A consortium of companies led by mobile operating system maker
PalmSource and carrier French Telecom yesterday announced plans to
standardise certain aspects of Linux for mobile phones.
Dubbed the Linux Phone Standards Forum (LiPS), the group's primary
goal is to "establish standards for the growing number of companies
providing Linux-based technologies for mobile, fixed and converged
telephony terminals," according to a statement issued by PalmSource.
"Today is the official kickoff," France Telecom's Haila Wang told
journalists at the carrier's Beijing research and development centre.
The executive is the chief technical officer for the centre, which
houses amongst other things a number of researchers working on
projects dealing with both open source and mobile devices.
The group's founding membership also includes embedded OS specialists
FSM Labs and MIZI Research, mobile chip maker ARM Holdings, Linux
software vendor MontaVista, Chinese mobile hardware vendor Huawei,
embedded-software makers Jaluna and Open Plug, wireless design house
Cellon and mobile software developer Esmertec.
Wang said the initial activities of the project would be tri-fold.
Firstly, LiPS would attempt to create a standard application
programming interface (API) for the version of Linux that runs on
mobile phones, so that applications could run on any device without
"With the rapid increase of Linux's popularity [on mobile phones],
there is an increasing need for industry standards to avoid
fragmentation and ensure interoperability of technologies from
different vendors," said PalmSource in its statement.
There would consequently need to be a certification process to ensure
that each mobile phone maker's version of Linux conformed to that API,
added France Telecom's Wang.
A third task would be to help developers building applications on top
of the standardised Linux base by providing documentation and other
A PalmSource executive strongly emphasised the company's commitment to
the Linux OS in its statement. "Becoming a part of the LiPS Forum further demonstrates our belief in
the potential of Linux and our plans to developing on Linux.
"We believe that by simplifying the adoption of Linux in fixed, mobile
and converged devices, and working to ensure that they match the
requirements of operators and consumers, the LiPS Forum will play an
important part in making Linux a truly mass market proposition," said
senior vice president of engineering Michael Kelley.
The market for smartphones is currently dominated by the two
incumbents Microsoft and Symbian, although popular handset makers
Motorola and Nokia have both publicly stated their enthusiasm for
Linux as a mobile phone OS.
According to information found on the newly-created LiPS Web site, the
first official set of specifications for Linux on mobile phones is due
by the second half of 2006.
The founding documents of the consortium also state a desire for a
"pragmatic approach to defining standards through incorporation of
existing work wherever possible".
In LiPS' case this could mean collaboration with two previous efforts
at standardising Linux for mobile phones, carried out by the Open
Source Development Lab which employs Linux creator Linus Torvalds, and
the Consumer Electronics Linux Forum (CELF).
Attempts to create API standards between Linux vendors are quite
widespread in the desktop and server markets. The most well-known is
the Linux Standard Base (LSB) project, which claims all of the major
Linux vendors as members, as well as a host of other IT companies.
CNET News.com's Stephen Shankland contributed to this article. Renai LeMay
travelled to Beijing as a guest of France Telecom.