Maemo basics

If you just bought a new Maemo-based device, you might want to start with the User_FAQ and come back after reading it. The new users page is a more general overview.

This is a brief introduction for people who are new to the Maemo community. The goal of this page is to explain Maemo devices, operating systems, Linux, software development, and what new users need to know to understand Maemo.


[edit] What is Maemo?

Maemo is the name of an operating system and Linux-based application platform which Nokia introduced in 2005 to run on the Nokia 770. But Maemo is more than just an OS, It is the community and tools and devices—everything—to do with the operating system. is the home of the Maemo Community. The resources available here are Downloads, Documentation, development resources, news and a forums.

  • Downloads is a showcase for applications and other software, some of it developed by Nokia, and some of it from members of this Maemo community.
  • Community is a collection of useful information and links for both developers and users. For new users the wiki can be especially useful for frequently asked questions, and general information.
  • Development is a resource for developers. If you are interested in writing code for Maemo, there is a wealth of information and downloadable resources there to help you get started.
  • News is a collection of announcements and blogs about Maemo and the community.
  • Talk comprises a number of forums about Maemo. Some are technical forums for developers but others are for ordinary users.

[edit] Why Maemo?

It is a complete, full-featured and open operating system that runs on a mobile computer.
It is a collaborative effort using the resources and backing of a successful, for-profit company (Nokia) and the talents and resources of an enthusiastic community of volunteers.
It is a Linux distribution. The main competing mobile operating systems are built on Linux, but deliberately restricted (Google's Android), cut down and closed (Windows Phone), or closed and deliberately limited (iOS).

[edit] How can I run Maemo?

Maemo runs on Nokia's Maemo devices. It is available in several versions and not all tablets will run all versions.

Maemo 5 
The most recent Maemo release is Maemo 5 (Fremantle) and it runs on the Nokia N900.
Maemo 4 
Maemo 4 (Chinook), also known as OS2008, runs on the N800, N810 and N810 WiMAX Edition. It had a major upgrade to version 4.1 (Diablo). None of the N8x0 models can be upgraded to Maemo 5, but Mer, an alternative, community maintained operating system is also in development with a new goal: To bring as much of Fremantle as possible on the N800/N810.
Maemo 3 
Maemo 3 (Bora), also know as OS2007, runs on the N800. The N800 can be upgraded to Maemo 4.
Maemo 1/2 
Maemo 1 and Maemo 2 were installed on the 770 (depending on the date the 770 was manufactured). The 770 cannot be upgraded to the official versions of Maemo 3 or Maemo 4 but it can be updated with unofficial "Hacker's Editions" (OS2007HE and OS2008HE).

[edit] What can I do with Maemo?

Maemo now provides almost everything you would expect a smartphone to have—and then some! When you need something more, you can easily install a new application. That is life with a pocketable computer.

Maemo 5 features:

  • Email
  • Alarms
  • Web browsing and Newsfeeds
  • Internet and cell calls
  • Contacts address book
  • Calendar and appointments
  • Still and motion photography
  • Media (music and movies) player
  • Instant messaging (IM) and texting (SMS)
  • Maps and Navigation
  • Games

One basic limitation is that MMS is not officially supported (but there is fMMS.)

See the Downloads section to get an idea of additional possibilities. The software for OS2008 runs on the Nokia N800 and N810 tablets. The Maemo 5 downloads page is for the Nokia N900. There's also a showcase of the greatest Maemo software collected from and Nokia's Ovi Store at Maemo Select.

Installation is as easy as starting up the application manager on your Maemo device.

[edit] Other Resources

Nokia maintains an official user-oriented site at If your questions weren't answered there, see the FAQ. If additional help is needed, try the forums, where there is a thread for newcomers.

Browse the Beginners category.

If you need to have software ported from other OSes, visit Applications you wish were ported from other platforms. Requests for apps is evolving as a process and instructions to that will come later.