9]

Software architecture[edit]

Mer contains systemd, Wayland compositor, etc.

Mer is not an operating system, it is aimed to be one component of an operating system based on the Linux kernel. Mer is a part of the operating system above the Linux kernel and below the graphical user interface.

Mer just provides the equivalent of the MeeGo core. The former MeeGo user interfaces and hardware adaptation are to be done by various other projects and by hardware manufacturers, which will be able to build their products on top of the Mer core.

Components[edit]

There is support for systemd, Wayland, Hybris, and other current FOSS software.

Zephyr is an attempt at creating a stack for use by other projects to be exploring lightweight, high-performance, next-generation UIs based on Mer, Qt5, QML compositor and Wayland.[10]

Weston 1.3, which was released on 2013-10-11, supports libhybris,[11] making it possible to use Android device drivers with Wayland.

Supported hardware[edit]

Mer can be compiled for a number of instruction sets such as x86, ARM or MIPS.

There are Mer-based builds available for various devices, including Raspberry Pi, Beagleboard, Nokia N900, Nokia N950, Nokia N9 and for various Intel Atom-based tablets. These also include hardware adaptation packages and various UXes running on top of Mer as well, provided by different projects. They can be flashed on the device and might work in dual-boot mode with the original firmware.[12]

Mer uses Open Build Service: OBS in mer but with one repository per architecture:

Mer port name OBS scheduler name RPM architectures OBS project name in MDS OBS repository name in MDS Description
i486 i586 i486 Core:i486 Core_i486 Generic i486+ X86 port
i586 i586 i586, i686 Core:i586 Core_i586 SSSE3 enabled X86 port
x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 Core:x86_64 Core_x86_64 Generic 64 bit port
armv6l armv7el armv6l Core:armv6l Core_armv6l ARMv6 + VFP port
armv7l armv7el armv7l Core:armv7l Core_armv7l ARMv7 VFPv3-D16 port, softfp ABI
armv7hl armv8el armv7hl Core:armv7hl Core_armv7hl ARMv7 VFPv3-D16 port, hardfp ABI
armv7tnhl armv8el armv7hl, armv7nhl, armv7tnhl, armv7thl Core:armv7tnhl Core_armv7tnhl ARMv7 VFPv3-D16 port, hardfp ABI, NEON, Thumb2
mipsel mips mipsel Core:mipsel Core_mipsel MIPS32 O32 ABI port, hardfloat

Products based on Mer[edit]

KDE Plasma Active[edit]

Mer is the reference platform for KDE’s Plasma Active.[13]

Vivaldi Tablet[edit]

In January 2012 a Plasma Active -tablet device, eventually known as 'Vivaldi Tablet', was announced. Based on the Allwinner A20 SoC,[14] it would have a 7" multitouch display, run the Plasma Active user interface on top of Mer, and have a target price of about €200.[15] The project encountered some problems when its hardware partner in China completely changed the internal components and was reluctant to release the kernel source for the new hardware. As of early July 2012, the Vivaldi had been set back, but a solution was "in the pipes", according to Plasma developer Aaron Seigo.[16]

As a kind of side product project has developed Improv-computer which is targeted for developers and is to be release in January 2014. It comes with preinstalled Mer.[17]

Nemo Mobile[edit]

Parallel to Sailfish OS by Jolla, Nemo Mobile is a community driven operating system based on a Linux kernel, Mer, a GUI and diverse applications.[18][19][20]

Sailfish OS[edit]

In July 2012 Jolla, a Finnish company founded by former Nokia employees involved in MeeGo development, announced their work on a new operating system called Sailfish OS, which is based on MeeGo and Mer's core with added proprietary GUI and hardware implementation layers.[21][22] It was presented in late November 2012. Jolla released its first smartphone using sailfish in 2013, simply called Jolla.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mer Project website". Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Munk, Carsten. "MeeGo Reconstructed – a plan of action and direction for MeeGo". MeeGo-dev mailing list. http://lists.meego.com/pipermail/meego-dev/2011-October/484215.html.
  3. ^ lbt. "Restructure MeeGo: By Installments". Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Ash (2011-10-03). "MeeGo Reconstructed – Presenting "Project Mer"". MeeGoExperts.com. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  5. ^ "What is Mer Project? | Jolla Users Blog". Jollausers.com. 2012-09-27. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  6. ^ http://www.daimi.au.dk/~cvm/cphnotes.pdf
  7. ^ "The Mer Project – just a bunch of redshirts?". 
  8. ^ lbt (2011-02-12). "Come on in…: What now for MeeGo?". Mer-l-in.blogspot.de. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  9. ^ "Mer Project". Mer Project. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  10. ^ https://wiki.merproject.org/wiki/Zephyr Mer Zephyr
  11. ^ "Wayland and Weston 1.3 release notes". 2013-10-11. 
  12. ^ "Mer Community workspace". 
  13. ^ "Plasma Active 3 Improves Performance, Brings New Apps". KDE. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  14. ^ Marco Martin. "some more hardware porn". Google+. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  15. ^ "Spark tablet announcement". 
  16. ^ "Akademy: Plasma Active and Make Play Live". 
  17. ^ http://liliputing.com/2013/11/improv-is-a-75-modular-arm-based-computer-core-eoma-68.html
  18. ^ "Nemo". Mer Wiki. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  19. ^ "The Nemo Mobile Open Source Project on Ohloh". Ohloh.net. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  20. ^ Marko Saukko (2013-02-03), Porting Nemo Mobile and Mer Project to new Hardware, FOSDEM 2013, retrieved 2013-07-29 
  21. ^ "Co-creation leading to co-development?". 
  22. ^ "What Is Jolla Mobile / Jolla OS? | Jolla Users Blog". Jollausers.com. 2012-09-26. Retrieved 2013-06-13.