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Project aims to bring native Linux apps to Motorola phones

Oct 27, 2005 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

A project to create an open source Linux 2.6 kernel for Linux-based Motorola mobile phones is underway. The “OpenEZX” project aims to allow users to install and run native Linux applications on their Motorola Linux phones. It was founded by core netfilter/iptables developer Harald Welte.

Motorola's Chief Architect of Mobile devices, Mark VandenBrink, told LinuxDevices in August that Motorola had no immediate plans to support native Linux applications on its phones, in part due to carrier concerns about network health, security, and interoperability. VandenBrink also stated, “For Motorola, JVM is where the third-party apps are.”

At the same time, competing mobile phone OSes such as Symbian and Windows Mobile both enjoy rich third-party ecosystems of native applications. Motorola reportedly tried to purchase Palmsource earlier this year, possibly in order to leverage the huge Palm OS third-party application ecosystem in its mobile phones.

The Open-EZX project's founder, Harald Welte, previously contributed to the OpenTom project to create open source firmware, including an open source Bluetooth stack, for the Linux-based TomTom Go in-car navigation device.

According to Welte's GnuMonks blog, Motorola's Linux phones are based on a Linux platform known inside Motorola as “Open-EZX.” The platform is based on a 2.4-series kernel, full glibc libraries, and rather large user applications that make inefficient use of the 48MB of Flash available on the device, Welte suggests. Additionally, the platform restricts user applications to a managed Java environment, preventing users from easily installing and running their own native Linux applications.

So far, the Open-EZX project has ported about half of the required drivers to a 2.6-series kernel, although much work remains before the firmware can be installed and tested, reportedly.

Additional details about the project can be found on the Open-EZX site and on Welte's GnuMonks Blog. The MotorolaFans web site also contains information about Motorola's Linux phones.

Another project relating to Linux mobile phones, the Mobile Linux Initiative, was founded earlier this month by the Open Source Development Labs.

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