Nokia N900

Bought used via in March 2011. Not much hacking going on here, since I use it as my primary phone. Besides, it already includes basics like web browsers, xterm, ssh and irssi, and as such works fine as an Internet terminal. For example, soon after getting the phone, I did some mailing list administration while on a bus trip.

I also have an N800 for experimenting, including a working Gentoo install. Some of the tips there are also relevant for the N900.

Notable experiences and usage scenarios


The keyboard works surprisingly well for its small size, and its limited number of keys that requires extra modifiers. As with the on-screen keyboard of the N800, touch typing experience goes a long way in knowing your way around QWERTY. Some of the extra modifier combinations may feel weird at first, for example having ←/→ as plain keys, and ↑/↓ as their 'blueshifted' versions. However, you will soon get used to keeping your left thumb on the modifier for these and others.

Of course, such a keyboard can never get close to real typing speeds. Instant messaging with someone on a real keyboard can get a little frustrating.

Single phone interface

There is a nice integration between GSM voice, SIP and Skype. All are presented as equal alternatives when calling someone. Receiving calls is likewise similar, and contacts are unified. As a downside compared to traditional GSM phones, you cannot use the contact list from SIM directly; they must first be copied to the unified list.


SMS is likewise nicely presented, as messages are organized into dialogues — it is, after all, a form of instant messaging. Combined with the real keyboard, this makes SMS rather attractive again — and all the more expensive, when paying several cents for each LOL.


An ssh daemon is very convenient for doing command-line work from another computer. Also, tools like scp and rsync are very convenient for backups and other file transfers. There is also the storage mode, but when mounted on a computer, you cannot use the drive from the phone, so these alternatives are more flexible.


External links

About the name

I had already named my N800 after the word "nokia", as if it were my only Nokia computer, but fortunately there are other derivations. The same word is also the partitive plural of "noki" meaning soot. This way is also appropriate since the N900 is jet black, unlike the mostly metallic-grey N800.

Risto A. Paju