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June 13, 2008

Exploring the Linux learning curve

BERLIN, Germany – Mentioning Nokia and Linux in the same breath has been somewhat taboo recently. Especially since the merest utterance has previously led to false speculations on Nokia’s future mobile platform focus, which clearly remains Symbian, although Linux and open-source clearly have a role to play (a Linux-based system, Maemo, forms the backbone of Nokia’s N810 and N800 Internet Tablets). This is something that Nokia’s head of software, Ari Jaaksi, openly delved into at the Handsets World event in Berlin earlier this week. However, what is clear is that there are some nerve-striking challenges that need to be openly addressed.

One leading tech site covered what Ari Jaaksi had to say on the subject – the highlight being the importance for developers to adapt what’s required to be involved:

“”We want to educate open-source developers,” said Jaaksi, who is Nokia’s vice president of software and heads up the Finnish handset manufacturer’s open-source operations. “There are certain business rules [developers] need to obey, such as DRM, IPR [intellectual property rights], SIM locks and subsidised business models.”
Jaaksi admitted that concepts like these “go against the open-source philosophy”, but said they were necessary components of the current mobile industry. “Why do we need closed vehicles? We do,” he said. “Some of these things harm the industry but they’re here [as things stand]. These are touchy, emotional issues, but this dialogue is very much needed. As an industry, we plan to use open-source technologies, but we are not yet ready to play by the rules; but this needs to work the other way round too.”

As Jaaksi mentions, this is clearly a charged area for discussion. But underpinning this remains the simple fundamental vision outlined in his keynote speech at Handsets World of “a world where everyone can be connected”. Do you have an opinion on the role of Linux and open-source technologies in relation to Nokia products and services? Let us know in the comments section below.