Home > Wireless > PalmSource to Build PalmOS on Top of Linux PalmSource to Build PalmOS on Top of Linux Submitted by Jon Cooper 2004-12-08 Wireless 42 Comments According to a report by the Register, the next version of PalmOS will have “Linux at its core.” The Reg suggests that while the core improvements will be open sourced, the top level layers will remain proprietary a la Apple’s Aqua interface. About The Author Adam Scheinberg Vice President, Information Technology at Massey Services, Inc • President, Board Member, The Mockingbird Foundation • All Things Web, Umphrey’s McGee • Web Developer • Father • Foodie • Music Snob • OS enthusiast Follow me on Twitter @sethadam1 42 Comments 2004-12-08 8:36 pm In their press release, they wrongly claim that Linux is a trademark of William Della Croce, when this matter has long been settled by the courts. ” Linux is a trademark owned by William R. Della Croce, an individual, and previously owned by Linus Torvalds, the originator of the GNU code of the same name.” Palm are spreading lies about Linux at the same time they claim to embrace it. Way to Go! 2004-12-08 8:46 pm what are they going to do with the BeOS code they’re sitting on? 2004-12-08 8:50 pm Toss it. As they already have done so. 2004-12-08 8:51 pm They claim that the linux based OS is for phones maybe some low end PDA and/or pda’s in Asia but i can’t help wonder what happens to OS 6? Why not base that on Linux as well. yeah it might still be different from their phone oriented linux based OS but at least they are both based on linux. As i understand it OS 6 is really targetted to mid-to high end PDAs (a zero growth market) and high-end smart phones (a small market which will never grow all that big since those high end phones cost so damn much). That is a pretty small market from where i stand. So what to do with OS 6? Put it on IBM/toshiba/sony cell devices?? What good is it really. BeOs is the cursed code. Where ever it goes, failure follows. No wond sakoman, another person who is followed closely by failure, left. 2004-12-08 8:54 pm This means then that the Cobalt OS is dead. AFAIK nobody had licensed it anyway and PalmOne was very noncommital about it. With this announcement, I don’t see why anybody would license Cobalt when clearly development for this Palm OS branch is dead. Rather, I think we will see Palm OS licensees waiting for the Cobalt functionality to be ported and released for Linux. As an aside…I have thought many times that Apple made a mistake by basing their OS on BSD instead of Linux. Of course, NeXTStep was BSD based and this was the easiest choice, but I think the decision has more to do with Steve’s control mania. With the massive support that Linux is receiving, Apple would have been able to take advantage of all the resources and funds being poured on it and concentrate its efforts on the user interface, which is where they really shine anyway. 2004-12-08 9:01 pm No cobalt is not dead yet. They need cobalt for the Treo and a few other high-end PDAs/smartphones at least for now. That could obviously change. They may not need cobalt as it is today at all in the future. Garnett is dead. I’d expect the product line to be reduced to cobalt and this linux aberration. From a strategic viewpoint this opens up PDA markets in Asia and basic phone markets everywhere but it will confuse the hell out of everyone and the developers included. A lot of developers are going to wonder about cobalt 6.1 and they should. 2004-12-08 9:27 pm I think this is pretty ironic, especial with many of the former Be Inc. employees infiltrating key positions at Palm Source. I may be wrong, but didn’t Jean-Louis Gassee comment on Linux not being well suited for anything other than a server OS, it being Unix based? I have always been a BeOS and Palm fan. I have been holding out on upgrading my Palm III until a Cobalt based Treo arrive. It looks like I may be waiting in vain. On the other hand maybe Palm Source will be more apt to open sourcing some the key BeOS components (Kernel etc..) seeing they are going the Linux route. Later, Nathan 2004-12-08 9:33 pm I don’t think PalmSource can kill Garnett as it is the OS version most of its licensees are using. Even though Cobalt has been out for over a year, nobody has licensed it. PalmOne has been introducing more Garnett-based models and has specifically said that they do not plan to introduce a Cobalt model anytime soon (including Treo). On the other hand, PalmOne has specifically alluded to the fact that they may start experimenting with other OSes for their devices…maybe they had some prior knowledge that PalmSource was moving to a Linux-based OS? Note that PalmSource claims that all Cobalt applications will only need to recompile to run on Cobalt for Linux. Then what is the need to continue developing the Cobalt kernel? It seems to me clear that the Cobalt kernel is dead. PalmSource will concentrate on building the Cobalt functionality on top of the Linux kernel. Given that nobody had licensed Cobalt, nobody will be complaining… 2004-12-08 9:44 pm Garnett is dead not cobalt. Cobalt provides new capabilities. Garnett will give you very little over the palm on linux thing. No one is going to kill garnet right away. it will be phased out over time. No one has released cobalt devices because cobalt was not really all that ready. it also takes time to feed the food chain. Still, i wonder about the long term viability of Cobalt because unifying on linux will be attractive if this new product sells. 2004-12-08 10:00 pm This is such a crazy suggestion – I don’t buy it. I don’t think any palm will be based on linux ever. 2004-12-08 10:07 pm This makes a great deal of sense from Palm’s point of view. Their bread and butter is, and always has been, their wonderful UI and PDA applications. A PDA kernel is an utterly uninteresting item, and there is no point in maintaining your own when you can just use an off-the-shelf one. The user won’t even have any idea that its Linux underneath — they’ll just see a regular Palm interface. It’s a shame about the BeOS code though. It’s sad to see good code be abandoned. I can understand that it’d take money for Palm to release the BeOS code, but its ironic that one of the prime reasons it doesn’t get released is precisely that it has little value to Palm. 2004-12-08 10:27 pm I agree with you, and so apparently does PalmSource. They can make better use of their resources than using them in OS kernel development. It is a shame though that they seem to have wasted a couple of years using their talented BeOS coders to develope a kernel that may not see the light of day. I do hope though that Palm decides to release the BeOS code, but I don’t think they will… 2004-12-08 10:44 pm “BeOs is the cursed code. Where ever it goes, failure follows. No wond sakoman, another person who is followed closely by failure, left.” YellowTAB uses the BeOS code and is makes a very good job and sell many copies of its Zeta RCs. I don’t think it’s cursed. It isn’t BeOS code, but the BeOS know-how is present in Mac OS X Panther and much more in the next Tiger. I don’t think it’s cursed. Sakoman is now a leading manager with Rubienstein at the iPod division of Apple Computer. Again, I don’t think it’s cursed. 2004-12-08 11:36 pm YellowTAB uses the BeOS code No, its not really clear wether they have (legal) access to the source or only access to the binaries. 2004-12-08 11:38 pm Crazy. Crazy. Crazy. Talk about idiotic management decisions that follow BeOS history… Why did they buy it at all? To use some threading routines? And damn that jlg guy, BeOS must’ve been opensourced. Because, in the pocket-os world who cares about *OS* anyway so long as it does the things it’s supposed to do… 2004-12-08 11:54 pm thank for clarification Palm. Now you definitely put an end to your misery. Choosing the worst possible platform I’m leaving for Symbian, Blackberry or Windows… all of them seem to be better choices than the most chaotic OS/kernel on the market. Thank you for all the good years we’ve shared but this is the end of it all…. 2004-12-08 11:58 pm This was posted in another forum RE: Palm OS on Linux Michael Mace @ 12/8/2004 1:11:06 PM Wolfgard wrote: >What happened to the Cobalt kernel? Still there in Palm OS Cobalt. Palm OS for Linux is an addition to the line, not a replacement. >Why switch to Linux so late in development? We didn’t switch, we’re adding. We’d been thinking of supporting Linux for some time. CMS had already done a lot of Linux work, letting us accelerate our development. >What happened to the Be technology in Cobalt? Still there, and we plan that it’ll be in Palm OS for Linux as well. We’ll be moving the Palm OS Cobalt software frameworks (graphics, multimedia, wireless, etc) onto Linux. Much of the Be technology went into them. >Swithing the OS core is not as simple as it seems, Agreed. >I doubt many apps would be compatible with the new operating system. Our intent is to include the Palm OS emulator in Palm OS for Linux, so properly-written 68k apps should run. We’ll also support apps written for the new “Protein” APIs in Palm OS Cobalt. Those apps may require a simple recompile in order to run in Palm OS for Linux. >Sounds like they’re skinning the palm interface over linux I don’t know what’s the best term to use, but the way we’re describing it is that we’ll put the Palm OS interface, apps, and frameworks on the Linux kernel. Hope this helps. Mike CCO, PalmSource This is the part that gets my attention “Still there, and we plan that it’ll be in Palm OS for Linux as well. We’ll be moving the Palm OS Cobalt software frameworks (graphics, multimedia, wireless, etc) onto Linux. Much of the Be technology went into them.” That tells you that cobalt has no long-term future and if it has no long term future then why bother today? 2004-12-09 12:12 am That tells you that cobalt has no long-term future and if it has no long term future then why bother today? How the hell can you infer that from Mace’s post? 1) Cobalt and Palm OS for Linux will be developed simultaneously. I get the idea that they won’t be intruding on each other’s market share, as they’ll be aimed at different devices. (Put another way, for a given hardware device, you don’t need to make a choice as it’s already obvious.) 2) They have the same APIs and you can target one or the other with a recompile. 2004-12-09 12:35 am Why would anyone put yet another User Interface on top of the most unstable, chaotic, uncontrollable platform? whatz the point? Linux is a 1990s copy of a 1970s technology called UNIX. What does Linux give them that BeOS can’t? Just so someone can run emacs and vi on a PDA? What I think they should kept the most modern kernel called BeOS and put Palm PDA capabilities into it. Palm should go back to their roots and make palm PDA the best PIM (organizer/email/calendar/ToDo) tool ever. Not some crappy MP3 player or video player with a tiny 2 inch screen. 2004-12-09 12:36 am Beware of companies saying they will base the next generation of their products on Linux. Most of the the time it’s just an attention grabber for a company in trouble, resulting in nothing more than vaporware. Maybe _this_ time will be different. I really hope so, I still love my Palm (not the bodypart 🙂 ) 2004-12-09 1:18 am Whoever CCC and his buddy are need to stop drinking the kool-aid. Or smoking crack. 2004-12-09 1:26 am I do not understand how you can buy a company, spend millions, then have no project plan on how that technology is going to be used. And it’s not like they bought some unknown, badly designed technology either. I … just… don’t… get.. it.. SOME ONE PLEASE TELL ME! >:-/ 2004-12-09 1:36 am > what are they going to do with the BeOS code they’re sitting on? > Toss it. As they already have done so. Eugenia, Well if that’s the case, do you know whether anyone has asked JLG lately if he’d care to personally go through the BeOS source code base in his spare time to strip out the bits of non-Be licenced code and release the rest under a licence compatable with Haiku. (It doesn’t matter that it won’t function/compile — it probably would help speed up completion of some of the kits). JLG once (or often) said that he admired the loyalty of Amiga geeks in keeping that OS alive despite all odds and commercial failure. Well, now HIS OS and HIS dream of technical elegance is being kept alive by a similarly small but dedicated band of geeks. I wonder whether JLG and the other core Be engineers appreciate this fact. If so, JLG and the others now at PalmSoft could show it by exerting their influence there to liberate the Be code so the geek world may benefit from their achievement even though the commercial venture that was Be, inc. didn’t pan out. — Ed 2004-12-09 1:49 am These guys are nothing but a bunch of jokers. They Kill BeOS as a viable desktop OS. Now they are talking about open sourcing parts of palm os. Going by what BE Engineers may have added to PalmOS 6 and now them talking about open sourcing, If I am correctly inferring opened part of BeOS code too. If my inference is correct why not open BeOS. After all with the success of firefox and now solaris this is certainly not a bad mantra. 2004-12-09 2:02 am “Why would anyone put yet another User Interface on top of the most unstable, chaotic, uncontrollable platform?” Are you smoking crack dude, whats wrong with you. If you think linux is vi and emacs, you have not yet tried it lately. And if it so pathetic an OS why would Microsoft be worried about it. Talking of Linux on PDA’s have you heard of Sharp Zaurus, get your facts right the next time you troll. 2004-12-09 2:03 am I must say I agree with CCC. Linux on embedded is as bad an idea as Mac OS X on a server. They should’ve picked a lightweight kernel just as the already available Cobalt. If they definitely needed a switch, it should’ve been to something like QNX or NetBSD. This news just reminds me the day Wind River switched to Linux. I bet it did not help them much. Linux is just too bloated for a Palm device. In any case it seems no one are interested in PalmSource’s OS. PalmOne decided not to upgrade to Cobalt and is also considering to make Windows based devices. I wonder who will be a PalmSource customer. 2004-12-09 2:05 am while the core improvements will be open sourced, the top level layers will remain proprietary a la Apple’s Aqua interface I’m so sick of these companies using open code and then contributing the absolute minimum required by the GPL. RMS haters say that the GPL is too restrictive, i won’t if it’s not restrictive enough. Sure Apple has thrown FOSS a bone with the KHTML engine, but even that seems like they are taking a lot more than they are giving. Maybe its jealosy that linux users can’t run Aqua, but i just feel like this isn’t right. This Palm thing is worse though, because Apple is using BSD stuff, and thats kind of a different culture. It sounds like Palm is really leaching to me. 2004-12-09 4:45 am Guess it’s time to write Palm off. I thought BeIA/”Cobalt” was ready. Switching to an OS with no adult supervision isn’t such a bright idea. There’s still a gaping hole in the pocket market waiting to be exploited. Steve 2004-12-09 5:15 am Good products dying unwarrented deaths? It’s the history of computing. For example, Apple has a ton of interesting products buried in it’s history. OpenDoc, Copland, Dylan, etc. The code to all that is somewhere, but they don’t have any use for them, so obviously nobody else does either. 2004-12-09 6:09 am I know that this is offtopic, but Dylan *is* alive, and the code is open-sourced. See http://www.gwydiondylan.org/ Quote: “There are two major implementations of Dylan which are actively supported… The other one is a compiler that was originally written by a company called Harlequin, and after that was closed down, by a spinoff named Functional Objects. The complete code of this project has been released under an Open Source license in early 2004, and we have successfully bootstrapped the compiler from source, producing snapshots for both Win32 and Linux.” 2004-12-09 6:43 am IMO Cobalt is not going to be ready to stand alone in the spotlight at the next Developer’s Conference. So I see this as a necessary positioning move. What really happens after the Developer’s Conference with this? All PalmSource announced here is an intention to run on Linux with the possibility of further details in Spring of 2005. You can use an aircraft carrier to go water skiing, so you can certainly use Linux on a handheld. Count me among the shocked if this is the form the real product takes. 2004-12-09 1:55 pm bottom line is that by embracing linux, palm gets a bridge into the asia cell phone market and, due to the specific version they have, they get a viable product for a market of 100’s of millions of phones. Palmsource is pretty small compared to symbian and MS so embracing linux might put them on more equal grounds with those two. 2004-12-09 2:45 pm I’m very dissapointed. They spend all this money and time developing PalmOS (the main part) and they just toss it away. If they were going to move to Linux (which why would you? I mean NetBSD and other OS’s run much better in an embedded environment) why did you go develope this OS? Apparently Palm has failed to sell it’s OS due to high high licensing prices and lack of advertising of the OS. They bought out Be, Inc. only to trash all the IP and keep the employees. They aren’t committed to open source. They won’t open source any of their OS work. They screwed a lot of the BeOS work over. They are now screwing their core Palm work over. After the whole Be-buy out I sold all my investments in that company. They apparently are too mixed up to compete with microsoft. They really could take on microsoft if they did it correctly but they have not. The only reason they still have a huge marketshare is because their engineers are so very good and have made a great OS. Shame on you Palm. I would go for an open Linux PDA OS before I would get a Palm or PocketPC/Windows Mobile… It’s basicly the only open choice. 2004-12-09 2:48 pm Embrace linux? They are just using open source technology to fire off it’s employees. Probably the majority came from Be,Inc. Not all commercial OS work is bad, a lot of very good. I don’t see how it’s embracing linux if all they are going to do is sit PalmOS ontop of a Linux kernel. It’s still commercial and still runs. They just don’t have to develope that kernel anymore. 2004-12-09 4:12 pm The real fun comes when we get to hear JLG and other former linux critics sell us the linux kernel as the next great thing. any comments from anyone on the suitability of linux for pdas, phones, and other embedded devices. Another interesting though here by the way is that palm on linux could also yield palm on the desktop by the way of linux…someday. 2004-12-09 5:54 pm Somebody once said “It’s dark in the box”, trying to smooth things over when Be had to port BeOS from PowerPC to Intel hardware. (Apple didn’t appreciate Be’s presence.) It looks like the same darkness has reached Palm. I’m not saying Linux is bad, only that it’s equally sad for any modern/unique OS to give in to Linux as it is to give in to Windows. Are we content with Unix/C/C++/X/Gnome/KDE, or do we want more? (or less..) Is a monoculture really that great? 2004-12-09 6:25 pm Linux is really hurting Sun Solaris, HP’s HPUX, IBM AIX, *BSD, etc.. more than hurting M$ windows. I don’t see M$ windows marketshare nor usage going down at all. Instead companies are replacing UNIX with Linux. NOT replacing windows with Linux. Bill Gates must be laughing at Linux folks for helping him hurting IBM, SUN, etc… Of course Bill Gates is smart, overly paranoid, and f*cking hyper-competitive so he’ll never tell yall. If he see linux or something is succeeding in something, He’ll go after it. Like High Performance Computing where he is developing a version of windows for HPC. But if Linux is killing UNIX in other areas, he would take advantage of that. ——— Where is that Sharp Zuarus PDA? I haven’t see it in Best Buy, CompUSA, nor Frys for a very long time. Did it sold out?? ;<> Will there be a new version coming soon before Christmas??? It was SO popular that I have not seen anyone using it nor anyone talk about it. ( I know it’s must be on eBay, but I prefer something that I can touch and feel and get a good idea before I buy it. Hence why retail stores won’t be replaced by eBay. ) 2004-12-09 7:13 pm The Zaurus like so many other Linux PDAs ended up being a niche device. They had geek appeal but not broad market appeal. Sharp however, could have been successful if they had marketed their devices not as PDAs but as the worlds smallet tablet PCs which they were since they were running a true multi-user, mult-tasking OS. The device should have booted the OS from a compact flash drive of decent size (say 2gigs), had 128meg RAM and had built-in wifi and ran X as the gui. This would have been a killer handeld device- way more than any PDA. PalmSource has a chance for survival but a remote one. This reminds me of acts of desperation of so many other foundering companies or technologies- Netscape being open-sourced, Corel developing a version of Linux and lately Sun trying to go open-source solaris. All in all, this does not bode well for PalmSoure. 2004-12-10 3:32 am In their press release, they wrongly claim that Linux is a trademark of William Della Croce, when this matter has long been settled by the courts. Seems they fixed it, but still got it wrong. From http://www.palmsource.com/press/2004/120804_cms.html : Linux is a trademark owned by Linus Torvalds, the originator of the GNU code of the same name. Linux does own the trademark for the code of the same name he created, except that it’s not GNU code (despite being released under the GPL). Someone at corporate HQ hasn’t been doing their homework! 2004-12-10 3:40 am The Zaurus like so many other Linux PDAs ended up being a niche device. That doesn’t strike me as very relevant. Palm isn’t going to sell its products as “Linux PDAs” (or smartphones, as it were). They’ll use their brand and their familiar interface on top of a solid, versatile OS that is rapidly gaining ground in embedded devices. You have to remember that Palm is mainly a hardware company. They don’t make money from selling Palm OS. It makes business sense to concentrate on other things than basic OS design. It sucks for BeOS but it was better for Palm’s chances of survival against Microsoft to jump on the Linux bandwagon. Hey, even Wind River did, eventually! 2004-12-10 3:50 am CCC, his anonymous friend, and now this: Linux is just too bloated for a Palm device. Dude, if you tailor your kernel to your hardware on an embedded device (removing all the modules you don’t need), you can get a very, very small Linux. Remember, they’re talking about the kernel here. Linux is the kernel, as they say. Linux is quite popular in the embedded world. 2004-12-10 4:01 am Linux is really hurting Sun Solaris, HP’s HPUX, IBM AIX, *BSD, etc.. more than hurting M$ windows. I don’t see M$ windows marketshare nor usage going down at all. You do realize that this is an article about PDAs/Smartphones, right? Microsoft has a lot of competition in this area, they are far from holding the same type of monopoly as they do on PC operating systems. Where is that Sharp Zuarus PDA? I haven’t see it in Best Buy, CompUSA, nor Frys for a very long time. Did it sold out?? Will there be a new version coming soon before Christmas??? It was SO popular that I have not seen anyone using it nor anyone talk about it. You vision seems to be limited to the PDA market, and to North America. Palm is going global, hence the alliance with a Chinese phone maker (“smart phones” are quickly gaining on PDAs, it seems). Embedded Linux is quite strong in Asia – the manufacturing powerhouse of the globe, may I remind you. Consider Gartner/Dataquest’s evaluation: “Linux was strongest in Taiwan, claiming 50 percent of RTOS usage for 2003 projects and 63 percent of projected 2004 projects.” http://linuxdevices.com/news/NS8173104789.html It seems that, in your haste to dump on Linux, you neglected to understand the topic at hand and have made yourself look quite the fool.