Symbian Discusses Open Source OS Plans

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The Symbian Foundation says it is well on its way toward the goal of open-sourcing the Symbian OS

The Symbian Foundation has announced that it is well on its way toward the goal of open-sourcing the Symbian OS by reaching the release of the platform microkernel and supporting development kit under the Eclipse Public License.

The release of the kernel, EKA2 (Epco Kernel Architecture 2), is “nine months ahead of schedule and reflects the positive momentum behind Symbian’s ambitious platform migration plan, which began with the release of security code under EPL,” Symbian said in the release.

The Symbian Foundation will discuss its open-source plans further at the upcoming Symbian Exchange and Exposition, its annual developer conference in London, which will be held on 27 to 28 Oct. .

According to the release: “16 out of a total 134 platform packages have now been released into open source since the code was first made available on the Symbian Foundation servers in April 2009.

“‘The release of the micro kernel demonstrates three vital, guiding principles of the foundation: first, the commitment of many community members to the development of the platform—in this case, Accenture, ARM, Nokia and Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) all made contributions; second, progress in fulfilling our commitment to a complete open source release of Symbian; and third, a tangible example of providing the most advanced mobile platform in the world,’ said Lee Williams, executive director [of] Symbian Foundation.”

It continued: “As the ‘heart’ of the platform, Symbian’s real-time microkernel—comprising robust, fully multi-tasking architecture—manages all system resources and frameworks necessary for the co-existence of the processes and applications that make up the complete system.

“To enable the community to fully leverage the open source kernel, Symbian is providing a complete development kit, free of charge, including ARM’s high performance RVCT [RealView Compilation Tool] compiler tool chain.

“The provision of the kit demonstrates Symbian’s commitment to lowering access barriers to encourage the wider development community—such as research institutions, enthusiast groups and individual developers—to get creative with the code.

“The complete kit, which can be downloaded from, consists of:

· Open source kernel and other complementary packages

· High performance ARM compiler tool chain (RVCT4.0): free to developers and companies of less than 20 employees

· Open source simulation environment based on the QEMU open source processor emulator

· Open source base support package for the low cost Beagle Board

· Supporting binaries

· Hardware execution environment”

“We are delighted to see Symbian Foundation achieve this milestone in its migration to open source. Symbian has always taken full advantage of leading-edge ARM processors increasing the performance and feature set of mobile handsets,” said John Cornish, executive vice president and general manager of the system design division at ARM, in a statement. “It is essential that developers have access to the best tools, which is why we have partnered with Symbian to enable widespread development using the ARM compiler tool chain. We are also pleased to join the Architecture Council of the Symbian Foundation and contribute to the long-term success of the Symbian platform.”

“TI continues its long history of supporting Symbian with its multiple solutions available within the Symbian Foundation, including code for connectivity as well as parts of our base support package,” said Pierre Garnier, vice president and general manager of TI’s wireless business. “Our customers have access to a variety of open solutions from TI and other open-source communities, such as and, that make it easier for the Symbian developer community to create applications on the OMAP 3 platform. We believe access to such resources will spark innovation and help developers advance the next generation of media-rich devices.”

Meanwhile, on a separate note, David Wood, who has served in many roles at Symbian, including executive vice president of research and chief technologist, has stepped down from his role with the organisation to explore the future of energy.

In a blog post, Wood said: “Anyone who has dipped into my personal blog or followed my tweets will have noticed my deep interest in topics such as: the future of energy, accelerated climate change, accelerated artificial intelligence, looming demographic changes and the longevity dividend, life extension and the future of medicine, nanotechnology, smart robotics, abundance vs. scarcity, and the forthcoming dramatic societal and personal impacts of all of these transformations. In short, I am fascinated and concerned about the breakthrough future of technology, as well as by the breakthrough future of smartphones.”

Wood added: “I do believe that I need to step back from employment with the Symbian Foundation in order to give that investigation a proper chance to succeed. I need to open up time for wide-ranging discussions with numerous interesting individuals and companies, both inside and outside the smartphone industry.”

In a blog post of his own on the subject, the Symbian Foundation’s Williams said: “Here at the Symbian Foundation we want to give David Wood our best wishes as he steps back from his role at Symbian Foundation to pursue his interests in the future of energy, accelerated climate change, artificial intelligence, and life extension—in short, exploring the future of technology as it transforms our lives and our planet.”

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