2006-02-14

ACCESS and PalmSource Announce the ACCESS Linux Platform

PalmSource has previously announced that they will concentrate on developing middleware and will adopt the Linux kernel. Today they poured more water to the mill by announcing details of their Linux platform (see the link). ALP will be able to run on different mobile Linux distributions, and existing PalmOS applications should run on it with very little changes. Java is supported as well. They are intending to support Linux on smart phones in addition to PDAs and they promise to keep contributing back to the open source community at various points. This means that Linux will grow stronger as a mobile platform and there will be millions more of new Linux devices sold with the PalmOS software.

It's a very nice move, but the approach is not ideal. PalmOS no doubt will remain proprietary software, and even though ALP will use Gtk+, existing GUI applications for Linux won't work out of the box, but have to be ported on top of PalmOS. (Gtk+ and gstreamer are also used in Maemo, but ALP apparently is not a Maemo clone.)

This is a natural move considering the trends: Linux as a mature open source OS provides a low-cost, high-quality platform, which already supports existing Palm hardware. With diminishing PDA markets and this new competition, PalmSource could not afford to run its own OS development. Linux supports various mobile hardware, so PalmSource can easily tap into the market segments that are migrating to smart phones and communicators from PDAs.

A picture of the ALP architecture is available.

In other news, Maemo-related development is progressing step by step ;-) Collin R. Mulliner today announced that wlan monitor mode works, so tcpdump is usable on 770. You can get the tcpdump, dsniff and Wireless Tools packages via the Maemo applications wiki under CLI utilities. Also on the Maemo developers list there was one user whose 770 mysteriously powered on exactly at the same time each day, so maybe we can now hope that RTC-alarms can be set on the device, providing very useful for calendar applications ;-)

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