N900: Resuscitated, Rejuvenated, Reborn

Having got to the point where my N900 had become completely unusable, over the past week I’ve been on an enlightening spree (mainly centred around maemo.org) to see if there was anything I could indeed do about it before I declared my ‘precious’ officially dead.

Having used a number of handsets since my N900 started playing up, I have been left feeling unsatisfied and had reached a point where I would try anything to resuscitate my good old stalwart, my trusty N900.

So the problems I was facing were threefold:

1/  The USB connection appeared to be faulty

2/  The battery wouldn’t charge even when I managed to get the USB connection to be stable

3/  When in operation, the phone had become laggy to the point of being unusable

Nokia N900: Had become unusable

Nokia N900: Had become unusable

After playing around with the charging situation for quite some time (on and off over a few months) I realised that something deeper was going wrong.   When I got the phone to recognise the USB connection, the orange LED was lighting up constantly for quite a while and then going off.   Then the screen would light up for a few seconds but then go back to this constant orange LED glow.   After an hour like this, the phone would still not power on so obviously the battery wasn’t charging up like it should.

After reading more into this at maemo.org, it appeared that the battery may have become completely discharged which was why it wasn’t charging at all.   The answer was to buy an external battery charger + battery in case the original battery had become irreparably damaged, which I did from ebay.

So the charger/battery came yesterday and I immediately put the original battery in the charger and booted up the N900 with the new battery.

The next issue I came across was that (even with only one homescreen and having deleted loads of surplus apps/messages etc) the phone was so laggy that I really couldn’t use it.

So the next challenge was to try and fix this by getting the latest Maemo 5 Community SSU edition loaded: http://wiki.maemo.org/Community_SSU.   Again, from reading around, it appeared that this might hold the key to my ‘laggy’ issues which seemed in the main part to be brought about by a bottle neck in the memory management causing the phone to be virtually unusable.

After a few hours of fiddling around and eventually getting the new Community software loaded on (I ended up having to do most things through terminal as the App manager had become so slow and was giving out error msgs about dependencies), I now appear to have a fully functioning N900 back in the house!

Even the original faulty USB connection seems to be working as long as I pick the right cable (for some reason an HTC one works the best!) and make sure to angle it slightly.

So having not used her for a few months, here’s a quick list of all the things I missed/don’t miss about the N900.

I missed:

1/  Obviously the keyboard, kickstand, camera protector, unlock slider

2/  FM transmitter

3/  TV out

4/  Multitasking

5/  And of course the endearing nature of the N900, which makes you think anything is possible, but for the layman, making you have to work hard to get it!

What I haven’t missed:

1/  The outdated processor/memory (most of the time, not acceptable for eg. streaming video)

2/  The lack of key software support (There are a few holes here, for example, I haven’t found a good twitter client yet that works – any suggestions gratefully appreciated!)

3/  Old hardware protocols (eg. No 4G LTE, old BT etc – but still more than usable!)

4/  A few eccentricities eg. saying the USB cable is plugged in when it isn’t making it impossible to use the FM transmitter until rebooted; the battery will suddenly go from around 1/3 to nothing stating it needs recharging.

Other than that, my N900 has been rejuvenated, reborn, is more than usable and furthermore is now my perfect companion until I get the new Jolla handset into my hot hands and even then will be the perfect backup handset. :-)

Are you still using an N900 as your main device and if so do you have any tips/tricks that you find helps keep your N900 running optimally ?



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  1. I’m still using my N900 and I love it! Everything works fine except USB. I have to charge my batteries vie external charger. Recently it became a little laggy, unfortunately I can’t re-install OS, so I overcloked CPU a little. I am going to do exacly the same, when Jolla handset comes out.

    • My N900 gets a bit laggy from time to time – what I do is that I change the theme to another one and then back again, which most times seems to fix it – I guess Hildon got quite a few problems.

  2. I’m using the N900 as my main phone. I bought a Samsung Galaxy S4 just a few days ago and being my first Android phone (actually the N900 was my first and only “smartphone”), I can say I miss A LOT from Maemo… I bought a new phone because the internal memory is faulty and I couldn’t wait for the Jolla to come out. But if I could get Maemo in my Samsung I wouldn’t doubt it for a minute, and if I could try Sailfish I would do it right away.

  3. My N900 can’t work in GSM mode, so I’m using it as GPS and MP3 player. If Jolla is unable to release their handset, I will repair my N900. There’s *nothing* outside that really draws my attention.

    If Jolla is successful, time to put the N900 on eBay.

  4. Still my primary device for communication because of the keyboard and unified messaging. Mine only lags a bit after a month or two without a reboot, and I haven’t even installed CSSU. I’m running Power Kernel, though. No hardware issues so far, even with all the beating it has taken over the years. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a phone as durable as N900, and I’ve owned many since the early 90’s.

    TwimGo ( http://twimgo.substanceofcode.com/ ) has been a good Twitter client, although the latest builds with new Twitter API support seem to require a Qt version newer than the one I have installed. Perhaps it works with CSSU.

  5. Me too! I think N900, somewhat sadly, is still the best mobile there is. My N900 is very picky on the cable too, but I finally found one that works with it 100%. I recommend installing Battery Patch, Speed Patch, Swappolube, Tracker-Cfg and, of course, kernel power. Also, turn on HW-acceleration in hildon for smoother graphics. I use the OC settings brought by battery patch. With all this and the CSSU, my N900 actually runs quite smooth, and indeed is usable as my primary device until I get my Jolla.

    • Hi Jussi – great list – I have all those you mention – they definitely help to optimise if anyone else is having problems and wants to persevere.

      Interesting you have the exact same intermittent USB issue – glad, like me you found a solution! :-)

  6. N900 is still my only phone, I can do anything with N900 which I can do with Samsung’s S series, Iphones, WP phones. However the only problem in my opinion turn by turn navigation and maps, especially when you are offline. Currently I use Sygic, but the maps are outdated and others (mappero,modrana vs.) are also not updated and they are not user friendly. Also I have to say that the even with the CSSU and with a overclock of 900 MHz it is still laggy.

  7. When I saw this posted on facebook I got excited…as in, I was hoping it would say they ported Jolla to the N900…which means it may be possible to soon download it to my shitty Android device and it’d suddenly fly. So…darn. I saw in the launch videos that you were testing it on all sorts of phones and devices…so…there’s till hope. Get people hooked to the OS, then the next device they buy will start with it!

  8. For me, N900 is also my first and only smartphone so far, using it every day.
    It has become quite laggy lately, even with CSSU, Swappolube and things like that. But I think mainly due to some experimental software I installed from Extras-Devel causing background processes to slow donw the device. Since I have lost track of all the software I have installed, I should do a complete reflash and start building my system from there – just can’t get myself to find the timeslot necessary to do all the installation and tweaks.

    Actually the Jolla phone is the first one that really seems like a good successor to my N900.
    Hoping for true openness and a decent hardware keyboard other half…

  9. still have a N900 as my primary (and actually only) mobile phone
    haven’t made the move to CSSU (leave alone Thumb) because i have CSSU installed on a 2nd N900 & it is nothing but annoyances; can’t really judge the performance or stability issues as it has a pre-pay which i use very little
    waiting for the Jolla device. from the latest Jolla (employees) presentations & all hardware keyboard seems realistic expectation
    Aye Jolla!

      • N900 is my primary. due to keyboard and real configurability. N9 is my backup, but does not come close to N900. i am using CSSU thumb version and phone sometimes needs a reboot to solve some issue. but having said that my ipad is pretty much the same, needing a reboot every week or so as something is not working as it should. jolla is my only hope to replace the N900, but keyboard and ultimate configurability are needed. Maemo homescreens were way better thank iphone, then N9 came out with iphone like homescreens, step back from bleeding edge it seemed to me.

      • Non-working GPS:
        Have you tried changing the provider for network positioning from “supl.nokia.com” to “supl.google.com”?
        You can set that in “settings > position” menu.
        Seems nokia position server is having a lot of trouble, and always has had problems.
        Changing to Google made GPS fix MUCH faster for me.

  10. My N9 ended up with random freezing with installed SIM-card. So I turned on my old N900. Installed CSSU and now using it as main phone. Still waiting for perfect Jolla phone :)))
    So my story is pretty identical :)

  11. My N900 charging is broken too.. I wonder if there is a guide how to MOD a QI wireless charging to the battery and back cover :)

  12. Pingback: I’m Dreaming Of A ^insert Jolla colour of choice^ Christmas… | Latest Jolla Sailfish News

  13. I’m still using my N900 and I love it, but not as a phone anymore because of the GSM module problem (sim card no longer recognized and no more IMEI). I fixed the USB port with epoxy before it breaks, so no problem on that. Now I have two phones like: the other old one is used for text messaging, phone calls, and as a router for the n900… I’m already prepared to have two halfs :P
    waiting for my jolla!

  14. I’m still using an N900 which has aged quite a lot but currently there isn’t any mobile phone to replace it. Have a few android devices but none is as good. The keyboard, the camera cover, the os (I just love having xterm), how easy it is to tinker with. I really hope jolla can make a phone to replace N900.

  15. Also still using my N900 as main(only). USB became complete detached but have replacement ports, gonna try a solder fix sometime soon.. Making do with switching batteries every couple days, have a cheap charger at work + at home.

    Curious for Jolla but Galaxy S4 is tempting; just hating thought of a keyboard that takes up most the screen when in use/handwriting recog or other options are risky learns. My Palm-based Handera 330 of old was great for that. A Note (2 or 3) or similar would be too large for my pockets and don’t think I want a bag/waist clip/have to ensure a large pocket forever.

    Physical keyboard with cursor keys and good autocomplete would be awesome again, with up to date browser, video decoders and social/media/other clients, and no lag, maybe faster UI for multitask-switching if thats doable.
    I don’t think a separate bluetooth/ wireless keyboard would ever be worth it while travelling unless it attached so I didn’t have to find a safe place to rest the display, and if I’m not travelling (or a bigger trip than day-to-day) I’d mostly have a laptop/PC nearby anyway. What about a pocket-sized Asus Transformer-like thing?

    PS twitter? I use dabr.co.uk now in browser, though I really miss tweetgo.net which was awesome web app looked great but now dead. Plus occasionally Tweed Suite though not sure its been working recently on my phone. Love that Stellarium, KeepassX were ported without too much trouble (though sometimes that means UI remains same as desktop and not so usable).

    Maybe Ubuntu Touch will be headed the right direction, even without an Edge(tm).

  16. Pingback: Related News: Open Symbian; Neo900 | Latest Jolla Sailfish News

  17. N900 is the best telephone for me all the times. Maemo is the great os. It is very jolly, But.nokia is not intelligent company. What can i say

  18. There have been four mobile phones in my life. First one 2110 that was just a phone, then 7110 that was a great phone and so good I did not found any need to change until N95 came; well then the N95, was not as strong as 7110 but allmost a smartphone; then some fail experiences and finally N900. No phone as good and usable have yet come. Jolla I have not tried because of not having keyboard.

    I had some serious issues much like in this treat and for awhile my dearest was not in usable condition, so I bought one Asha to make calls. I got the Masterphone back alive now and planning to keep it that way, until there comes the ultimate Herophone from Jolla – with keyboard, or some solution making it not needed.

    For Twitter, Khweeteur worked fine but I have not tried it since June so I’m not sure if there have been changes that make it not to work

  19. I also use it as one of my two phones (yes I need 2, one personal and the other for work).
    I’ve installed CSSU-Thumb with KP52 (wich is faster than normal CSSU), NITdroid (for apps that I need wich aren’t on maemo), easyDebian (estel img) and Java 1.6 u45 (works perfectly on Chromium for maemo). I also done every tweeks I know to get it faster and better: MicroB tweaks, did the battery calibration patch, added another swap partition on the SD card (a fast SanDisk 64 GB of UHS-I SDXC card, now I’ve 96 GB. of capacity), resized the fsroot partition to 5 GB to allow more room for applications, installed the 720p record/playback patch, etc.

    I’ve even installed JDownloader (works fine with 2 downloads at same time), uTorrent and aMule (this works as hell. Same as if it were in a PC computer with lots of simultaneous downloads).

    5 years after this smartphone was released, it still rocks.

    Soon, I’ll install Ubuntu Mobile in a partition of the sdcard so I will have another operating system on the multiboot.


  20. Thanks JollaTides for this post and the information from all who replied. My N900 has pretty much the same problem and it is reassuring that I might be able to fix it following some of these measures.

    The USB charging point seems a weakness – well I’ve used if for 4.5 years which is usually well beyond the design life of a mobile phone. Anyone with ideas on how to fix what I suspect is a hardware problem?

    As to Jolla – I’m very interested but I would like some updated reviews. The phone came out in December 2013 and most reviews are around that time or February 2014. Sailfish had 8 months of software updates since then so I would expect the experience of using Jolla September 2014 to be different (and better) than Jolla February 2014. Is that right?