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PalmSource Linux to face business challenges?

Feb 24, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

The Access/PalmSource Linux platform (ALP) will feature a native GTK+ environment, a Dragonball 68K emulator, and other interesting technologies, according to an article at ComputingUnplugged. However, the product could face challenges in the business world, author Jason Perlow suggests.

Perlow claims that ALP is “now confirmed to be based on Wind River's Platform For Consumer Devices, Linux Edition.” Wind River announced its consumer devices Linux platform last October, and has been supporting Linux in the embedded space for several years.

However, PalmSource's marketing and communications spokesperson, Maureen O'Connell, told, “ALP is based on a standard version 2.6.12 (and above) kernel. The Platform is designed to be kernel-agnostic; it does not rely on unique features of any specific Linux distribution.”

O'Connell did not deny that PalmSource has a business relationship with Wind River, however, possibly involving tools or support. Indeed, PalmSource's Feb. 14th announcement of ALP included a Wind River endorsement. PalmSource also appears to have a business relationship with Linux supplier MontaVista, according to a joint announcement from the companies at last summer's LinuxWorld trade show.

Perlow appears to be impressed by ALP's choice of the GTK+ graphics libraries. GTK+, also known as the Gimp Tool Kit, is a widget set and windowing framework used in GNOME interface components, and in many open source applications. GTK+ has seen previous embedded use in the Maemo environment that powers Nokia's 770 Internet Tablet. Currently, Maemo supports an older version of GTK+, and a handful of GTK+ desktop applications have already been ported to the newly available device.

Perlow also notes that GTK+ can be extended with Python, and is supported by Novell's Mono development tools and libraries. Mono has been used to produce several interesting open source applications, such as the f-spot photo blogging, editing, and archiving tool.

Overall, Perlow seems duly impressed with the technology behind ALP. However, he seems to express concern about how the technology will fare in the world of business. For example, he surmises that PalmSource's largest licensee, Palm, may continue using Windows Mobile for high-volume smartphone products such as the Treo.

Among other phone vendors, Motorola will continue using its own Linux OS in mobile phones, Perlow says, while Nokia also has a Linux OS. Other major phone vendors' Linux plans, if any, remain undisclosed.

Also unknown, Perlow says, is what ALP development tools will be provided to traditional Palm application developers, who face the challenge of retooling their programs for GTK+ if they hope to enjoy native performance.

Perlow previously worked as a “software developer liason” for Sharp's Linux-based Zaurus PDA products, which largely failed to establish a widespread customer base among US PDA buyers.

Perlow's complete article can be found here.

Further details on the Access Linux Platform (aka “ALP”) are here.

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