PalmSource Pushes Open Source for Mobile Phones

PalmSource this week announced that it will push its new software library, which is part of the Access Linux Platform, into the open source developer community.

The firm said its libsqlfs software library, a SQLite add-on, would ease implementation of the ALP. The library is immediately available for download under the Lesser General Public License, or LGPL.

Custom Built

PalmSource said it created the libsqlfs software library, which is now available to developers, to be able to store and retrieve application and system preferences in a file system-to-database file bridge for ALP.

“We evaluated what is available today and decided to write a software library specifically to address this issue,” said PalmSource Senior Vice President of Engineering Michael Kelley.

Open Source for Real

The moves are a reflection of the increased interest in mobile Linux and a more diverse development community. At the same time, there is still some skepticism regarding the practicality of Linux on the mobile phone, particularly among wireless carriers, DataComm President Ira Brodsky told LinuxInsider.

“Open sourcing is good to get developers and manufacturers excited, but you have to also get the operators excited,” he said.

There are a number of efforts to take Linux further as a mobile phone platform, but despite several years of trying, wireless operators remain unconvinced, Brodsky noted.

“The carriers are very involved in selecting phones,” he said.

A New Direction

Yankee Group Senior Analyst John Jackson, however, sees PalmSource’s moves as a signal of a clear industry trend.

“There’s a lot more than just momentum behind the open source movement in mobile,” he said.

Jackson explained that platform providers in the space are realizing they must provide options to their clients, who are increasingly looking beyond Microsoft’s Windows and Symbian mobile platforms.

“Nobody has differentiation at the platform layer,” Jackson said. “Rather, your job as a platform provider is to encourage as many developers as possible so your customers can differentiate.”

In Jackson’s view, there is little doubt that Linux is emerging as a significant mobile platform. However, he pointed to a lack of marketing for the open source operating system.

On the other hand, the major wireless carriers are very familiar with Java as a platform, and the key for pushing Linux further in this area is to use it widley but discreetly in devices, Jackson said.

“You sort of make it irrelevant,” he said.

Leave a Comment

Please sign in to post or reply to a comment. New users create a free account.

LinuxInsider Channels