1 - 15 August, 2003

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Mobile phones will work in Linux OS

The latest news about the open source oprating systems is that we are about to see it soon on mobile phones, as half a dozen companies are developing the new environment, an executive familiar with the plans said, as recently quoted by the Internet media news site.

Chipmaker Texas Instruments and device manufacturer NEC are just two of the companies turning away from the classic systems. Also, two phone manufacturers will ship Linux phones that work on the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) standard sometime this year, according to Scott Hedrick, a marketing manager at MontaVista Software, which makes the Linux chips destined for these phones. Hedrick would not identify the phone makers. Two additional Asian phone makers are also making Linux phones, he said.

Companies including MontaVista Software, TimeSys, Red Hat, LynuxWorks and Motorola are currently trying to adapt the software for the embedded computing market, which includes mobile phones and other consumer-electronics products and devices.

Linux has some powerful competition. Leading the pack is Symbian, an operating system backed by most of the major phone makers, including Nokia, Motorola, Samsung Electronics, Siemens and SonyEricsson. Microsoft has won a few converts for its Windows Powered Smartphone and Pocket PC Phone Edition operating systems, while PalmSource's operating system is also grabbing some customers as well.

But Linux is the only OS for the next generation of phones that is open source, a mixed blessing, according to Keith Waryas, a wireless analyst with IDC.

An open-source OS is generally less expensive than anything developed privately, likely a key point in helping Linux win wireless converts, Waryas said. However, some US wireless carriers doubt that Linux can ever be secure enough to trust with their billion-dollar networks, he said.

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