RealTime IT News

Roll Your Own Linux Phone

SAN FRANCISCO -- Wouldn't mobile software development be a whole lot easier and more effective if you actually had the device in hand?

Trolltech's Qtopia Greenphone initiative, launched at a press event in San Francisco last night, is designed to make that possible.

Greenphone includes both hardware and a software development kit that is intended to enable developers to essentially roll their own Linux phones.

The initiative includes Trolltech's Qtopia, which is already widely deployed on millions of cell phones globally, including those from Motorola.

Benoit Schillings, Trolltech CTO, explained that Trolltech's offering had been missing one piece -- Greenphone.

"It's more than just a phone. What we are doing is providing source code," Schilling said. "We now enable the full suite."

The Qtopia Greenphone is powered by an Intel Xscale 312 MHz processor, includes a Mini-SD slot and has a full touch-screen and keypad user interface.

Schillings called it a "neutral bet" for carriers, saying that Greenphone would enable a degree of customization that has never been seen before.

Traditionally, mobile developers have used various mobile device emulators in order to simulate the hardware. While Shillings did not disparage the long-standing practice, he does think that Greenphone is something quite different.

Typically, he said, there is a divide between the experience on an emulator and what actually ends up on a real phone.

With Greenphone, developers will use real hardware to test their mobile applications.

Schillings stressed that Trolltech isn't entering the hardware business with Greenphone, and it is not competing against Motorola.

Rather, the idea is to put something in front of developers other than paper specifications of how to actually build mobile Linux applications.

The Qtopia Greenphone Development kit will be commercial and open source licensed.