Nokia's open source Symbian is no match or threat to Linux mobile, Linux Foundation claims

Nokia's open source Symbian is no match or threat to Linux mobile, Linux Foundation claims

Summary: Nokia's plan to open source the Symbian mobile OS platform is no threat to mobile Linux, maintains the executive director of the Linux Foundation.Jim Zemlin maintains that mobile Linux will continue to evolve and flourish in spite of Nokia's plans and the formation of the Symbian Foundation, whose membership includes several members of LiMO including Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, Samsung, and Vodaphone.

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Nokia's plan to open source the Symbian mobile OS platform is no threat to mobile Linux, maintains the executive director of the Linux Foundation.

Jim Zemlin maintains that mobile Linux will continue to evolve and flourish in spite of Nokia's plans and the formation of the Symbian Foundation, whose membership includes several members of LiMO including Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, Samsung, and Vodaphone.

 "Now that Symbian will be open and royalty free one of the advantages that Linux had over that platform is gone," acknowledged Zemlin, in a blog written last week after the deal was announced.  "However, there continue to be some fundamental disadvantages relative to Linux that Symbian must deal with. "

Symbian's large installed base is a plus but there's a flip side, Zemlin notes. "While it has it advantages, it also locks Symbian platform development into the obsolete API’s that were developed for devices with obsolete form factors and significant performance limitations. Think of all the problems Microsoft has had with Vista and XP compatibility," Zemlin wrote.

He also maintains that Symbian's limitation to mobile devices makes it less appealing to developers.  "Symbain also fails to benefit from sharing a code base across the entire pantheon of computing. Linux shares development with embedded systems, desktop devices, super computing and server side computing," Zemlin said. Linux supports more device components than any other platform in the market. One can simply walk down the streets of Guangzhou and assemble a Linux based device with almost any set of commodity components. 

Finally, mobile Linux has it all over Symbian in green computing, he added. "Efforts to reduce power consumption in a large data center will benefit battery life on Linux mobile devices," Zemlin said.

The executive director said Nokia's announcement has served as a call to arms to mobile Linux developers. "Nokia has now put the Linux mobile community on notice that it needs to rapidly produce the development tools and testing infrastructure that will enable the creation of an ISV ecosystem," Zemlin said. "Expect both Android and the LiMO Foundation to meet that challenge quickly.

He also pointed out that Nokia also "has its feet firmly planted in both the Linux and Symbian camps as members of the Linux Foundation, the Limo Foundation and creators of the N Series Mobile Linux device." LiMO was founded in January of 2007 by Motorola, NTT DoCoMO, Samsung, Orange and Vodaphone (all members of the Symbian Foundation) to promote the adoption of the Linux operating system for mobile devices.

Topics: Operating Systems, Linux, Mobility, Nokia, Open Source, Software

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3 comments
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  • Jim is missing one essential point.

    Dana,

    While I have not heard of any official plan to do this, it's a no-brainer to consider that the Symbian platform in its new role could be hosted on top of the Linux kernel. I can't believe that much of the value of the platform resides in the kernel. Symbian + S60 + MOAP, etc. are a really large stack, probably 95% of that is above kernel level.

    This isn't to say that I'm suggesting anyone write off Symbian's kernel, which is after all going to become Open Source. Small operating systems have their merits.

    Bruce Perens
    BrucePerens
    • Spot On (nt)

      nt
      Richard Flude
  • Symbian already on many phones.

    To me, one of the big reasons why Symbian succeeded is its corporate backing. Psion, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung and a whole bunch of other companies officially support, develop and contribute to the Symbian platform. They sell it, make money from it, write and distribute software and upgrades. This is a rock solid commercial business model which is absent in Linux.

    Yes it's great that Linux runs on everything from supercomputers to mosquito-sized embedded devices, but where's the commercial backing? Would you buy a phone from Nokia which is unsupported - if they just give you an SDK and ask you to write your own code for it?
    kraterz