Intel hands over Moblin to the Linux Foundation

Written by Ben Hardwidge

April 3, 2009 | 16:12

Tags: #atom #cpu #doug #fisher #foundation #ion #jim #moblin #nano #netbook #nettop

Companies: #arm #intel #via

Intel has announced that it’s now handing over the development of its Moblin operating system to the Linux Foundation. Originally launched in 2007, the Moblin OS was specifically designed to run on Intel’s Atom and Core 2 CPUs on mobile Internet devices (MIDs), netbooks, nettops and in-car computers. In theory, though, this handover could result in the OS being ported to other platforms that aren’t necessarily made by Intel.

Intel says that the handover to the non-profit Linux Foundation “take Moblin to the next level by increasing the project’s visibility and attracting a broader developer community.” However, the company says that it will still “continue to contribute key technologies and work with the developer community to advance the Moblin project.”

Does this mean that the Moblin development team will be under Intel’s thumb? Not according to Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. Speaking to Computerworld, Zemlin said that Intel is “willing to let Moblin be used even by their competitors because they feel pretty bullish about their ability to compete. It's a risk/reward that has been proven with other vendors."

According to Zemlin, “nothing restricts any participant in the Moblin open-source project from taking this and putting it on ARM." As such, Intel could see its operating system ported to ARM-based platforms such as Nvidia’s Tegra 600, which was shown to be capable of powering a Windows CE netbook this week. What’s more, it could also be used on devices that use Nvidia’s Ion platform or VIA’s Nano CPU.

Commenting on the handover, Intel’s vice president of its software and services group, Doug Fisher, said that “the Linux Foundation is the perfect environment to take Moblin to the next level.” He added that “the open source process delivers multiple benefits to any project, including faster innovation and increased technology visibility.”

In a similar move, Intel also announced that it was recruiting TSMC as a third-party Atom CPU manufacturer last month. This decision effectively enables other customers of TSMC to easily build Atom-based products, in a similar fashion to the way in which they might use an ARM processor in their own designs.

Intel is clearly very confident in the Atom architecture’s ability to compete in an open netbook market, but is Intel taking a large risk here? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.
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