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Mobile Linux groups merge

Jun 26, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

[Updated: Jun. 26, 2008] — The Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum announced that it will fold its standards-development activities and membership into the LiMo Foundation in July. The merge appears to bring British Telecom and Telecom Italia to LiMo, along with several key technology vendors.

The Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum was founded n 2005, and quickly doubled its membership. It met a key milestone when it released LiPS Release 1.0 in December.

LiPS attempted the ambitious goal of defining actual open industry standards. That is, it aimed to fight Linux phone software fragmentation by defining a filesystem that application software developers and phone integrators could standardize upon. In that regard, it resembled the Linux Standards Base, but for mobile phones rather than desktops and servers.

The other two industry groups focused on Linux mobile phones are LiMo (Linux Mobile Foundation) and the Google-backed Open Handset Alliance, which maintains Android. Both of those groups are writing actual code for cross-licensing among members, with the hope that their platform will become the de facto standard for Linux phones. Of the two, LiMo is more comprehensive, and arguably further along, with a number of similarities to the LiPS specification. Android, meanwhile, is a somewhat higher-level Java-based middleware and application stack that, in addition to Linux, could probably in time run on a variety of mobile phone operating system kernels.

As LiMo and Android continued to draw widespread industry support over the last year (although rarely by the same companies), it became clear that the industry was not prepared to wait for a protracted standards development process. Now Linux has two de facto standards, with LiMo gaining momentum recently with the widespread support of phone manufacturers including Motorola, NEC, and Panasonic (see image at top of the vendors' LiMo compliant phones). LiMo also released version 1.0 of its own LiMo Platform spec, and more recently has signed up of Verizon Wireless, a top-two U.S. carrier, along with other new members.

LiPS Release 1.0 architecture
(Click to enlarge)

Over the last year, a number of key LiPS members have joined up with LiMo, including Access, ARM Limited, Azingo, France Telecom/Orange, Huawei Technology, MontaVista Software, NXP Semiconductors, Open-Plug, Purple Labs, and Texas Instruments. The only company to rescind their membership in LiPS when moving to LiMo was Trolltech, which has now been acquired by Nokia. The Finnish handset giant is unlikely to participate in LiMo since it has acquired the rest of Symbian's assets, with plans to launch an open source version of Symbian OS.

Although the LiPS Forum stated that its membership would be folded into LiMo, the LiMo Foundation says it has yet to annnounce which companies will be new members. Among the remaining LiPS Forum members that are expected to join LiMo in July, only two are members of the Android OHA: Telecom Italia and Esmertec. The likely new members are as follows:

Stated Haila Wang, LiPS Forum president and CTO, of Orange Labs in Beijing, “LiPS Forum is proud of our standardization efforts, development activities and other achievements of the last three years. Today, our membership agrees that LiPS' greatest impact can be realized by adding our members' expertise and resources to LiMo Foundation. Together, the member companies can better strive for a unified and ubiquitous Linux-based mobile platform.”

Stated Morgan Gillis, executive director, LiMo Foundation, “We welcome the LiPS member community into LiMo Foundation, augmenting the momentum, resources and expertise of our group. The international and cross-industry scope of LiPS Forum helps LiMo greatly in the global rollout of our platform, devices deploying that platform, and creation of applications for it.”

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