The world has been anxiously waiting for the PR 1.2 firmware for the N900 for what seems like ages now. The release date speculation thread has crossed 4 thousand posts and we have numerous others that keep popping up. It is common knowledge that the code has been frozen for quite some time now, so what then is causing the delay? Does bug fixing and testing really take so much time? Apparently it does, read on for some of the reasons as to why the world’s favorite firmware is delayed.
“The following is the ‘personal opinion’ of Eero Tamminen of Nokia, written in a Maemo.org mailing list.
Q. With a little over a month now on the clock, people can only begin to speculate as to how poor Nokia’s release management is working.
A. Releases are not based on calendar, but on them being ready, based on testing results. (Hm. Is Maemo showing its Debian roots?)
Q. I, as a software developer, realize that unexpected issues can occur causing unexpected delays…
A. I think it’s mainly due to wanting something that doesn’t have any known regressions in any area from the previous release while significantly improving some areas. And this requiring somewhat unexpected amount of iterations.
As one example, when we optified some of the rootfs content to make more space on it (for SSUs), we had to deal with the slowdowns coming from those packages being now on eMMC (which is slower than rootfs especially when the device is swapping). This required quite a lot of iteration on what to optify, SSU issues, policy & memory locking finetuning, otherwise optimizing slow things etc.
- Another example, which some might think funny, is Browser related.
Browser + Flash combination had some crashes which were fixed (because UI restarts engine automatically, user might not even have noticed these except as larger browsing slowdown). However, with the fixes single Browser engine instance could keep up so long that several days of Browsing increased its memory usage a lot. Which then caused performance issues…
Finding that this was one cause for longer term usage slowdowns took quite a while, as did hunting down and fixing these previously unnoticeable memory leak(s). We also wanted to fix all the SGX related issues, but I think one is going to be left after PR1.2 as it’s not reproducible. A lot of other SGX issues that were eventually to some extent reproducible by someone internally, either with specifically crafted test-case or some already existing SW, have been already fixed in internal PR1.2 releases.
While some things are obvious, improvements in some other areas aren’t necessarily directly visible to (all) users, because many of the issues we’ve fixed (use-time, reliability etc), happen only in very specific conditions or use-cases.
Q. Is PR1.2 still going to be released?
So there you have it, yes the firmware is delayed and no we don’t know when it is coming. All we know is that it is coming for sure. Its good to know what’s happening behind the scenes and this should hopefully help but a few N900 owners to rest.