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PalmSource announces Cobalt on Linux

Wed Dec 8, 2004 - 8:52 PM EST - By James Hromadka

PalmSource+Linux=exciting future

In a major announcement today, PalmSource, developer of the Palm operating system, announced that the company has purchased China MobileSoft (CMS), a leading Chinese mobile phone software company, along with its subsidiary, MobileSoft Technology. The transaction is expected to be finished before the end of PalmSource's third fiscal quarter, ending February 28, 2005.

With the purchase of CMS, PalmSource almost doubles its number of developers and is refocusing its efforts into making considerable changes to the PalmOS. Here are the key changes from PalmSource's open letter to the PalmOS community:
First, we plan to make the Palm OS look and feel and the PalmSource´┐Ż PIM applications available for all price classes of mobile phones, from entry level to high end. CMS and its subsidiaries already have a very wide range of mobile phone applications and a software platform for low-cost mobile phones, as well as a Linux-based smartphone offering. This software is used in a number of current and planned Chinese mobile phones. The CMS software programs will continue to be available, and in the future we plan to equip them with the Palm OS interface, PalmSource PIM functionality, and data compatibility with Palm OS -- and we'll be selling them worldwide.

Second, we intend to increase the rate of innovation in Palm OS, and the range of potential licensees, by making it available on Linux. The Palm OS user interface and the PalmSource PIM applications you know will remain, as well as the advanced features that we've built into Palm OS´┐Ż Cobalt's software frameworks. Properly written Palm OS applications will also be able to run on Palm OS for Linux.
PalmSource's hope is that by working with the Linux community, it will be able to compete more efficiently and cost-effectively with the global mobile phone market. The PalmOS that runs on top of Linux will not replace the current PalmOS, and PalmOS 6.1 (Cobalt) is complete and will have devices based on it shipping in 2005. No date has been set for the release of PalmOS on Linux, but more information will be provided next spring at the company's developer conference.

This also does not mean that PalmSource is releasing the entire source code of the PalmOS. Future versions of PalmOS Cobalt will run as a software on top of the Linux kernel. This letter to the Linux community defines Linux's role in the new operating system.

Two weeks ago I wrote about the possibility of PalmOne making Treos based on Windows CE or Linux. With PalmSource announcing that the OS will be able to be run on top of Linux, this will make that possibility come true, and could make for cheaper Palm Powered smartphones in the future.

In the meantime, here is where you can read up on the details of the announcement. The future of PalmSource just got a little more promising.

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