Feeds

Red Hat pitches open source mobile phone OS

Not Linux for 3G

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Microsoft to bake Skype into IE, without plugins
Redmond thinks the Object Real-Time Communications API for WebRTC is ready to roll
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
Mozilla: Spidermonkey ATE Apple's JavaScriptCore, THRASHED Google V8
Moz man claims the win on rivals' own benchmarks
Yes, Virginia, there IS a W3C HTML5 standard – as of now, that is
You asked for it! You begged for it! Then you gave up! And now it's HERE!
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Ubuntu 14.10 tries pulling a Steve Ballmer on cloudy offerings
Oi, Windows, centOS and openSUSE – behave, we're all friends here
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.