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Intel To Challenge Android With Moblin For Mobile Devices 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-in-this-corner dept.
darien writes "Intel has officially entered the smartphone fight, giving a bullish demonstration at IDF of an Atom-based phone running the latest incarnation of its mobile Linux-based OS, dubbed Moblin for MIDs (mobile internet devices) v2.1. The system isn't aimed at current Atom CPUs, though — they're too power-hungry. 'One of the drivers of this initiative, and a key reason for the acquisition of Wind River, will be Intel's own app store, catering to ultra mobile devices based on the Atom chipset. The Intel Atom Developer Program will make use of Wind River's VxWorks product, which the company believes will help it achieve that developer grail of the 'write once and run on all devices' experience."
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Intel To Challenge Android With Moblin For Mobile Devices

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  • Wait... how? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:00AM (#29514277) Journal

    The Intel Atom Developer Program will make use of Wind River's VxWorks product, which the company believes will help it achieve that developer grail of the 'write once and run on all devices' experience.

    I don't get it. VxWorks is an OS, right? How does that help with "write once, run anywhere"?

    Seems to me that Android is doing more towards this, given that native Android apps target a VM, and thus aren't tied to ARM, x86, or anything else. I'm not saying Intel isn't doing this, I just don't see what that has to do with Moblin, VxWorks, or an App Store.

  • Re:Stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Neil Watson (60859) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:44AM (#29514665) Homepage

    Being able to run the same apps on the device as I do on a Linux host would seem like a good thing to me. It frees my data.

  • Re:Wait... how? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ceallaigh (584362) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:54AM (#29514807)
    I believe the Intel's focus for WindRiver is their software tools. Note that WindRiver already markets BSP kits for Linux for OEMs. It includes debuggers, emulators, and build systems. With WindRiver's tools and Intel's hardware they can have a very compelling Moblin Linux solution for potential hardware vendors. Sean
  • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sarhjinian (94086) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @10:28AM (#29515247)

    I'd rather buy Moblin than Android on a mobile device. Android replaces basically every part of what we usually call "Linux", except for the kernel (which of course actually *is* Linux). Moblin has a heavily custom desktop environment but other than that it seems like a reasonably "normal" distribution

    I don't think I'd call that an advantage. Linux-the-normal-distribution has a lot of aspects that aren't well-suited to a small-screen mobile device, and keeping those aspects around results in a worst-of-both-worlds compromise. Think about Windows Mobile (especially pre-2003): the interface carry-overs from Windows proper are the chief reason it's an also-ran on PDAs and phones, and it's only as those features disappear (and the platform diverges further from the desktop) that it's getting any traction at all. That many WM apps pay only lip-service to the platform and obey desktop conventions makes matters worse; keeping the desktop's UI encourages some pretty bad behaviour on the part of many developers.

    There's no real point to extending the traditional Linux desktop to a phone for the same reason: there's nothing worthwhile to carry over. There's enough of this problem on the Linux desktop, which suffers from the platform's focus on servers and technical users. Google was right to junk as much as they can in favour of a user interface that's built for a mobile device. If they've made a mistake anywhere, it's that they've allowed the handset makers too much control over the interface, weakening the Android brand and hamstringing the phone with glitchy, tacked-on interface garbage that doesn't integrate well with the underlying OS (have you seen HTC TouchFlo on Windows Mobile? It's like lipstick on a pig).

    I'm not saying that Moblin will be Windows CE awful, but I can't see it being iPhone or even Android-good if it's carrying over just about any aspect of the Linux GUI, and I can't see ports of desktop Linux apps being anything more than oft-frustrating.

  • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lemming Mark (849014) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @10:46AM (#29515473) Homepage

    I probably don't really want an existing DE on my mobile phone (for instance), I agree with you on that. But there's a lot of space between Moblin's approach (which already uses a custom DE that's specialised for netbook-class devices) and Android's approach (which replaces almost everything in the stack, as well as the UI). I'd also like for the primary supported method of writing applications to not be a strange combination of Java and a custom bytecode interpreter / JIT - that's the way Android has done it although I had the impression they were moving to support native applications.

    If Moblin rewrites the entire user interface and doesn't default to using any "normal" Linux apps, it will still be *way* closer to "normal" Linux than Android is. Android doesn't use glibc, AFAIK - it doesn't even use X.org for display. Moblin on a phone would "merely" have an unfamiliar interface and apps, where Android is basically unfamiliar to me in every way - it's a significantly larger change than just the UI level.

    I'm not a normal case, I suppose, in that I like to hack about with devices. However, it seems to me that the closer-to-vanilla environment provided by Moblin is going to be easier to get existing OSS developers working on and I'd like to benefit from their work too.

  • Re:Stupid (Score:2, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @10:56AM (#29515599) Homepage Journal

    You are so far wrong here that it's not even funny.

    There are more apps available for Linux than just Open Office and The Gimp. Tens of thousands more. Maybe you don't use them all, but some of us use ones that would work just fine on a mobile phone platform (Apache, for one).

    A Linux Phone with a wireless data link, usb servo controller and a webcam for example makes an interesting onboard avionics computer for an RPV - just to spew a quick one off the top of my head.

    You keep your Android if that's what you want - there's room for both. But don't go telling people you know that Linux isn't a good fit for this or that segment until you broaden your interests a little more, ok?

  • Re:Wait... how? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @01:04PM (#29517723) Journal

    Most Linuxes are GNU/Linux, including such things as a standard libc. Android uses its own.

    Moblin also uses X, I think. Android doesn't.

    Thus, many apps you can run on a "desktop" Linux, or even a minimal or server Linux, you could simply recompile for Moblin, but you'd need to actually think about it and port to Android.

    So, you're technically right (Linux is just a kernel), but functionally wrong.

  • Re:Wait... how? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @06:15PM (#29522943) Journal

    The fact that Android uses a BSD-derived Bionic C library for core userspace, does not make the system any less "Linux".

    However, it's probably what people mean by "less orthodox", and probably causes some compatibility issues.

    As for eglibc, that's not so much a differently-designed libc as a fork to avoid the maintainer of glibc, IIRC.

    Functionally, a lot of linux systems dont ship X,

    Not a lot of them ship some GUI other than X, though -- so it's not as though a typical Android user would want to enable X.

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