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Businesses Cellphones Communications Operating Systems Software

Nokia to Acquire and Open Source Symbian 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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Nokia to Acquire and Open Source Symbian

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  • symbian development (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Keruo ( 771880 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @09:05AM (#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.

  • What about Sony? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @09:08AM (#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? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by janslu ( 960227 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @09:21AM (#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.
  • by blackpaw ( 240313 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @09:31AM (#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.

  • by unfunk ( 804468 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @09:35AM (#23915839) Journal
    "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:Awareness... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by glebd ( 586769 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @09:46AM (#23915975) Homepage
    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.
  • Too little, too late (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Etherized ( 1038092 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:07AM (#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.

  • by Radical Emu ( 1305047 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:11AM (#23916309) Homepage
    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.
  • This means nothing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @10:45AM (#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.

  • by Radical Emu ( 1305047 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:11AM (#23917351) Homepage
    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:SMP support (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2008 @11:49AM (#23918187) Homepage

    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.

  • Do you honestly feel the minor "restriction" (more accurately a simple and easily fulfilled obligation) to not withhold what was freely shared to you [...]

    But that's not what the GPL is about. The GPL is about sharing what was given to you and anything you've done as well that might be (by a ridiculously broad brush) considered a "derivative work".

    You license something under the GPL when you want to influence what other people can do with their code. If all you want to do is keep your code "free", then the BSDL does just as good a job.

    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.

    The "freedom from" argument can be used to justify pretty much anything. You just need to pick your pet cause that "people" must have the "freedom from" being subjected to.

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

    To use but one obvious example, the US consitution does not offer people the "freedom from" hate speech. Ergo, a Constituation that outlawed hate speech would be "freer" because of that.

  • by mr_matticus ( 928346 ) on Thursday June 26, 2008 @12:06AM (#23945045)

    You misunderstand the scope of the GPL. Despite its wording, the real effect it has is not on freedom of code, but on freedom of whole software projects.
    On the contrary, it is the supporters of the GPL who dramatically misunderstand its consequences. The GPL is not a project license, period.

    Your contention is interesting, but not supported by reality. The release of GPL code is not confined in any way to "the project", nor does the development of closed-off modifications have any impact on the fulfillment of the goal. Lack of progress is not the same thing as detriment.

    Even if the original, unmodified code is still present, the new code is competing in the same environment, and people in the project has no longer access to the enhancements - they must rebuild it for themselves.
    That is what freedom means. If you are releasing something into the wild for free, you must accept the possibility that someone will take it and improve it without sharing those improvements with you.

    The net result is that the free rider benefited from the community work, and now the community is left worse than it began.
    The community is no worse off. It simply isn't the recipient of benefits. Calling the licensee a "free rider" has the exact effect of proving that the license isn't about freedom at all, but merely a different sort of expectation of profit.

    The GPL was NEVER intended for that purpose.
    And thus it is not truly free, in any sense of the word. Excited zealotry notwithstanding, it's exactly as restrictive as a proprietary license, just in different ways to different people.

    Now that was pure trolling. GPL supporters are ALL for copyright enforcement
    You can't possibly say that with a straight face. Some of the biggest Slashdot GPL astroturfers are also vocal about copyright infringement not being a detriment, because those people never intended to pay for the product, ergo it is not a "lost sale", or that there is no loss because the creator still has everything he had to begin with (nevermind that that is demonstrably false, because the only thing the creator had was exclusivity, and that property has been taken without intent to return).

    That's not to say that there aren't those with a sane approach to the issue, but many of the posters in this thread are not among them.

    GPL advocacy crosses into demonstrably false zealotry when it proclaims to be the "freest" license. It simply is not even close. There's nothing wrong with the GPL or its goals, but there is no need to pretend it is something it isn't. The need to establish that false dichotomy seems to be preprogrammed into its supporters, though, because they can't seem to function without declaring proprietary licenses evil and theirs the Holy Lord of Software Licensing.

    The right tool for the right job. No software developer should begrudge any other the right to license their hard work and well-deserved property rights in the manner they see fit and to the extent they see fit. Trying to force GPL down everyone's throats is simply another kind of greed, no more or less noble than the peddlers of closed-source licenses.

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