Palm embraces Linux

Summary:Chalk up another one for Linux. PalmSource has announced that it will be using Linux in the near future, and "extending" PalmOS to run on top of Linux as an application layer rather than as an OS in its own right.

Chalk up another one for Linux. PalmSource has announced that it will be using Linux in the near future, and "extending" PalmOS to run on top of Linux as an application layer rather than as an OS in its own right.

Palm is adopting the hybrid open source/proprietary software strategy already in use by Apple, Novell, IBM and a host of other companies. The PalmOS application layer won't be open source, but PalmSource's Mike Kelley says the company will be contributing some code as open source, as well as contributing back enhancements to Linux and so forth under the respective licenses.

Is this another case of a company looking to open source as they lose market share? Microsoft Windows CE recently overtook PalmOS as the leading OS for PDAs, so the timing of the announcement is a bit interesting, to say the least. If that's the impetus behind the move, I hope that PalmSource has a few other ideas on the drawing board to regain the lead position. Moving to Linux won't magically push PalmSource back into first place, and it's quite likely that Microsoft will continue to gain market share while PalmSource effects its switch to Linux.

However, the company might be able to redirect its efforts into developing better userland software by utilizing a commodity OS and building on that rather than spending development dollars on yet another embedded OS. It's just a shame that the company didn't come to that conclusion a year or two ago. As a bonus, PalmSource will also gain access to the wide array of open source software that already runs on Linux, some of which might be useful for handheld devices.

This move may also be a reaction to speculation that PalmOne may be considering Linux and Microsoft OSes for its hardware. The two companies have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship since they split, but there's little point for PalmOne to be a separate entity if it still operates as if it's joined at the hip with PalmSource.

What do you think? Will the switch make a difference, or is PalmSource destined to become the Apple of the mobile market?

Topics: Open Source

About

Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier is the community manager for openSUSE, a community Linux distro sponsored by Novell. Prior to joining Novell, Brockmeier worked as a technology journalist primarily covering the Linux and FOSS beat, and wrote for a number of publications, such as Linux Magazine, Linux.com, Sys Admin, UnixReview.com, IBM developer... Full Bio

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