Motorola backs Linux as mobile mainstay

Motorola is planning to install Linux on 60% of its handsets within two years, as the handset maker bets big on the open source OS.

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Motorola is planning to install Linux on 60% of its handsets within two years, as the handset maker bets big on the open source OS.

The long-awaited follow-up to its sleek Razr phone for GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) networks, now on sale in Asia, is based on Linux. The model, called Razr2 V8, will come to the US within two months as Motorola’s first Linux phone in the US.

Mobile phones traditionally have used proprietary operating systems, fragmented even among one manufacturer’s products. Motorola and other vendors have also opened up phone platforms through the Java and Brew software environments.

Linux will help to further expand the community of developers for software, which is becoming an increasingly important part of mobile phones, said Christy Wyatt, vice president of ecosystem and market development at Motorola. The company has shipped about 9 million Linux handsets in the past four years and is now extending the OS down from smartphones to mid-range handsets such as the Razr2.

Motorola unveiled Motomagx, the latest version of its mobile Linux platform at LinuxWorld this week. Motomagx offers a new development option, called WebUI, to help bring Web 2.0 applications to phones. It lets developers who use tools such as AJAX (Asynchronous Java and XML) present their applications on a mobile phone through the WebKit open-source browser engine, Wyatt said. WebUI, Java and Linux itself will be the major development environments for Motorola’s Linux phones, she said.

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