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Linux Targets Mobile Networking

Linux has made great strides in taking over servers in the data center. Now the mighty penguin is fishing for another market--advanced cell phones and other mobile devices.

Open Source Development Labs, which employs Linux creator Linus Torvalds, last week said it has brought together Motorola Inc. and several other high-tech vendors to develop a Linux platform for sophisticated cellular phones and other mobile devices.

Members of the OSDL working group, called the Mobile Linux Initiative, also include MontaVista Software, PalmSource, Trolltech, and Wind River. The participants plan to develop a base-level platform upon which handset manufacturers can build, says Dave Rosenberg, an analyst for the labs. Requirements for the open-source operating system would include power management to increase battery life, a standard interface for connecting to the various carrier networks, and other basic functions that would have to be crammed into an operating system that runs in devices with limited memory.

Participants have built their own Linux-based operating systems, but the idea is to collaborate on a single platform to make that platform a stronger competitor. Much like in the Linux computer world, software vendors would make money on applications built on the operating system.

"A lot of this is a unification of all these efforts into a base platform that meets the needs of more than one vendor," Rosenberg says. "There really is no vendor-neutral development on [mobile] Linux. They're all different."

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