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Debian delivers FreeRunner open-phone package

20,000 applications, one open phone

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Olympics aside, summer 2008 will be remembered for at least two other reasons. It will be seen as a time when the noise over Linux as a platform for mobile devices reached a crescendo. Second: it marked Debian's fifteenth anniversary.

Bringing both together, Debian developers have delivered a version of their Linux distro for Openmoko's FreeRunner handset.

The announcement, during Debian's DebConf8 in Mar del Plata, Argentina, points out the potential upside for the nascent FreeRunner: the Debian ecosystem brings more than 20,000 applications to the FreeRunner, launched in July and the successor to Openmoko's Neo 1973 - claimed to be the first open mobile phone.

More importantly, the availability of Debian as a development platform gives Openmoko a leg up in the increasingly competitive market for open smart mobile devices based on Linux. Debian joins Qtopia and GTK+ as development platform options for the FreeRunner. The move gives Debian a lift after Intel revealed it was dropping the Debian-based Ubuntu Linux in favor of Fedora for the second version of its Moblin mobile Linux project.

Linux and open source are increasingly seen as the future of mobile devices and mobile the new frontier for Linux - apparently having taken the baton from the desktop, which has failed to live up to years of expectations and promises. Sessions and speakers from the O'Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON) in Portland, Oregon, to LinuxWorld in San Francisco, California, have been dedicated to Linux on mobile.

In addition to Openmoko and Moblin, which we are told will hit version two soon, attention has focused on Google's Android and the LiMo Foundation.®

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