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A to z of open mobile


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This presentation was for the Cambridge Wireless “Open Source - free lunch?” Software SIG event on 25th February 2009. The event aimed to explore the world of mobile open source software development and to challenge the arising issues from this debate.

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A to z of open mobile

  1. 1. OPEN MOBILE AZ 00 ESS Y 2 EL AR IR 9 RU GE W FEB RID MB CA Wednesday, 25 February 2009 1 This presentation was for the Cambridge Wireless “Open Source - free lunch?” Software SIG event on 25th February 2009. The event aimed to explore the world of mobile open source software development and to challenge the arising issues from this debate.
  2. 2. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 2 This presentation is a lightning-fast look at the mobile ecosystem, identifying key open elements (open source, open development, open standards, open ...) It is not comprehensive but hopefully gives an insight into the different types of openness in mobile.
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  4. 4. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 4 Android is the obvious big name in “Open Source mobile”. A year after announcing that they were working on a mobile operating system, the Open Handset Alliance released the open source code of Android to the public. But the most notable thing about Android is that as much source as possible was released under the Apache license, a so-called “liberal” or “business-friendly” license. The choice of open source license for your code says a lot about what you are trying to achieve. For example selecting the GPL shows a strong focus on freedom and liberty. In this case, Google’s choice of ASL demonstrates a desire to be commercially-friendly (because of the ability to use ASL code in proprietary products) and to see widespread adoption (in contrast to the widespread sharing of code the GPL enforces). This choice of license could well be crucial to the long-term success or otherwise of the Android platform. license-over-gplv2.ars
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  6. 6. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 6 Open Source goes hand-in-hand with Open Standards. Several network operators, concerned with fragmentation across platforms, have got together to try to standardise the way the existing web 2.0 environment is moved onto mobile devices. This initiative is OMTP - Open Mobile Terminal Platform. The BONDI project is about a common web runtime and widget layer for devices, and includes a set of API specifications, interface, security and architecture requirements, and a reference implementation. BONDI is particularly compelling and exciting because it allows developers to write mobile applications that are indistinguishable from native applications using little more than HTML, Javascript and CSS, with little if any cross-platform testing and integration required. BONDI was recently endorsed by the LiMo Foundation. limo-press-releases/limo-foundation-endorses-omtp-bondi-specification-to-bring- web-2.0-applications-to-limo-handsets-3.html Widget screenshots borrowed from mobile_solutions/netfrontmobile/browser/widgets.html
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  8. 8. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 8 There are many C’s: commoditisation, copyleft, cost, compliance, collaboration, community. Commoditisation (and consolidation): the end of vertically-integrated handset production. There’s little value for handset manufacturers to build a complete platform on their own. The first wave of commoditisation saw a move to using linux kernel; we’re in the second wave at the moment, seeing a broad cross-section of the mobile ecosystem seeking shared development opportunities at the middleware level through LiMo. Cost: open source software represents an opportunity to significantly lower the cost of deployment, and use of open source is “enlightened self-interest”. Copyleft: license obligations such as making your changes available to others. Compliance: the work of ensuring you fulfil those license obligations is essential and the alternatives costly.
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  10. 10. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 10 Downloading and Distribution. Application stores for mobile. The Apple Application Store was a game-changer and demonstrated consumers’ desire to customise their phones and buy applications over the air. But the application store model is at odds with the FSF’s Free Software Definition from the outset. Apple are the sole authority on what can and can’t be made available, and apps are encumbered with DRM that prevents the freedom to redistribute copies to help your neighbour. Dalvik is another important D. It is a virtual machine in the Android platform that runs Java applications that have been converted into a compact Dalvik executable. It’s actually more open than Sun’s J2ME - because Dalvik apps are not compiled into Java bytecode, there’s no need to pay Sun a runtime license. The final D is D-Bus: this could be the enabling technology behind BONDI, through for example Movial’s open source browser bridge, which provides access to low-level functionality from the web runtime.
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  12. 12. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 12 Ecosystems and Evolution. Every phone platform, not just the open ones, needs a healthy developer ecosystem. A diverse membership from many different organisations, a rich toolchain, a collaboration environment, and source code. The more open the ecosystem, the easier it is for developers to engage. Having a healthy ecosystem in turn encourages evolution. In the open source world, any developers making small incremental changes based on fitness of code, encourages the best technical solutions.
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  14. 14. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 14 Free (libre). Four Freedoms. Free Software Foundation. The official stewards of the free software movement, the FSF are responsible for the GNU project (writing an operating system that is entirely open source), for the Gnu Public License, and for defending the license, for example in a recent suit filed against Cisco. Fennec, the Firefox derivative free mobile browser initiative from Mozilla. Funambol, open syncing.
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  16. 16. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 16 GNOME Mobile, an initiative from the GNOME Foundation, to advance the use, development, and commercialisation of GNOME components as a mobile and embedded user experience platform. It’s an important focus for work on optimising and tuning for mobile. Many recognised industry names are participating, for example Nokia, Samsung, Access, LiMo. We could see GNOME as ubiquitous on mobile as on the Linux desktop. Governance - importance of clear community model in open development. GIT - distributed version control could turn software development (including. open source) on it’s head. GPL - the copyleft license that 70% of open source is under.
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  18. 18. exceptional achievement excellent collaboration decreasing our maintenance burden Wednesday, 25 February 2009 18 Hildon and haptic. Touch interfaces require new paradigms and new development of existing toolkits. Nokia took GTK and built Hildon, the interface for their internet tablet. In a discussion on achievements in Gnome Mobile in 2008, Luc Pionchon of Nokia said that they would not have been able to make such an exceptional achievement as shipping the N810 using a recent version of GTK if it was not for the excellent collaboration by the community. This has in turn reduced their ongoing maintenance burden. Open source “enlightened self-interest” at work. The full quote: The exceptional achievement is that, at the origin of GNOME Mobile there was a bunch of people blocked with GTK+2.6, because of the performance of GTK+2.8. At that time Nokia had a dirty fork of GTK+ 2.6, and merging in improvements from trunk was a significant effort. Now, thanks to excellent collaboration, we at Nokia were able to ship N810 and Maemo 4 with GTK+ 2.10. One of the important side effects is that, we were catching up with the latest GTK+, decreasing our maintenance burden.
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  20. 20. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 20 The Internet. Open Source development has really accelerated thanks to the widespread adoption of the internet. The internet is an essential enabler of distributed and open development: - public source code repositories - public mailing lists - wikis and websites - internet relay chat The internet allows the fast distribution of both software and conversations. The internet is also behind another sea-change: always on computing, via the mobile platform up through MIDs and Netbooks to Laptops. It’s leading to a new breed of open social software (facebook, google latitude, cloud computing in general). Another I: IP, licensing
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  22. 22. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 22 J2ME. Java mobile edition is open source, but not much use to those following the letter of the licenses. Sun released their code under the GPL v2, but with an exception to the license “the classpath exception” that makes the GPL reciprocal only for the Java platform code and not for user code running on it. This exception does not exist for Mobile Edition, so those wanting to ship Java on mobiles have to pay Sun. This makes implementing Java on phones an expensive proposition. This also means that the TCK (conformance test suite) contains field of use restrictions (since open source java implementations could become open source j2me implementations).
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  24. 24. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 24 Kernel - the linux kernel. Why are so many mobile platforms using it? The kernel goes an average of 2.7 months between releases. 2.83 patches per hour accepted into the kernel tree. Sustained growth to the kernel of 10% a year (support for new hardware, new features added). There are over 3000 developers from more than 270 companies contributing to the kernel. Top companies contributing include Red Hat, Novell, IBM, Intel - but biggest contributions are not identified as from any company (nearly 14%). Over 70% are paid for their work on the kernel. This is one of the largest and most successful open source projects ever, with a vibrant and active community supported by many companies. This is an important strength upon which mobile can build.
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  26. 26. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 26 We already covered linux under “kernel”, so this is the LiMo pitch. LiMo accelerates the mobile ecosystem. Our DNA enables equitable member collaboration in order to facilitate the next generation of mobile handsets and applications. We enable developer opportunity and innovation. We pioneered the open governance model enabling joint ownership and responsibility. We have a vast pool of IP contributions from many market-leading companies. Our licensing model enables innovation whilst preventing platform fragmentation. We focus on common middleware modules to support differentiation and multiple business models.
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  28. 28. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 28 Mobile Internet Devices and Netbooks are exciting as they represent a prominent positioning of Linux and open platforms to the consumer. Maemo, open platform (one vendor) with large developer / user community, predicated around a hardware device, an internet tablet. Moblin, driven by Intel, designed to support netbooks to MIDs, somewhat similar to LiMo in that it provides foundation APIs above the kernel but below the UI.
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  30. 30. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 30 Networks - what happens when we have open networks? Neo Freerunner is a smartphone developed by the openmoko project.
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  32. 32. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 32 Openmoko - a project aiming at creating truly open source mobile phones. Consisting of two sub-projects: openmoko linux, and openmoko hardware. The openmoko linux project builds the software platform. Openmoko hardware aspire to “open source hardware”, with hardware description language “HDL” code (semiconductor intellectual property cores) being shared. This means anyone can implement the hardware, or improve it, and distribute the changes. An interesting side-effect of openness is that there is an Android port to the openmoko hardware platform.
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  34. 34. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 34 Patents. LiMo Foundation has a strong patent non-assert as part of membership. How do companies with strong patent portfolios balance the shift to open source against the need to protect their intellectual property?
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  36. 36. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 36 QT is a cross-platform application development framework, widely used in the development of graphical user interface programs. It’s interesting in the world of open mobile because - it’s now owned by Nokia, since Nokia acquired Trolltech in June 2008 - it’s cross-platform, running on X/Linux, Mac, Windows CE, embedded, series 60. - it’s now been relicensed to LGPL. It could therefore be the best option for cross-platform GUIs now that the license permits more widespread use. However, it may have already lost too much ground to fragmentation and alternate toolkits such as GTK. Watch this space.
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  38. 38. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 38 REALITY This graph shows smartphone platform market share. Openness is good but what matters is innovation and cool product. For example Apple and RIM - people don’t buy phones because they are open, they buy them because they are cool or workhorses.
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  40. 40. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 40 Symbian Foundation have made the legacy S60 code open. The real challenge is twofold: sorting out the complex network of rights issues, and building a successful developer ecosystem. This could be one of the largest open source projects in the world - 40m lines of code - but it is difficult to attract open source developers to work on a large mature codebase, as opposed to simply building applications on top of the codebase.
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  42. 42. tom tom Wednesday, 25 February 2009 42 TomTom There are more types of mobile device than just phone, and TomTom is an interesting convergence device as we start to see mobile data connections used for over the air updates etc. TomTom have a long track-record of using Open Source, having built their product on top of Linux. They resolved licence issues by hiring many of the community who criticised them - a neat way of ensuring compliance and keeping the community happy.
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  44. 44. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 44 Ubuntu 9.04, Jaunty Jackalope, release shows an increasing focus on scaling out Ubuntu to mobile devices. An announcement in November 2008 outlined how ARM and Canonical will bring the full Ubuntu desktop operating system to the ARMv7 processor architecture to address demand from device manufacturers. This is on top of commitments for Ubuntu to support Intel MIDs.
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  46. 46. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 46 Virtuous cycle of open source. People start using open source; They contribute back to open source; They become developers of open source by opening up their code; They have others starting to use, contribute, develop their open source.
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  48. 48. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 48 WURFL (Wireless Universal Resource FiLe) is an XML configuration file containing information on capabilities and features of many (400+) mobile devices. While less important today, it’s an excellent early example of convergence and collaboration, with many major handset manufacturers and network operators contributing device profiles. Did WebKit kill WURFL? Is WebKit en route to being the de facto web runtime standard on mobile devices? WindRiver - One of the most prominent integrators of mobile linux stacks.
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  50. 50. vs Wednesday, 25 February 2009 50 Xensource, VMWare, and the impact of virtualization on open mobile platforms. Is it relevant? Will linux become the ‘de facto’ hardware abstraction layer? responses
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  52. 52. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 52 “Year 2008” - according to Andreas Constantinou of Vision Mobile, it was: “...the year when open source has transitioned from a status of early adoption to one of acceptance and endorsement by the mobile industry’s who’s who as a recipe for collaborative development.” We’re now in the time of “Mobilising open source”. Operators return to MWC armed with Open Source. The use of open source software in mobile is exploding from the operating system all the way up to the user experience. Mobile is now innovating on a perceived commodity. time-armed-with-open-source.html where-and-how/
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  54. 54. Wednesday, 25 February 2009 54 Z-Push An open source implementation of Microsoft ActiveSync for over-the-air multiple platform syncing to for example Windows Mobile devices. Zeitgeist.
  55. 55. Thank you! Wednesday, 25 February 2009 55