After hacking on Tumbler for a while, I decided to install the Maemo SDK and see how Maemo runs in Xephyr. I have to say it runs nicely and I really like the interface. The three level zooming interface from application overview to window overview to panorama desktop works well for me. The conversations view and IM notifications make it easy to concentrate on what you want to do without being interrupted too much. I’m chatting with a friend via Jabber at this very moment. Running apps in parallel rocks too.

Now, I’m a rather unorganized person and I’ve always wanted to keep track of meetings and other events using some kind of tool in order to get them out of my head. So, after playing with the Maemo interface for a few hours, I’m considering buying an N900. I’d love to get it at a discount but that doesn’t seem to be easy and I’m not sure my work on Tumbler for Harmattan qualifies enough for that.

Even though I’m considering the N900, there are things that I’d like to see improved. Here’s a list of what I’d consider worth improving. I might even start hacking on one or two of them over the next weeks.

File Manager

The file manager is very basic. No typeahead and global search, no bookmarks, no remote file systems, weird label alignment. I tried running Thunar but its interface is too complex of course. It ran well though which makes me think that there is room for improvement. I could imagine a main view listing entries point on the built-in storage, the SD card and bookmarks (which would then be more than just local bookmarks, it could be anything from local to SFTP to SMB). GIO makes it easy. For the browsing interface something like the browser interface might be nice, except that there is no need for the URI input field. Instead, maybe one could make the bottom bar display the folder name.

Chat Rooms

Chat Rooms like on Jabber conference services don’t seem to be supported. At least there’s an open bug for it on I’ve been thinking about how this could be implemented without breaking out of the Maemo conversations concept too much. The best idea I came up with within a few minutes would be a separate Chats application where you can define chat rooms, plus a “New Chat” button in the conversations overview. The chats could then show up in the conversations overview and the only that would be different in chat rooms would be that there needs to be a way to show who’s online in the room (maybe with privilege status). This could be done via the pull-down title menu or an additional button next to the smilies or send button, I guess.

I don’t know about the internals and available APIs yet, so these ideas might be impossible to implement. Dunno yet.


I’m writing plain text mails only and it’s really annoying that I have no control over newlines. This might be a problem with Xephyr, I’m not sure. Also, when replying to someone on a mailing list “- Original Message —” is not enough to mark quotes. I need at least the name of the original author there. This shouldn’t be too hard to implement but of course I first need to find out whom to convince about this. ;)

So, these are just a few ideas. What do you think of them? The next step will be to find out how to get started, investigate what components and APIs are affected and whether these improvements (you may disagree here) are possible or not.