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Gnome initiative to push mobile boundaries

By   |  April 23, 2007

The Gnome Foundation last week announced the GNOME Mobile & Embedded Initiative (GMAE) and a software platform for development across a wide range of device profiles

“Gnome continues to drive the cutting edge of open source and free software innovation. With the Gnome Mobile & Embedded Initiative, Gnome expands the reach of software freedom to new devices, new markets, and new audiences”, said Jeff Waugh, founder of the Gnome Mobile & Embedded Initiative and a director of the Gnome Foundation board.

“Developers will not only have the means to create great mobile and embedded software, but the freedom to envision and create fundamentally new kinds of devices, for entirely new markets.”

Mobile, embedded and converged devices are one of the most rapidly growing segments of the technology sector, accounting for sales of billions of units per year. Analysts estimate that by 2010, one out of two smartphones will be based on free and open source software, and growth in this space is already faster than that of proprietary devices (Canalys, 2006). The mobile and embedded device space represents an unprecedented opportunity for third-party developers.

The Gnome Mobile & Embedded Initiative aims to advance the use, development and commercialisation of Gnome components in the mobile sector through a number of initiatives including marketing, co-ordinating investment in GTK+ and the Gnome mobile platform, increasing development focus on the “mobile experience”, facilitating co-operation between organisations and pursuing standardisation in mobile devices.

GMAE founding organisations include Access, Canonical, Debian, Igalia, Imendio, Intel, Nokia, OLPC, OpenedHand and Red Hat, and GMAE contributors CodeThink, Collabora, FIC, Fluendo, Kernel Concepts, Movial, Nomovok, Openismus, Vernier, Waugh Partners and Wolfson Microelectronics.

Bridging industry and community, the Gnome Mobile & Embedded Initiative includes open source projects such as Avahi, BlueZ, Cairo, Gnome, GPE, GStreamer, GTK+, Hildon, Maemo, Matchbox, OpenMoko, Telepathy and Tinymail; and industry organisations CELF, the Linux Foundation and LiPS.

Platform
The Gnome Mobile & Embedded Platform is a subset of the proven, widely used Gnome platform. In addition to the core user experience toolkit (GTK+), the platform includes crucial functionality such as multimedia support (GStreamer), instant messaging and presence (Telepathy), Bluetooth (BlueZ), contacts and calendaring (E-D-S), and network service discovery (Avahi). APIs are available for developers using C, C++ or Python.

The Gnome Mobile & Embedded Platform is distributed under the terms of the LGPL, which allows for royalty-free use in proprietary software products, but encourages contribution of platform code changes back to the community. This, combined with a thriving open development process supported by industry and community, makes the GMAE platform uniquely suited to the needs of mobile and embedded developers.

GMAE is also looking at extending the range of available components including the Java Mobile & Embedded platform (Java ME), a geolocation service (GeoClue), a hardware information system (HAL), an audio management service (PulseAudio), and a mobile email framework (Tinymail).

The Gnome Mobile & Embedded Platform is already a key technology component in a wide range of products and projects, including those from GMAE participants such as the Intel Mobile Internet Device (MID), the Nokia N770 and N800 web tablet, the One Laptop Per Child XO laptop, the OpenMoko Neo1973 mobile phone, the Vernier LabQuest; the Sugar, Hildon and GPE user interfaces; and the Access Linux Platform.

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