How To Enable Developer Mode, Become Root and Install Opera Mobile 11 on the Nokia N9

OPera Mobile 11.0 on the Nokia N9

21-Feb-2012 Opera Software released an official Opera Mobile build for the Nokia N9 and N950 Harmattan phones.  It's available from the Nokia Store or as a deb package download from Opera. Installing the modified version as described below is no longer necessary or recommended.

31-Jan-2012 Updated post with working download link. I like the N9 Browser (see my review). It's fast and has great HTML5 support.  But I'm a browser junkie and have to try every browser I can find.  When I discovered a version of Opera Mobile 11.0 for MeeGo/Harmattan on my-meego.com I knew I had to install it on my N9 review unit from NokiaConnects.

It turns out that Opera for the N9/N950 isn't an official Opera Software release. It's  a third party repackaging of the Opera Labs "developer preview" for MeeGo Comunity Edition (CE) on the Nokia N900. MeeGo CE uses the .rpm application package format rather than MeeGo/Harmattan's .deb so Opera's build won't install on the N9 without modification.  A couple of developers named XeN and sandst1 have extracted the contents of Opera's .rpm and repackaged them as a .deb which is what is available on my-meego.com.

The repackaged .deb isn't fully compatible with MeeGo/Harmattan's installer so some extra steps are needed to get Opera Mobile running on the N9. Here's what you need to do:

Download Opera Mobile.  The links on my-meego.com and sandst1's blog point to hotfile.com/dl/125308477/580c6be/operamobile_11.00-1_armel.deb.html. Hotfile.com is one of those non-mobile friendly free file sharing sites with a countdown timer and a captcha.  It is possible to download the file using the N9's browser but it's easier to download it to a PC and transfer it to the N9 over USB.  Update 31-Jan-2012: The Hotfile link isn't working anymore.  You can download my copy of the file from here. The instructions below assume that the file is saved in the N9's default download directory,  /home/user/MyDocs/Downloads  (which appears as /MyDocs/Downloads on a USB connected PC).

Unlike most N9 app .deb files, Opera Mobile can't be installed automatically with the browser or by clicking on it in a file manager. You need to enable developer mode and install it using the dpkg command in the terminal as the root user.  Thanks to Meego/Harmattan's openness that's easy. Here's how:

Nokia N9 - Developer Mode Toggle Nokia N9 - Enable developer mode? prompt

Enable Developer Mode: Go to Settings > Security  > Developer Mode and slide the developer mode toggle to the on position.  Take note of and accept the warning. The first time you enable developer mode the N9 will download some files (so you need a network connection) and reboot.

Launch the Terminal: When Developer Mode is enabled, a Terminal icon appears on the N9's Applications home screen (image below, left).  Tap it to launch the terminal.

Nokia N9 - Terminal and Opera Icons Nokia N9 - Terminal App

Become root (superuser): The command to become root in Meego/Harmattan is "devel-su". The default password is "rootme". So type the following:
devel-su
Password: rootme 
The shell prompt will change from $ to # to indicate that your are now the root user.

Change to the download directory: Type:
cd /home/user/MyDocs/Downloads

Nokia N9 Terminal - Installing Opera Mobile With dpkg

Install the Opera mobile package: Type:
dpkg - i operamobile*
The install only takes a few seconds.  A bunch of messages will fly across the screen. When the # prompt returns the install is complete and you can exit the terminal, turn off developer mode and launch Opera Mobile.

Nokia N9 - Opera Mobile 11 Install Complete

Uninstalling Opera Mobile: You can't remove Opera the normal way in Settings > Applications.  Instead you need to use dpkg in the terminal. After enabling Developer Mode and becoming root in the terminal type:

dpkg -r operamobile
Which uninstalls Opera but leaves settings, bookmarks etc., intact so they will be available if you ever re-install.  If you want to remove Opera completely use dpkg -P. which purges all traces of Opera from the system by typing in the terminal as root.
dpkg -P operamobile

Here's a video showing the full installation process along with a demo of Opera Mobile in action on the N9.

Running Opera Mobile: The unofficial release works pretty well. All the normal Opera Mobile features that are missing from the N9 default browser like bookmark sync, text reflow after zooming, copying text from web pages, copy/paste in web forms, scrolling text areas and using bookmarklets work perfectly.  Unfortunately, there are a couple of issues. On the N9 Opera Mobile is landscape only.  It doesn't auto rotate and there's no portrait/landscape mode in the options. More seriously, the onscreen menu button, which is the only way to open the menu for access to bookmarks, tabs and the start page, tends to stop working after a while. See the video for a demonstration of this bug.

Except for those two issues, Opera Mobile works very well. I'm hoping that Opera will release an official, fully functional version of Opera Mobile 11 for MeeGo/Harmattan as I'd really like to use it as my main browser on the N9.

Opera Mobile 11 in action on the Nokia N9 (click to zoom):

Opera Mobile 11 Speed Dial Start Page on the Nokia N9 WapReview Desktop View in Opera Mobile 11 on the Nokia N9

Google Reader Desktop version in Opera Mobile 11 on the Nokia N9 ESPN in Opera Mobile 11 on the Nokia N9

15 thoughts on “How To Enable Developer Mode, Become Root and Install Opera Mobile 11 on the Nokia N9

  1. i am kind of confused , i enabled dev-mode just as a test, and now as soon as i disable it, theres a little icon with a ! next to the switch, anyone knows what that menas? and how do i get rid of it?
  2. Can someone help me out. Yesterday I enable developer mode and all the icon was there. Today when I enable it again I no longer see the Terminal icon only the SDK icon. How can I get back the terminal icon?
  3. Mmmm...
    You did install one particular version, manually, without adding a repo. That's not how things work with modern GNU/Linux distributions. And Opera has a special repo to install from it. One of the advantages is that then you will get software updates automatically.
    So, I recommend to add a software repository instead of installing manually.

    I didn't use N9 so far but I suppose Harmattan should have repositories and application manager like Fremantle has.
    • As explained in the post, there isn't an Opera Mobile release for Harmattan. The Opera Mobile I installed is a hack to repackage the MeeGo 1.2 CE Opera release's .rpm package as a .deb so it will install on Harmattan.

      There is no Opera Harmattan repository that one could add if one wanted too.

      Harmattan's package managers are the Nokia (Ovi) Store app and dpkg. It's possible to add repositories to dpkg and dpkg supports updating installed packages manually but not automatically.
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  5. Hi, is there a alternative way to install the Developer Mode? I can not make it happen on my N9. Went trough all settings and still no go! Help needed. Is there a way to check if the remote server is alive?? Thanks
    • I don't know of an alternate method of enabling developer mode. It sounds like a connection issue. Try on Wi-Fi and the mobile network after verifying that the browser works.

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