July 16, 2007 11:57 AM PDT

Intel aims to speed Linux gadget development

The iPhone doesn't run Linux, but Intel has begun work to help improve the operating system for future devices of its ilk.

The chipmaker on Monday is launching its Mobile and Internet Linux Project Web site, which consolidates a number of new and existing Intel projects to improve the Linux kernel and other open-source components. In addition, the company employs "quite a bit more than a dozen" programmers for coding work, said Dirk Hohndel, Intel's chief Linux and open-source technologist.

Among the projects are efforts to improve power management, user interfaces, use of wireless networks, Web browsing, chatting, and one of the thorniest subjects, software development for mobile devices. Intel hopes for programming help from outside its own company, and two Linux companies that have signed up are Ubuntu backer Canonical and Red Flag Linux in China.

"We see this as the technology incubator for a lot of things that are going to be productized in three years," Hohndel said. He wouldn't comment on the project's magnitude, but he said, "My internal funding shows that top management is taking this seriously."

It's probably good that Intel is giving itself a few years. Numerous companies have tried to build Linux-based Net gadgets for years, but few have amounted to much. Among the efforts are the Nokia 770 and newer N800, an AOL-Gateway Web appliance, and the Palm Foleo, which so far has had a frosty reception.

Intel is serious about trying to spur the industry so it can sell more chips, though, and devices such as the BlackBerry, Treo and iPhone have certainly proved that there's a market for surfing the Web on a portable device. Intel's current effort to sell hardware for the market includes its Mobile Internet Device project.

One major focus of the Mobile and Internet Linux Project will be improving programming tools. Developers often write and debug software on a regular PC before transferring it to a device or prototype for further testing.

"One of the hardest problems is to get software stacks onto these devices," Hohndel said. "We think this is a major step forward to make it easier to develop."

Intel will be hosting source code and tools such as mailing lists, but it won't actually produce a Linux "distribution"--a unified collection of software.

See more CNET content tagged:
Linux, Intel, power management, project, open source

3 comments

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It is a good thing OSS is going nowhere
Else MS will have to start a FUD campaign as a last ditch effort.

Oh wait. :)

This is a good project, but twisting arms to get better driver support will help things along better.
Posted by MSSlayer (1074 comments )
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Well,
The title of your comment isn't good for the blood pressure of penguinista-activists. But yeah, after reading the actual comment, I agree.

I think that the trick there is to start up an open source hardware initiative. You know, make a completely open stream coprocessor with an open source driver for linux, and a software opengl implementation and kernel module to run on it.

I think that something like that would be awesome. Best hardware on the market, anybody can manufacture it, and hey, microsoft- you want support? Adapt the code yourself. Oh, you want to make something proprietary? Start coding... I think that'd be hilarious.
Posted by ethana2 (348 comments )
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I like the fact that Intel...
Is doing something to spur on Linux development. I understand they have a lot to gain from the results. I also like the idea that the are not going to develope their own distro. I hope that many smart Linux people will help and I also hope that many other big companys will take the same humble approach as Intel and Dell. After all you all have a lot to gain from this movement. Even the hackers should use their intellect to do something right for the Linux community. I am a Microsoft user closely watching the Linux world and hopeing for a better operating system that people all over the world can enjoy.
Posted by Ted Miller (305 comments )
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