The LiMo Foundation has announced the first version of its Linux based mobile alternative to Google's Android is "complete". Except that it isn't. Although release 1.0 - announced at CTIA in Las Vegas, Nevada - provides a basic mobile Linux platform, it comes with limitations. It includes C and C++ versions of the middleware …
This is typical linux ....
instead of finishing one thing that can be made that works and is complete , we have already twenty groups taking off in different directions. Diversity is good, as long as it doesn't end up being a monty-pythonesque 'twit-race'.
How come everyone seems to forget the other Linux based mobile OS that is in development? It doesn't have big backing but for my money looks like it will produce a more open phone if it can beat the other 2 to a full scale release (and survive a buyout).
You seem to miss a couple points:
1) Linux isn't a product. Linux is a Kernel. If someone wants to make a product using it as a base, thats fine.
2) Linux IS complete, as a kernel anyway. What is not complete is said product, in both LiMo and Android, aswell as OpenMoko and several other Linux-based mobile distributions under development.
Comparing this to most other things is not really possible. What you have are several different companies, and a couple of communities, developing what they think would be the right "product" for mobile phones. Sure, it isnt the most efficient way, but this is how things happen. Most people are not used to this is the days of the Microsoft Empire, then the Supreme Ones build sopmething, shove it out the door, and expect praise. Think back to the early days of computing, when there were many different competing OS's and you may have an idea where we stand.
I cannot stand people refering to Linux as a company (e.g. "Why doesnt Linux get its act together and put out one OS which will compete with MS). Linux cannot do that. Even GNU/Linux is not a 100% complete product. What are products are the distributions that are put together around GNU/Linux (and I will be pedantic and include the GNU), but as there are many companies all doing so, they all compete with each other. Simple.
One good thing though... You can take most software built for GNU/Linux and run it on most distributions. This includes mobile distros. Personally, I can't wait to have TuxRacer on a Neo Freerunner running OpenMoko (assuming they get an OpenGL driver for the 3D chipset of course)
Unfortunately, OpenMoko doesn't have any big sexy backing so it's going to just chug along in the background. However, I have noticed that the handset is now being sold by resellers of First International Computer (Koolu, Lintop and the like) so it might yet become a reality.
Good job, I think you hit all the talking points from
Unfortunately, in the real world, a good enough and
early enough solution beats the eventual asymptotic
perfection of a million OpenMonkeys banging away
independently on their keyboards.
Half a product here, plus half a product there, plus
a quarter of a product over there, equals nothing
worthwhile to anybody.
How is this different from what we have today?
In the world of mobile handsets, there are MANY different implementations today, all with different foundations, features and availability. It doesn't really matter WHAT the underlying platform is: the resulting utility to the end user is what sells a platform.
As far as I can tell, it's not so much the underlying platform that determines what a mobile device can do, but the hardware limitations. Small screens, limited input devices, cost to consumer are all far more important in device limitations that the underlying software. And the carrier/vendor desires for profit and option sell-through are a much bigger factor in determining exactly what is delivered to customers than any software limitation.
A Linux solution is desirable for all parties involved (well, except for Microsoft) because it makes the cost of feature-function addition much lower than a proprietary solution. And, as Dr. Mouse points out above, regardless of the underlying distro, porting an application from one distro to another is usually much easier than creating it anew.
Unfortunately, the most important missing piece is the ability to take *ANY* handset and use it on *ANY* network. (Don't worry: I know why this is a problem - has nothing to do with Linux.) Europeans are fortunate in that nearly all the subscriber networks are GSM-based, allowing for far more devices to connect to them than us Yanks with our fragmented GSM/CDMA/iDEN networks. But, regardless, it's all about getting a device certified and accepted by a carrier - and THAT problem hasn't even begun to raise it's head. Consider the issues that terrestrial comms have with the BBC iPlayer and its traffic, or BitTorrent traffic in the US. Each application, regardless of platform, will be a determining factor for acceptance, not the underlying OS or feature set.
Personally, I'm looking forward to the day when I can get a radio "lump" that simply acts as a voice call interface, modem and router and can dangle from my keys, then have specific other devices (like a Bluetooth headset or a Nokia 770) to perform the functions of interfaces to me as a human.
(Steps off fruit crate, picks up crate and walks off.)
Do not compare android with a half finished project on sourceforge.
This isn't you mate fred from down the pub doing a spot of coding at the weekend.
These are professional software developers, do not expect lots of half finished linux based phone distros.
To clarify: yes i know linux is a kernel. 'Look everyone, i have the latest linux kernel on my phone and i compiled it myself ..' Big whoop. My question is : can you dial a number ? can i talk to someone at the other side of the connection ? Can the phone connect to my bluetooth earpiece ? Will i be able to sync my addressbook to Opera / Outlook / Firefox / Iceweasel ?
That is what i'm getting at. It looks to me that, instead of finishing a complete working phone (and i couldn't care less what kernel you use. The purpose of a phone is to dial a number and be able to talk to someone. ) they are taking of in different directions and focussing ont he wrong things first.
First get the phone working. Once that's done focus on the phonebook , then add support for bluetoooth earpiece. Then deal on syncing phonebooks .. get the FUNCTIONALITY operational first ! When all that is done you can deal with the bloody eyecandy and glitz. Then i don't care what fancy colorsceme , java applets , browsers, music and video players, ringtone downloaders and other stuff you come up with.
All is see coming out of the 'linux world' is endless discussions about wether to use vi or emacs or kde vs gnome and what flashy fancy new coloursceme/gui/eyecandy they came up with. It's an order of magnitude worse than microsoft ! (they only upgrade their 'look' once every 5 years or so ...) I don't need the vista aero interface, heck i don't need the XP interface.. The Win2k 'style' works for me. It has buttons i can click on that do stuff...
That's where i applaud google's initiative. They give you the platform that has the phone part down and deals with all the hardware stuff. Now go and be creative with it. Take this free platform and make some applications i can install that make the phone usefull.
I have a windows mobile base phone (Samsung Blackjack ) it does everything i need. i can dial a number or look it up in the phonebook , it works with my bluetooth earpiece, it works with my handsfree bluetooth in the car. i can sync my contacts with outlook (and indirectly with opera) i can read google mail ( thank you google for the free gmail app ) it runs google maps. i have opera mini installed (on the odd case i need to get on the web to find the closest starbucks) i have iSilo installed so i can read text while on the plane. if i need a quick picture of my scribblings on the whiteboard in the meetingroom the camera works fine. It's got a calendar and i even have GPS software running on it that talks to a bluetooth gps module i got cheap (50 $).
It works for what i need it to work. When i come home i push the OFF button anyway. My phone is a work instrument. If you can give me the same functionality on a cheaper phone ( linux is cheaper then the windows mobile licence ) that has a longer battery life i will definitely buy one. But 45 $ for a blackjack (with a 2 year contract ) will be VERY hard to beat.
Anyway, long rant-n-rave. But again what i'm getting at is : join al the developers up to build tha working phone PLATFORM first. Then i don;t care if everybody goes a different way and designs different ui's and applications. Diversity is good as long as the foundations is there.