Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) , Netbooks, Internet Tablets, Smart phones and Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPCs) maybe just buzzwords today, but they are without doubt the devices of the future. In a nutshell, these are portable, small form-factor devices capable of browsing the Internet and having their own set of applications which can be executed in limited memory and processing power.
Traditionally OSes like Windows CE and Symbian’s S60 were the popular smart-phone OSes a few years ago. Today Linux as an embedded or a Netbook OS takes the top slot.
As a result of this a number of SIGs (Special Interest Groups) were formed by bigger companies who decided to start investing seriously in Open Source Mobile platforms.
The following are few of them which are not only popular, but are also backed by big companies in terms of resources as well as funds.
Android : With HTC Touch and HTC Hero being a huge success, the Google-promoted mobile stack Android, is touted as something to look forward to. With a Java-like programming interface, the Android SDK is easy to install and start developing apps on. Android Apps for these smart phones are increasing in number and soon can be a serious contender for the iPhone App Store.
Maemo : Nokia’s 770 Internet Tablet was one of the first commercially available MID running Linux. The Nokia N10 is the latest offering from Nokia running on the Maemo platform. Although Maemo does have VoIP apps, it is primarily being designed for Internet Tablets rather than Smart phones.
Moblin : Molin, asuumably short for Mobile Linux, was an initiative from Intel. After the release of their Atom family of processors, Moblin recieved further push from Intel in engaging the community. Moblin, like Maemo, is primarily targetted towards Netbooks, MIDs and Internet Tablets. It utilizes some of the modern embedded linux components like the Gnome-based Clutter toolkit which used OpenGL to create fast and visually rich GUIs.
OpenMoko : The OpenMoko project has dual objectives, to provide an open source stack for Mobile phones and also to pave the way for developing open hardware for running this stack. The first commercial devices running OpenMoko was the Neo 1973 and the Neo FreeRunner from FIC. It was an open source geek’s dream come true with both open hardware as well as software. The stack is based on the OpenEmbedded specifications.
The above mentioned are just the some of the more popular open source stacks. There are a lot of other commercial open source stacks developed by companies like OpenedHand (now acquired by Intel), Azingo based in Pune and Ziilabs, which focus on PMPs (again based in Pune).
With the phenomenal success of platforms like Acer’s Aspire One or the EeePC or Sony and HP’s Pocket Netbooks, all the Giants have started allocating budgets and resources towards development of open source mobile stacks.
All in all, the day and age for Open Souce Mobile stacks has arrived !!!
What’s your opinion?