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Nokia to bridge Maemo, Symbian with Qt

Use of Qt is expected to make it easier for developers to write apps both for the Maemo mobile Linux OS and for Symbian, Nokia's smartphone platform.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The next version but one of Nokia's Maemo mobile Linux operating system will use Qt rather than GTK+ for its application development framework.

Basing Maemo Harmattan on Qt will make it easier for developers to write applications for both Maemo and Symbian, Nokia's smartphone platform, the Finnish company's development platform product manager Quim Gil said last week at the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit.

Harmattan will be the successor to the upcoming Fremantle, which is also known as Maemo 5. (Nokia code-names its Maemo versions after the names of winds.)

Gil said that Qt, acquired in Nokia's purchase of Trolltech a year ago, will not come "out of the box" in Fremantle, but it will have community support. This will open Maemo up to developers who work with the KDE desktop environment, which uses Qt, he said. Maemo is currently based largely on Gnome, a rival environment, which uses GTK+.

"For Harmattan, we will make a switch," Gil said. "It's not an easy switch. If you look at the platform, the Fremantle middleware will stay more or less the same, but now Qt will come as officially supported."

The Gnome community is being invited to work with the Maemo community to get Gnome applications working on this new, Qt-based version, he added.

There is a "good push inside Nokia to bring Maemo further to mainstream audiences", Gil noted. However, he conceded that Maemo-based devices such as the N810 tablet are aimed at a small, high-end market, which is an unattractive scenario for many developers.

"There is an interesting possibility of getting a common API based on Qt for Maemo and Symbian," Gil said. "If you're developing for a platform like Maemo, which doesn't bring you millions of users, with that work you can then do a Symbian port and then have a much wider reach on Symbian devices, using the common Qt API," Gil said.

Nokia will continue to contribute to the Gnome project and provide support for GTK+ libraries, he added.

Meanwhile, on Monday Nokia denied speculation it was working on an Android device, a development that would have meant the company was supporting three open-source platforms.

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