For John Carmack, the mastermind behind Doom, programming for the DS is as smooth as butter.
In an interview with IGN today, the id programming guru confirmed that he wrote the 3D code for the Orcs & Elves in just four days and that it was “probably the most fun platform that I have personally worked on. It is a shame that homebrew development can’t be officially sanctioned and supported, because it would be a wonderful platform for a modern generation of programmers to be able to get a real feel for low level design work, to be contrasted with the high level web and application work that so many entry level people start with.”
I’m a pretty big believer in the Long Tail, and in open source software, so I agree with Carmack on that last point. I think that, with a completely open system, you will have about a thousand pieces of garbage, but in that pile you’ll always get a bunch of winners too. And the best thing is that, even with all that refuse, every game will get downloaded or played at least once (see also: Every iTunes song has been downloaded at least once).
Will Nintendo “open source” the DS to homebrew? Don’t count on it; historically the company is as tight a ship as they come.