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Communications Software Handhelds Linux Hardware

The Rise of the Linux-Based Cellphone 151

mrscotty99 writes with a link to a article about the rising star that is the Linux-based cellphone. Author Murry Shohat argues that the transformation of the cell into a mini-PC this summer is a landmark opportunity for Linux. Apple's offering and Motorola's US launch of the RAZR2 V8 (a linux-based device) may be heralds of great things to come for a new OS frontier: "In the cell phone market, consumers will pay for content, and corporations need to deliver secure content to applications in the palm of employees' hands. These trends suggest products that are simultaneously more functional and less expensive than a Treo or BlackBerry and more secure than an iPhone. MontaVista Software claims to have deployed Mobilinux on more than 35 million mobile devices worldwide. CEO Tom Kelley says, 'Linux is growing rapidly on mobile devices because of its solid reliability, its great flexibility, and because it accelerates the development cycle.' Vendors using or contemplating the use of Linux for mobile devices unanimously point to the operating system's footprint, memory usage, and fast growing ecosystem of developers producing software for graphics, multimedia, connectivity, and security." and Slashdot are both owned by SourceForge.
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The Rise of the Linux-Based Cellphone

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  • 4 choices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @05:31AM (#20649123)
    You don't have that many OS choices when developing a cellphone.

    Obviously, you can go with a market leader like Symbian and Nokia's S60 software stack to get something out the door in a hurry.

    Alternatively, you can pay a bunch up front to get the hardware working with Linux, but the benefits are a royalty-free OS license.

    You could always ask Microsoft for some help, but your fast time to market and full-featureset come at the price of outrageously powerful hardware requirements.

    Finally, you can go with BREW, Qualcomm's stripped-down, barebones OS.

    Each OS has its benefits and tradeoffs. Linux's benefits are code "ownership" and full source access, not to mention a well-known API and a large pool of developers. The major tradeoff that I've seen is the enormous latency in normal usage. A keypress takes a significantly longer time to process on a Linux phone than on, say, a BREW phone or an MS Smartphone.

    There's a lot of growth to come in the cellphone market, so Symbian has a long fight against these up and comers. And there really isn't anywhere for anyone (excluding Symbian) to go but up.
  • Apple's Offering? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flydpnkrtn ( 114575 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @05:50AM (#20649181)
    Apple's offering AFAIK is a mobile version of OSX... what does that have to do with Linux?

    By my accounts, Apple has been hostile to the open source community. They take and don't give back. Look at their track record with OSX and not setting up a source repository.

    Making iPods intentionally not work with anything but iTunes (which was cracked only days later)? Creating iWork instead of helping the OS X version

    Apple would BE Microsoft, and Charman Jobs would be Gates, if they had the option.
  • by rumith ( 983060 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @05:58AM (#20649213)
    Personally I find this [] announcement much more interesting and relevant to the goal of getting Linux on the mobiles. In short: Trolltech has made available the telephony service, DRM and SaX available under GPLv2, thus making Qtopia Phone edition completely free. Besides, they have ported Qtopia to Neo 1973. This is most certainly very good news!
  • Re:4 choices (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @06:15AM (#20649287)
    It matters if you're the one developing the phone.
  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @06:42AM (#20649413) Homepage Journal
    The version to be released in October is supposed to have wireless networking.
  • by smilindog2000 ( 907665 ) <> on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @06:44AM (#20649423) Homepage
    Jobs may be an a-hole, but he's damned smart. OS-X (on Macs and iPhones) is just open enough to allow hackers freedom to innovate, while just closed enough for Jobs to charge whatever he wants for the OS, while controlling the QA for average users ("It just works - TM" to quote another /.-er). Jobs absolutely wants to be Gates, and he's using open-source as leverage against Microsoft, for his own benefit rather than for open-source developers. It's never been said that Jobs is just trying to make the world a better place. Fortunately, that's just a side effect.
  • Re:4 choices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Propaganda13 ( 312548 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @06:47AM (#20649451)
    You do know that Apple is entirely against everything you just said. Apple is part of the problem. Your post is like thanking Microsoft because the XBox was hacked to run Linux.

    Now, the FIC NEO1973 will hopefully show the industry how it's done.
  • Re:4 choices (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <> on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @07:55AM (#20649811) Homepage
    It's sad to say, but with respect to "openness" to developers, Windows Mobile is actually in the lead right now. (Except for possibly Symbian which I have ZERO experience with, but other posts indicate it is less free.)

    iPhone - well, that is clearly a closed system. Any "openness" is a lucky hack.

    BREW - ugh...

    Linux-on-phone - You would expect it to be free, but with the exception of OpenMoko, it seems like Linux-on-phone tends to be "Tivoized". The quotes in the article summary imply that manufacturers love it because it makes it easier for them to lock down the phone. Their definition of "secure" is not the same as ours, theirs is in terms of DRM and locking down what the owner is allowed to do.

    PalmOS is pretty open to developers but is basically dead at this point. (I'm a former Treo owner, now I have a WM5-based AT&T 8525 aka HTC Hermes/TyTn and love it)
  • by melstav ( 174456 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @09:31AM (#20650753)
    The Neo 1973 is GSM-only. OpenMoko doesn't have a phone that supports CDMA network providers, like Sprint. Nor do they have plans to in the foreseeable future.

    By contrast, I am confident that Motorola WILL release a variant of their phone that works on Sprint's network.

    Open source ideals are great and all, but if it doesn't meet my requirements (I'm not going to buy it.

    And for the foreseeable future, "Does it work on Sprint's network?" is one of my requirements.
  • by xanalogical ( 808042 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @02:16AM (#20664405) Homepage
    Those who do not control their technology will be controlled by it.
  • Re:4 choices (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GooberToo ( 74388 ) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @12:05PM (#20668705)
    Notice that I didn't compare Linux's latency to Symbian.

    I hate to burst your bubble but Linux typically has lower latency than most other commercial RT OSs. Linux in no way, shape, or form, is considered a high latency beast, save only on the desktop, and that's because it is geared toward throughput, not low latency; which in turn explains why Linux typically stomps on Windows for throughput.

    I've not done any phone development but I do RT development. If are experiencing latency issues, I suggest it may be platform specific issues with the kernel port or framework/application level issues which are causing your issues. Linux, in of it self, should not be the cause of any user perceptible latency issues. Which is why I pointed you toward much more likely causes than the kernel.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...