Open source hooks Nokia

Mobile phone giant Nokia has utilised key open-source software to build a free development platform for Linux-based handheld devices.The platform -- dubbed 'maemo' -- was developed as part of its effort to build Nokia's Internet Tablet device, which provides wireless Web and e-mail access.

Mobile phone giant Nokia has utilised key open-source software to build a free development platform for Linux-based handheld devices.

The platform -- dubbed 'maemo' -- was developed as part of its effort to build Nokia's Internet Tablet device, which provides wireless Web and e-mail access. The Linux-based device is Nokia's first product without a built-in mobile phone.

Maemo is built using the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and GNOME desktop environment, according to a whitepaper on the platform.

"GNOME provides an intuitive and attractive PC desktop for end users based on Linux," the whitepaper said, "and a powerful framework for building applications that integrate into the rest of the PC desktop."

"GNOME provides an intuitive and attractive desktop for end users based on Linux," the whitepaper said, "and a powerful framework for building applications".

In addition, maemo utilises the GStreamer media development framework, Helix media player, Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) toolkit, and ESounD sound server.

The inclusion of SDL could result in expanded functions for Nokia Internet Tablet devices -- the company noted the toolkit is typically used for developing games.

The applications are commonly found in most desktop Linux distributions. In fact, Nokia makes it clear Linux developers should feel right at home with maemo. "Writing graphical applications for maemo is no different from writing for desktop Linux," the whitepaper stated.

While the Internet Tablet is based on an ARM CPU, maemo will allow programmers to create and test code on their desktop PCs in an x86 processor-based environment, before bundling software for an ARM-based deployment.

Ability to develop in an x86 development environment would, according to Nokia, drastically cut down development time, because all of the traditional Linux development tools can be utilised.

Nokia has created an online tutorial for developers interested in maemo and made it clear why it was releasing the platform to the community.

"The motivation behind maemo and its availability to the open-source community is to stimulate mobile Linux technology development and adoption," the company said.

Yesterday, Nokia announced it will allow its patents to be freely utilised in the Linux kernel development effort.