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OSDL Elevates Mobile Linux Support

An open source group is hoping to do for mobile communications devices what it did for carrier-grade Linux: elevate its use.

Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) announced the start of a Mobile Linux Initiative (MLI), part of an effort to jump-start the adoption of Linux-based mobile devices in much the way officials say they promoted carrier-grade Linux for the telecommunications industry.

Dave Rosenberg, principal analyst at OSDL, said the organization provides a vendor-neutral platform for developers and manufacturers -- regardless of their market strength. The same approach worked with its carrier-grade Linux work.

"I think the [MLI] is the exact same situation," he said. "You have a lot of constituencies with different perspectives they'd like resolved, and OSDL will continue to play that vendor-neutral role, supporting the bigger picture and ensuring everyone's needs are met, rather than any specific group."

In addition to wooing developers to create mobile applications on Linux, the group will focus on bridging the gap between the Linux platform and mobile device needs: power management, real-time capabilities, security, memory usage, faster boot times and a multi-media framework.

Leading OSDL's mobile Linux push are Intel , British Telecom (BT), PalmSource and Motorola , Monta Vista Softare, Trolltech and Wind River.

According to OSDL, research firm Gartner Group figures show a huge jump in Linux market share in the smart phone industry, a jump from 5.7 percent in the second quarter of 2004 to 25.8 percent in the second quarter of 2005. OSDL wants to push the success of the smart phone into the wider mobile phone market.

Vendors have been taking a serious look at Linux as part of their mobile strategy, and making their own push to optimize Linux for mobile devices.

In December 2004 PalmSource acquired Chinese software vendor China MobileSoft. The acquisition was made, PalmSource executives at the time said, because China MobileSoft had optimized the Linux OS for enhancements such as faster boot times and longer battery life.

In August MontaVista announced it had narrowed the gap in real-time performance -- the time it takes for a command to execute -- on its embedded Linux over the general Linux 2.6.12.3 kernel .