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Linux, Android and Open Source in the Mobile Environment


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  • 1. Linux, Android and Open Source in the Mobile Environment Alison Chaiken February 25, 2010 Survey of Linux on mobile Kernel-only open source in mobile world Curious status of Android and why we care
  • 2. Why do we care? Linux is well-established on servers and in embedded, but mobile is wide open. Mobile outcomes for Linux will have significant consequences for other platforms. Smartphones = most important battleground.
  • 3. What do we mean by “Linux”? "anyone can call any kernel-derived operating system Linux" -- Jim Zemlin "Linux is the kernel . . . . Linux is normally used in combination with the GNU operating system: the whole system is basically GNU with Linux added, or GNU/Linux. All the so-called'Linux' distributions are really distributions of GNU/Linux." -- RMS 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 3
  • 4.'s definition Linux is a clone of the operating system Unix, written from scratch by Linus Torvalds with assistance from a loosely-knit team of hackers . . . It has all the features you would expect in a modern fully- fledged Unix, including true multitasking, virtual memory, shared libraries, demand loading, shared copy-on-write executables, proper memory management, and multistack networking 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 4
  • 5. Full “Gnu Linux” implementations Name Supported by Hardware Based on MeeGo = Moblin Intel, Nokia, N900, LG Fedora or + Maemo Linux GW990; ARM Debian + Qt Foundation and x86 (Atom) Mer ? Fully open N900 Ubuntu Maemo LiMo + LIPS = LiMo NEC, Samsung, custom ELIPS Foundation, Panasonic, Wind River Vodafone, NTT Angstrom Archos Archos 5 Tablet OpenEmbedded AccessLinux, Orange, Access, FreeRunner various OpenMoko, MontaVista, MobiLinux OpenMoko 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 5
  • 6. MeeGo Architecture Diagram Hmm, doesn't say “Linux”! 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 6
  • 7. Intel's Moorestown SOC Built for Linux LG GW990 running Moblin on Moorestown 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 7
  • 8. What we know about MeeGo ● Motivation is earlier market failures ● Aimed at netbooks and “slates” like Atom? ● Intel and Nokia continue separate app stores?! ● Committed fast-boot patches back to main tree ● GTK and Clutter not much supported 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 8
  • 9. Linux Kernel Plus Name Support Hardware Platform Language Bada Samsung Wave Own SDK C++ webOS Palm Pre, Pixi Browser/Mojo Javascript Chrome OS Google Samsung Browser Javascript netbook Android Open Handset myriad JVM Java Alliance, Replicant 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 9
  • 10. Smartphone Sales by OS 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 10
  • 11. The most valuable piece of I.P. in the world is . . . the GPL'ed Linux kernel. 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 11
  • 12. WebOS (and Chrome?) Software Stack FaiB, even to OEMs, but not FaiF. 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 12
  • 13. Android Software Stack 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 13
  • 14. Android has some familiar features ● Can adb into unlocked phones, type “ls” and “ps” and peek into /etc, /proc ● Developers can cross-compile C code for ARM using NDK ● Kernel supports insmod, ioctl, dmesg, etc. 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 14
  • 15. But “Android/Linux” is not standard (based on material by Matt Porter and Harald Welte) ● System calls are handled by Goog's own Bionic, based on BSD's libc ● Bionic is half the size of glibc ● Avoided LGPL by rolling their own instead of using uClibc ● Chock-a-block with hard-coded constants and policies 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 15
  • 16. Will the Android fork damage the kernel? ● drivers/staging/android removed from ● Drivers don't build against main kernel ● OEMs cannot contribute drivers back to the kernel ● More threatening to the main effort than, say, an Arduino fork 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 16
  • 17. Licenses and Mobile Phones ● Maemo had plenty of closed components. closed components. ● WebOS and Bada have no licenses at all. ● Android is Apache-licensed but drivers are closed. ● Installation of “Google Experience” apps not permitted. 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 17
  • 18. Community Android remixes? ● Android ported to Tegra, Snapdragon, etc. ●Runs on phones, eBook readers (Nook), netbooks (Acer), MIDs. ●“Remixes” of Android likely: Frog Design. ● “Less than free” even to handset manufacturers. 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 18
  • 19. Android-based open source ● FLOSS Dispenser: a free market for Android ● CyanogenMod Project, alt build of Android ● Open Android Alliance dead as of 2/20 ● Replicant Project aims to replace closed components ● Debian can be installed on top of Android? 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 19
  • 20. Mobile Linux Take-aways ● LiMo, ELIPS, Bada, others will ship on millions of featurephones ● MeeGo is desktop Linux rejiggered for mobile ● webOS and Chrome OS are browser-based OS's founded on the Linux kernel ● 800-lb gorilla is “less than free” but may be unstoppable 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 20
  • 21. Summary ● Linux-based mobile OS's differ at the architecture and library levels, not at the package level ● If you thought desktop distros were confusing, steel yourself! 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 21
  • 22. Symbian: completely irrelevant? ● As of 2010, fully open under Eclipse license – except for drivers ● Based on ancient Psion real-time microkernel ● Runs on many handsets, but they have closed bootloaders ● Only open hardware is TI's Beagleboard ● Free, but not “less than free” like Android ● Apps must be signed by Symbian Foundation 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 22
  • 23. References and Sources Software Freedom Law Center blog and podcasts by Bradley M. Kuhn on Android/Linux's Future and Advancement of Mobile Software Freedom and Software Freedom on Mobile Devices Palm, Nokia, Moblin, Google, Engadget websites Linux Weekly News “Android Mythbusters” by Matt Porter 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 23
  • 24. Traditional OS stack 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 24
  • 25. Chrome OS Stack The ‘Browser’ engine is the system execution engine. 02/25/10 Alison Chaiken 25