Feeds

Red Hat pitches open source mobile phone OS

Not Linux for 3G

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Red Hat is to pitch an open source operating system at smartphones manufacturers - but it won't be Linux. In partnership with 3G Lab, it'll tweak the embedded Cygnus OS (eCos) for use in 3G devices under the name eCos/M3.

Red Hat acquired Cygnus, the veteran software libre tools specialist, eighteen months ago. The Cambridge, England-based 3G Lab provides a test bed and development environment for 3G, and we first ran into them late last year as they were about to unveil the first open source WAP gateway and SMS server Alligata.

So on the face of it, the 2.5G/3G business is a lot more open, particularly after Motorola last week announced that it would license its 2.5G and 3G crown jewels to no name manufacturers, a move that promises to commodities the smartphone business.

But realistically, eCos/M3 will have a mountain to climb, particularly starting so late.

With seven hundred of the finest engineers drawn from Nokia, Motorola and Psion's old software division, it's taken Symbian three years to deliver its first open phone the Nokia 9210 communicator. And that's starting with a base OS (Psion's old Epoc) that was already mature.

Why so long? A clue's in the amount of code packed into the 9210, which not only consumes most of the 8 MB of flash in the device but spills over to take up much of the 16 MB MMC too. While no one can call Epoc bloatware - it uses objects aggressively and native apps are tiny - there's much more to a smartphone (and the 9210 is 2G GSM technology) than a base Os.

So to provide a compelling proposition for a cellphone manufacturer, the package needs packet data, Bluetooth and infra red stacks, a Java VM, and probably support for streaming media too.

"Extreme schedule pressures and diverse product requirements force embedded product developers to develop their own run-time software technologies," acknowledges er, ... Red Hat in its eCos marketing backgrounder. Indeed.

And as you'd expect, with so much of the leading phone companies R&D invested in creating the Symbian platform, it's streets ahead of offering manufacturers this kind of time to market advantage. From here, it's impossible to see another single platform such as Microsoft's Stinger overtaking Symbian's lead and mindshare. But equally it's possible to see Symbian not winning, with recession-hit and debt-laden cellphone manufacturers choosing to develop their own in-house proprietary 2G operating systems and opting for Java as a common development environment.

In which case, eCos/M3 doesn't really help the manufacturers too much. However it could serve as a wake-up call to the Symbian partners, who to their shame, don't really treat non-Windows platforms any better than Microsoft. It's still not possible to develop Symbian apps on Linux, or even get your Symbian phone to talk to a Mac or Linux desktop PC. And that's terrible. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really
Windows NEIN skipped, tech preview due out on Wednesday
Business is back, baby! Hasta la VISTA, Win 8... Oh, yeah, Windows 9
Forget touchscreen millennials, Microsoft goes for mouse crowd
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
'Google is NOT the gatekeeper to the web, as some claim'
Plus: 'Pretty sure iOS 8.0.2 will just turn the iPhone into a fax machine'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.