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Hardware Companies Team Up To Fight Mobile Linux Fragmentation 47

Posted by Soulskill
from the isn't-that-cheating dept.
Nunavut writes with news that a number of hardware companies have banded together to battle the fragmentation of the mobile Linux market. ARM, Freescale Semiconductor, IBM, Samsung, ST-Ericsson, and Texas Instruments are forming Linaro, a nonprofit organization that plans to focus on "low-level software around the Linux kernel that touches the silicon, key pieces of middleware that enable new markets, and tools that help the developer write and debug code." "Linaro's chief goal is to reduce the time that it takes to bring a new ARM-powered product to market with Linux. This effort is largely neutral with respect to what software environment and components individual vendors choose to run in user space. Linaro will not compete with existing platforms such as MeeGo and Android. Instead, it will attempt to improve the shared underlying software components that allow those platforms and others to run on ARM SoCs. In principle, this could actually reduce fragmentation at the lower levels of the Linux stack."
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Hardware Companies Team Up To Fight Mobile Linux Fragmentation

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  • by Foredecker (161844) * on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:33AM (#32468588) Homepage Journal
    I've participated in a few industry wide organizations like this. They can be somewhat effective, but even then, they move very, very slowly.
  • by Burz (138833) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @11:50AM (#32468950) Journal

    What is this about improving the ability to bring new Linux-based devices to market? There are scads of them already, and that's part of the problem.

    The fragmentation these devices represent mainly occurs above and below the kernel level: Above in the sense that the libraries and UI kits that are included change greatly not only between devices, but also between iterations of a single product; Below in that there is no (realistically desirable) minimum hardware spec for a Linux-based device in any given class like smart phones.

    So this Linaro effort doesn't seem to help out where help is most needed IMO: Enabling creative types who work above the hardware level to identify and easily make use of a robust and attractive platform... something to confidently write apps on. As with the PC revolution, again its the apps that will win user interest.

    Linaro maybe more of an attempt to get the likes of Google to heel with its forking of the Linux kernel for use in Android. But I would say that Android itself is the better focus for a standardization effort: it is full-featured so the roles that any particular components will be expected to satisfy can be looked at much more holistically when features are being written or debugged. And without that holistic view -- like what happened to Desktop Linux as a vague concept -- components that are written or standardized outside of a specific user-targeted platform (like Android, or iPhone for that matter) are unlikely to give rise to a coherent and satisfying user experience.

    IOW, design affects all layers simultaneously and what works for people administering servers does not work when people expect to create/sell/share software applications on a user-oriented platform.

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