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N900 to get MeeGo update

Owners of Nokia's N900 smartphone have a new OS to play with, courtesy of the MeeGo development team - and they won't have to give up the voice functionality.

Nokia's N900 smartphone, designed as the company's answer to Apple's iPhone, runs a variant of Linux called Maemo originally developed for the company's Internet Tablet range of hand-helds. Although the Maemo project has now been merged with Intel's Moblin to form MeeGo, the N900 still runs the somewhat outdated OS by default.

Thanks to a busy huddle of hard-working hackers, however, a version of MeeGo is soon to be available for the handset that keeps the phone functionality up and running while giving tinkerers access to all the modern features of MeeGo.

With input from Nokia, the team has been able to produce a ROM for the N900 that allows the user to dual-boot the device, choosing from the original Maemo or the new-fangled MeeGo at start up. All phone functionality is fully supported, including voice calls, over both 2G and 3G networks.

Project lead Harri Hakulinen broke the news of the impending release on his MeeGo blog, but warns those who fancy giving it a go that "MeeGo is an open source project and if you choose to install the MeeGo image to your N900 device, you do it completely at your own risk."

Although the software is up and running on the N900 now, Hakulinen advises users to wait for the PR 1.3 update - which he describes as being "quite close now" - to unlock the dual-boot functionality.

Those who want to try the latest builds out can get details of the repositories over on the official MeeGo site.