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Symbian shares the source

Go open source early

The Symbian Foundation has announced it will be sharing the last of its source code today, putting the most widespread mobile OS under the Eclipse licence.

The Foundation reckons there are 330 million handsets out there running Symbian, and it's been working for the last couple of years to get ^3 (as version 3 is termed) opened up with the work now completed ahead of schedule.

Getting a proprietary OS opened up isn't just a matter of changing the licence: many companies contributed to Symbian over the years, and every contributor had to be negotiated with, or have their contribution worked around, by members of the Symbian community.

That community is still largely composed of drafted in Nokia employees, though the long-term goal is to spread the love more broadly. Various luminaries were brought out to congratulate Symbian on its sterling work - the most notable being Samsung which provided a supporting quote on the same day as demonstrating its first Bada handset in Korea, demonstrating how far its endorsement of the Symbian platform actually goes.

When Nokia bought out its partners in Symbian, and announced the formation of the Foundation with its plan to open-source the whole OS, the schedule called for all 108 packages to be opened up by the middle of 2010, so the project is ahead of schedule. That might be simply because it proved less complicated than expected, but it would be churlish not to recognise the work that's gone into the project.

So Symbian is now as free as Android, with a huge installed user base and a decade of successful deployments behind it: shame it hasn't got a brand like Google to push it into the limelight. ®

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