Intel Acquires Mobile OSS Firm OpenedHand--Advances Moblin

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 28, 2008

Intel is pushing forward with its Moblin mobile Internet and Linux project, focused on mobile and automotive Internet devices based on Atom processors. Its latest move is acquiring OpenedHand, which provides software development and consulting services, in addition to maintaining several ongoing projects focused on mobile and embedded Linux. OpenedHand's team maintains and contributes development efforts to the Matchbox window manager (on Nokia's devices), the Pimlico suite of PIM applications, Poky (an embedded Linux distro for mobile devices including phones), and more. In essence, Intel gets a distributed set of open source applications and Moblin development resources in picking up OpenedHand.

The terms of Intel's acquisition of OpenedHand were not disclosed, Slowly but surely, Intel is putting quite a bit of infrastructure behind the Moblin project. Recently, Intel announced that Linpus Technologies, which makes the lightweight Linpus Linux Lite distro that is starting to show up on some netbooks, has joined the Moblin project. Xandros has also recently announced that it will marry its Linux solutions with the Moblin platform.

OpenedHand has had a multi-year working relationship with Nokia, especially focused on developing the small footprint Matchbox windows manager. One of OpenedHand's other high-profile projects is Clutter, an open source toolkit and software library for creating fast, visually rich and animated graphical user interfaces. Clutter uses OpenGL (and optionally OpenGL ES for use on mobile and embedded platforms) for rendering, and has an API designed to hide underlying GL complexity from the developer.

In this interview with Matthew Allum of Opened Hand, he remarks that Cover Flow--the animated, graphical presentation of music album covers seen on iPods--is a perfect example of a mobile application that Clutter is good for. "Clutter is not trying to be a general interface to GL," he says. "It’s trying to be a nice simple API that saves the developer from needing to know GL complexities and, beyond fast rendering, adds a lot more rich animation support, basic widgets (actors), eventing," and more. This presentation from OSCON also has more on Clutter.

Mobile and embedded Linux have a bright future, and Moblin isn't the only reason why. Linux-based netbooks are putting Linux and countless open source software applications in front of millions of people, and they're on sale at outlets such as Target and Best Buy now. Car technology--telematics--is a prime focus for the Moblin project, and is likely to put Linux behind many devices where users don't even know they're using Linux. And Intel is even focusing on selling under-$200 Atom-based laptops in India--likely to run Linux. There is more to come here.