Maemo basics

If you are totally new to Maemo, I strongly suggest that you start with article New users. It is addressed to newcomers and more simple and better introduction to somebody who doesn't have a clue what Maemo is. After that you can come back and read more about Maemo.

This is a brief introduction for people who are new to Maemo and considering buying a device with the Maemo operating system (OS). The goal of this page is to explain to someone with no prior knowledge about Internet tablets, operating systems, Linux, or software development, what they need to know to appreciate the merits and uses of Maemo.


What is Maemo?

Maemo is the name of an operating system and application platform based on Linux which Nokia introduced in 2005 to run on its Internet tablets. Maemo is more than just that! It is the community and tools and devices—everything—to do with the operating system. This is the home of the Maemo project. The resources here consist of downloads, community-maintained documentation, development resources, news and a discussion forum.

  • 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 (FAQs) 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 blog containing the most significant items of Maemo-related news.
  • Talk comprises a number of forums about Maemo. Some are technical forums for developers but are for ordinary users. There are forums for the Maemo operating system, for specific hardware devices which use Maemo, and for applications written for Maemo.

Why Maemo?

It is a complete, full-featured and open operating system that runs on a portable 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 Mobile), or closed and deliberately limited (Mobile Mac OS X).

How can I run Maemo?

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

Maemo 5 
The most recent Maemo release is Maemo5 (codename: Fremantle), and it runs on the Nokia N900.
Maemo 4 
Maemo 4 (Chinook), also known as OS2008, came installed on the Nokia N810 and N810WiMax. It had a major upgrade to version 4.1 (Diablo). None of the N8xx models can be upgraded to Maemo 5.
Maemo 3 
Maemo 3 (Bora), also know as OS2007, came installed on the N800. The N800 can be upgraded to Maemo 4.1 (Diablo).
Maemo 2 and 1 
Maemo 2 and Maemo 1 were installed on the 770 (depending on the date the 770 was manufactured). The 770 cannot be upgraded to the standard Maemo versions 3 or 4 but it can be updated to what are known as "Hacker's Editions" (OS2007HE and OS2008HE), which were developed by the Maemo community.

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.

Maemo5 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

Its one basic limitation is that MMS is not supported—yet.

See the free downloads section to get an idea of the additional possibilities. The software for os2008 runs on the Nokia N800 and N810 tablets. The Maemo5 downloads page is for the new Nokia N900, and is just getting started. 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 portable computer.

Other Resources

Nokia maintains an official user-oriented site at

If all your questions wasn't answered, Frequently asked questions could do it. If not, feel free to join the forums, where there is a thread for newcomers.

Browse the Users:Beginners category. There could be something else useful.