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Symbian Foundation Takes First Step In Open Sourcing Mobile OS 88

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the many-options-to-play-with dept.
readthemall writes to let us know that the Symbian Foundation has released the first of several packages in their plan to open source the entire Symbian mobile OS. "On Wednesday, Symbian made available its first package covered by the EPL, the OS Security Package, according to Symbian developer Craig Heath. 'The OS Security Package source code is now available under the EPL, and it is the very first package to be officially moved from the closed Symbian Foundation License (SFL) to... the EPL,' Heath wrote in a blog post. Heath said the EPL would allow the security package to bypass export regulations in the UK, where the Symbian code is legally based."
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Symbian Foundation Takes First Step In Open Sourcing Mobile OS

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  • Posting... (Score:1, Funny)

    by c00rdb (945666)
    Posting to undo accidental mod.
  • whats the point of this if all apps need to be signed by an external authority?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by martok (7123)

      That's the thing I don't understand about the whole Symbian open sourcing and the excitement around it. Unless I am off-base, it's not like a programmer will be able to pick up the Symbian codebase, make a modification, compile a new kernel and flash it into his phone. If that's the level of open-sourcing we're talking about here, disabling 'Symbian Signed' will be trivial. Is this geared more toward device manufacturers? IE. end-users and developers need not care?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by davester666 (731373)

      They still want to be like Apple.

      And it is worth big money to them to be able to absolutely control what can be installed on "your" phone.

      • but, arent the iPhone and the Nseries targeted to different markets??

        iPhone is generally used by people who want a good looking music player which can make calls, while a Nseries phone is more affordable(N79 is half the price of an iPhone 3g) more customizable,am currently using nokia 6600(the original one with s60, not s40) and the software can be customised to a great extent

        iPhone seems to be targeted to those who want to say that they have a smartphone, but are not intelligent enough to use it,while Nser

      • by Ilgaz (86384)

        Of course, they should drop signed thing and allow everyone to do anything on OTHER PEOPLE's phones like calling premium lines, subscribing to premium SMS, setting a botnet.

        When billion of dollars of poor end users wasted, they can come up with their own app store scheme rejecting things like Opera, Profimail because ''they duplicate functionality''.

        Do you people have any clue what Symbian Signed prevents especially not being required for ordinary applications?

        • having a pre symbian signed phone - 6600, i've faced no problems like the ones you have described, the phone will still ask you if you want to give network access to an application and other things

  • Okay... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rumith (983060) on Monday July 13, 2009 @01:38PM (#28679369)
    Look, that's definitely good news (especially the part of the Symbian Foundation using EPL instead of inventing some special license of their own). But does it really matter that much now? I mean that writing apps for Symbian is a horrible experience (as has been highlighted multiple times here on Slashdot, too), and now that Android has arrived and brought a much more friendly programming environment, this step is too little, too late.
    • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Informative)

      by SpinyNorman (33776) on Monday July 13, 2009 @02:01PM (#28679859)

      You should soon be able to use Qt for Symbian development.

      Nokia own both Symbian and Qt, and the Qt labs blog is reporting Qt being ported to S60.

      http://labs.trolltech.com/blogs/2009/06/29/port-of-qtwebkit-to-s60/ [trolltech.com]

      Note that Qt is an entire cross-platform library, not just for GUI - it includes stuff like threads, network comms, XML even WebKit!

      • by edxwelch (600979)

        Isn't Qt owned by Nokia, not the symbian foundation? It doesn't say anything about open sourcing the symbian version of Qt.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Isn't Qt owned by Nokia, not the symbian foundation?

          Do you have a problem reading? From the GP:

          Nokia own both Symbian and Qt

          Where in his post did he say that Qt was owned by the Symbian foundation?

          It doesn't say anything about open sourcing the symbian version of Qt.

          The Qt for S60 Technology Preview is available under a special technology preview license, GNU LGPL version 2.1 and GPL version 3.

          http://www.qtsoftware.com/developer/technical-preview-qt-for-s60 [qtsoftware.com]

    • Right (Score:3, Informative)

      by Colin Smith (2679)

      this step is too little, too late.

      Cos several hundred million phones produced by the largest phone manufacturers in the world are all just going to go away. Are you living on Android world?

      This is interesting and welcome news.

       

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rumith (983060)
        Not all Nokia phones use Symbian. However, with Qt for S60 on the horizon, Symbian-specific skills are likely to become irrelevant. I strongly suspect that Nokia will be pushing Qt as the main toolkit/API for their [smart]phones, after which they will be free to dump the steaming pile that is Symbian and switch to Linux.

        Once again, I'm not saying that Nokia is in trouble: with their apparent migration towards Linux + Qt, they will be fine. I'm saying that open sourcing Symbian isn't likely to save it, and

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Hal_Porter (817932)

          Actually Nokia used to use careful phrases like "Series 60 : Optimised for Symbian", implying that S60 could potentially run on other OSs.

        • I strongly suspect that Nokia will be pushing Qt as the main toolkit/API for their [smart]phones, after which they will be free to dump the steaming pile that is Symbian and switch to Linux.

          Yes, they are going to go through all the effort of porting Qt to Symbian only to ditch Symbian for Linux. Oh wait... Just because they are pushing out a few devices using Linux in no way means they are dropping Symbian.

          Once again, I'm not saying that Nokia is in trouble: with their apparent migration towards Linux + Qt, they will be fine.

          What apparent migration? Please provide any actual statements from Nokia that even remotely hint at them dropping Symbian to go all Linux.

          • by rumith (983060)
            Like I said, it's Qt.
            • Buy Qt, for it supports embedded Linux.
            • Develop Qt for S60 and announce that Qt is now the main developer API.
            • Wait a year for active developers to migrate to Qt so they stop caring what lies beneath it.
            • Replace Symbian with Linux, while still retaining Qt.
            • ...
            • Profit!
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Their developer share is quite disproportionate, though.
        One can always hope... I do wish Nokia would drop Symbian, nuke large parts of the signing process with fire, make a decent app store, and start making Linux phones with that excellent GUI of theirs (Yes, really. IMO they make the most power user-friendly smart phones out there, programming excepted.) Won't happen in a million years, though. :(

      • This is about the future, not the past.

        How many of those phones can be upgraded to the lastest version of Symbian (can as in "the phone OS can be upgraded, the carrier will permit the phone to be upgraded, and the manufacturer will provide an upgrade)? That number is probably a fraction of 1% of those phones.

        And the vast majority of those phones are designed to be primarily cell-phones, and not for iPhone-style applications, which is what the slashdot crowd thinks of when reading an article like this.

        But t

    • by MagicMerl (1060182) on Monday July 13, 2009 @02:29PM (#28680365)
      For developers looking to make money, and use a very rich set of APIs/functionality, Symbian is the way to go. Gartner recently announced that Symbian has 49.5% of ww smart phone market share (300m+ devices). The distribution channel potential is there for developers to take advantage of now - not some unknown time in the future. Note that Symbian also has Runtime dev environments for Web, Python, and Adobe Flash Lite - who else has that?
      • by duranaki (776224)
        I'm glad to see someone has actually heard of it. :) It seems like every day there is yet another article comparing the "major smart phones": apple, blackberry, windows mobile, android. Having worked for Nokia Mobile Software, I find the omissions of symbian devices annoying.
        • Some moron in the Times (of London) annoyed me by saying "Windows Mobile, the operating system that runs on most smartphones...". He then later stated that it was Google Chrome that caused Microsoft to fix IE. Aaaaaaaaaaagh you're fired as technical editor.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by migla (1099771)

          When could I expect to run a custom firmware image on the Nokia N73, which runs S60 v3?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by duranaki (776224)
            I no longer work for Nokia and I'm not sure how this is even a topical response, but I'll go ahead and answer anyway: never.

            Nokia phones are still proprietary hardware and even if they were to be able to run an open source symbian version (there isn't one yet), the adaptation layer is still not open source. Ignoring that, S60 itself isn't open source. Ignoring that, Nokia has always attempted to make custom firmware exceedingly difficult (storing flash images as partially encrypted to a specific asic ser
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ivoras (455934)

        Gartner recently announced that Symbian has 49.5% of ww smart phone market share (300m+ devices)

        Yeah, but... which Symbian? What non-developers usually don't get is that currently Symbian is a lot like Linux - strictly speaking it's little more then an OS kernel with a bunch of low-level APIs. What users see, the GUI, is fragmented in the same way GNOME and KDE are fragmented, and with much worse results. The developers must build different versions of their application (UIQ, S60, others) for different devi

        • Symbian World has settled on S60 V3 for a long time with the V5 (touch based) things getting popular for people using and enjoying a full touchscreen device. V3 and V5 doesn't differ too much.

          Looking to future, it seems gaining a community&users with S60 V3 and keeping an eye open for Trolltech Qt UI makes sense. Of course one must not forget the Symbian handsets have surprisingly good, compatible J2ME with all kind of features you may want.

          Qt will also bring discipline to scene. Obviously huge load of

      • We know. We make money on it. But even better is J2ME. Pretty much everything got it. Phones, PDAs, handheld consoles, in-car-systems, you name it. Sure "write once, run everywhere" is just true in theory, because the devices are different. But when you got your JSR-XXX APIs, it gets very close to it. You just have to be very flexible about the hardware caps, including keys, screen, memory, cpu power, sound mixer, etc.

        • by blackpaw (240313)

          We know. We make money on it. But even better is J2ME. Pretty much everything got it. Phones, PDAs, handheld consoles, in-car-systems, you name it. Sure "write once, run everywhere" is just true in theory, because the devices are different. But when you got your JSR-XXX APIs, it gets very close to it. You just have to be very flexible about the hardware caps, including keys, screen, memory, cpu power, sound mixer, etc.

          Except if you want to do clever stuff like send sms's access protected api's etc the conflicting signing requirements between telecoms make it impossible to do squat.

          • by Ilgaz (86384)

            Do you know telecoms would be really happy if J2ME apps, not being signed could send messages all over the place without asking user?

            I can tell you, you can really get robbed that way and you won't have a WORD to say against it except contacting police or FBI or whatever.

            There are really bad guys out there who goes far as dealing with some island governments to pull their schemes.

            If you talk about accessing phonebook, besides dangers above there is also a huge risk of privacy. I hope iPhone doesn't allow ev

            • by blackpaw (240313)

              Do you know telecoms would be really happy if J2ME apps, not being signed could send messages all over the place without asking user?

              Oh yeah, I don't disagree. Mobile apps need to be signed so the potential for abuse can be controlled.

              Its just with Symbian C++ apps they only need to be signed by one supplier - symbian, which makes distributing & selling apps much easier.

              Java apps have to be signed by the individual telecoms, which makes mass distribution prohibitively expensive and basically impossible.

      • I disagree. I think Symbian development is a nightmare, and I think that this is evidence that Nokia really doesn't "get it" when it comes to software.

        1) How many of those owners of those 300m+ devices have ever paid Handago et. al. for an app? I'm guessing probably something comparable to the number of people using Android right now. That's called 'attachment rate' and it's very low on Symbian, especially compared to iPhone.

        2) Symbian Signed. Come on, does it really have to be this hard/expensive? No, it d

    • Re:Okay... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Freetardo Jones (1574733) on Monday July 13, 2009 @03:16PM (#28681003)

      and now that Android has arrived and brought a much more friendly programming environment, this step is too little, too late.

      Too bad the figures don't bear you out what with Symbian powering almost 50% of all smart phones while Android is fighting to get more than 2-3% of the market. There are more Symbian-powered phones sold each quarter than there are even total devices running Android.

      • by dbcad7 (771464)
        Well until recently, Android was 1 phone, 1 manufacturer, 1 carrier. All that is changing. Europe has a nice jump on the US in rolling out new Android phones. Personally, I think the US is purposely dragging their feet for a combination of trying to get rid of existing phones and stalling to get their 3G networks in better shape.. I suspect that you'll find, that comparing 4th quarter numbers for 2008, 2009, 2010 will lead you to a different conclusion of where the market is heading.. but who knows, there a
    • Sorry, but me as a game designer am not going to invest development time into Android, because it is locked down. The same is even more true for the iPhone, that has not even got a JVM.

      The Symbian API may be crappy, but it still is the best we got.
      And from what I heard, we will soon have a new Qtopia stack and most importantly:

      They want to make it open-source, so that they can use the benefits of all other open source projects, and integrate as much of them into Symbian, until it pretty much is a Linux-Symb

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday July 13, 2009 @01:40PM (#28679425)
    With Symbian and Android now free, what is the reason for even producing a Windows Mobile handset anymore? I mean, why pay extra for a license when you can just customize your own OS for next to nothing?
    • by rumith (983060)
      I don't know... maybe because people will continue buying WinMobile handsets for the same reason they continue to buy Windows PCs? Getting access to Windows-only apps, that is, and a familiar (no matter how bad) user experience.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Aphonia (1315785)

        They run pretty well and sync up with software people use fairly easily, such as Outlook, etc. ?

      • by lamapper (1343009)

        maybe because people will continue buying WinMobile handsets for the same reason they continue to buy Windows PCs?

        Happily stopped purchasing Windows products over a year and a half ago, should have done it sooner. I am finding that in every category, even Graphics editing, Movie playing and mail / office apps, my FREEDOM with #Linux is superior than the limitations forced on me via vendor-lockin.

        Remember, buy Linux PCs from a Vendor like ZaReason [zareason.com] that builds the PC, laptop, netbook, multi-media machine from the ground up with Linux in mind, thus no issues with anything, their Linux machines just work right out of the box.

        When my friends could no longer reformat their PCs hard drive + reinstall their purchased Microsoft OS in order to clean out bloat and remove viruses, adware, etc, I just shook my head and reminded them why Microsoft lost my

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because life is more interesting when you have to reboot your phone daily.

      Today's magic word is "annoys"

    • With Symbian and Android now free, what is the reason for even producing a Windows Mobile handset anymore?

      The Microsoft kickbacks, of course.

      Otherwise you'd just run Android, I don't see the appeal of free Symbian myself when you could have something more modern and with better application potential.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because Windows Mobile has a large number of available applications that can be downloaded or installed for free. It also has a really nice development environment in Visual Studio.

      • by ivoras (455934)
        This is a huge part of why Symbian failed - while WinMo has adopted the Windows development model, with really fantastic Visual Studio support and free exchange of applications, Symbian has a) sucky development tools, b) cannot even reach an agreement with itself on what toolkit to use for the UI - think GNOME/KDE but on a more massive scale and without the user having the ability to install "the other one" and c) requires *licencing* to distribute an application to any device. The last one is IMO what real
    • I like this on WinMo.

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

      It's a Chinese to English dictionary and is Windows Mobile/PalmOS only. I.e. not Symbian or Android.

      Also I can get GPS maps of Taiwan in English on WinMo.

      WinMo has a lot more software vendors for things like this than Symbian because it's not very hard to port Windows desktop applications to WinMo. And I think in Asia there's a lot of people with Windows mobile devices and frankly a lot of cracked WinMo software.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      And such thinking gave us the Year of the Linux desktop years ago! Oh wait... The licensing costs for WinMo are a pittance to the device manufacturers when it comes to the total cost to make the device especially since all the big phone companies definitely negotiate bulk license rates when dealing with Microsoft. If you honestly think these big phone manufacturers that rake in 10s of billions in revenue a year care about that mere pittance they throw to Microsoft for WinMo you are horrible naive. It's

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      What was great about Windows Mobile before? That you could get cracked more easily? That it ate all the power and your battery died after 2 hours? Or that it was more expensive and buggy? ^^

      • Easy-to-use development tools, and, as a consequence, a wide selection of third-party non-toy applications.

        • Hmm, I found development for Symbian pretty easy. So I really must have a different understanding of "easy". :)

          But I prefer "efficient" over "easy" anyway.

          • "Easy" in this case means "so easy a monkey could do it": if you target .NET Compact Framework, you fire up VS, create a new "Smart Device" project, and immediately see a visual form editor where you can drag widgets around and hook up events; then press F5, and the emulator will automatically be launched, your application built and deployed, and debugging starts.

  • Symbian? (Score:2, Funny)

    by GottliebPins (1113707)
    So this is a portable version of that vibrating thing? Oh, sorry, never mind...
  • Symbian vs. Linux (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lixee (863589) on Monday July 13, 2009 @02:38PM (#28680483)
    I'll quote the wiki: "Symbian OS kernel (EKA2) supports sufficiently-fast real-time response such that it is possible to build a single-core phone around itâ"that is, a phone in which a single processor core executes both the user applications and the signalling stack. This is a feature which is not available in Linux. This has allowed SymbianOS EKA2 phones to become smaller, cheaper and more power efficient.[citation needed]"

    Is that even true? If not, we should take it up on the discussion page.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Hal_Porter (817932)

      Well it's sort of irrelevant now. Most phone chipsets have two ARM cores - one for the signalling and one for the application.

      And as someone put it if you're developing a phone do you really want to deal with bugs like "when I play this Britney Spears MP3 my phone drops calls" or worse "phone fails radio test at the testhouse, seems to depend which application is running but we can't figure out how".

      If you put both the applications and the signalling stack on the same ARM you're pretty much asking for this.

      • My phone doesn't play MP3s while I'm trying to talk to someone.

        • Actually on a lot of phones the ring tone is an MP3. So when someone calls you you need to be able to decode MP3s and handle the network stack. More to the point when the phone is tested by operators they will have a base station simulator attached, so even if the signalling code can manage to keep the connection despite being sabotaged by the application that plays MP3s if it is outside spec it will fail the test.

  • by ElitistWhiner (79961) on Monday July 13, 2009 @03:11PM (#28680935) Journal

    Precursor to Symbian the Psion OS had Calendar.app superior over todays calendar apps.

    • The PalmOS calendar was also superior to anything I've seen on any of the smart phones I've looked at. It boggles the mind that we could have gone so far backwards on such a basic core feature.

  • According to this [wikipedia.org] EPL and GPL are incompatible due to diferening patent restrictions, however if there are no patents covering the code (or the patents are invalid), could the code be linked and redistributed under either

  • I'll believe it's open source when I see it running fully on third party hardware. An Android handset would be an interesting choice.
  • Nokia/Symbian already proved their mastery in Software Interface designing with their S40 and S60 Platforms. If they could extend it further, they will challenge Microsoft's dominance in Netbook OS market. Nokia's recent partnership with Intel triggers speculation in this regard.
    • by Ilgaz (86384)

      Look to N97 and aging E90. They all belong to 9000 family of Nokia which is particularly interesting since the user base of them are following the incarnation of the models. E.g. 9200 users moved to 9300, 9300 moved to E90 and they now consider N97. It is almost like iPod community.

      Nokia has been making true netbooks for almost a decade while nobody seems to care. It started with Psion in fact, grandfather of Symbian.

      Of course, Nokia was never stupid to think that users would want a non performing Windows o

  • No, really.. with all that is out there now is this that big of a deal? Perhaps it is, which is why i ask.

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