PalmSource has just announced that it is going to develop a version of the Palm OS based on Linux.
While this will be a major change to the operating system, for the most part users should not notice a difference.
The Palm OS user interface and the PalmSource personal information management (PIM) applications will remain the same. In addition, the advanced features that PalmSource has built into Palm OS Cobalt’s software frameworks will also be a part of the Linux version of the Palm OS.
Properly written Palm OS applications will also be able to run on Palm OS for Linux.
PalmSource will continue to offer both Palm OS Garnet and Palm OS Cobalt, the two current versions of this operating system, to licensees who want to use them. The company will decide later, based on feedback from its licensees, whether to continue the development of non-Linux versions.
The Reasons Why
According to a statement released by the company, there are several reasons for this decision.
Linux is very popular among electronics companies, especially in Asia, which is becoming the center of mobile device manufacturing. PalmSource hopes that providing a version of the Palm OS based on Linux can help bring in more licensees.
In the future, PalmSource believes that the development of device drivers and support for new chips and components will be easier if the Palm OS is based on Linux, rather than something proprietary.
Basing the operating system on Linux will allow PalmSource engineers to focus on improving the user interface, PIM applications, and advanced software frameworks.
Lots of New Developers
The company did not say when Palm OS for Linux will be available. However, the development process will be greatly speeded up by another PalmSource announcement made today: it is acquiring China MobileSoft Limited (CMS), a mobile phone software company based in China.
CMS already makes mobile phones based on Linux, so PalmSource won’t be starting from scratch when creating a mobile version of Linux.
“We believe the combination of PalmSource, CMS, and Linux gives us the technological and market critical mass to compete with even the biggest proprietary operating system companies,” said David Nagel, president and CEO of PalmSource.