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Linux To Open Up Mobile Devices Industry.

We’ve heard of Linux on desktopcomputers, but what aboutLinux on phones? Recent developmentsfrom mobile-centric companiescould soon give WindowsMobile and Palm OS a run for theircollective money.

In June, startup company a laMobile announced its own Linux mobilesmartphone platform, whichincludes a complete softwarestack of the kernel, middleware,and applications. Referredto as ConvergentLinux Platform, the systemlets manufacturersselect their own componentsand functions, aswell as design their ownlook and feel to accommodatedifferentrequirements in theconsumer and enterprisemarkets.

“The desire for an openand non-proprietary operatingsystem for mobile handsetsis well recognized,” said BillHughes, principal analyst at In-Stat, in a statement. “Linux is poisedto become the primary mobile operatingsystem that is not proprietary.The availability of a la Mobile’s Linuxoffering could bridge a key gap forthe wireless industry.”
The platform is driven by two“software mobility” engines. HME(Hardware Mobility Engine) works as a type of BIOS for phones and letsmanufacturers create families ofphones while using the same underlyingsoftware stack for all the models.According to A la Mobile, HME letsmanufacturers support both Linuxand other OSes on the same mobilephone hardware platform. This engineis poised to save manufacturersplenty of time when introducing newmodels to the market, and it alsoshould help ensure that software iscompatible and interoperable acrossall models of a product line.

The platform’s NME (NetworkMobility Engine) delivers a frameworkfor “seamless handover of IPbasedservices,” such as voice, data,and video among different networks.This should allow the devices to easilyswitch between cellular and Wi-Finetworks when necessary (and whenboth are available).However, a la Mobile isn’t the onlyplayer in the mobile Linux game.Six companies—Motorola, NEC,Panasonic, Samsung, Vodafone,and NTT DoCoMo—recently announced plans todesign an open, Linuxbasedplatform for mobiledevices. Unlike the otherLinux-based mobile efforts(which generallydon’t remain open becausecreators spend a lotof time developing them)this collaboration seeks tocreate a platform that any interestedcompany can use.

Other Linux-focused groupsalso are seeking to boost theuse of Linux on handheld devices.These include the Linux PhoneStandards Forum (or LiPS), withmembers such as PalmSource, FranceTelecom, Cellon, and MontaVista;the MLI (Mobile Linux Initiative),whose members include Intel, BritishTelecom, PalmSource, and Motorola;and CELF (Consumer ElectronicsLinux Forum).