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Symbian Completes Transition To Open Source

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the still-a-contender-or-not dept.

Cellphones 189

Grond writes "Symbian, maker of the the world's most popular mobile operating system, has completed the transition to a completely open platform months ahead of schedule. While the kernel was opened up last year, the entire platform is now open source, primarily under the Eclipse Public License. A FAQ is available with more information about the platform opening." Adds an anonymous reader, linking to PC Magazine's story on the transition: "By putting Symbian fully in the public domain, the Symbian Foundation is pitting it against Google's Android. Symbian is well known across most of the world, but it's mostly a foreign curiosity in the US, AT&T is the only carrier that currently has a symbian phone in its lineup, the Nokia E71x."

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Drivers too, please! (5, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027064)

Since Nokia is phone manufacturer itself and main supporter of Symbian, I really hope they open source their drivers for different phones too. Nokia is already moving in that direction with Qt and it doesn't impact their main business as a phone manufacturer. Only problem would be if those drivers use licensed patents from other manufacturers though.

Android being open source is practically useless because you cannot get drivers for any phone. Sure you can see the OS code and tinker around it (if you are able to get overly complex development environment set up), but you are unable to use it on your phone or do pretty much anything with it. It's only good for phone manufacturers.

If Nokia also were to release drivers for their phones, this would be huge victory against Android.

http://maemo.org/ (5, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027204)

It's even Linux. Hell, it's Debian.

http://maemo.nokia.com/n900/ [nokia.com]

 

Re:http://maemo.org/ (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027386)

Why is there a MASSIVE white space under THE FUCKING SUMMARY, but above THE FUCKING COMMENTS?

Re:http://maemo.org/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027568)

Your screen size. Happens with certain ads that I have seen. Currently, I am not seeing the void, but have noticed that if your screen is wide enough for the frame, the space disappears.

Lower your resolution or get a better monitor, assclown (What AC really stands for).

Re:http://maemo.org/ (3, Insightful)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028008)

Yeah, I have just ordered a new N900 to replace my G1. The G1 is being only replaced because I dropped it a few too many times and it got flaky. I am moving from Android partly because the only way I have found to make the most of the hardware I own is to run a bunch o' hacks, I am more comfortable running a bunch o' hacks on Debian/Linux than Android, and partly because I can't find another Android phone with a flip out keyboard I like.

From what I have read, Nokia are dropping Symbian from future N series smart phones, so basically this announcement means that they are open sourcing their low end crappy OS which has pretty much failed in the smart phone space.

I vowed never to own another Symbian device when my last Nokia was retired a year ago. It is painfully limited and obscure and I don't see how opening up the source code will help when there is such a strong alternative in Maemo which already benefits from the familiarity of Linux/X/Qt. Waste of time, Nokia.

As an aside, and a bit off topic, I am interested in the AndroidExecutionEnvironment that was being developed for Ubuntu. A (hopefully) simple port to maemo would mean I could still run my favourite Android apps.

Re:http://maemo.org/ (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31028520)

"From what I have read, Nokia are dropping Symbian from future N series smart phones, so basically this announcement means that they are open sourcing their low end crappy OS which has pretty much failed in the smart phone space."

Symbian has been around for a decade and still controls the plurality (even majority?) of the smartphone market. I wouldn't call that a failure.

Re:http://maemo.org/ (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028546)

yeah but its still a nice move. it means we'll be able to hack our old phones and that rocks pretty much.
not only that but they've been quicker than announced by a loooooong margin

Re:http://maemo.org/ (4, Insightful)

Toy G (533867) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028396)

Maemo is suffering from the US-centric view of the average IT media. It's simply the best smartphone OS... because it's not a phone OS, it's a full desktop OS with a phone-friendly UI, more or less like the iPhone. But differently from the iPhone, it's a standard Linux, it's open to all sorts of hacks, and you don't have to pay rent to develop for it (at least not yet). I have one, and it's mind-blowing. I can run anything I want without worrying about "jailbreaking" and other absurd locks. Once the price goes down a little, it will become the perfect device for, well, almost anything. (Yeah, the screen is resistive, but the quality and resolution... man, the iPhone looks very cheap in comparison).

What is holding Maemo back, at the moment is:
- the above-mentioned US-centric attitude
- fear. Many in Nokia are scared of dropping their old Symbian workhorse, which is still immensely profitable even if it managed to irritate almost every single user it ever had, and never managed to establish a decent ecosystem of third-party developers. They are afraid that Maemo (an untested platform in the wider market) might fail, so they don't allocate enough resources to it, which leads to unpolished releases, which in turn means they don't feel confident enough to push Maemo-based devices as hard as they should...
- internal politics. In Nokia, Symbian is the establishment, the cash-cow, the power, the suits, the veteran developers; Maemo is the skunkwork geek project, youthful and technically light-years ahead, but bringing a revolution in how things are done, with an unclear business model... not everyone is on board yet. Sometimes the friction shows.

Re:http://maemo.org/ (1)

VoltageX (845249) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028788)

As a happy owner of a brand new N900, I'd wait for the 901 or whatever. Maemo is open, but Nokia certainly isn't - and there's already signs that the N900 will be abandoned when Maemo 6 comes out.

Re:Drivers too, please! (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027608)

Symbian, is finding that it is loosing its once strong share in the Mobile OS Market. They are moving to an Open Source Model in an attempt to "Firefox" their OS back to a good standing.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. However trying to go against big names like Apple, Google and RIM you need to do something.

It isn't as much as Open Source for comunity sake. Just kinda a gap so new companies who are making mobile apps wont go with android all that quickly so they can keep their market share. So I doubt I will see Drivers too... As they are not interested in mr. Normal Hacker who wants to tweak their phone. But to someone who wants to make a new phone... So they would be making their own drivers. Thus pushing market share.

Re:Drivers too, please! (1)

zullnero (833754) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028502)

I don't know about that, but the reasons I stopped developing for Symbian about 4 years ago were:

1. It is the most backwards and strange platform I have ever had the misfortune to develop for, both in regards to their development platform and OS architecture. Learning to develop for Symbian is kind of like learning to code while staring at a reflection of your monitor in a mirror.

2. 80% of the work to develop a Symbian app that could run on enough platforms for it to be marketable was all UI development. Now that you're done with your Series 60 UI, you had the "pleasure" of implementing Series 80, Series 90, and your UIQ interface. And yeah, some of those UIs have disappeared, but it was a mobile OS that couldn't figure out what it really wanted to be.

I was happy to give that up. If you look at what's out there right now, Symbian doesn't really add all that much to the picture. A lot of its features can be found in most modern mobile OSs, the main and only reason I'd even consider Symbian is because I don't want to deal with having Google's claws in my platform, but I don't want to pay Microsoft to license WM 6.5. As for iPhoneOS or webOS, they're proprietary and owned by one company for one line of phones. They've taken themselves out of competition to be a licensed OS...so, iPhone fans, you can pretty much ignore this article. It has no bearing at all on your favorite OS. This is more about adding an option for companies that don't want to stake themselves to Android.

Re:Drivers too, please! (1)

nilbog (732352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027772)

The drivers for your device should be on your device when you get it. You can extract them and use them on your own custom rom if you want.

Re:Drivers too, please! (1)

karolbe (1661263) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028042)

Should be, but usually they're in form of binary blob. Which is a problem when for example a new version of firmware requires new kernel which those binary blobs do not support. See what happens with HTC Android phones, HTC Magic, Hero and G1 don't support newest Android 2.1 fully because there are no 3D and camera driver source code available...

Seems like overkill (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027108)

A entire OS and IDE for a glorified vibrator seems like overkill if you ask me.

Re:Seems like overkill (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027262)

Seriously, that company needs to change its name. I can't read that name without thinking of that weird saddle/vibrator thing.

Alibi (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027414)

Yeah but, what an alibi!

"Boss, I tell ya! I'm just searching for documentation to do my job as a Symbian developer and all this porn comes up! I'm sorry, but it just happens!"

Re:Seems like overkill (1)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027520)

Alternately, they should open source the sex toy also. You should be able to program the bucking of the saddle and the strength of the vibrator. It would certainly help OSS nerds get dates.

Re:Seems like overkill (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027746)

My friend, that’s only your own nasty mind.
I did not even know that a saddle/vibrator with that name existed, before I read your post.
And so do, I guess, 99.999% of the population. ^^

It's all about branding... (1)

Qubit (100461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028084)

I did not even know that a saddle/vibrator with that name existed, before I read your post.

Just think how much easier it would be if the company had called themselves "Saddle plus Vibrator", "Saddle-ator", or "Vibraddle". Heck, I think we'd still get the picture if they were "Unicorn (Uniporn?) Saddles, Unlimited".

And so do, I guess, 99.999% of the population. ^^

So sad... maybe people would be happier if they knew about it.

Re:Seems like overkill (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028752)

Seriously, that company needs to change its name. I can't read that name without thinking of that weird saddle/vibrator thing.

Their new product name: "Nervous Unicorn with Parkinson's".

Re:Seems like overkill (2, Funny)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027476)

A entire OS and IDE for a glorified vibrator seems like overkill if you ask me.

Not if you really think about it.

If we all worked together to develop, test and maintain the best possible vibrator in the world, imagine how many girls we would get. If anything, this is what FOSS community should pick up and work on. Girls would be breaking in from doors and windows just to test our thing, and would be so pleased with the experience they would be coming back all the time.

What we need is WiFi, 3G (for doing it on-the-road), some app that gathers statistics and log data for optimization development and lastly, test subjects.

Re:Seems like overkill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027968)

You would get NO girls. They'd already have the best possible vibrator in the world. Don't let the geekiness get ahead of

Re:Seems like overkill (2, Funny)

silent_artichoke (973182) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028038)

...and lastly, test subjects.

And there's the problem right there.

"By putting Symbian fully in the public domain" (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027156)

Except they didn't, in any sense of the term, put it in the public domain.

Re:"By putting Symbian fully in the public domain" (3, Interesting)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027360)

People these days, with all the overloading talk of "intellectual property" don't even know what "public domain" means. I see it all too often with my friends and family. It's getting to the point that copyright is so overreaching (and has been for so long), that few people even know what it means when a work no longer is under copyright.

That said, having Symbian under an open source licence is definitely a nice thing.

Re:"By putting Symbian fully in the public domain" (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028088)

Let alone the negative connotations they infer about off-copyright materials. It doesn't even make sense to most people, and they think what is most sensible is for copyright to last forever. People have the quaint idea that this allows the original authors to retire and survive old age.

The brainwashing is complete. Long live the brainwashing.

Re:"By putting Symbian fully in the public domain" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027636)

+infinity.... I work with Symbian Foundation code every day and for them to say that they have completed the transition to open source is laughable... show me a working GUI... show me a complete set of drivers. Please....

Still need signed apps though don't I (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027174)

If it's so freakin' open please tell me why I still need to have apps signed on my Nokia 6220 classic and will do for the foreseeable future unless I'm willing to try risky hacks.

Re:Still need signed apps though don't I (4, Informative)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027202)

If it's so freakin' open please tell me why I still need to have apps signed on my Nokia 6220 classic and will do for the foreseeable future unless I'm willing to try risky hacks.

I'll raise you an anecdote. I just bought a Nokia E63, new and unlocked with a full US warranty for $189 from Newegg, and it's one of the best phones I've ever owned. You simply go to the application manager menu, and for the option that says "Install only signed apps", select "No". It's that simple. I just installed an unsigned FTP client, so now I don't even need Nokia's atrocious PC Suite for syncing.

Re:Still need signed apps though don't I (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027490)

Try ovi suite. It's a reimagining of what pc suite should do.

Re:Still need signed apps though don't I (2, Interesting)

Johnno74 (252399) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027812)

Except its LOTS more crappy than pc suite. I'd consider it an alpha version. Shows some promise, but they need to finish it.

I just installed on my win 7 x64 machine at work here and I'm probably going to go back to the old pc suite.

It keeps offering ovi maps 3.0 for my phone, which is NOT compatible with it (6110 navigator). If I go to the "maps" section it says there has been an internal error, and helpfully suggests I restart ovi suite, and if that doesn't work I should try and restart my PC. WTF?.

There is no "sync" log to see what contacts/calendar entries were updated after a sync.

And yesterday it started crashing about 30 seconds after my phone connected (via bluetooth). Every time.

I unplugged my bluetooth dongle, started it, disabled all the sync stuff and plugged my phone in. ovi suite connected to the phone, then blew up again.

And then it offered me an update to ovi suite, would I like to install it? I said yes please, and it failed with an "unknown internal error" halfway through. Tried it like 5 times, same error. In desperation I started ovi suite with "run as administrator" and what do ya know, it updated. And now it won't crash when I connect my phone.

What Progress!

But I'm still in shock that their new flagship desktop application for working with your phone, probably designed to compete with itunes (not that thats really a worthy target, but I digress...) DOES NOT RUN PROPERLY WITH UAC ENABLED.

k'mon nokia, you released this app since 7 came out. and its not properly compatible with 7, or vista.

PC Suite used to be the biggest flakiest turd on my PC 5 years ago, and since that time most of the bugs have been ironed out. Why chuck all this out and go back to the drawing board??

Re:Still need signed apps though don't I (1)

sarhjinian (94086) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027930)

This is par for the course with Nokia. Near as I can tell, they think that once the hardware is done, they can phone in the rest.

The result is a mapping application that adds extraneous street numbers to a street, mail clients that don't understand folders, push email that works about half the time, etc, etc. The hardware and core software is great, but the supplementary stuff is wretched. I can't believe how bad a job my E71 (ostensibly a business smartphone) does of email. There's no excuse, not since RIM has been doing it right for more than half a decade.

Nokia, I think, does not really "get" the smartphone market.

Re:Still need signed apps though don't I (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028734)

mail clients that don't understand folders, push email that works about half the time,

WTF? The Nokia Symbian mail client understands folders, they've supported imap for donkeys years. It just works, I use it every day. As annoying as push email & calendaring is, the MS Exchange client also just works. The street numbers in a map application come from the data provider. I get the impression you live somewhere like Podunk Idaho, do you have to stand on a hill to get a signal?
 

Re:Still need signed apps though don't I (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027898)

I'll raise you an anecdote. I just bought a Nokia E63, new and unlocked with a full US warranty for $189 from Newegg,

It can be had cheaper than that. I just bought mine last week for $120+tax from Dell (coupon deal). My wife bought one last May for $150 after mail in rebate.

It's quite a deal, but the software on the phone leaves much to be desired. Why does every app individually ask to use a particular wifi interface (why can't I connect once and have all apps use it until I disconnect)? Why does each email account? Why can't I automatically download new podcast episodes when I hit update? It choked on downloading a few thousand email headers (via wifi), so I had to tell it to download only the last 30. Is the file manager really a good choice for the default "work" shortcut screen (easily changed, though)? I can go on, and I've only had it since Monday.

Now, lots of these things are fixable. It's not an iphone, so there are other email clients available which are probably better. But the out of the box software polish leaves a lot to be desired. Still, a great phone for the price and way better than the GSM razr that I had before. I have no desire for a data plan (I even use prepaid) and the phone makes okay use of wifi access points (though a global connect/disconnect seems like an obvious feature).

Re:Still need signed apps though don't I (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027268)

You should have apps signed in your Windows PC too. Even in open source world, apps are "signed" (or at least, the deb/rpm packages are) by the distribution/repository. The requirements to have certain apps signed could be good or bad, but signing by itself should not be seen as something bad.

Re:Still need signed apps though don't I (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027320)

Probably because their actions today don't reach back through the tendrils of space and time and affect their actions in the past.

More seriously, openness of code need not(and frequently does not) equal openness of device. Only open code and the ability to install your own binaries, built from modified code, provides that.

What you are basically asking is the equivalent of "If linux is so open, why can't I get root on any linux server?". Answer: "because the people who built and installed linux on those servers built and installed it to keep you out."

The fact that phone manufacturers customarily lock people out of their own hardware is absolute bullshit; but it only has any relation to the openness of the code if the code is GPL3. Prior GPL versions, and any BSD version, permit tivoization.

There are freebie app signers (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027420)

You install the app signer which has a dev cert. Then you can sign and install any application you want, a bit of a pain, but no risky hacks required.

http://thesymbianblog.com/2009/07/04/how-to-sign-unsigned-files-on-a-s60-3rd5th-edition-device-itself/ [thesymbianblog.com]

 

Pet peeve: "public domain" (5, Informative)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027182)

Placing code under an open-source license is not the same as putting it in the "public domain". Code under an open source license still has conditions attached to it (even if minimal ones) while code placed in the public domain has no restrictions placed on it of any sort. Code under an open-source license is still copyrighted, but with a permissive license that allows one to do some things normally reserved only for the work's copyright holder. By contrast, a work in the public domain is not covered by copyright law at all.

Re:Pet peeve: "public domain" (4, Funny)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027550)

In the coming war between Open Source and Public Domain, no man will be free as in beer.

Re:Pet peeve: "public domain" (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028136)

There will never be a war between Open Source and Public Domain. It would be nonsensical.

For all of you trivia freaks, SQLite [sqlite.org] is an example of high quality source code that is widely used and is in the Public Domain.

Open source is only copyrighted to defend it. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028104)

Code under an open-source license is still copyrighted, but with a permissive license that allows one to do some things normally reserved only for the work's copyright holder. By contrast, a work in the public domain is not covered by copyright law at all.

Actually PD is covered by copyright law: It's free to modify it and assert a copyright on the "derived work" cwith the full set of copyright restrictions. Ditto to combine it with other works - PD or not - and copyright the collection.

What this means for software is that if you PD it:
  - Somebody else can fix a bug or add a feature, copyright the fixed version, and then NOBODY ELSE, including YOU, can fix that bug or add that feature in YOUR version.
  - Somebody can make a distribution consisting of your PD software combined with that of others, copyright THAT, and then NOBODY ELSE, including YOU and the rest of the authors of the pieces, can produce a distribution structured like the copyrighted one.

So the open source licenses generally retain copyright over the original work and require the additions to be made open (for some value of open) as well, as "payment" for using the underlying work. Some of them also try to more things (like push for as much software as possible to be opened), but this is the main point.

If copyright wasn't applicable to software the open source licenses wouldn't be needed to defend against these threats. (We'd lose the requirement for the source to go out, but gain the ability to reverse-engineer everything and publish the "recovered source".)

AT&T's E71x (1)

sricetx (806767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027266)

AT&T's customized version of Symbian on the E71x sucks eggs. They have taken away a lot of the great features of Symbian, such as the ability to use the Ovi store, Nokia maps, and simple things like the ability to set up an imap mail account. It's like At&t was paid off by Blackberry to make Symbain a failure in the US smartphone market. I've worked around most of these limitations on my device, but would be interested to know if announcement might lead to the ability to reload the E71x's firmware with a stock Symbian build.

Re:AT&T's E71x (2, Interesting)

saihung (19097) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027356)

When I bought an N73 I was able to use a collection of tools to remove the simlock and flash the phone with Nokia's stock firmware. The result was massively improved performance and battery life, but I'm not sure if this is still possible.

Re:AT&T's E71x (2, Interesting)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027588)

I worked testing phones for a while, and I've seen first hand the crap that goes into most vendor-specific firmware (not to mention the fact that many of them will write their version once and never update it, despite the fact that Nokia often make significant improvements in the stock firmware's speed and stability over a product's lifetime). As such, completely nuking anything the network has put on there comes pretty high on my list of requirements.

Anyway, rant over, here's a link [e71blog.com] explaining how to do so on an E71. Basically you just change the device's product code so it identifies as Nokia generic rather than vendor specific. Once that's done Nokia's standard firmware update tools will do the work for you, no potentially dodgy hacks or cracked firmwares needed. Do make sure, however, that the product code you're using is for the generic version of your specific phone (i.e. correct transmission frequencies). Officially it voids the warranty, but it's easily reversible.

Re:AT&T's E71x (1)

sricetx (806767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027802)

Thanks, but the E71x is different than the E71 -- it has S60v3 Feature pack 2 instead of Feature Pack 1 among other differences. I don't think this would work for the E71x.

Re:AT&T's E71x (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028698)

My mistake, I didn't do adequate research the first time.

Even so, there are (mixed) reports of simply using a standard E71 product code and firmware on an E71x. I'd be much more hesitant about recommending that route than I was initially, though.

Re:AT&T's E71x (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027710)

You can definitely flash it to generic firmware, but you may need to use a fancy dongle (which uses something like JTAG, I presume) to do it, rather than usb/bootloaderish FW update. It depends on the phone.

Re:AT&T's E71x (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31028562)

I installed Nokia Maps on my AT&T E71x a few days ago, played with it a bit and it seems to work fine. I had to choose E71 from the download page's device menu.

AT&T's other phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027274)

AT&T also has the Nokia Mural.... doesn't this also run the Symbian OS?

Re:AT&T's other phones (1)

parkrrrr (30782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027546)

And the 6350 (S40) and the 6650 (S60, same as the e71x.)

Re:AT&T's other phones (1)

parkrrrr (30782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027712)

And another data point: T-Mobile has the 5130, another S40 phone. So even the "only AT&T has any Symbian phones" part is wrong.

Re:AT&T's other phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31028202)

S40 is not a Symbian platform, it's Nokia's feature phone platform. The S40 UI was updated to look like S60 a couple of years ago - actually it's hard to tell them apart at first glance. The big giveaway is that S40 phones don't have a menu key and have a central softkey in addition to the two side ones that S60 has. S40 has a webkit browser but can only be programmed by 3rd parties with Java, and can only run one application at a time apart from the music player. There aren't many S40 phones which support WiFi although there are a few which have Wifi and GPS. Lots and lots of them have 3G.

S60 is a Symbian platform, but v5 was the last version which will be called S60. All releases after that are called Symbian. S60 can be programmed natively in Symbian C++, supports standard C/C++, has a webkit browser with widget support, runs Java apps, and is supported by Python and Ruby. Even phonegap supports S60.

No wonder lots of people in the US think Symbian is a limited platform if they're mixing it up with S40.

Re:AT&T's other phones (3, Informative)

koiransuklaa (1502579) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028212)

S40 is not based on Symbian.

Too little, too late (-1, Offtopic)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027362)

Android has the advantage of support from many hardware makers.

Apple has the advantage of making very specific hardware with a very modern phoneOS (not to imply Android is also not a modern OS and API).

Nokia has a huge range of phones, and at this point the Symbian OS and API is very dated, and not nearly as capable or easy to use. Nokia will be forced to adopt Android shortly I think (year or two).

There's only room for one other player I think, but I'm pretty sure it's Windows Mobile (though force of will) or PalmOS (if Microsoft or Nokia buys them, though perhaps they can still stick it out on their own).

Re:Too little, too late (4, Informative)

oh2 (520684) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027430)

Nokia has Maemo [maemo.org] as well, which is better than Android in so many ways. Try a N900 and you will see. There is no reason for them to go Android,

Re:Too little, too late (1)

daveisfera (832409) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027946)

The massive series of apps and developer support that's growing around Android will probably push Maemo out of the market.

Re:Too little, too late (2, Insightful)

dysonlu (907935) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028170)

So by that logic, the iPhone OS is pushing Android out of the market?

Re:Too little, too late (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31028182)

The massive series of apps and developer support that's growing around Android will probably push Maemo out of the market.

Yes. Because there are no apps for Debian.

Re:Too little, too late (1)

s2theg (1185203) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027962)

Except for the fact that the n900 uses a resistive screen, as where the Droid uses a capacitave screen. Droid has way more apps available for it. Masses will chose Droid imo.

Re:Too little, too late (1)

Fraggy_the_undead (758495) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028118)

[...]Droid has way more apps available for it.[...]

uh, what? Maemo is a Debian-based Linux. There is no sandbox runtime or anything, it's pretty much a standard Linux. Which means you can install a lot of the applications you could install on any generic Linux box. So I highly doubt that there are more apps for Android than there are for Maemo.

Re:Too little, too late (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028846)

Except for the fact that the n900 uses a resistive screen, as where the Droid uses a capacitave screen.

Which basically means that N900 screen is more precise, and can be operated with gloves on, or with a stylus (think handwriting input), while Droid cannot.

Oh, but Droid can do multitouch! Except... no stock applications support it, anyway.

D'oh.

Re:Too little, too late (2, Interesting)

horza (87255) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027456)

Nokia will be forced to adopt Android shortly I think (year or two). There's only room for one other player I think, but I'm pretty sure it's Windows Mobile (though force of will) or PalmOS

On my Nokia E71 I have Nokia Maps and Google Maps, I have Gizmo SIP VoIP and Skype, I have virtual assistant call manager software, I have ssh and irc clients, I have msn/icq client, and I can turn it into a wifi hotspot. I can run any application anybody has written for the device. If the choice becomes Android, Windows, or iPhone, then I'm not upgrading until they turn off the last GSM base station.

Phillip.

Re:Too little, too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027720)

If the choice becomes Android, Windows, or iPhone, then I'm not upgrading until they turn off the last GSM base station.

Phillip.

I don't see Windows in that future at all. Not that I'm anti-MS, it's just that WinMobo is a massive flop, and now that HTC (THE COMPANY behind the PDA-phone aka touchscreen smartphone concept, and almost all of those shitty winmobo bricks) has got an alternative to base theirs and their OEM phones on, I can't see much life in WinMobo unles MS itself begins ordering HTC OEM phones. Android's got more press than Iphone nowdays, and HPs, Docomos and Oranges of the world will soon figure out which way to go. MS simply missed that train.

Re:Too little, too late (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027794)

It also has a large installed base, and it runs on much more pathetic hardware than android or maemo.
There's still a marketplace for phones that aren't 1GHz, yet do more than talk and text. I don't know how many millions of phones out there run S60...

Oh - they'll never adopt android, they have the superior Maemo for phones/tablets with some actual horsepower.

Re:Too little, too late (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31028006)

I don't know how many millions of phones out there run S60...

About 330 Million worldwide, according to Symbian - out of those, at least 100M were sold in the last 18 months so are likely to still be in use.

The FAQ warns about software patents... (3, Interesting)

Qubit (100461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027366)

According to the FAQ [symbian.org] you can now get all the source and can (at least theoretically) build the OS and various applications. Groovy.

Setting aside the fact that just building all of the pieces is complicated (see the FAQ), and also setting aside the fact that many phones will refuse to run homemade, un-signed builds, you might run into issues with patents:

Q: Is any of this code covered by patents? Can I get patent licenses from the Symbian Foundation?
A: Yes, some of the code implements techniques and ideas which may have been patented. Becoming a member of the Symbian Foundation entitles you to certain patent licences from other members as set out in our patent policy. For further information, please contact info@symbian.org.

Having the source under an open license is just one step on the path to personal control over your phone and freedom to use, share, and modify the software running on it.

Re:The FAQ warns about software patents... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027822)

There are no statutory damages in US patent law. I agree that software patents are pernicious, but no one is going to be sued for patent infringement over anything she does to her own phone.

Re:The FAQ warns about software patents... (1)

Qubit (100461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028556)

One might not be sued for patent infringement for modifying the single copy of the software on their phone, but their freedom to share the software running on it (as I mentioned above) may be enjoined by patent holders, especially if the "infringing" changes are picked up and used by large numbers of other people.

who else read that as "sybian"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027402)

cuz i sure did.

We also need a free IDE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027432)

Last time I checked for a simple way to develop small symbian apps under Linux it was a painful experience: nearly uninstallable toolchains and SDK, version conflicts etc. And under Windows everything was $$$. I hope this will allow the creation of better free tools.

I always want to read that as "Sybian" (4, Funny)

Nimey (114278) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027436)

I personally blame the Internet and rule 34.

that's cooked microsofts goose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027446)

how can Microsoft sell their windows mobile OS now?

good riddance to it and them.

Symbian??? (-1, Redundant)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027480)

My GF has been pestering me to buy her a Symbian [sybian.com] .

mod 3own (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027486)

handy, you are free despiTe the

Death rattle (1, Interesting)

gig (78408) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027564)

Feature phones will be gone by the time anyone does anything with this. The iPhone form factor is clearly where all phones are going because the screen supports the Web. If you're going to support the Web, you need Unix. Fixing Symbian to be modern should have happened a long time ago if at all.

These hardware companies are getting killed by Apple because Apple is a software company. They spend much more time designing the software interactions than the physical hardware, which they reduce as far as possible to keep it out of the way of the software. My Apple Logic Studio is bigger than all of my other apps combined by about 10 times and costs $100 per year to stay current. Apple layers on the software, their devices do much more because they have software resources that completely outclass the competition. The software community already gave Nokia free Unix, they should be building on top of that. Nobody cares what kernel is in their phone, they care that it surfs the Web, is fast, doesn't stall, is easy to use.

Re:Death rattle (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027644)

I wish all product death-rattles involved open-sourcing. I still can't play The Software Toolworks' "Life & Death" because I can't find the instruction manual with the damned copy protection codes!

Re:Death rattle (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027654)

If you're going to support the Web, you need Unix.

Uh, what?

The software community already gave Nokia free Unix, they should be building on top of that.

They are. It's called Maemo, and it's on the N900. Unfortunately, not all parts of it are Free and Open.

Re:Death rattle (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027952)

The iPhone form factor is clearly where all phones are going because the screen supports the Web.

Really ? When was the last time you saw a web page designed for 480 x 320 ? And I'm not talking about "mobile" versions, I mean *real* webpages.

Compare this to N900, which has 800 x 480, meaning in a lot of cases you can see the whole width of the page without any scrolling whatsoever.

iTroll fail, better luck next time.

Re:Death rattle (1)

NNKK (218503) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028098)

Any page that doesn't have complete idiots implementing it works quite well at 480x320. Sadly, most major companies hire nothing but complete idiots.

Re:Death rattle (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028594)

What ? The VGA monitors of 1987 could already display 640 x 480 ... I suppose that means every web designer since 1987 has been on completely the wrong track then ?

Kind of ironic seeing as this site alone has a logo that is about 390 pixels wide and then a search bar + button of about 280 pixels.

I suppose it's okay with you that those elements are wrapped over 2 or possibly 3 vertical lines ... anything rather than admit your mobile device sucks eh ?

iTroll still failing.

Re:Death rattle (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028026)

Have you seen Symbian's marketshare graphs lately? Just wondering.

By the way, it also works fine as a smartphone OS, judging by Nokia's many, many smartphones. And for those who it is insufficient for, Nokia also offers Maemo, which many consider to be the best smartphone operating system available.

Hyperbole Fanboys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31028102)

"getting killed by Apple"

It's amazing how much Apple fanboys love to use hyperboles.

Hyperbole Fanboys (2, Informative)

dysonlu (907935) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028218)

"getting killed by Apple" It's amazing how much Apple fanboys love to speak in hyperbole.

Re:Death rattle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31028326)

I understand the distortion field is strong, but at least try to look at the situation objectively.

Apple devices don't do more than other devices, in fact they do less (although they do it quite well).

Symbian currently dominates the smart phone market (you can keep talking about "Feature phones" while the rest of use surf the web, play games and watch video on them), "getting killed" is a totally unsubstantiated claim.

iphone from factor maybe good, but the resolution is not really good enough for the web: the good zooming helps, but it's still band-aid. Saying that the iphone is some holy grail is idiotic, considering the speed of development in this field.

So much blah (4, Informative)

thaig (415462) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028750)

I am biased as I work "with it" every day.

It's written in C++ and the syscalls are asynchronous by default (very very nice when you're doing lots of comms). It has a microkernel and an extremely comprehensive api. It's even written in C++. The kernel is actually quite nice.

So *actually* Linux is a dinosaur by comparison if you consider modern-ness to be of any importance.

I don't but and I like linux a lot but Symbian is an operating system that deserves respect and it's dumb to believe that everything has to be done "one true way". The user-level programming experience is not nice due to the great efforts made to fit it onto early phone hardware (since it has been out there long before 600Mhz ARM chips arrived that could shift the weight of Linux or OSX).

But all of that's changing and as a result of pretty gargantuan efforts that few pundits have any appreciation of that this rough diamond is being cut and will dazzle.

Nokia moving to Open Source? (2, Interesting)

Myion (1662861) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027570)

It seems that Nokia is positively moving towards oss lately. I certainly did not expect Nokia to be first to ship smartphones with a very compatible Linux distribution and root access out of the box.

Frost pi5t (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027672)

Disgust, or b3en to deCline for or mislead the 'doing something' towel under the Endless conflict market share. Red [anti-slash.org]

And yet... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027696)

Mozilla has no plans to ever bring Firefox Mobile to it. :/

Re:And yet... (1)

deep9x (1068252) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028010)

You know, I thought that was disappointing as well, but then I installed the Opera Mini 5 beta [opera.com] on my N82. It pretty much covers all the features I would need from mobile Firefox; stuff like tabbed browsing, password manager, and a slicker interface than the Nokia Browser.

Re:And yet... (1)

andydread (758754) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028444)

Not sure about that. Take a look at this [cnet.com] and there is this [gigaom.com]

Can we fix up their code now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027814)

So... Does this mean we can go in and fix their bluetooth drivers? Especially for communications with older model car kits?

Link to the main product website (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31027838)

We can't talk about Symbian OS without a link to:

http://www.sybian.com/ [sybian.com]

Yeah, but who wants it? (1, Interesting)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 4 years ago | (#31027864)

Symbian must be one of the worst designed OSs in existance

http://www.roughlydrafted.com/RD/RDM.Tech.Q1.07/6856C375-FE4E-4BC8-B753-B48AF3BD8B30.html [roughlydrafted.com]

Re:Yeah, but who wants it? (1)

dysonlu (907935) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028256)

An Apple lair king talking down the competition. Who would have thought?

Re:Yeah, but who wants it? (1)

jas203 (942742) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028476)

Let me dissect the the "key design issues", I think this is the 5th time I've done this, but I'll bite yet again.

Crippled C++ support: Exceptions are supported, they have been for YEARS. You'd be hard pressed to find a Symbian phone out there that doesn't have exceptions. If you want STL then port it, I once had the set of STL I needed with a basic STLPort port - this was several years ago. Certainly when ROM/RAM space is tight STL is going to get in your way - Symbian enabled smartphone applications years before the high performance processors and huge amounts of RAM todays phones have.

Confusing and limited string handling: Even the author admits they don't know what they are talking about "The reason was apparently to save a few bytes on each string". A descriptor is a very simple concept, a "description" of a contiguous memory region. TBuf8 is a descriptor to an in place buffer (ala a C array), a TPtrC8 is a constant pointer to specified region of memory, they all have a common TDesC8 base class. Plus if you want a "proper" string class, then make one - then spend a few minutes understanding the subject matter to realize a TPtrC8 cast operator on the class will magically enable your class to work with the Symbian APIs.

Limited support for multi-threading: Symbian is fully preemptive multi-tasking (check out RThread, wow, I guess the author missed that)! Even the kernel is preemptive (hence being sufficiently real-time to implement a baseband on the application processor). Just because Active Objects exist doesn't mean they are the only things for multi-tasking. Hopefully now the code is out in the open you can see how the experts use them to implement asynchronous code without having to always be thinking in terms of locks.

Bad development environment: Well this is a fairly subjective subject - I haven't had any trouble, install SDK, install Carbide and start developing. I can only imagine how taxing this must be for someone who appears to know so much.


It might not be as "easy" to develop on Symbian, but it is worth being thoughtful in writing tight, low overhead code (which the Symbian APIs are all about). It's easy to throw CPU and memory at problems, something which programmers are too willing to do these days.

Re:Yeah, but who wants it? (1)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028780)

Are you seriously linking to RoughlyDrafted, a site that makes Mossberg look tame as an Apple fanboy?

Not unknown - its time came and went. (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028158)

Symbian is well known across most of the world, but it's mostly a foreign curiosity in the US. AT&T is the only carrier that currently has a symbian phone in its lineup, the Nokia E71x.

There've been Symbian phones in the US for at least 7 years now - I had a Nokia 3650 back in the early days. And back then, compared to what else was out there, it was pretty cool. Compared to what's out there now? Not so much.

Re:Not unknown - its time came and went. (1)

dysonlu (907935) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028288)

The original iPhone was pretty cool. Compared to what's out there now, just 2.5 years later, not so much.

3...2....1.... and the site is slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31028266)

nothing to see there

Symbian is a dead end. (1)

bluephone (200451) | more than 4 years ago | (#31028398)

Symbian's a dead end. Maemo/Android/Linux is the way going forward. I've been a long time Nokia fan, I make no bones about it. I can call them out when they screw up, but generally I find their products superior. I've used a number of Symbian phones, and two Maemo devices, the N810 Internet Tablet and the new N900 phone. The N810 was a great device, and the N900 blows away any handheld device I've used. The ease of use, the ability to customize, hack, the ease of getting applications, everything is just so much better on the N900 than any Symbian device I've ever had. Symbian is an aging platform that hasn't worn well over time. It's time to let it die.
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