Recently, an analyst reported that Palm was planning to create a Linux OS-one that was not compatible/similar to the Access Linux Platform. Immediately, analysts went all bonkers claiming that ALP was dead, will never ship on Palm’s handhelds, blah.

At the first glance, this looks true. Developing an operating system is a huge amount of effort, it takes a lot of time, is expensive, etc. But is developing a Linux OS the same thing as developing a new OS?

Nope, it is not. A few (skilled) developers got Linux running on PalmOS boxen within a few weeks without having access to data about the hardware or anything. Now think of a full-fledged gang of software engineers(I am speaking of, say 50 ppl) wit acess to the best hardware and documentation. For them, creating a Linux derivate is a no-brainer.

So, if we now recall the sucker editorials published about half a year ago, this OS idea gets relativized. OK; Palm may be developing an OS. But there is no need that this OS will definitely be Palms future. The operating system could be developed as a “smoke test” or a backup plan in case ALP bails. Or, the operating system could serve as a bridge between the dieing Garnet and the upcoming ALP, allowing Palm to deliver smartphones with EDGE, etc soon!

So, keep your hair on and your eyes open!

Related posts:

  1. Palm announces its Linux platform
  2. The new PIMs on old Palms – part 3
  3. Gupp Technologies Phreedom – another Linux smartphone
  4. Why Linux is no alternative for Windows 98 users
  5. Why I am not developing for ALP(yet)

3 Responses to “Why Palms new OS is not excessively important”

  1. I disagree to a certain extent.

    Yes, you are true when you say that getting a Linux Kernel and GNU OS running on a Palm device would be a ‘no-brainer’. But getting a PDA type GUI based OS working is a different matter entirely.

    Palm needs to build something that is very tightly integrated to the hardware and which runs efficiently in a power friendly manner.

    Palm could come out with something akin to the GNU Linux OS running on Sharp’s Zaurus line but that doesn’t suit their target demographic. Palm needs to create an OS that sufficiently abstracts the user from the underlying mechanics of the OS, The best example of this is Apple using BSD Unix as the core of OS X. Someone using OS X wouldn’t know they were using Unix but under the hood the stability is there and power users can get their hands dirty using a terminal. Creating an OS like Apple’s OS X is not the trivial task you make it out to be. Although in Palm’s favour integration issues would be reduced if they designed both the hardware and the OS.

  2. Hi,
    good point about the integration.

    However, how difficult is it to write a PIM program and an image viewer for Linux?? Or, what about simply creating a set of wrapper API’s that wrap existing PalmOS calls to the Linux kernel?

    Best regards
    Tam Hanna

  3. Another challenge would be to port the motorola code emulator to Linux (or whatever OS they’ll use). Being backward compatible is something that is given, unless Palm suddenly wishes to alienate all the older apps.

    It is very important that I, as a user, do not know I’m running Linux. I want to feel exactly at home with the new Palm OS.

    It is also equally important that I, as a developer, get access to the underlying OS :) .

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