Re: How free is the Nokia N900?

Following my questions on the freeness of the Nokia N900, I received quite a lot of comments. I’m trying to summarize the most important points here.

For all the details, see the comments and Tollef’s blog.

How free is the Nokia N900?

Dear readers,

So, I’ve been looking into buying a Nokia N900. However, what it provides regarding freedom is still not completely clear to me. And given that it is significantly more expensive than other smartphones, I’d like to make sure that it’s not a loss of money :-)

– Can I download the full source, recompile it, build a firmware from it and re-install my Nokia N900 from scratch? Is the process documented? It seems that you need to accept a EULA to download updated firmwares, and I couldn’t find the source for them. What exactly is available from firmware that is not available through normal repositories? (Are normal repositories only for “extras” apps, or is the base system also installable / upgradable from them?

– What’s the content of /etc/apt/sources.list? What exactly is What does Nokia need to hide? :-)

– Would it be possible to develop a Centos-like distribution, installing the Maemo firmware, but then upgrading everything to rebuilt versions using an unofficial repository? Are there some applications that are not packaged, or that would break if re-installed that way?

– Could I install Debian or Ubuntu on the N900? Is the process documented? Is it possible to dual-boot between, say, Maemo5 and Debian? (I’m not talking about setting up a chroot, of course)

– Besides the non-free telephony stack, are there any other “antifeatures” I should be aware of?