Mobile OS

Move over PalmOS, Here comes Linux


Recently I found out that PalmOS is ending the life cycle of it's operating system. I read this on my Treo 680 and I didn't like it. I depend upon that phone for so many reason. Of course I depend upon a phone that resets at any given moment, has bluetooth fubar'd beyond belief, and can sometimes frustrate the stuffing out of me.

Understand that I had been waiting for a specific update (the bluetooth issue) for a long time now. It never came. Instead I have to hear they are calling it a day.

But not so fast. Soon after I read this I find out that the plan is for the Palm OS to be replaced by, guess what, a Linux-based OS! Now this is good news. I have been telling myself as soon as a good Linux-based smart phone arrived I would be all over it. Now maybe my chance will come.

However...(there is always an "however")

It was also released that the new Linux-based Palm OS would be a seamless conversion and the new OS would look and feel exactly like the old OS.

Hrmmm...

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the Palm OS. But at the same time I don't LOVE it either. What bothers me about this is that a Linux-based Palm OS could take advantage of a lot of things. It could be a multi-tasking OS (the biggest downfall of the Palm OS). It could allow compliation of programs within the device itself. It could take advantage of a VNC-like capability. And first and foremost, it could be open source.

My fear, however, is that it's not going to take advantage of any of the above. Instead it will just be the same old Palm OS with a Linux kernel. It will be more secure, more stable, and, probably, multi-tasking so it will certainly be an improvement.

But....will it be released under an open source license? This does concern me. Why? Well I would like to see the open source community tackle this creating some really killer aps for the device. It's been said over and over that Linux is the next big thing for mobile devices. Should the new Palm OS be released under the GPL and Linux developers be allowed to do their thing, the new Linux-based smart phones could really take that sector of the market by storm. The Windows mobile platform could be seeing a mighty giant on the horizon and that mighty giant is open source. But this could only happen if those release the new Palm OS do it intelligently. Release the OS so that the Linux community can do their thing and take it to places it's never been. Move over PalmOS, here comes Linux!

PS: And please include a nice terminal application!

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

12 comments
jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Hey Jack, Last month I got a demo of a Nokia S60 smartphone, which runs Linux (Symbian), and I was very impressed. It has one of the best mobile Web browsers I have seen and it can do virtually everything that my Treo 700p can do. It also appears that Nokia has put together some nice enterprise packages to make the deployment of N60 phones (with Exchange connectors) much easier in large companies. I'm surprised that they don't market this product line a lot more aggressively, both to enterprises and through mobile carriers in the U.S. I was seriously impressed with the E61i that I saw. If Palm can do something similar with the OS for the Treo then it could make a strong run at Windows Mobile because the Treo already has the power of brand recognition. I think we're definitely at the beginning of the phone OS wars. There's a lot at stake over the next few years as phones get much smarter and become more like mobile computers.

jlwallen
jlwallen

jason, thanks for the tip. the E6i looks good. did you happen to notice what type of applications the E6i had? similar to the typical palm os apps? tasks, calendar, email, browser, etc?

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

and Nokia has several development teams internally that are working on some creative new apps. I met some of the product managers that work on the Web browser platform for the S60 series phones and they were very excited about the stuff they are working on and showed me a few cool demos. They are really working on usability. Pretty cool stuff.

sukhbinder04
sukhbinder04

Motorola rocker is a big hit in india and it uses linux OS. I have seeen it and i am planning to buy one for myself. don't know if the os is open source. I would love if one include a programming language with it...

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

They are a founding member of one of the embedded linux professional associations also. I think people would be rather surprise to discover how much Linux kernel based system they are already running without knowing the difference. In phones specifically, I was happy that the Razr series ran a nice small Linux build but was very disapointed by the implementation by Motorola, it must have been an early version of there embedded distrobution because it's a mess. I've yet to see the battery meter report anything but a full batter unless plugged into the charger; usualy accompanied by sudden Low Battery warnings. Great choice of OS, horrible quality control on the implementation of it. I suspect it's improved since or hope it has at least. I've looked at the Rokr also and I think the new clamshell is the Krazr or some such thing.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Dell is not providing support for Linux.Dell is contracting with Canonical for Linux. http://www.dellcommunity.com/supportforums/board/message?board.id=sw_linux&message.id=9704#M9704

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Oh the humanity!? Oh, who will think of the children!? So Dell is contracting a service provider to provide the service it is best at; So what? Why is that a reason a "word to the wise about Linux"? Care to explain your very minimal point?

nighthawk808
nighthawk808

Don't try to understand its posts. I think it's a bot. It posts equally incoherent things at usatoday.com.

jlwallen
jlwallen

the company they are using for support is the company responsible for Ubuntu. as far as i can see it, that's a smart move.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

for Ubuntu are supported as well. Tis is a big difference in Besides, who would know more about supporting Ubuntu???

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I've been watching Palm's slow OS progress (admittedly, from a distance) since I wore out a Palm Vx and temporarily used an m515 before replacing it with my current T5. Even with the Lifedrive released after the T5 is a functional and structural downgrade from the Tungsten T5. So far, I?ve found no other hand top or smart-phone that compares though I?m starting to lean towards the Sony Vaio if someone squeezes a Linux distro on to it or the Nokia N800 for when my T5 finally dies. That?s all tangent information though. As for the OS; I was excited when it sold to Access. True cross-platform support for PalmOS seemed to be just around the corner with the OS not developed by a company heavy into Linux. There was no update though I?ve read a ton about the shnazzy new version and all the features it includes (if only it was used outside of Palm emulators). Maybe there is hope for PalmOS to be released for FOSS community development. I?d love to see a firmware update that replaces my T5?s old PalmOS with something recent without removing all the features that make this device fantastic; no moving parts, ?flashdrive mode?, pivoting screen, onscreen retractable input area, slim physical design, simply five direction navigation button.