Andriod not the only open source mobile os out there now

Liam Proven lproven at
Mon Feb 8 16:14:01 GMT 2010

On Thu, Feb 4, 2010 at 9:14 PM, David Gerard <dgerard at> wrote:
> On 4 February 2010 03:43, Christopher Chan
> <christopher.chan at> wrote:
>> Symbian has been open sourced by Nokia.
>> Hopefully this means more support of Nokia phones on Ubuntu in the
>> future. Unless, of course, there already are solutions to sync data with
>> Nokia phones...
>> Kudos to Nokia. First qt goes LGPL and now Symbian goes open source.
> Now we just need someone to care about Symbian being open source. I
> believe Liam is the last enthusiastic Symbian^WEpoc user in the world...

FSVO "enthusiastic", anyway.

My remaining fondness for it is ebbing away. Partly as I learn how it
just slowly wobbles & topples over as I try to run 2+ web browsers,
always-on background email, a Twitter client, GPS usage, a music
player, regular use as a camera etc., all at once... It's just a bit
too much for it.

And how even with regular updates, a Symbian phone gradually gets less
& less useful as time goes by, as the cool new apps need the latest
version of the OS & you can't upgrade older handsets to the new OS
unless the manufacturer provides it.

Also, I used Linux on a pocket device - I had 2 Sharp Zaurus machines.
It wasn't a pleasant experience. The GUI was poor, the battery life
atrocious, the available storage & memory too limited & the OS would
just Stop Working sometimes when it ran out of RAM. It wasn't good
enough for even 2ndary use.

But today, the processors are much more powerful & devices can - not
always do, but can - have lots more RAM and Flash storage.  It might
be better.

I still have reservations, though. The millions of Linux phones out
there, mostly in Asia, are not smartphones - they're locked-down
featurephones, some maybe with the ability to run certain J2ME
applets. Desktops, UI, resource starvation &c are not really a problem
here 'cos they are closed & locked-down.

As for Android...

"Linux" means 2 things; the word is overloaded.

Strictly, "Linux" is a kernel; informally, "Linux" refers to a
desktop/server OS typically with a Unix-like userland, X.11 as the
windowing server & mainly Gtk or Qt apps on top.

People here seem to be using the name to mean the OS, *not* the
kernel, so I will, too.

*Android is not really Linux* - it's a proprietary, albeit open, OS
with a Linux kernel, forked off the mainline one because Google won't
do the legwork to get the drivers into the main tree...

... with a userland based around a proprietary spin on Java. It
reinvents loads of existing Linux technologies in weird & non-portable
ways, too. I have read that underneath it's a bit of a kludgy mess.


Sure, it looks nice, but it's not really Linux-as-an-OS and it's not
really ordinary Java either. And furthermore, it has similar problems
to Symbian where owners of older devices can't get updates to newer
OSs. If you have the old HTC G1, for instance, you are stuck with
Android 1.x - I think the latest is 1.6. For now, AFAIK, there is no
update to 2.0 available and *only* Google Nexus owners have 2.1. No
other maker has this.

So I am not looking forward to that much either.

Palm WebOS looks interesting but it's only on Palm kit, with a tiny
screen and what looks to me like a tiny crappy keyboard.

The only one that looks really interesting to me right now is Nokia's
N900 with Maemo, but again, it's a weird non-standard sort of Linux.
And a crappy keyboard and no number keys.

But then, desktop Linux would be a /wretched/ experience on a phone,
same as Windows CE was and is. Windows Mobile is horrid. I don't
expect Windows Phone 7 - the rumoured new version - to be that much

For my money, nothing even remotely like the perfect cellphone yet
exists and it won't for a while yet.

Liam Proven • Profile:
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