PalmSource to partner with mobile Linux provider

PalmSource to partner with mobile Linux provider

Building on its original decision last year to move its OS to the Linux kernel, PalmSource announced Tuesday a partnership with key mobile Linux OS provider MontaVista Software. The two companies plan to promote the development of Linux-based OSes and applications for Linux-based mobile phones.

PalmSource will join MontaVista's Open Framework partner program and MontaVista in turn will join PalmSource's Palm Powered Mobile World (PPMW) program.

The MontaVista Framework is a program designed to promote Linux-based handset reference architectures. PPMW was created to promote Palm OS applications to the market.

The deal does not change PalmSource's plans to use technology acquired in its December acquisition of China MobileSoft. At the time of the acquisition, PalmSource said it would use the technology that China MobileSoft had been developing around battery management and fast boot time as the foundation of Palm OS for Linux.

The deal with MontaVista is more focused on "brokering introductions of various players," said Didier Diaz, vice president of marketing at PalmSource.

Diaz said that by using the Linux kernel -- the plumbing, as he called it -- as the basis for the OS, PalmSource will be able to leverage the Linux community for software development.

"The big advantage is when you bring up the kernel you have to write specific drivers," Diaz said. "There was a handful of people who knew how to write a Cobalt [current PalmSource OS] driver. Now it is much easier."

Use of the Linux kernel will also serve as an entry point for PalmSource into the lucrative cell phone market with a low-cost flexible OS. According to Diaz, in contrast to a Microsoft OS, Linux offers more design flexibility and, because it is open source, a guaranteed lower licensing fee.

"Linux is a built-in safeguard against higher fees," Diaz said. "Open source prevents the price from getting too high by limiting the power of any given player."

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