RealTime IT News

'Lips' Forum For Linux Lovers

Several companies have banded together to facilitate the proliferation of phones equipped with Linux.

The Linux Phone Standards (Lips) Forum launched today with an oath to write open Application Programming Interfaces and create new services to spread the use of Linux in smartphones, handheld computers and other mobile devices.

The founding members of Lips include a mixed bag of operators, device makers, chipmakers and software specialists: PalmSource, France Telecom/Orange, FSM Labs, Huawei, Jaluna, ARM, Cellon, Esmertec, MIZI Research, Montavista Software and Open-Plug.

Lips members said in a statement that while efforts to improve the performance of the Linux kernel have been afoot for sometime, standards that allow disparate applications and services to run on phones are crucial to spreading Linux in the telephony market.

Lips is posing itself as an open mobile software alternative to products from Microsoft and Symbian, which account for about 70 percent of the mobile OS market, according to research firms like Canalys.

"By standardizing the Linux-based system services and Application Programming Interfaces, we will help to simplify the creation of fully functional Linux phones, ensuring they match the requirements of operators and increasing their appeal to consumers," said Lips Forum President Haila Wang in a statement."

Lips is planning a few deliverables to spur Linux adoption: open APIs that define Linux-based services that run on phones; standards for extensions to the software development kits that help programmers develop products using Lips; and a testing methodology to certify Lips implementations.

Lips will also support requirements defined by the Open Mobile Terminal Platform, an association of mobile operators worldwide focused on defining the functional requirements of mobile phones.

There is money to be made pretty much everywhere in the market for products using Linux.

IDC estimates the worldwide Linux business will grow 25.9 percent annually, doubling from $20 billion in 2005 to more than $40 billion in 2008. Gartner said Linux use on smartphones grew 5.7 percent to 25.8 percent year over year.

The concept of open mobile phone specs has been tackled.

Last month, the Open Source Development Labs announced a Mobile Linux Initiative to jumpstart the adoption of Linux-based mobile devices. Intel, British Telecom, PalmSource, Motorola, Montavista, Trolltech and Wind River lead that charge.

Meanwhile, new Linux-focused groups have been sprouting with regularity.

Last week, IBM, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony formed the Open Invention Network to acquire patents and offer them royalty-free in order to extend open source operating systems worldwide.