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Tizen is out

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The mobile operating system with the unfortunate name was released in version 1.0 about a week ago, and Samsung is now giving away phones which run the OS (to attendees of the Tizen Developer Conference). The 1.0 version comes with the somewhat ridiculous code name: “Larkspur”. I suggest they just call it T1, and stick to the Chrome and Firefox release model. By the end of the year, they’ll have reached T800, and it will sound cool. Anyway.

The Tizen OS is a merger between the LiMo OS (from the LiMo Foundation) and Intel’s (and previously Nokia’s) MeeGo, the later itself a merge between Maemo and Moblin. Their release announcement is sparse on details, but the front page for the source code section has more interesting details.

Here’s a few highlights from the list:

  • Peer to Peer connection with Wi-Fi Direct device.
  • Window system based on the X11 open source project
  • Composite window manager based on EFL open source project
  • Multimedia framework based on the GStreamer open source project
  • Audio decoder: AAC, MP3, WMA 7/8, WAV, Vorbis, AMR-NB / AMR-WB
  • Audio encoder: Vorbis, AMR-NB
  • Video decoder: MPEG-1, MPEG-4, H.263, H.264, On2 VP3, Theora
  • W3C/HTML5 specifications support

By including established FOSS projects and technologies like X11, GStreamer, OGG Vorbis, Theora, it is from the get-go a much stronger open source offering than Android ever was. Furthermore, in basing much of their core components on standard GNU/Linux projects, one would hope they follow the design of its predecessors and stricture around package repositories. Meego had a RPM repository, and it would be great to have the same upgrade mechanism on a phone, rather than the limited functionality of an “app market”.

The source code is on Git, and they have a bit of developer documentation. Guess it’s time to download and try.

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Mobile OS

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In the world of OSes for mobile phones, there have been a lot of changes lately, with some going away and others joining the race. A while back, Intel announced that they would drop MeeGo, which means that it is dead since there is nobody else to support it if the community can’t keep it going. But at the same time, they said the code would be merged with another mobile OS. Intel and the Linux Foundation will be steering the OS with the very unfortunate name Tizen (it can easily be mistaken for meaning penis in some of the Scandinavian languages).

Meanwhile, over at Nokia they are betting on Windows Mobile (and making many of their employees disgruntled), while at the same time releasing the already defunct MeeGo OS in their N9 phone. However, since these are all OSes for high end smart phones, they also need something for their so called “feature phones” which are not power full enough (or have different user groups) to drive all the complex functionality. Enter Meltemi, ironically enough a Linux based OS to replace Symbian S40 series.

The story does not end there, though. Amongst the free mobile OSes, KDE is entering the race. Not with a complete separate OS, but rather a UX platform, Plasma Active, with an API for phones, tables, set-top boxes, home automation, and so on. Plasma Active has to run on top of some OS, and currently they are using MeeGo and openSUSE based Balsam Professional.

It is refreshing to see a lot of movement in this area, and hopefully it will lead to a free alternative. However, the at moment it is still looking somewhat bleak for truly free mobile phone OSes. The firmware and driver issue seems to be never ending, and not even the OpenMoko can escape it.

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