Mobile Operating Systems: Android & Linux
Because of the growing popularity of mobile computing and the amazing bandwiths of modern 3G/4GB mobile networks, a huge variety of mobile devices such as smartphones, netbooks, tablet PC’s, ultrabooks and already present on the market.
To be successful in this area does not only require innovative and well-designed hardware solutions, but also well crafted operating systems that perform well on the various mobile platforms and deliver user friendly and popular interfaces.
Android is so successful because it is well designed and highly functional, and at the same time it empowers OEM/ODM hardware manufacturers to equip their mobile phone hardware, smartphones and tablet PC’s with a value adding operating system that used to be free to use for OEM productions.
However, Android is not Linux, and might even violate the GPL, while at the same time it’s taking heavy use of some of the major advantages of Linux as an operating system.
Also, you should note that Google’s policies towards the openness of their Android source code is subject to change, and that they currently also seem to undergo a revision and in order to allow for preferential treatments regarding updated versions for specific strategic hardware manufacturers, thus setting up the framework for that’s gives huge advantages to major suppliers and in cooperation with selected network operators and internet carriers.
Many people out there, as well as some of our core customers and needless to say of course also our developers here at MemoTrek™ Technologies are following the ongoing events around the MeeGo operating system closely - or would it be easier to just call it a mobile Linux distribution? - and especially now that after Nokia left the Intel cooperation boat, hired up their new ex-Microsoft CEO and seriously seem to consider focusing all they’ve left on smartphones with Microsoft or Windows OS [sic!] and thus more or less left Intel alone in the light and with the task of further optimizing Linux for the requirements of mobile platforms.
Intel Does the Right Thing: MeeGo Linux
Intel does the right thing, and announced recently that Intel is to remain fully committed to the development of MeeGo Linux.
Let’s admit it, we’ve been playing with MeeGo since the first developer versions where made available for the N900 and it’s ARM platform but it never felt ripe enough to leave the steady and reliable Maemo blend of Debian behind:
Maemo is a modified version of Debian Linux that runs beautifully on the Nokia N900 with ARM Cortex-A8 core, and with a bit of tweaking you’ll be able to run a full Debian with in a secure chroot surrounding so you can run e.g the LXDE desktop surrounding and launch your favorite Debian applications or even more serious stuff such as Gimp, Thunderbird or such on your N900 - or do even more amazing things such as starting a VNC connection to a remote Desktop, apt-get for package management, Mutt mail client, SSH etc.
In other words, Meamo with a few modifications already gives you a full Debian install in the hand of your palm, and thousands of open source developers worldwide where delighted with the prospects of Nokia focusing on developing new open source Linux based mobile devices that could stand out as a true alternative to iOS and Android.
Because of it’s close relationship to Debian Linux, it’s actually highly suitable development platform also porting to the ARM platform, even Windows has announced their future support for ARM system architectures.
More and more mobile device developers recognize the advantages of low-power ARM cores we are likely to see more and more innovative ARM devices showing up on the markets during the next few years.
Nokia Turns 180-Degrees Backwards
But then Nokia turns off the light and makes a 180 degree turn towards Microsoft...
The new Nokia N9 is said to be first and last mobile phone that runs MeeGo, as Nokia “has largely abandoned Meego in favor of Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system.”
Now, would you buy the first and last phone, where the OS was “largely abandoned” even before it was released? What are these guys smoking to anti-market their devices?
If Nokia really thinks that they need to go down that Microsoft path, then nobody can stop them.
It’s sad though to see such a potentially powerful device as the N900 and the new and beautiful Nokia N9 not being further developed, and we should have thought that the success of Android - again it’s not Linux - but nevertheless with a Linux base - that Nokia should have realized the advantages of such a core in embedded mobile platforms.
Intel may be on a good way to conclude and round up MeeGo, and their recent announcement and as Doug Fisher, general manager of Intel’s Systems Software Division, who recently declined that Samsung might be interested in entering in a partnership with Intel regarding MeeGo, adds more weight to this by stating that “Intel has recognized the critical need for software” and we trust that Intel has the resources and the strategic insight to further pursue a further development of MeeGo or a similar open source Linux system and in order to be able to compete against the current iOS and even more importantly to have the chance of surviving Android OS, which already is about to overtake Apple's iOS on core markets in USA and Europe.
Android for Low-End Devices & HP OpenSource
As Android gains solid market shares also on the highly attractive market for mid and low-level entry devices, such as e.g the so highly successful Huawei's IDEOS device, the Android smartphone for US$80 that sells like hotcakes in Kenya, this puts even more pressure on Nokia who traditionally used to have a strong hold in just this huge and lucrative entry-level segment of the emerging markets.
It’ll also be interesting to see how the folks over at HP are going to launch their new devices, and here we currently see a new potential supplier of Linux ready hardware and their HP TouchPad gets closer to running Ubuntu Linux.
You may also want to stay tuned to our further news and product launches here at MemoTrek™ as we are currently developing a new set of Linux based tabled PC’s and Netbooks with long battery lifetimes and based on the low-power ARM cortex.
As always, please feel free to leave a comment or contact our sales team for more information!
UPDATE 28th September 2011: Intel is now partnering with Samsung to merge the two Linux based OS's MeeGo and Limo into the new Tizen, the new mobile OS announced by the Linux Foundation. Just like MeeGo, the Tizen project will support multiple devices including Tablets, Netbooks, Handsets, Smart TVs and In-Vehicle Infotainment systems.