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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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  • Yeah.... good luck. Overtime ahoy!!!
  • 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:Wait... how? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:11AM (#29514363) Journal
      The other weird aspect of TFS, beyond your correct points, is that Moblin is Linux based(and a substantially more "orthodox" Linux than android) and was something Intel was doing well before they ate Wind River and acquired VxWorks.

      Obviously, I'm sure that subsequent VxWorks releases will be carefully tuned to do their best VxWorking on Atom boards; but the connection between that and Moblin, or Intel's new enthusiasm for app stores, seems quite limited.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        After having dealt with various incarnations of VxWorks over the past four years... Massive step backwards. VxWorks is lighter weight than Linux, but a massive leap backwards in terms of networking features and performance. (Remember, VxWorks was chosen over Linux for recent Linksys WRT54G units for cost reasons on the order of $2-5/unit and not overall performance- Units were cheaper to make, but in my experience far less reliable than the older Linux-based units with double the RAM/ROM.)

        VxWorks 5.x's n

        • by SpydeZ (1196075)
          There's an entirely new network stack in VxWorks 6.6 or 6.7 (forget which). Hopefully Linksys et al won't be using the archaic 5.5.1 anymore... Wind River has been trying to get everyone to use 6.x for years. 5.5.1 is on life support, at this point.
      • Re:Wait... how? (Score:5, Informative)

        by GooberToo (74388) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @11:37AM (#29516161)

        and a substantially more "orthodox" Linux than android

        I have no idea where people get their misinformation from, but that statement is completely false!

        Android runs a standard Linux kernel, which is to say, Android is "orthodox" Linux. On Android, the differences are above the "Linux" level. They have their own framework known as Android. To say Android is unorthodox is to say KDE and Gnome are unorthodox Linux, which is of course crazy talk.

        • 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:5, Informative)

            by savuporo (658486) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @02:16PM (#29519001)
            Most Linuxes are GNU/Linux, including such things as a standard libc. Android uses its own. Meh ? There is a multitude of libc's out there, GLIBC is not the only one. Look up EGLIBC ( debian standard now ) , uClibc, standard on uClinux distros, dietlibc, newlib. The fact that Android uses a BSD-derived Bionic C library for core userspace, does not make the system any less "Linux". Functionally, a lot of linux systems dont ship X, and dont ship loads of other userspace libraries that you may think are "orthodox". Lots of linux systems use busybox for almost all userspace functionality.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              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.

          • by GooberToo (74388)

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

            Once again, that's simply not true. Many different Linux distributions use different libraries and even variants.

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

            So what! X is not Linux. X is not Unix. X is X. Such a statement pretty well validates you have no idea what you're talking about. X is not required to qualify as "Linux" or even "Linux-like". Under your definition, almost all system services, any application whi

            • Many different Linux distributions use different libraries and even variants.

              Which is why I said "most".

              Such a statement pretty well validates you have no idea what you're talking about. X is not required to qualify as "Linux" or even "Linux-like".

              However, if someone ships a Linux with a completely different GUI serving the same purpose X would have, especially for a platform where X was a credible option, it's not "orthodox".

              I don't believe I ever said it wasn't Linux -- so your statement here pretty well validates that you don't read very well.

              I'm technically and functionally correct.

              Functionally, then, can I expect to take a Linux application and compile it for Android with no changes?

              If so, I'm misinformed, and I apologize.

              • by GooberToo (74388)

                However, if someone ships a Linux with a completely different GUI serving the same purpose X would have, especially for a platform where X was a credible option, it's not "orthodox".

                I think you need to critically review your own statement. Its nonsensical. Android's GUI does not "serve the same purpose X would have". Period. Even more so, "especially for a platform where X was a credible option", is simply dumb as it doesn't apply in the least.

                Phones qualify as an "embedded" platform. In this case, the plat

                • Even more so, "especially for a platform where X was a credible option", is simply dumb as it doesn't apply in the least.

                  Tell that to the Nokia. The N900 uses X.

                  Even more so, gaming is a target for these phones.

                  If you're implying X can't be used for gaming, tell that to Id.

                  none of these issues have anything to do with "orthodox", unless your definition, which seems to be your entire position, is orthodox = desktop,

                  No.

                  However, we are talking about something drawing a GUI, and the usual ("orthodox"?) way of doing that is with X. And then there's the standard C library.

                  I have no idea why you're intent of negatively painting Android

                  I have no idea why you think I intend to "negatively paint Android". I love the concept, and my next phone is likely to either be Maemo or Android.

                  I'm also a bit unclear why you assume I have an axe to grind simply because I disagree with you -- though t

                  • by GooberToo (74388)

                    Tell that to the Nokia. The N900 uses X.

                    Notice I did not say X could not be used. I said its dumb to use it as such when better, faster, lighter technology exists, or can be created. X is good for many things and few even use it for its real strength.

                    However, we are talking about something drawing a GUI, and the usual ("orthodox"?) way of doing that is with X.

                    Don't even know where to start with that false position. So once again you're stuck with the notion that orthdox = desktop. Its not. Time and time aga

                    • I said its dumb to use it

                      Actually, you didn't. You said it's "not a credible option". It is.

                      dumb to use it as such when better, faster, lighter technology exists,

                      People do still use Apache, when nginx exists. I don't think it's entirely stupid of them to do so, either.

                      Hell, people use Gnome and KDE, when Fluxbox exists. Is that stupid?

                      or can be created.

                      I don't think vaporware is worth considering. Think about this from Nokia's point of view: Use X, or streamline X, or write something entirely different from scratch.

                      So once again you're stuck with the notion that orthdox = desktop.

                      Show me a non-desktop usage which has existed for long enough to be considered "orthodox", and draws a G

          • by chrb (1083577)

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

            Android also uses its own video driver architecture, its own window manager, its own desktop, and its own virtual machine. The statement that 'Android is "orthodox" Linux' isn't even true if you only consider "Linux" to be the kernel - Android uses its own kernel with a unique IPC mechanism. As Ars said: Android uses the Linux kernel, but it isn't really a Linux platform. It offers its own totally unique environment that is built on Google's custom Java runtime. There is no glide path for porting convention

            • by GooberToo (74388)

              Android also uses its own video driver architecture, its own window manager, its own desktop, and its own virtual machine. The statement that 'Android is "orthodox"

              So what you're saying is, the majority of Linux installs are all unorthodox. Keep in mind the majority of Linux installs are server systems, not desktops. You metric seems to be, if its not a desktop system its unorthodox, which is beyond silly.

              Also, you quote is misleading and inaccurate. By your definition, python is "unorthodox", as is Java, a

              • by chrb (1083577)

                Orthodox: Adhering to whatever is traditional, customary or generally accepted.

                I really don't see how Android fits that description, given the points already raised (especially the fact that the kernel is modified with a custom IPC mechanism). But until there is a scientifically testable description of "orthodox linux", the argument is over a personal interpretation of semantics.

        • Come on, we all know he wasn't referring to the kernel. Android is not a real Linux distro like people understand the term. KDE and Gnome are also not complete distros on their own.

          • by savuporo (658486)
            Android is not a real Linux distro like people understand the term.
            Then its a problem with people not understanding the term. Loads and loads of embedded linux distros dont include desktop stuff, are using different core C libraries, dont ship stuff like X, bash, dash and so on.
            Look into distros like Montavista.
            • by metrix007 (200091)

              NO, not "loads and loads". Quite a few, but that does not make the term wrong. technically, Linux is just a kernel, as the term happens to be used, it tends to refer to the userspace as well.

              Distros that go against the grain somewhat, with a different libc or without x or with busybox, are still very much considered linux. Android, is very much only a Linux kernel. It is not that they don't ship with X, it is that they have their own unique to android graphics server, their own libc not used anywhere else..

          • "KDE and Gnome are also not complete distros on their own."

            You are correct, but they could be, and IMO, they *should be*, because they both have stuff that works perfectly fine for the most part and have established organizational structure and name cred. Either of them could have taken a lead there and developed a business model around their efforts, like canonical is trying or Redhat, etc has established. And, they can still be "non profits". Non profits can make money besides from donations, and also can

          • by GooberToo (74388)

            Come on, we all know he wasn't referring to the kernel. Android is not a real Linux distro like people understand the term. KDE and Gnome are also not complete distros on their own.

            I think you misunderstand. KDE and Gnome are to Linux as Android is to Linux. KDE, Gnome, and Android are not complete distros on their own, but all sit atop Linux. Just the same, technically, Android can run on something other than Linux just as KDE and Gnome do.

            So one need not simply refer "to the kernel" here. Simply put, his

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sunking2 (521698)
      Because Green Hills is in the business of porting vxworks to any embedded system on the market. Green Hills provides the cross compilers. In fact, you probably can't even begin to think of introducing a new embedded cpu without talking with green hills to coordinate a port. It's kind of hard to shoot too many holes in a strategy that revolves around vxworks.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ceallaigh (584362)
      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
    • by pjr.cc (760528)

      if im not mistaken, Wind River had two os's... VxWorks (Their original OS and had features like RTOS) and they also had something linuxy that they also had a vxworks brand on it..

      I could be wrong though.

      VxWorks was certianly nothing like linux though, so how you combine something destined for vxworks and linux together is beyond me... perhaps its jsut a badly worded statement or theres a back story here thats gone missing... maybe they're going to OSS VxWorks and roll up some of its components to linux? Or

  • by elrous0 (869638) *
    Is there anyone these days who ISN'T releasing a mobile OS?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Considering that the next computing revolution is happening in the mobile market, I'm actually surprised there aren't MORE mobile OSs. I mean, who desn't want to be the next Microsoft???
      • Re:Jeez (Score:4, Interesting)

        by gbjbaanb (229885) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @10:24AM (#29515187)

        erm.. Microsoft. They're the only ones with a second-rate attitude to mobile devices, although I heard than WinMo 7 will come out (eventually) and have support for social networking!

        I use the mobile device marketplace as a way to explain to managers that Linux is the next big thing - they already know mobile is the big marketplace (gartner et al told them so) but they don't realise that Intel with Moblin, Nokia with Maemo, Palm with webOS, and Google with Android are all Linux OSs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by fifewiskey (1608023)
      me....oh wait nevermind, trying to produce one now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Chrisq (894406)

      Is there anyone these days who ISN'T releasing a mobile OS?

      Well, I'm eagerly awaiting an announcement from HURD....

  • Ok, the articles linked to by the summary are already slashdotted, and, even by slashdot standards (or lack), the /. article summary is highly confusing. . . Is Intel planning to use Moblin, VxWorks, or both? I mean, the article non-quoted text talks about Moblin, but the quote talks about VxWorks, so which is it?

    • As if it weren't muddy enough, apparently Intel is porting Silverlight [zdnet.com] (not Moonlight, Silverlight) to Moblin.

      Every time I think Intel has got it all figured out they pull something like this to remind me that they don't really understand. They're like the 7 year old kid that steals his parents car and drives it 40 miles down the road to buy ice cream, and then tries to pay with lego blocks and a wilted Yugi-oh card. Genius, but misguided genius. They're the RainMan of IT.

      Intel, one more time: IT'S A

  • Stupid (Score:5, Informative)

    by cheesybagel (670288) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:10AM (#29514359)
    Stupid, stupid, stupid. The main selling point seems to be that it can run regular Linux apps. Which of course you would not want to do in the first place in devices with such a constrained screen size and different input methods. You are better off writing apps for that device instead. They should have just tried to improve Android instead.
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      As long as it runs vi, lynx and the GIMP, I'm buying one.

      Or is it Emacs? I can never remember...

    • 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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jittles (1613415)
      Not true, I get on the command line of my iPhone all the time. There's nothing like being able to SSH into a machine from anywhere you've got reception. Its got nice little touch gestures for different command short cuts and everything.
      • by Rhaban (987410)

        Not true, I get on the command line of my iPhone all the time. There's nothing like being able to SSH into a machine from anywhere you've got reception. Its got nice little touch gestures for different command short cuts and everything.

        I once tried to use vi using accelerometer gestures. Now all my colleagues think i'm epileptic.

    • by jhol13 (1087781)

      What is wrong with grep, find, Perl, etc?

      • by petrus4 (213815)

        What is wrong with grep, find, Perl, etc?

        Exactly the point. These days, anyone who thinks of Linux automatically thinks of KDE or Gnome, as if unscaleable GUI bloatware was always a part of the system.

        It wasn't, but somebody had to go and tirelessly, endlessly scream for Linux to become a clone of Windows, and so now Linux fails at what could have been its' ideal niche application.

        The more I read Slashdot recently, the more profoundly grateful I become that I essentially live in a cave. The corruption, cowardice, short sightedness, laziness, and

      • by savuporo (658486)
        Just that on a small touch screen device, these things are utterly useless without a GUI wrapping the functions. And the point was about GUI apps.

        A better argument would have been "They should have just tried to improve GNOME Mobile/Maemo/ Ubuntu Mobile/OpenEmbedded/Hildon" instead.
        • by jhol13 (1087781)

          Quite a few phones can edit documents, therefore they can edit perl scripts and their output.

          It might be utterly useless for you, but not for me.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by symbolset (646467)

      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

    • by Zoxed (676559)

      > Stupid, stupid, stupid. The main selling point seems to be that it can run regular Linux apps. Which of course you would not want to do in the first place in devices with such a constrained screen size and different input methods.

      But you could use OPIE [wikipedia.org] or GPE [wikipedia.org] for example.

  • What's In A Name (Score:1, Informative)

    by Ukab the Great (87152)

    From Moblin's site [moblin.org]:

    Moblin uses Clutter to create exciting, efficient, and intuitive user interfaces.

    Worthy competitor to Android, let alone Apple? Not a chance, and you can tell just by looking at the name that was chosen for the UI. But they'd probably have a good shot at Failblog.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Moblin isn't worth a shit on the netbooks it's supposed to run on, either (CRASH!) It's amazing how unreliable Intel has managed to make Linux on their own hardware. VxWorks has just one purpose, minimum overhead in a RTOS. Out of the box it does jack shit and probably won't work anyway. This is a dumb idea from dumb people.

    • by S77IM (1371931)

      Yes, but is Moblin fully integrated with Goriya and Octorok?

        -- 77IM

  • by mhamel (314503) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:31AM (#29514515)

    It's like the 80s and the begining of windows all over again but for mobile devices. The question is what will be the OS that can use the most software. Right now there are: IPhone OS which is very closed. Windows mobile also very closed and not sexy. Android which is open and has lots of backing by lot's of different builders. Many other smaller options. Moblin look very open too but.. when it will show up, Android should already available from every cellular providers.

    What is funny in that mobile war is the position of Apple. Pretty much like when the first Mac came by at the begining of the 80s. They have a great product. But they are too closed. So it's going to be everybody against them. They can't win. Dell, HTC, Lenovo, Motorola, Philips, Samsung, Sony Ericson (on the open side this time) , and many others already have android phones.

    I predict that soon when you'll want to build a mobile application, it will have to run on Android first. That way it will be available to everybody. The rest will be second thought. Just like the market for computer right OS now with windows. But this time the winner will be the open platform because it's been early in the market and the manufacturer will simply find it easier then going for windows mobile.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tomtomtom777 (1148633)

      Windows mobile also very closed

      How is that? Is Windows mobile more closed than Android? I thought Windows mobile has an native API that allows pretty much everything, whereas Android exposes only a sandboxed Java environment.

      ... and not sexy

      Agreed...

      • by mhamel (314503)

        It's closed because the handset builders have to buy it and enter in a contract with Microsoft to offer it. For a programmer a good API will never be like having access to the source code. I know because I lived throught both.

    • by mdwh2 (535323) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:53AM (#29514803) Journal

      Right now there are: IPhone OS which is very closed. Windows mobile also very closed and not sexy. Android which is open and has lots of backing by lot's of different builders. Many other smaller options. Moblin look very open too but.. when it will show up, Android should already available from every cellular providers.

      You list Apple, and everyone smaller than them. What about Blackberry? Nokia? All the billions of Java phones out there?

      I don't disagree with you, but note a difference with the 80s computing analogy is that aside from the ones trying to push an operating system, there are also loads of less expensive (and yes, not as good, but you get what you pay for, and still fulfil most people's needs), that make up the vast majority of the market.

      Of course, there were a lot of computer makes around in the 80s, but the other difference is that these phones today do support a common standard, mainly thanks to Java, and also due to functionality being offered on websites). It's not perfect, but it's way better than the bad old days of computing where you needed a different version for every make and model on the market. Now a single application runs on pretty much any phone.

      Except then along comes the Iphone, and changes that by specificially not allowing Java. So now we have to return to the days where special "For Your Iphone" applications are needed, to do what the rest of us were doing for years before. It's great marketing for Apple though, because people see these "Posted using XXX for Iphone" everywhere - all the people using ordinary phones are using open standards (either a Java app, or via the website itself), and thus don't get the free advertising spam for that make of phone.

      What is funny in that mobile war is the position of Apple. Pretty much like when the first Mac came by at the begining of the 80s. They have a great product. But they are too closed. So it's going to be everybody against them. They can't win. Dell, HTC, Lenovo, Motorola, Philips, Samsung, Sony Ericson (on the open side this time) , and many others already have android phones.

      I predict that soon when you'll want to build a mobile application, it will have to run on Android first.

      I agree, and I hope so. I loved the Amiga back in the day, but looking back, it seems obvious that from a hardware point of view, the PC would be the winner, ever since it became a standard for business use in the early 80s. It was just a case of what OS it ran.

      One problem however is that there is yet to be an open standard for mobile hardware. In some sense, there doesn't need to be, if systems like Java or Android are used. But I still have a worry Apple may be able to gain a monopoly on the hardware, because there's no open standard for potential new companies to use for mobile hardware.

      The PC won because when every company said "Hey, let's get into making computers", most of them took the easy option and built PCs. With phones, they're left struggling to come up with their own hardware, or more likely, not bother at all.

      • It wasn't some sort of master win by the IBM PC that doomed Apple to obscurity. IIRC, IBM lost some sort of lawsuit which opened up their platform. They fought it tooth and nail, IBM would have been quite happy to have a walled garden architecture just like Apple. Heck, we're still using PCs today!
      • by pjr.cc (760528)

        I agree with your points for the most part... however, android has more in common with the PC then any other platform... plus, back in those days there were no FOSS alternatives (not real ones anyways)...

        The reason i say that is similar to how people got into making PC - an open standard. Alot of phone makers would love one that allows them to make a phone that is fairly industry-wide compatible and the old real option at this point is windows.

        Everyone would love to be able to build an iphone compatible but

      • Of course, there were a lot of computer makes around in the 80s, but the other difference is that these phones today do support a common standard, mainly thanks to Java, and also due to functionality being offered on websites). It's not perfect, but it's way better than the bad old days of computing where you needed a different version for every make and model on the market. Now a single application runs on pretty much any phone.

        What universe do you live in? You've obviously never been a mobile developer if you think this even remotely resembles reality. Having been a mobile developer for over 2 years, I can tell you that Java has done absolutely nothing to solve device fragmentation. The language doesn't matter; it's the libraries, of course.

        Every carrier has a hundred devices, and every single device has a different bug in its implementation of MIDP. With the strict size requirements for J2ME, for all but the simplest applicat

    • I think Apple can win. The iPhone may be closed but so far being closed and limited are normal for phones and people keep buying them anyway. Also, they have a strong base of developers. Furthermore, the phone is more appealing than its competition out of the box with no additional applications installed.

      Assuming the programs are written in Java with a few custom Java include files, I think the downfall of Android will be the ease of viewing the source code of Java, and the lack of a way to profit from buil

    • The question is what will be the OS that can use the most software. Right now there are: IPhone OS which is very closed. Windows mobile also very closed and not sexy. Android which is open and has lots of backing by lot's of different builders. Many other smaller options. Moblin look very open too but.. when it will show up, Android should already available from every cellular providers.

      Is this a joke? By far, Nokia is the largest provider of smartphones in the World (smartphones, not just regular cell phones).

      Right now, Nokia and Windows Mobile are the two biggest paltforms "that can use the most software". Hands-down, they allow you to do the most stuff, and they give you the most flexibility than either the iPhone or Android. For instance, the iPhone doesn't allow you to run more than one app at a time (buggy Backgrounder utility excepted). I, on the other hand, routinely run at least f

  • The reason for not using Android is of course the Android market. Should Intel want some of that internet money, they need to create their own app market. Which they did.
  • Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lemming Mark (849014) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 @09:35AM (#29514561) Homepage

    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. If I were to do any hacking on the device I'd bought, I'd like it to be a familiar environment. If I'm downloading others' apps I'd feel more confident in getting a good range of apps if they can code in a familiar environment.

    Android's good because it's an open platform. I can easily believe that for really resource-constrained apps it's better than Moblin. But on anything that can handle it, I'd rather have a "real" distro than Android. The diversity of having multiple mobile platforms is a good thing; I just personally would rather be able to run a familiar Unix-like environment on all my devices, even if they use a custom front-end to fit the form factor. Improvements to infrastructure (kernel, X.org, shell, apps, whatever) required for a small device are something that I'd like to see integrated upstream so that everyone benefits.

    • 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.

      • I think the competition between Android and Moblin will be good, in that it will ensure that neither camp sits back on its laurels. Just in the near term, I hope the potential market threat Moblin represents will shake Google into implementing Bluetooth file sharing, right now a prominent shortcoming in Android.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WebCowboy (196209)

        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,

        The differences between Android and conventional Linux-based OSes run quite a bit deeper than the UI--Android is a very different architecture altogether. It's like saying MacOS X is BSD UNIX--IT ISN'T. It shares a lot of common elements, it is somewhat compatible but architecturally it is VASTLY DIFFERENT, far more than skin-deep-different. Therefore, one could say that those chief reasons for WinMo's failures could be addressed with a far more "conventional" Linux-based OS distribution. That is where

    • The real question will be: would you rather buy Moblin or Maemo?

  • Isn't it supposed to be a secret to everybody?

  • If Intel is helping with tuning linux to mobile hardware, how will that affect other mobile linux OS's? Is Intel going to try to have their own distro or just working on improving the hardware/software interaction of its mobile chipsets?
    • by yuna49 (905461)

      Last June I submitted this story [slashdot.org] on joint endeavors between Intel and Nokia in the mobile space.

      "The partnership will center around several open-source mobile Linux software projects, including the Moblin platform for Atom-based processors and the Maemo operating system developed by Nokia. Intel will also acquire a licence from Nokia that is used in modem chips to connect to third generation cellular networks."

  • the moblin site advertises it for netbooks and "netttops". netbooks have laptop-like batteries which are orders of magnitude more powerful than those in true mobile devices. nettops are "very small form factor , inexpensive, low-wattage desktop computers" (from wikipedia).

    even on android which puts a lot of design into getting the most out of your battery, you can easily shoot yourself in the foot by running the simplest process continuously. people don't understand how tiny and weak mob

  • I think I'd rather hammer #10 nails into my skull than do another VxWorks project.

  • MID may stand for "mobile internet device", but is understood to be a different and larger form factor (4"+ screens) than smartphones. Something being competitive for a MID, isn't necessarily so for a smartphone.

    In fact, Intel and Nokia were palling around just the other day (http://www.h-online.com/open/What-does-the-Intel-Nokia-mobile-Internet-deal-mean-for-open-source--/features/113612), talking about splitting the market - Moblin for MID, Maemo for smartphones. Of course, now they're muddying the waters

  • android, maemo, motorola rolled their own at one point and are not jumping on the android bandwagon? so WHY????

    Why not just make android better, fix the issues that people have with the UI, make it more user friendly, but don't introduce another linux flavor. It really helps noone but intel if even them

  • Moblin will likely fail because, it's a goofy name, the market doesn't want yet another OS, and Apple seems to be the only company in the entire gizmoverse that can make a decent UI.

    At least Android has some street cred for being "Google".

    • by symbolset (646467) *
      Moblin will fail because Intel has decided to let Microsoft own the user experience with Silverlight. Silverlight on Moblin. This one's over before it started.

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