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Linux phones too closed to appeal to Linux users?

Jun 30, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

“Greed and close-mindedness” prevent handset makers from understanding what users want from Linux phones, writes Eugenia Loli-Queru in an impassioned editorial at OSNews. Loli-Queru laments the mutual incompatibility of current Linux phone implementations, the incompleteness of standardization efforts, and the inability of current phones to support user-installed native Linux applications.

Loli-Queru is well-qualified to comment on the state of Linux in mobile phones, having owned Linux phones for several years, and written detailed reviews of Motorola's A780 and E680.

Loli-Queru dismisses the J2ME runtime capabilities of current Linux phones as “limited and ugly.” She fears that Linux will loose its chance to “become the number one OS” in phones because of fragmentation.

“Here we are, in year 2006, with at least SIX different implementations of Linux/Qt/other-API that are neither binary or source compatible with each other,” Loli-Queru writes. “Each cellphone software maker and initiative is pulling its own way and creates extreme fragmentation.”

Actually, the number of unique Linux phone stack implementations is probably much greater. A quick scan of's news archives quickly the following (listed in no special order)…

…and there are certainly others.

On the other hand, there are a number of multivendor initiatives that aim to bring increased compatibility and uniformity to Linux mobile phones, including:

Loli-Queru reports that Motorola declined to respond to questions about the possibility of more open Linux phone implementations in the future.

LinuxDevices has asked similar questions in the past of a variety of handset vendors, including Motorola. Typically, vendors point out that their aim is to please their customers — the carriers. Carriers, they say, do not run open, public networks such as the Internet, but rather private, toll-gated networks where security and reliability are critical. They point out that an “open” Linux phone could be scripted in seconds to, for example, spew out unsolicited commercial text messages. How might “open phones” affect network loads and customer satisfaction?

Loli-Queru's complete OSNews editorial can be found here.

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