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Nokia to Acquire and Open Source Symbian

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the to-fight-an-android-you-must-become-one dept.

Businesses 150

zyzko writes "Nokia has placed an offer on Symbian stock — it currently owns a 48% share and intends to buy the other shareholders out, 91% of the stockholders have already agreed. The press has already labeled this as an countermeasure to fight Android. Nokia has also created Symbian foundation — it might mean more open Symbian." Symbian is "currently the world's dominant smartphone operating system (206 million phones shipped, 18.5 million in Q1 2008)," writes reader thaig, who points out coverage in the Economic Times. If this deal goes through as expected, the Foundation says that selected components of the Symbian operating system would be made available as open source at launch under the Eclipse Public License (EPL) 1.0 , with the rest of the platform following over the next two years.

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This merger will bring a new meaning. . . (3, Funny)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915507)

to the phrase, "I'll just put my phone on vibrate."

My moneys (1)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915871)

My Moneys on google. I haven't seen Nokia do anything right in years.

Re:My moneys (5, Funny)

Bandman (86149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915997)

There's something wrong with my brain.

Every time I read "Symbian" I see "simian" mentally...

which of course lead to my reading your post as "My monkey's on google"

I need to go back to bed.

Re:My moneys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916449)

I guess 'simian' is better than 'sybian'..

Re:My moneys (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916473)

You prefer to spank the monkey?

Re:My moneys (1)

sky289hawk1 (459600) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916693)

That's funny, I always see sybian.

Re:My moneys (3, Insightful)

Poorcku (831174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916515)

Mod me down on this, but my money is on Nokia. I haven't seen a Google / Android phone yet.

Re:My moneys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23917485)

Go ask their web tablet users. There are plenty of people using the N700/N800 and N810s. Did you know they're running Linux with a debian like distro?

Re:This merger will bring a new meaning. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915933)

"I'll just put my phone on vibrate."

No, no, no. Not "sybian". Symbian.

They've been planning this for a long time (5, Informative)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915513)

Nokia has been known for experimenting [nokia.com] with open source in the recent years. This surely was a way to test the waters in community-driven development, to learn how to go along and specially what not to do [slashdot.org] .

Re:They've been planning this for a long time (1)

edderly (549951) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915615)

I don't think you should link pro or anti DRM measures implicitly to 'open-source'ness' as in GPLv3 (see Linus's concerns about this http://www.linux.com/articles/51826 [linux.com] )

Re:They've been planning this for a long time (1)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915689)

Actually, with the "what not to do" I didn't mean favoring DRM, but stating comments that upset the whole tech-savvy open source community.

Re:They've been planning this for a long time (2, Insightful)

edderly (549951) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915775)

I don't think it upsets the 'whole' community. It's obviously bound to upset the say-alot/contribute-nothing crowd and Stallmanites.

Sure, perhaps it's not the best idea to raise issues which aren't popular with a certain body of people.

In the real world we have plenty of products which incorporate open source technologies and DRM. DRM will die for a lot better reasons than not being open source friendly.

Re:They've been planning this for a long time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916207)

So basically the "whole tech-savvy open source community" is so immature that none of its allies can't do an upfront statement about his intention when they dont agree on some points because it could get upset?
I don't think so, fortunatly.
This is a very immature view of the situation.

Re:They've been planning this for a long time (2, Informative)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915621)

Actually this licence seems much more DRM friendly and I get the impression that's why it's chosen. Having the biggest phone OS released on a non-GPL open source licence could be seen as a big "up yours" to the increasingly restrictive 'free' licence.

Re:They've been planning this for a long time (4, Insightful)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916505)

The GPL ensures the freedom of the all users, by restricting distributors from withholding the source from downstream users - a similar freedom those distributors enjoyed which allowed them access to the source code in their binaries in their first place. Do you honestly feel the minor "restriction" (more accurately a simple and easily fulfilled obligation) to not withhold what was freely shared to you is worse than the deliberate act of constructing DRM, to facilitate the imposition of any and every arbitrary whim of the distributor on all downstream users?

In terms of the freedom of all users as a collective, rather than just the subset of users that want to insert DRM to restrict the freedom of all users, there is no Freer licence than the GPL. Having a set of rules to ensure freedom is a hell of a lot freer than a total absence of rules.

take the example of the US constitution - what's freer - that set of "restrictions" or a total anarchy?

Re:They've been planning this for a long time (1)

bob.appleyard (1030756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917541)

Who says anarchy doesn't have rules? It's mostly a matter of who makes em.

Re:They've been planning this for a long time (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916645)

increasingly restrictive 'free' licence.


Ummm... How is the GPL restrictive? You can put DRM in a GPL'd application, you can't complain when they take it out though, you can't make a proprietary product from the source, making Nokia immune to other proprietary phone makers copying the source... The GPL offers the most freedom to the user, and really, that is what counts.

Re:They've been planning this for a long time (0, Flamebait)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915735)

They buy Trolltech, then let us assume they are holding Qt ransom for DRM friendliness. Then they Open Source Symbian to try and gain our trust. I suppose.

Re:They've been planning this for a long time (5, Informative)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916619)

Once again, if Nokia stops releasing Qt open source, the Free Qt agreement kicks in, and it's forced open (under BSD, IIRC) and given to KDE.

Re:They've been planning this for a long time (2, Informative)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918483)

Yes they bought "your" Qt just to close the evil Qt which they have been using for years. It is a major evil Nokia conspiracy.Like, they didn't want a common, proven framework for OS/CPU neutral future.

Re:They've been planning this for a long time (1)

efence (927813) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915763)

The key here is "selected components [...] would be made available as open source".

Both Nokia and Symbian still continue to offer paid "partner-only" API. Even though Nokia says they don't charge for licensing the APIs, only "processing fees", Symbian one is insanely expensive as you have to join their Platinum Program to access it.

Anyone correct me if I'm wrong. Last I checked it was still the case.

Re:They've been planning this for a long time (2, Informative)

superash (1045796) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915821)

Selected components will be made available as open source immediately. The rest will be open source by two years.

symbian development (4, Interesting)

Keruo (771880) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915519)

Is symbian devel environment still considered as form of S/M or has it evolved into something usable during last 3 years?
Haven't tried it since.

Re:symbian development (1)

efence (927813) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915655)

Well, at least one year ago, it still was the most painful platform I had to develop for. Didn't touch it since then. However, Nokia's Carbide C++ v1.2 was a major step-up from v1.1 (still far from perfect). Now that v1.3 is out I may give it another shot, though I don't expect anything spectacular.

Windows emulator in S60 SDK is still consistently crap.

Re:symbian development (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915713)

If Symbian goes open source, maybe we can get good native code running on it instead of the bastardization of C++ it currently uses.

Countermeasure to fight Android? Hah - Android won't even be in my sights until they let me write native code for it.

Re:symbian development (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915913)

Native code for what? You would need to write native code for all supported platforms versus java code for all platforms.

Re:symbian development (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916437)

Yeah, in Java the same SKU would work everywhere just like that. No need to take into account bazillion different apis, implementation and hardware differences and myriads of bugs. Not to speak about working around things because the platform likes to pretend that devices are the same when they aren't. Oh wait..

In all seriousness, I've found native code hell of a lot easier to deal with than J2ME.

Interpreter overhead? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918155)

Native code for what? You would need to write native code for all supported platforms versus java code for all platforms.
So how much speed penalty will the JVM's interpreter impose on a program?

Re:symbian development (5, Interesting)

blackpaw (240313) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915785)

Its become much *much* worse. The number of classes has increased to over 1700. Documentation is terrible. Code signing has immensely complicated everything.

However python has become very capable with solid support from Nokia - we're using it for a commercial project. I suspect Nokia are planning to use it in place of the abomination Java has become on smartphones.

Re:symbian development (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916181)

Its become much *much* worse. The number of classes has increased to over 1700. Documentation is terrible. Code signing has immensely complicated everything.

That had me thinking, actually.


It's all well and good open-sourcing Symbian but if nobody can run their own home-compiled version because their mobile phone refuses to run an unsigned OS image, then you'll have a lot of trouble getting anyone outside of Nokia to put in any development effort.

Re:symbian development (1)

edderly (549951) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916313)

The way to do this is to get an Open Signed i.e. limited to particular devices.

http://developer.symbian.com/main/signed/ [symbian.com]

Alternatively I wouldn't be surprised a port turned up for something like:

http://beagleboard.org/ [beagleboard.org]

or some such future variant

Re:symbian development (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23917525)

You can run your homemade code on selected terminals just fine. You just cannot run that code on ALL terminals. Like it or not, this restriction has largely accounted for the lack of viruses under Symbian.

Re:symbian development (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918353)

Signing policy prevents viruses. Ask Nokia why they were forced to it. Lots of stuff can already run self signed, what Nokia and others doesn't want unsigned applications do is basically root access.
Lets not confuse who to blame (Cabir) and the people who robotically accepts every warning their device displays.
It is still better than draconian Apple policy, I hope one day those DRM whiners will figure Apple iPhone is a DRM providers dream and have balls to say it. Deep level firmware hacking doesn't count as openness,

Re:symbian development (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918233)

Is symbian devel environment still considered as form of S/M or has it evolved into something usable during last 3 years? Haven't tried it since.

I'm sorry my code crashes on Arm with a KERN-EXEC 3 or sometimes a KERN-EXEC 0. I'll have to get back to you on that.

Leaves (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915547)

Yeah. Personally I'd rather just use something newer that isn't full of cruft.

Re:Leaves (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915801)

Me too. Hence my commitment to Windows!

Re:Leaves (0, Redundant)

aXi (6533) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915979)

you do know that windows is layer upon layer of cruft, with even cruft that's crufted in a crufted layer of cruft.

Re:Leaves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916253)

Way to miss the joke...

What about Sony? (4, Interesting)

neokushan (932374) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915551)

Since UIQ is based on Symbian, how will this affect Sony Ericsson phones?
Technically they're in direct competition with Nokia, so if they sell their stake in Symbian, will they come to some sort of licensing agreement or do you think we'll see Sony either develop their own OS or switch to Android/Windows Mobile?

Re:What about Sony? (1)

edderly (549951) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915633)


They get Symbian OS for free (and Series 60 access too) plus they have thrown UIQ into the Symbian Foundation pot.

Re:What about Sony? (2, Interesting)

janslu (960227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915669)

"Sony Ericsson and Motorola will contribute the UIQ platform, and NTT DoCoMo will contribute its MOAP platform". They have already laid off more than half of UIQ employees. Seems like the end of UIQ.

Re:What about Sony? (5, Informative)

superash (1045796) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915683)

FTA: "Nokia will contribute Symbian and its S60 software assets to the foundation, while other members will put in their UIQ and MOAP software to create a new joint Symbian platform in 2009."
So, basically Sony Erricson will submit their UIQ code base to Symbian foundation, Nokia will sumbit S60 code base and NTTDoCoMo will give MOAP. Anyone in the Symbian foundation can use each others' UI framework on top of Symbian!

Re:What about Sony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916113)

Sony Ericsson and Motorola (50% stakeholders in UIQ) are both contributing their UIQ wares to the Symbian Foundation. The idea here to create an open royalty free development platform.

Re:What about Sony? (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917339)

Is that what Android was meant to be?

Re:What about Sony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23918363)

Since UIQ is based on Symbian, how will this affect Sony Ericsson phones? Technically they're in direct competition with Nokia, so if they sell their stake in Symbian, will they come to some sort of licensing agreement or do you think we'll see Sony either develop their own OS or switch to Android/Windows Mobile?

They have a Windows Mobile phone coming out

http://www.adonismobile.com/2008/02/leaked-experia-x1-runs-on-windows.html [adonismobile.com]

Awareness... (5, Insightful)

superash (1045796) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915601)

This is an amazing move by the mobile giant(at least in Europe and Asia) and it again shows that they can and will react to what is going on around them. They accepted that they got their ass kicked by Apple/Google and they accepted the challenge which made them buy Trolltech(Qt) and now Symbian. And this buyout is understandable from Nokia's point of view as just last year they paid close to $250million to Symbian in licensing fees.

Now the market is really heating up. After the whole Symbian OS and S60 goes open source Microsoft/Apple will be under lot of pressure to react to this. Even though lot of consumers will not bother if the platform is open or not, once touch devices are unveiled by Nokia, the number of applications that will be developed will be huge. Not to mention the contributions will be from all the major handset vendors (LG, Samsung, Motorola etc). For once I think we have all the evil corporates agree on something whcih looks like will make the consumers life easy.

Re:Awareness... (2, Interesting)

glebd (586769) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915975)

As far as ease of development is concerned, at least Apple has nothing to fear. When iPhone SDK was out, I tried it and was amazed at how pleasant mobile device development can be, in stark contrast to Symbian OS SDK.

Re:Awareness... (4, Informative)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916325)

Got their ass kicked? Was that a joke? Check out the market stats on Nokia phones, and you'll see how ridiculous that statement is.

Re:Awareness... (1)

Poorcku (831174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916629)

+5 everything. oh and +2 damage and 15% critical strike.

Re:Awareness... (2, Informative)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918055)

Not ass kicked perhaps and iphone is still a complete prison compared to Symbian and even Windows mobile but one must admit that iPhone changed lots of things at Nokia and Symbian scene.

When you enter http://www.s60.com/ [s60.com] , it says "Open to new features" which is exactly true. Now Nokia and Symbian is way more open source friendly and they even ship a POSIX framework and openly support Pyhton development which already creates wonders. Nobody would even imagine Nokia releasing a web server running in mobile phones along with all open source frameworks. As owner of the first ever Symbian hit, 7650 I can easily tell you.

What they had to do is discipline the known 3rd party commercial developers and popular symbian shops to prevent them from shipping trivial software for ridiculous prices. The open source Symbian will generate a flow of good quality software to the OS and their smart phones.

More Linux friendly.. (1)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915625)

Hopefully access to the source will make the Nokia Symbian phones a bit more Linux friendly :S

nVidia should follow Nokia's lead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915707)

and open source its drivers.

Re:More Linux friendly.. (2, Interesting)

Radical Emu (1305047) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916309)

Imagine, a full Linux install (at least on phones like the N95 etc), running skype over wifi... I don't think the phone companies would like that.

Re:More Linux friendly.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916459)

You can do that today. [skype.com] I didn't see anything about Linux, though.

Re:More Linux friendly.. (2, Interesting)

Radical Emu (1305047) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917351)

Skype currently runs on the N800 etc Internet Tablets (which don't handle calls or SMS), not on the average cellphone It's a dream, but a Linux friendly Nokia, that could handle apps such as skype could mean people on bad/expensive/silly tarrifs have the ability to use skype from a normal cell/mobile phone, thus eliminating a lot of cost. Though, mentioning the idea to the world at large gives cell companies a headstart into stopping such developments! Still, would be nice to see 'Nokibuntu' or something one day!

Re:More Linux friendly.. (1)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918145)

Still, would be nice to see 'Nokibuntu' or something one day!

How about... today? [linuxdevices.com]

I dont understand...... (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915641)

First breath, " OSS needs to be more DRM and hate the customer attitude friendly. We need to lock this stuff up so the customer can not do what they want!"

Second Breath, "WE are buying the Symbian Phone OS, can we get some free developers on this? we will Open source it! Mmkay? thanks!"

So which is it? did they retract their previous standce that DRM and locking was wonderful and needed?

Re:I dont understand...... (4, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915675)

They're using an open source licence that has no qualms about integration with DRM measures. OSS != free from DRM measures despite what some people would have you believe

Re:I dont understand...... (1)

charlie763 (529636) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917163)

That's why we need opensource hardware. http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Main_Page [openmoko.org]

Re:I dont understand...... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918733)

I really want to like the OpenMoko stuff, but I can't yet because of things like this [openmoko.org] :

At the moment, almost no 'end-user' applications are present and working in a usable state. It is possible to make and receive calls in some software revisions, this frequently breaks though.

I'm sorry, but there's really no use talking about a "phone" that can't even reliably make phone calls yet!

Re:I dont understand...... (2, Interesting)

unfunk (804468) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915839)

"Open Source" and "Digital Rights/Restrictions Management" are not mutually exclusive things - after all, isn't DRM on your iTunes library or whatever metaphorically the same as not allowing other users of your Linux box access to your files, or making them read-only for anyone that's not you?

...just... more restricted...

Re:I dont understand...... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916177)

after all, isn't DRM on your iTunes library or whatever metaphorically the same as not allowing other users of your Linux box access to your files, or making them read-only for anyone that's not you?

No. The people for whom I'm blocking file access didn't pay for my files. I paid for the DRMed music/videos. You are putting restrictions on what I can and cannot do with something I paid good money for.

It's like if I sell you a car and then throw in a EDLA (End Driver License Agreement) that prevents you from lending the car to others or to resell it. You would be stupid to agree to any such thing. Hence, I recommend all people do not purchase things that use Digital Restrictions Management.

Re:I dont understand...... (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916297)

Open source is like "Please look at our sources and if you can, try to make better"
DRM is like "No, you can't have our files, you may view this if you pay (but we can revoke your rights any time we want)"
I don't know itunes, but this is probably "you can view these files only on APPLE ipod, not other players. If you lose your files, you should have made backup (oh, you can't? hahaha!)"

Re:I dont understand...... (1)

gwniobombux (941420) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918533)

"Open Source" and "Digital Rights/Restrictions Management" are not mutually exclusive things

Yes they are. As long as Open Source means I'm allowed to inspect/modify the software, what's stopping me from changing the software to bypass the drm scheme?

Re:I dont understand...... (2, Insightful)

Candid88 (1292486) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916073)

DRM and closed/Open Source are not the same thing. As far as cellphone makers go, Nokia are one of the few advocates of open source software.

They never said DRM was "wonderful", they said it was "necessary". They have a platform they want to bring content to, it's plainly obvious it's the content providers who are the cause of the "necessary" bit.

Perhaps they're just a step ahead. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916189)

Haven't you been watching what Nokia has been doing for the last couple of years? What gets me is just how much smarter than Motorola these guys are.

 

Re:I dont understand...... (1, Flamebait)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916481)

People who espouse your point of view are usually naive little students who are still living off mommy and daddy. After glancing at your blog long enough to notice a typo in the first paragraph I can see that is probably not the case.

The reality is that DRM is forced upon nokia by the mobile phone companies who subsidise all their products. Mobile phones are not free to manufacture, they are paid for by AT&T, Singular, Vodaphone, Orange and all the other networks. they pay for them, so they choose the features that the phones include.

Re:I dont understand...... (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918821)

DRM goes away when customer gets rid of it and market gives up as result. In current scene nobody can start a crusade against DRM and go chapter 11 in matter of months. Nokia or others can't say "We removed DRM, down with establishment". It is up to CUSTOMER to reject DRM for alternatives. E.g. iPhone people won't buy from iTMS, they will go for emusic or whatever is open.
You guys expecting Nokia, Sony, Apple to do heroical things. No. It is up to customer.

THIS IS IT! The year of Linux on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915645)

... ehem, I mean... in you pocket!

Who needs a desktop-system anyway, when a pocket-device can do 90% of what a normal pc can do, which will happen soon.
(The other 10% will need. But, that's like with everything... pro gear for professionals, normal gear for the rest.)

A server to go with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915811)

We recently open-sourced our browser and server software specifically with the hope that mobile devices would be able to run directly from it.

SupraBrowser [sourceforge.net]

The goal is for people to be able to create their own personal cloud/personal server where their mobile device does not sync with it, so much as it runs directly off of it. So, taking a picture would automatically be saved into the user's own private server. Contacts would be saved and viewed directly from the server.

Re:A server to go with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915953)

So, taking a picture would automatically be saved into the user's own private server.

I wish you luck, but that is definitely not what I want on my mobile device. Sounds like it would eat up what little bandwidth there is, not to mention that I don't want *my* data stored on someone else's server.

Re:A server to go with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916467)

That is exactly the point!! You create your own server (dedicated, virtual dedicated server) and run the software off of it. We eventually hope that the servers themselves can be peered so that you can have redundancy between providers and across data centers (perhaps using something like http://www.allmydata.org). The bandwidth is a concern, but the more people demand their own private server and ability to store their files and media privately, the more it will drive the development of the infrastructure.

Re:A server to go with it (1)

ryszard99 (1193131) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916773)

erm:

So, taking a picture would automatically be saved into the user's own private server

Update the Series 5 (1)

PowerEdge (648673) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915889)

I hope Nokia updates the Series 5. Imagine a hybrid 5 / N700. Anyways, I love my 5, I still use it religiously. No one has been able to match it's keyboard in such a package yet.

Re:Update the Series 5 (1)

edderly (549951) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916241)

Sadly I think the Series 5 design belongs to Psion and is loaded with patents Don't expect David Potter (Chairman of Psion) to not ask for a large amount of cash up front rather than taking a per unit bit of cash.

It is a very cool design though

I remember the Psion Series 3... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23916017)

...I still have a working 3a which took me through my 12-16 period at school. Forming the foundation of the Symbian platform, it was a joy to develop for, as well as sturdy hardware with a quality screen and beautiful keyboard.

Psion was one of the later companies to die as part of the Acorn/Atari/Amiga/etc non-Wintel conspiracy that caused all these firms to magically think they could make more money from "digital convergence!" than their forte - computers.

Give me a 3a with Blueto.. no, wait, I have that already with an RS232-to-Bluetooth adapter. Give me a portable solution that doesn't come at the end of a looong cable and I have as much as I really need in a modern pocket computer: something that I can enter plain text with, and uses my mobile to dial out so I can use ssh.

Things are more colourful and shiny since 1991, but the information I need on-the-go is just as easy to access and read with 1991-era equipment. Everything else is just cruft to get you to buy! buy! buy!

Observations (5, Insightful)

edderly (549951) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916123)


1. Symbian OS is shipped in a whole bunch of phones and this move will ensure that current development projects based on the OS are more likely to continue because it became a whole lot cheaper to make a Symbian phone. $4 per unit doesn't sound like a lot but that is a huge margin for a phone manufacturer.

2. The licensing issues for Symbian OS and various UI components will become vastly easier to resolve and make it easier to start a phone project. Symbian OS is currently a web of various source categorizations depending on your partner status level (developer/device creator/semi conductor partner), that doesn't even consider the semi-co base port components, multimedia infrastructure/codecs and the UI (Series 60, UIQ etc).

The UI for Symbian products contains an extremely large amount of functionality you would expect in the base OS.

In the end it's a damn sight easier to do business with tech companies on an open source basis.

3. It raises interesting questions about whether there will be continued investment in Symbian oriented technologies. One technology question area that stands out is the kernel. The current Symbian OS kernel (called EKA2 by the way) is microkernel design optimised for the various ARM architectures with low latency features and a small memory footprint.

Application processors for mobile processors are starting to look towards SMP designs in order to increase performance without incurring large power consumption penalties. The Symbian kernel and OS design doesn't currently support SMP, so it is possible that the Linux kernel is the direction to go in - obsoleting the EKA2 kernel at some point in the future for high end mobile devices.

However it is probably worth pointing out that whilst the Linux kernel works well for SMP systems for scalable performance whether it does this AND manages to be good for power saving/consumption is possibly less proven.

4. There are questions over how open is this environment? If a $1500 dollar license is required to get the source, is this open? Doesn't quite sound like it.

5. How will this open source environment operate? There appear to be problems with open source projects which involve a dominant partner. IBM - Eclipse, Sun - Java,OpenOffice,MySQL are notable examples.

Being open source is good for doing business but there are many practicalities to work out which make a technology good or bad open source.

+1 Insightful (0)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916257)

For moderators with mod points

Re:Observations (2, Informative)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916273)

> 4. There are questions over how open is this environment? If a $1500 dollar license is required to get the source, is this open? Doesn't quite sound like it.

I think you'll find that this is only while they go through the opening procedure/etc.

http://www.allaboutsymbian.com/news/item/7528_Symbian_Foundation_Says_Open_S.php [allaboutsymbian.com]

Re:Observations (1)

edderly (549951) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916365)

Thanks, that explains that

SMP support (2, Informative)

thaig (415462) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916555)

They are already working on SMP support as can be seen here:

http://www.symbian.com/news/pr/2007/pr20079433.html

Re:SMP support (1)

edderly (549951) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916687)

Yep, but it hasn't manifested itself in a product as of yet. Semicos have plans and there is an NEC test chip to start work on (Linux runs SMP on this already of course)

Re:SMP support (3, Interesting)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918187)

Near all Symbian phones have dual CPU but you wouldn't want a SMP aware Symbian phone. Why? Because the main CPU does a very critical thing, call handling. Whatever happens in background must not prevent user from calling and especially emergency calls.

Re:Observations (1)

Creepy (93888) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916577)

I'm curious on how they are going to enforce strict memory standards, both in footprint and in leak tolerance (which is currently 0 according to a developer I know there).

Re:Observations (1)

edderly (549951) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916755)

I'd assume that the Symbian bit which becomes part of Nokia will continue to do this. Whether the licensee does this or not has always been a little vague i.e. Symbian would recommend this as 'the way to do things' whether that advice is taken is a different matter.

Re:Observations (3, Insightful)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918667)

In Symbiand, if your application floods memory, it gets ass kicked by low memory framework. Only System Application marked applications are free of it but that marking requires a very strict certification process.
Also lets not forget the user factor. If your app uses lots of ram and CPU, it doesn't have future in users handset. User says "oh crap" and reaches to "Application manager" to get rid of it.
It is all open market with Symbian Inc. (foundation) governing the borders. It is how those die hard rivals work on same OS even before the "foundation". It is more like Java scene.

Re:Observations (1)

suggsjc (726146) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918269)

The Symbian kernel and OS design doesn't currently support SMP, so it is possible that the Linux kernel is the direction to go in - obsoleting the EKA2 kernel at some point in the future for high end mobile devices. However it is probably worth pointing out that whilst the Linux kernel works well for SMP systems for scalable performance whether it does this AND manages to be good for power saving/consumption is possibly less proven.
Linux generally evolves around needs. So, if the need (and funding) for the ability to do SMP AND low power arises, then I'm sure it will happen.

That isn't to say that linux is the answer for every technical problem, but it is already a good/great solution for a wide range of applications, and as it moves forward I think the areas it will influence will only grow.

Too little, too late (3, Interesting)

Etherized (1038092) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916265)

Nokia is in a tough spot here. They're still the market leader for smartphones world wide, but Windows Mobile has been biting into that for a while now, and Android is just around the corner. I can't help but equate Symbian to PalmOS - a technical jumble that's frustrating to develop for and nearly impossible to maintain, being attacked by rapidly growing and technically superior competitors.

In the case of Palm, they couldn't fix PalmOS *or* spool up a replacement in time, and they were thus relegated to Yet Another Windows Mobile vendor. I suppose Nokia is trying to avoid that fate by taking over Symbian and throwing enough resources at it to keep it alive and moving forward, but that can't be easy. Nokia also seems to take the Sun view of open source: if you can no longer make money from something, open source it for good will. That's fine, but given how crufty Symbian is and how many alternatives there are now I'm not sure what good that code is going to do anybody.

Either way, I'm sure the other Symbian partners are happy to have it off their hands. Android is clearly the superior platform in the near-term, and divorcing themselves from Symbian allows them to focus their efforts there. Despite that, it's clear that Nokia is resisting Android - maybe to differentiate themselves from the competitors, maybe just to prevent obsoleting all of their existing Symbian resources - but it will be interesting to see if they can ultimately avoid becoming Yet Another Andriod Vendor themselves.

+1 Interesting (1)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918355)

Someone with mod points left?

Thanks Nokia! (1)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916269)

Now, how about relicensing Qt under BSD or LGPL...

Crippling Open Source Operating System (1)

GNUPublicLicense (1242094) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916605)

If it's not under the GPL license, it will end like MacOS and BSD: the open source version will be crippled and hardly usable/installable on terminal hardware...

Re:Crippling Open Source Operating System (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916765)

I don't see where it says that there'll be *two* versions....afaict, there's just the one.

This means nothing (5, Interesting)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916861)

All the code in the world is useless until I can actually change the software on my phone and make it do what I want and not what some phone company thinks I should and shouldn't be able to do.

Which is why the OpenMoko Neo FreeRunner is so good. Decent hardware for a phone (including touch screen, GPS, tri-band GSM, WiFi and Bluetooth) with almost all of the source for the phone being 100% open (and replaceable).
The only closed bits are the GSM stack (which runs on a seperate baseband processor and talks to the host CPU via 100% documented open standards, all the stuff you need to know to talk to the baseband is documented and open), the driver for the GPS chip (people are reverse engineering it and making an open source replacement) and some of the fancy stuff to do with the GPU.

And with regards to the GPU (which is aparently being dropped from the next model), the only closed thing is the official docs and specs provided to the OpenMoko team from the GPU vendor. The GPU vendor is quite happy for the OpenMoko team to produce and open source a driver for the GPU (and even a new set of specs for it), they just dont want any code or specs created by THEM being released publicly (having everything that goes public created by a 3rd party helps with legal issues I guess)

The hardware is as open as they can legally go too. For example, they have released the same CAD drawings for the case and such as they themselves used to produce the molds for it. So if you want to make a new case in a color (or material) they dont offer (such as a rubber case so it can survive being dropped on the ground), the info is there.

Re:This means nothing (1)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918905)

You know, I've been waiting for a good while for OpenMoko to leave alpha stage, and start shipping units actually meant to be used as modern phones, instead of just meant to be "hacked upon at low level". I used to check their pages every week, now I do it every 2 months or so.

In my dictionary the word for a proprietary project that promises and doesn't deliver is vaporware. Regardless of the reasons for not shipping. Incidentaly, the word for a OSS project that promises and doesn't deliver is also vaporware.

So OpenMoko will be open hardware, with free software. So what? So is my laptop. Guess what? I can't use neither of them as a full replacement for the (cheap) mobile phone I currently have.

All the code in the world is useless until I can actually change the software on my phone and make it do what I want and not what some phone company thinks I should and shouldn't be able to do.
As far as I am concerned, all outstanding promises of freedom by OpenMoko are useless if the project never actually releases.

(Oh, and please, don't get me wrong. I would have already bought an open moko phone had they left the alpha stage.)

Check your spelling! (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916869)

With or without the "M", the product still vibrates.

Half the staff, around 200 people get layed off. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23918121)

More than half of everyone working with the UIQ gui is layed of. Much of the development is appriciated to be done for free instead.

Code signing (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918169)

I've always thought of code signing as a way to prevent malware from running on your phone, not some sort of DRM mechanism. Surely somebody can figure out how to install a new code certificate, so that we can all sign our own code? I don't see why this is such a big deal.

I hate Sybian (2, Funny)

pw1972 (686596) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918191)

My wife loves her Sybian, and prefers it to me sometimes.
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