LiMo's Linux-based mobile OS stack makes gains

The LiMo Foundation is set to roll out the latest version of its Linux-based mobile phone software stack. At this week’s Mobile World Congress, vendors showed LiMo-based phones, and announced their membership in the foundation.

A flock of new mobile devices unveiled this week at Mobile World Congress are part of the trend toward Linux-powered mobility, incorporating the open-source software stack from the LiMo Foundation.

LG Electronics, Panasonic and Samsung all demonstrated mobile handsets using the LiMo stack. Samsung for example showed a LiMo version of its Omnia touch phone, unveiled last summer with Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional. LG too showed a LiMo-ized version of an earlier a Windows Mobile phone released last year: originally called LG Incite but with the LiMo stack apparently now the Atos-L. It too, was originally released last year with Windows Mobile 6.1. In addition, a handful of companies, including Samsung and LG, showcased new software development and UI tool kits designed for LiMo.

Production phones probably won’t be available until later in 2009.

A full listing of the various Mobile World Congress LiMo demonstrations can be found on the foundation’s Web site.

The consortium also announced that it has finalized Release 2 of the LiMo software stack and reference implementations are now available to its members. About 30 mobile handsets based on Release 1, completed just last year, are currently available.

Six new companies have joined the foundation, covering mobile operators, chipmakers, and software vendors, including Opera Software, Marvell Semiconductor, and CassioHitachi Mobile Communications. There are 15 founding or core members, another 39 associate members.

The additions are evidence that support is consolidating around LiMo as a main platform for mobile devices. The group was strengthened last year when the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum folded its work and members into the foundation.

LiMo is built on a Linux kernel, but the group’s focus has been on aggressively fleshing that out with a set of middleware frameworks for such functions as security, messaging, multimedia, database, application management, along with a set of APIs to make these services accessible for third-party applications. The platform is a rival to Android form the Open Handset Alliance, as well as Symbian, now itself an open-source project.

LiMo R2 improved device management, security, and Web features, says Andrew Shikiar, director of global marketing for the foundation. The newly announced SDKs will give developers tools for building R2-based applications.

The foundation also announced support for the Bondi (bohn-die) specification from the Open Mobile Terminal Platform project, a standardization effort by mobile operators. Bondi’s focus is to create easy to use, standard interfaces that give Web services access to specific features of a mobile handset. With Bondi implemented in a mobile software stack, developers don’t have to juggle different interfaces for different devices to make use of a camera, for example.

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