A few days ago, LWN looked at the
surrounding the GNOME project's mystery announcement at the
2007 Embedded Linux Conference. That announcement turns out to be the GNOME Mobile & Embedded
, a determined push to bring about world domination in the
GNOME hacker Jeff Waugh started his presentation with a brief history of
the GNOME project. He pointed out that there is a lot of innovative,
bleeding-edge technology in the GNOME platform - developments which have
pushed the edge within the desktop and beyond. Examples included the
libxml2 library, Pango, Project Utopia (which had the goal of making
hardware "just work"), Network Manager, and now the Power Manager work.
Another stage in this history was the creation of the GNOME Foundation,
which showed that the free software world can work with commercial
interests to the benefit of both.
In recent times, the shipments of desktop PC's are in decline. On the
other hand, laptop shipments are growing, and the shipments of other mobile
devices are growing rapidly. There are, says Jeff, more developers paid to
work on the GNOME platform for embedded use than for the desktop.
Mobile devices, it seems, are the future.
This is the situation that the GNOME Mobile & Embedded Initiative was
created to take advantage of.
There is a long list of companies and projects which have signed on to this
effort - see the
obligatory collection of quotes for details. Much was made of the fact that
the initiative is a cooperative effort including both companies and free
The initiative, says Jeff, is about writing code. All of that code will
have the full GNOME platform available to it (if it needs it), and will be
ABI-compatible with the desktop platform. This "is not toy GNOME," it's
the full thing. The platform will carry the GNOME LGPL license, making it
available to proprietary applications - royalty-free, of course. And it's
shipping today, though the
first official release will be with GNOME 2.20 in September.
A wide variety of devices is covered by this platform. Examples given at
the conference include the Nokia N800 (an Internet tablet device), the One
Laptop Per Child XO system, the OpenMoko phone, and, at the novel end of
the scale, the upcoming Vernier
LabQuest, a handheld data acquisition and display device with a vast
list of sensors available to it. The LabQuest was held up as an example of
a device which was developed by a company with little software expertise;
the Linux and GNOME platform made the whole thing relatively easy. All of
these, says Jeff, are "beautiful new ideas" enabled by the open source
The initial code from the GMAE initiative is available now. Possible
additions in the near future include display frameworks from a number of
sources (examples include the OpenMoko framework and the Hildon desktop
used on the N800), applications like TinyMail, integration of GeoClue, and more. There's also
low-level initiatives like better touchscreen support in GTK, fixing the
floating-point usage in Cairo, etc. Beyond that, time will tell; chances
are it's going to be interesting.
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