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Nokia N900 Linux Smartphone Running OS X 251

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the mr-johnson's-dog dept.
Rovaani writes "There is a video floating around of a Nokia N900 smartphone running the full desktop Mac OS X 10.3. From the author, Tomi Nikkanen: 'I believe this makes the N900 the first smartphone ever to run a full version of Mac OS X (at any speed, slow or otherwise). As you can see from the heavily edited video, it took almost 2 hours to reach the "About my Mac..." window. Keep your eye on the time display as that will give you an impression of just how uselessly slow it is.'"
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Nokia N900 Linux Smartphone Running OS X

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  • Useless commentary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saleenS281 (859657) on Monday February 01, 2010 @01:49PM (#30983716) Homepage
    What's with the "uselessly slow" commentary. The guy did it just to prove it could be done, which is pretty cool. I don't think he ever made any assertion that it would be a usable OS alternative for the N900...
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday February 01, 2010 @01:54PM (#30983786) Journal
      OS X 10.3 was PowerPC-only. The N900 has an ARM CPU. The 'uselessly slow' commentary comes from the fact that it's running in an emulator (QEMU? I didn't RTFA), so it's not like the phone is running the OS, the phone is running the emulator and the emulator is running the OS. Remember the people running PowerPC OS X emulated on P3/P4 CPUs before the first Intel release? It's going to be even slower than that.
    • by uhoreg (583723) on Monday February 01, 2010 @01:59PM (#30983912) Homepage
      The "uselessly slow" commentary is straight from the blog of the guy who did it. http://www.tuug.fi/~toni/serendipity/index.php?/archives/13-Mac-OS-X-10.3-running-on-the-N900!.html [www.tuug.fi]
    • by Nursie (632944)

      It's not even an OS for the n900, it's on an emulator.

      No lack of kudos for it, but it's not like it's native... I have heard of one dual booting Maemo and Android, which I thought was pretty cool.

      • by Cederic (9623) on Monday February 01, 2010 @02:15PM (#30984136) Journal

        Whoa - where?

        I want an Android VM for Maemo, hooked into the phone hardware. Then it's the best phone on the market bar none.

        As it is, it's the best phone on the market except for the application support; I'm still hoping that comes good.

        • The N900 has the best out-of-the-box application support*. Look under Menu/Application Manager to find Easy Debian ;)

          *Technically correct. The best kind of correct.

          • by Cederic (9623)

            Although I do like the screen and keyboard on the n900, it's not exactly a desktop replacement in that department.

            It therefore benefits significantly from applications designed for the mobile form factor. Command line tools and general linux apps - good as they are - are not at their best in such a situation.

            It's the difference between "I can do it" and "I want to do it". I want to have applications I want to use (but I'm too lazy to write them).

            Obviously at a personal level it's all my own fault for being

        • by Nursie (632944)

          I would like to see android as a downloadable set of *stuff* for generic linux, allowing you to run android apps alongside X apps. it looks like Michael Frey has been working on it [blogspot.com], though with mixed results.

          As for dual boot I saw this page here [engadget.com] and it looked interesting. I very much doubt it's a polished or finished thing that can access all the hardware properly, but it is at least booting.

  • Not useless (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Renegade Lisp (315687) * on Monday February 01, 2010 @01:49PM (#30983726)

    Maybe uselessly slow, yes, but this is the kind of tinkering that any device should allow if it is to be called a computer.

    There's a direct link to a free information society from these kinds of experiments -- something that is very much endangered by the current trend towards unmodifiable devices and appifization.

    • by tsa (15680)

      I think the Nokia N900 is the coolest smartphone out there at the moment, partly because it's so open. But even when you don't want to tinker with it, it blows the iPhone away in terms of multitasking, bluetooth, keyboard and lots of other things.

      • by Verdatum (1257828)
        All true. But the touchscreen is fragile as hell. You really shouldn't mimic the open-faced iPhone design unless you've got a reinforced glass screen. Oh well. My protective case is being shipped, and I'll probably send in my phone (with the mysterious hole that appeared on the first day of ownership) to be fixed sooner or later.
  • Somewhat ironic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Soulfarmer (607565) * on Monday February 01, 2010 @01:51PM (#30983754) Homepage Journal
    I find it somewhat ironic that iPhone's competitor can run Apple's OS and iPhone/iPad most probably will never be able to run Mac OS.
    • Re:Somewhat ironic (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday February 01, 2010 @01:55PM (#30983808) Journal
      It's running it in an emulator. Apple won't allow emulators in the store, but if you had a dev kit and ported QEMU to the iPhone it would run OS X too. It would, of course, be equally useless.
      • It's running it in an emulator. Apple won't allow emulators in the store, but if you had a dev kit and ported QEMU to the iPhone it would run OS X too. It would, of course, be equally useless.

        And with some sugar and water we can make lemonade - if we had some lemons...

        • Specifically, get a dev kit and port QEMU. Then fork over your $100 for the dev program (yes, you can do it in that order), and load the whole thing onto your iPhone. Note that your phone cost more than $100, so the developer program membership isn't the biggest cost.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by LWATCDR (28044)

      Actually the iPhone does run OS/X just a different flavor of it.
      I guess that one could port a VM to the iPhone or iPad if you had the dev kit for it or jail broke it.
      I would say it is possible but not sanctioned.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fredmosby (545378)
      The iPhone and iPad run the multi-touch version of OSX. Calling it the 'iPhone OS' is poor marketing on Apple's part, but it really is full OSX with a different (better in terms of usability) interface.
    • by camperslo (704715)

      I find it somewhat ironic that iPhone's competitor can run Apple's OS and iPhone/iPad most probably will never be able to run Mac OS.

      Perhaps someone (maybe Apple?) can provide a Remote Desktop Client app for the iPad. Besides being a roundabout way to get a "Finder" to browse the shareable iPad directories, one remotely access things on the desktop back home that would be most in need of more cheap bandwidth or CPU power. Administering a bittorrent client, doing some scheduling and video edit/export in E

    • I find it somewhat ironic that iPhone's competitor can run Apple's OS and iPhone/iPad most probably will never be able to run Mac OS.

      Based on your statement, you are assuming that the iPhone can't run Mac OS X. Apple has never said that it could not but rather they developed a special version of OS X to run on the mobile devices. Based on Apple's own documentation iPhone OS X is a subset of OS X. Also the poster was able to get Mac OS X to run, but admittedly it is very, very slow because it runs in an e

  • by rimcrazy (146022) on Monday February 01, 2010 @01:54PM (#30983806)

    Come on, if your going to do worthless things why not go for the whole enchilada?

  • O_o (Score:5, Funny)

    by SixDimensionalArray (604334) on Monday February 01, 2010 @02:01PM (#30983950)
    Now if I could just get Windows Vista booting on my TI-82!
    • Now if I could just get Windows Vista booting on my TI-82!

      Tell me when you're done, and I'll run it on the TI-82 [maemo.org] on my N900. ;)

  • Love It (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LearnToSpell (694184) on Monday February 01, 2010 @02:04PM (#30983986) Homepage
    I hate to sound like the eternal nuthugger, but I'm having so much fun with my N900. Just threw on the cifs-mounting stuff, and that combined (alternated, really) with sshfs means I can take my entire music collection wherever I go. 1.5TB, ripped to flac on a server in my basement, so why would I want to have to choose what albums I take with me to the gym or work or wherever? Just mount the thing and play. Plus, there's an FM transmitter built-in, so I can just plunk it down next to (~15 feet) a radio, and fire it up.

    The "it's so slow" comments are kind of silly. This is obviously a POC, and a pretty nice one. Any phone that can run Asterisk, Apache, nmap and OSX is cool in my book. :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Nokia pissed me off to no end with the N900. I was waiting for the thing, postponing any phone related purchases .... and when it comes out it turns out that it does not support the 3G system offered in Canada by Rogers (and apparently also by AT&T in the US). EDGE only. Which at the price tag the thing comes with renders the entire excercise rather pointless (and no WiFi is not an acceptable fall-back for many of us).

      All I can say is: Fucketey Fuck!

      • Re:Love It (Score:5, Informative)

        by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday February 01, 2010 @02:30PM (#30984344) Journal

        Nokia pissed me off to no end with the N900. I was waiting for the thing, postponing any phone related purchases .... and when it comes out it turns out that it does not support the 3G system offered in Canada by Rogers (and apparently also by AT&T in the US). EDGE only.

        Nokia is a European company, so they use European UMTS frequency bands [wikipedia.org] (which, by the way, also happen to be used in most of the world). Blame North America for trying to be different there, not Nokia for going for the largest worldwide coverage.

        In USA, you still have the option of T-Mobile, anyway.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Verdatum (1257828)
          Should we blame Nokia? Should we blame the telcos? Or should we blame the standards organization, ISO? NO! Blame Canada! Blame Canada! (and so on)
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Actually the "blame" for the different band allocation lies with history. Many frequencies were allocated to different services in Europe and North America, some of these services having not existed in one place or another. When the advent of cellular phones came about, the companies got what was available at the moment. The European HDSPA (aka 3G) bands were used by different things in the USA and Canada and so different bands were allocated. This of course keeps changing as some older services become obso

            • by Verdatum (1257828)
              Well duh. But that explanation doesn't fit to the tune of "Blame Canada" from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut nearly as well.
        • Blame North America for trying to be different there, not Nokia for going for the largest worldwide coverage

          Nokia could have made a phone that supports all the global standards, many such phones exist. They chose not to do so. What you are saying is that we should blame England when some car maker decides not to make a Right Hand Drive car for Japanese or New Zealand market. It is the maker's choice, the "responsiblity" is not on the whole historical chain of decisions that lead to the establishment of a p

        • > Blame North America for trying to be different there

          It has nothing to do with "trying to be different", and everything to do with pre-existing services.

          1900MHz was mostly owned by Sprint in America several *years* before UMTS was even an acronym, let alone a real service that existed anywhere in the world -- Europe or otherwise. T-Mobile owned a few slivers here and there (mostly in smaller cities), but most of THOSE slivers represented their *entire spectrum* within that market, and the frequencies we

        • Blame North America for trying to be different there, not Nokia for going for the largest worldwide coverage.

          Also, as some already pointed out, "being different" in this case means "having existing use for the frequencies due to historically far more extensive utilization of radio frequencies", whereas Europe (and much of the rest of the world), starting form essentially a blank slate, had the luxury of picking whatever frequencies struck their fancy, looong after those same frequencies were already in use

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by roju (193642)

        I've read that WIND uses the right frequencies to use the N900 at 3G speeds. Apparently they may even be bringing it to Canada officially. People are running it right now though, just self-imported from the States.

        • WIND is at this point a startup, covering some parts of Toronto only. It will be years before they have a national coverage to speak of.

      • The N900 will work on Windmobile's [windmobile.ca] network at full speed. Wind is rumored to be selling the phone soon but for now they say you can use your own N900 with their SIM cards. Dave Wireless [davewireless.com] is supposed to run on the same frequencies as Wind but Dave is not on line yet.
        • As I mentioned to another poster, WIND is a pipe-dream at this point. They barely have some minimal coverage in Toronto and judging by the scale of infrastructure required, it will be years before they are a viable option in the rest of the country. And DAve is not even that far along (i.e. their business is comprised nearly entirely of press releases).

      • It will probably work with the new WIND mobile network though. They use UMTS AWS band IV (1700/2100). My Nokia E90 picks up the 2100 downlink.

        Personally I use the Wifi on the E90 quite a bit. VoIP calling is really cheap.

        • See above about WIND and its viability. In some areas of Toronto you might get away with it .... and that's just about it for years to come.

          As to WiFi I live and work in an area where hot-spots are rarer than hen's teeth.

      • complain to Congress (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pydev (1683904)

        That's not Nokia's fault. In order to cover the US market, they would have to offer different versions for AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint. Each of those versions would require separate FCC approval. And the reason for that mess is because the FCC and Congress have failed to set standards for mobile telecommunications.

        That's one of the many reasons the US mobile market is so terribly backwards and overpriced: there is no competition, and monopolies are enforced through technology.

        • That's not Nokia's fault. In order to cover the US market, they would have to offer different versions for AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint.

          Nobody is expecting them to make a CDMA phone. But as to GSM and friends, there are many phones that support all the global standards, the decision was purely discretionary on Nokia's part.

        • by Miamicanes (730264) on Monday February 01, 2010 @04:11PM (#30985974)

          > Each of those versions would require separate FCC approval.

          Not quote. There's no technical reason why a single phone approved by the FCC couldn't be used on both Sprint and Verizon, or on AT&T and T-Mobile... it's mainly the carriers' fault.

          Basically, the FCC requires any phone with unique hardware and radio firmware to be tested & approved. Sprint won't allow its customers to use Verizon-branded phones, and Verizon won't sell phones that aren't built to be "Uniquely Verizon". Thus, it would almost be beyond pointless for a manufacturer to pay to get FCC approval for a generic CDMA phone, because Sprint wouldn't allow it to be used, and Verizon wouldn't buy a million of them to resell to its customers.

          The AT&T/T-Mobile situation is a little blurrier. It appears that right now, AT&T has a company policy of refusing to sell phones capable of 1700/2100 UMTS, and T-Mobile has a company policy of refusing to sell phones capable of 850MHz UMTS. Neither company will actually stop a customer from buying one himself and sticking the SIM card into it, but the market (right now) for unsubsidized handsets in the US is somewhere between "barely relevant" and "all but nonexistent". As a practical matter, there are exactly two American customers that manufacturers like HTC, Samsung, Nokia, and Motorola care about: AT&T and T-Mobile.

          Need more proof of corporate policy dictating handset frequency availability? Watch the FCC submissions logs. I can almost guarantee that there will be two distinct versions of the iPhone 4 submitted to the FCC -- one that does 850MHz and 1900/2100 UMTS, and one that does 1700/2100 and 1900/2100. What's really sad is that they'll both probably have the same hardware, and differ only in their radio firmware. It'll suck for everyone... Europeans will have to decide whether they'd rather roam on AT&T or T-Mobile when they visit the US, and American iPhones will effectively be locked to AT&T or T-Mobile -- at least, for anyone buying one to use in the US with 3G data.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by pydev (1683904)

            Sprint won't allow its customers to use Verizon-branded phones, and Verizon won't sell phones that aren't built to be "Uniquely Verizon"

            Yes, and Congress and the FCC could require all phones to use the same standard and frequencies.

            Need more proof of corporate policy dictating handset frequency availability?

            I don't need any proof at all. I'm saying Congress should grow some balls and put an end to this madness by law.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Miamicanes (730264)

              Well, there's one problem with REQUIRING both 850 and 1700/2100 -- it costs more to make a phone capable of doing both. From what I've read, at worst, the only difference between a phone built for 1700/2100 and a phone built for 1900/2100 is a few passive component values determined at build time. At best, it's purely a matter of firmware and regulatory approval. On the other hand, a phone that does BOTH 850MHz *and* 1700&|1900/2100 needs two radio subsystems.

              Going purely by engineering cost-benefit and

  • by nightfire-unique (253895) on Monday February 01, 2010 @02:48PM (#30984582)

    Though this isn't directly related to running OSX on the n900, I just wanted to add that.. I'm not surprised.

    A while back I posted a story that was rejected, asking if any fellow /.'ers had any experience with the n900 from a Unix admin's perspective. To me it seemed like a dream-come-true device: high-res screen, fast CPU, lots of ram... and most importantly, running Debian.

    I had to find out, so I bought one about 3 weeks ago. It really, truly is a dream-come-true device.

    I swear I'm not affiliated with Nokia in any way; I'm a Unix admin for a largish web firm. But if anyone else is wondering, yes it runs a Debian-derived OS. Yes, you can SSH into it as root, over 3G/GPRS, even if the phone is "off." Yes, crond works. Yes it runs native X11 and you can run your X11 apps (ie. directory manager, xterms, vncviewer, pidgin, openoffice/koffice, etc). Yes it's stable. The keyboard is usable, the UI is quick, and task switching is a breeze. The filesystem layout is mostly sensible, and you can apt-get dist-upgrade to get updates directly from Nokia (and other repositories)!

    That blew me away when I first saw it so let me say it again: Nokia is using apt to send updates OTA to the phone! Proper version tagging and dependency management, on a phone!

    It doesn't suspend like the crappy Zaurus did... when you hit the power switch, it shuts off the screen and (I believe) encourages the processor to drop to a very slow cycle rate (unless something heavy is running). So your apps continue to run. Battery life is ~16-24h with a constant GSM data/wifi connection, so you must charge every night. But it's so worth it.

    Everything about it is done the way this 15-year Linux/Solaris admin thinks it should be done.

    So, back (slightly) on-topic.. it doesn't surprise me in the least that they got OSX to boot under an emulator. The n900 is quite literally a pocket Debian workstation that happens to have a GSM radio onboard.

    • Everything about it is done the way this 15-year Linux/Solaris admin thinks it should be done.

      Ah, I see that you're still on honeymoon with your N900. It's got its wrinkles. Try 'cat /etc/sudoers' for a start. But I do agree with most of what you say. It is an amazing device.

      • What do you object to in /etc/sudoers? I looked at it, but it was so long I didn't bother checking everything.

        • by Culture20 (968837)

          What do you object to in /etc/sudoers? I looked at it, but it was so long I didn't bother checking everything.

          From what I read online, it looks like any user is granted root privs without a password. So if you've got apache installed, and someone finds/uses a vulnerability, they can make the apache user switch to root unless you've locked down sudoers.

          • by cras (91254)

            By default sudo gives just an error about "switch your device to R&D mode if you want to break your device". You have to install a separate gainroot package to do it without R&D mode. Anyone who does either of those should be experienced enough to realize what the consequences are.

            Of course, allowing ALL users rather than just the normal "user" to get root privileges is worse. And yes, a quick look at /etc/sudoers does look as if any user could simply do that. But I just tried:

            1. start xterm
            2. sudo

    • Sounds wonderful... if only it would work on Verizon's network :o(

    • by dunsurfin (570404) on Monday February 01, 2010 @04:38PM (#30986442)
      I agree. The N900 is pretty much the ideal 'phone for the Slashdot crowd. I was pretty surprised that there was not more commentary on the N900 here - it is more open than the Nexus One or the Milestone, with more features than you can shake a stick at.
    • Warning! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WML MUNSON (895262)
      The N900 may jeopardize your marriage.

      --
      Sent from my Nokia N900
    • by rgviza (1303161)

      A better idea than an emulator, which will happen by the way, is to simply implement a good copy of the iPhone's interface on this.
      check out the LG Vu mods to see what I'm talking about... www.lg-vu.com

      GUIs are comparatively simple to copy. Much better than trying to emulate an OS. With the hardware this thing has a gui copy will run just as fast as a native iphone if it's done right and the underlying OS is efficient.

  • by Rufty (37223) on Monday February 01, 2010 @02:54PM (#30984640) Homepage
    It barely even crawls OSX. (Cool hack, though.)
  • 10.3 was powerpc specific - and you can see from the screen shot that they are using pearpc - a powerpc emulation engine.

    what would be much more interesting is to port iphone os to the n900 - it has an ARM cpu and should be able to run about the same speed as the iphone itself - that is more a challenge. putting msdos on symbian, android, iphone os, windows mobile is simply a matter of porting dosbox or so; when will someone take on the true challenge :) take a recovery image and flash it to an ARM device w

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