Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Linux in Mobile: World Domination Complete

By +Katherine Noyes 

It seems fair to say that most Linux fans have already become accustomed to Linux's dominance on supercomputers and servers, as well as Linux-based Android's ever-growing success in the mobile realm.

What's going to take some getting used to, however, is the fact that, even beyond Android, Linux is increasingly dominating mobile computing.

Yes, there's iOS, which has enjoyed undeniable success; the same can hardly be said, however, for Windows, while BlackBerry is in a state of uncertain transition. Just about all the other winning or up-and-coming platforms, however, are based on Linux.

Let's take a look at some of the leading contenders.

1. Ubuntu

ubuntu smartphone os
ubuntu smartphone os (Photo credit: sidduz)
Back in January, Canonical introduced Ubuntu for phones; this month, it unveiled Ubuntu for tablets. There's no actual hardware out yet, of course, but just last week the company released the developer's preview image. Say what you will about Canonical's strategy or commitment to freedom, but given all the coverage these announcements have had in the mainstream media, there's no denying it's gotten the world's attention.

2. Firefox OS

(Credit: Wikipedia.org)
Making at least as big a splash at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week has been Mozilla with news not only that its Firefox OS has secured support from numerous hardware and carrier partners, but also that its app store is well underway, with considerable developer participation. Devices are expected this summer.

3. Tizen

tizen logo
tizen logo (Photo credit: Stratageme.com)
Tizen may be a less familiar name to some, but it's essentially taken MeeGo's place under the Linux Foundation's proverbial wing. Backed by both Intel and Samsung, Tizen recently released version 2.0 of its source code and SDK. Samsung just announced that it's folding Bada into Tizen at long last, and Tizen phones from the company could reportedly surface as soon as this summer.

4. Sailfish OS

(Credit: SailfishOS.org)
Also based on MeeGo as well as Mer, meanwhile, is Sailfish OS, the creation of Finnish Jolla. Just yesterday Jolla released an alpha version of its eagerly anticipated SDK for 32- and 64-bit Linux. “The Sailfish OS is a mobile-optimized operating system that has the flexibility, ubiquity and stability of the Linux core with a cutting edge user experience built with the renowned Qt platform,” the project website explains.

5. webOS

Palm webOS Launcher Screenshot
Palm webOS Launcher Screenshot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Last but not least, it's also worth noting that after a long and arduous road with many bumps along the way, webOS is being resurrected once more by LG. While its initial focus is on Smart TVs, who knows what the future will bring?

It's long been a common mind-set that mainstream acceptance of Linux is a far-off goal. Judging by what's going on in the mobile world, however, I'd say that in many ways, it's already been achieved. 

In other words, world domination complete. ;)

-- Katherine Noyes

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  1. My previous phone was HP's "Palm Pixi+", which I really liked a lot (though my wife decided she hated hers). The card metaphor of WebOS is pretty cool, better than Android's invisible tasks. And the WebOS app "store" was decent enough. I hope WebOS regathers some momentum.

    I still miss the size of my Pixi, although the screen on the Razr Maxx is kinder to my aging eyeballs.

  2. I miss my Nokia N95 (Symbian S60 OS). Bought in 2007 Spring, and it still has features which exceed most smartphones today. We all know what happened to Nokia. Sad.