OSDL plans Linux phone drive

Open Source Development Labs has started a Mobile Phone Initiative to support Linux on mobile handsets.

Motorola and PalmSource are among the companies that lined up behind a new initiative Monday that aims to promote the use of the Linux operating system on cell phones. The Mobile Linux Initiative was launched by Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) to tackle technical challenges and generally support the adoption of Linux on handheld devices.

"There is a lot of momentum for Linux on handhelds, specifically for mobile phones," said Eirik Chambe-Eng, president and cofounder of Trolltech, a company that builds a graphical user interface on top of Linux for mobile devices and has joined the OSDL effort. But because an increasing number of companies are developing Linux for mobiles, there is a need to coordinate the efforts, he said.

"All of the Linux developments are a disparate set of projects," said Ben Wood, research vice president for mobile devices at Gartner. "It's not like write once, run anywhere." Companies involved in the Mobile Linux Initiative hope to pull together their developments in a common direction.

The group's technical achievements will also be important. Companies like Trolltech are dependant on a good Linux kernel that can efficiently use processor and electrical power in devices. "This initiative is aimed at creating one good kernel of OS that uses the resources of the mobile phone," said Chambe-Eng.

In addition to Motorola, PalmSource, and Trolltech, MontaVista Software Inc. and Wind River Systems were named as the first members to participate in the initiative.

Linux-based devices have been popular in Asia but so far haven't had much traction in Europe or the U.S. Motorola has shipped more than 3 million devices in China that are based on Linux and Trolltech's software, Chambe-Eng said. He expects that manufacturers like Motorola will begin making more of a push with these products into Europe and the U.S. in the next six to 12 months.

Linux is attractive to mobile manufacturers for its capabilities as well as cost. Linux may solve some of the problems that manufacturers face with building full-feature phones that may include cameras, color displays, video cameras and Web browsing. "The OSes that manufacturers are using are starting to run out of horsepower," Wood said.

Still, he doesn't think that Linux necessarily poses a serious threat to Symbian or Microsoft or Nokia, for example, is quite committed to Symbian and while Wood expects that Nokia may look to open-source products for some of its non-cell phone devices, it's unlikely that Nokia would turn to Linux for its mobile phones any time soon. Nokia's 770 Internet tablet is based on open-source software.

But Linux is also becoming increasingly attractive because it can reduce costs for manufacturers. The Symbian OS ends up costing manufacturers between US$5 and US$7 per phone, Wood said. A Linux-based phone would likely come in under that.

While there is a growing interest in Linux in the mobile phone space, it probably won't have major implications soon, Wood said. "This is just a stepping stone in the emergence of Linux as a potential platform for mobile phones," he said. "But it's still a very long way away."

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?