Friday, February 11, 2011

Samsung is backing Linux (SLP)

With Nokia's recent news of jumping off the Linux bandwagon, it makes this Linux user wonder if a couple years down the road if we are going to have any choice other than Android when choosing a Linux based handset. I keep fairly current on news in the FOSS world, but I had never heard about the LiMo Foundation until a few days ago. LiMo, which stands for Linux Mobile, aims to be a unifing force in the mobile Linux world, to quote:

"LiMo Foundation is an industry consortium dedicated to creating the first truly open, hardware-independent, Linux-based operating system for mobile devices. Backing from major industry leaders puts LiMo at the Heart of the Mobile Industry and makes LiMo the unifying force in Mobile Linux."

The LiMo Foundation has some pretty big backers including Samsung, NEC, Panasonic, Vodafone, Mozilla, and Verizon. Now why is this post entitled "Samsung is backing Linux" and not NEC, Panasonic, or any of the others listed on the members page? That is because in addition to being a member of LiMo, Samsung is developing their own Linux platform - Samsung Linux Platform or SLP. SLP is based around GTK, EFL and a few other open source projects (I guess with Nokia's recent betrayal thats going to make QT the under dog). In Samsung's SLP overview they provide a handy graphical layout of what is going to go into their Linux Platform:

As with Android and Maemo there are a number of closed source components in the system, but nearly half of the system is Open Source. Most notably in addition to EFL and GTK under Application/System you will see DPKG listed, this brings me personally a sigh of relief as I much prefer dpkg to rpm. Samsung is also investing in the open source products they plan to use, they are the ones that have been funding the development of EFL in the past year.

While there are not any Samsung devices currently on the market running SLP, you can still support Samsung and FOSS by purchasing one of their many Android devices in the mean time or their Wave S8500 which runs on the Unix based Bada platform. Personally I am hoping that by the time I am ready to trade up my N900 a year or so from now Samsung will have some of their own Linux based handsets on the market.

What do you think about this? Is SLP useless fragmentation in the Linux Mobile market or is it important that FOSS advocateds have more than just Android to turn to? Personally I believe it is the latter of the two, competition stimulates innovation.

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. I think with WEBOS and Android there is competition in the Linux side.

  2. (I guess with Nokia's recent betrayal thats going to make QT the under dog)

    Not necessarily true. Qt is also released under the GPL license. It can be forked pretty quickly if Nokia is going to die any time soon due to its switch to Win 7. Qt is not underdog and it is superior to Gtk at the moment.

  3. "webOS is a proprietary mobile operating system running on the Linux kernel"

    To quote myself:

    "Restricted technologies are not the way of the future and Android's explosive growth is proof of this."

    I do NOT think WebOS is the right alternative.

    @Abe EFLs are fair superior to QT.

  4. i was wondering why samsung has not used EFL in their bada os as eventhough they are sponsering Enlightenment... i don't know why samsung is building another linux based os as they are already having bada meego is almost dead, i am really interested in palm webos which is also using linux kernel...

  5. @jeff i think bada os is also proprietary... and i think the open source os in pc and mobile are different... we can install an open source os in pc so easily (easier than installing windows) but the case is different in mobile... even making android handset by oems is difficult without the google's help..

    but always an opensource os is good as even if the creators are no longer interested in the development, an opensource project will survive if it has decent fan following...

  6. Most all the mobile OSes have pieces of closed source technology, but webOS is more so than the others...

  7. bada is not unix at all ... and even less GNU/Linux ( ... so far)


  8. "bada is not an operating system itself, but a platform with a kernel configurable architecture, which allows the use of either a proprietary real-time operating system (RTOS) kernel, or the Linux kernel. According to copyrights displayed by Samsung Wave S8500, it uses code from FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD, although other phones might use Linux instead"

  9. Don't support Samsung because you're a FOSS advocate, as Samsung are anything but a FOSS company. Their use of FOSS is very much "benefit from the all you can use free software buffet", and they have a poor track record of giving back.

    Similarly, don't buy Android if you want to encourage Samsung to continue with SLP - if Samsung's Android devices do well, there's no commercial incentive to continue SLP.

    Finally - SLP and LiMo are the same thing, as Samsung gave LiMo most of their code.

    Keep an eye out for announcements about LiMo next week during MWC.

  10. "Their use of FOSS is very much 'benefit from the all you can use free software buffet'"

    Doesn't sound any different from Google to me.

  11. Am I the only one who does not care if an operating system is open source or not. What matters is that you get to use native C plus plus all the way down to the metal. That way you can do whatever you want and don't have to go through some black box operating system or virtual language runtime.

  12. Truly open?

    Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.
    MeeGo is a registered trademark of The Linux Foundation.

  13. WebOS may have it's issues but it seems to be getting a lot of interest over the past day or so. HP also seems pretty committed to supporting community development. Have a look at my (rich c) Linuxquestions blog for a link. Posting this from my N900. I'm useless at copying links with it... :o)

  14. "and they have a poor track record of giving back." (Samsung).

    Times and times we hear and read this kind of statements, related to Samsung, to Canonical, and to many other more corporates.

    The very true fact is that "giving back" cannot be taken only as a simple measure of number of lines sent upstream.

    Companies like Nokia employed hundred of engineers developing Meego. The same with Google about Android. Many companies do employ lots of Debian developers. A.s.o.

    All this add up to the open source environment.

    Nobody else than Canonical did more to spread the Desktop Linux word around the world. That will attracts new users, where some will become the future Linux gurus.

    It's true that corporates have the bottom line agenda, they change ownership or presidents, some die and open source projects may suffer with all that. Nothing though would be a total loss.

    That's why many consider that the hard core of the open source development and it's future must be in the hands of the particulars. But there will always be a trade off with corporates.

    What would grant the open source future is in fact the existence of the GPL and other good and ever improved free licenses.