MeeGo architecture changes - security, sync, PIM storage

Published by Rafe Blandford at 20:48 UTC, March 9th 2011

On Monday, Arjan van de Ven, MeeGo Chief Architect, posted to the MeeGo-dev mailing list about some architecture changes to the platform. They reflect the changing circumstances around resourcing, mainly as a result of Nokia's recent strategy changes. There are some changes to the security direction of MeeGo, the Buteo Sync framework will be replaced by Sync Evolution and the backend of PIM storage (contacts, calendar, mail) will switch from Tracker to Evolution Data Server.

These are all technical architecture decisions (discussed in more detail below), which will be of relatively limited interest outside the MeeGo project development teams. However they are illustrative of some the likely impacts from Nokia's decision to switch its primary smartphone platform away from Symbian and MeeGo to Windows Phone. Nokia does intend to continue investing in MeeGo, but its level of investment will inevitably be reduced.

The initial mailing list post has spawned a spirited discussion, with some debating of the various technical merits (e.g. performance) and others seeking clarification of the decision making process (e.g. concern about an imposed top down decision). Implicit in the changes and some of the follow up posts is the suggestion that Nokia has failed or will fail to deliver in some areas where it is / was responsible for delivering a solution for the MeeGo project.

More details and the follow up conversation can be read in the MeeGo-dev mailing list thread.
   

Security

The security direction for MeeGo is described as being broken up into two different focuses: short term and long terms. The short term aim is to complete the development of key portions of the Mobile Simplified Security Framework to enable solutions for Access Control, Integrity and Security Software Distribution. However this will not include all of the pieces originally envisioned as being in place for MeeGo 1.2. In the longer term there will be re-evaluation of the direction of MeeGo security with a focus on end-user privacy. 

Security is an important area as it can be critical for commercial products. For example in delivering in meeting operator requirements for secure solutions in mobile handsets or in accessing protected content (DRM) in set top boxes and connected TVs. The risk is that an incomplete security framework might exclude MeeGo from certain industries or product areas.
   

Buteo Sync

Buteo Sync will be replaced by Sync Evolution. Nokia was the driving behind Buteo, where as Intel has more internal expertise with Sync Evolution. Buteo was originally chosen to be the MeeGo project's Sync solution because it was felt it would be able to offer greater functionality and flexibility in the mobile domain. 

Arjan van de Ven states that Buteo is currently very incomplete and that a number of promised components have failed to materialise. He goes on to say that, by contrast, Sync Evolution is a mature existing open source project with a history of functionality and compatibility.
  

PIM Storage

The address book (contact), calendar and mail data are currently stored in a Tracker database and accessed via a QtMobility API set. Going forward this backend will be changed to Evolution Data Server. Nokia and its sub-contractors were the main developers and driving force behind Tracker, which originated in the maemo project. It was originally chosen as a solution for MeeGo because of its performance when retrieving data and performing queries against it (a key performance indicator in modern mobile consumer devices).

Arjan van de Ven states there are a number of issues with the current implementation including the complexity of adding privacy controls, performance and scalability. The QtMobility API remains in place such that the change should be largely invisible to applications. For the time being Tracker will continued to be used for indexing media.

 

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