Whilst praising the achievements of the Linux community in the workstation and PC arena, a senior exec of Symbian claims the open source operating system is unfit to use within cell phones.
Jerry Panagrossi, VP of Symbian's North American operations, claims there has been misleading information over the years about the appropriateness of Linux for mobile handsets. "This is particularly true with the resource constraints that we deal with on mobile devices -- such as limitations in computation capability, resource and memory management, and power management. When you drill down and look at Linux ... you realise it's just a kernel."
Panagrossi maintains that manufacturers building a Linux phone quickly gravitate towards a proprietary implementation as they develop the underlying device drivers and add an application execution environment. "When you ask the Linux solution providers what percentage of software runs across all of their platforms, the answer is near zero per cent. There's such a degree of high fragmentation in that space, and I think it's high time we set the record straight."
Responding to the criticism, Morgan Gillis, executive director of the LiMO foundation, claimed that this question had been completely answered four or five years ago. "We've introduced 23 LiMO mobile phones since we launched last year ... all of the issues have been answered now. There are something like 5 million active Linux developers, and the other technologies rely on communities that are much, much smaller. And in Symbian's case, nearly all of the developers will be owned by Nokia. It's a very different situation."
Nokia has thus far stayed out of the mobile Linux battle that is brewing between Google's Android platform, the future open-source Symbian and the LiMo Foundation's mobile Linux stack. However, Nokia recently upgraded its membership of the Linux Foundation from Silver to Gold status, and has contributed to the Linux kernel code for using HSPA with Texas Instruments' OMAP3 processor.
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