Intel Passes the Keys to Moblin Over to the Linux Foundation

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 02, 2009

Sometimes, I'll come across a story that seems minor, and once I start really thinking about it, dozens of shiny shards of complexity make their presence known. Today's announcement coming from Intel and the Linux Foundation isn't one of those stories. It's a major announcement -- Intel is handing its Moblin Project over to the Linux Foundation for hosting, development, and support. It's a big deal at face value -- and once fully considered, it just keeps growing.

Moblin is one of the most advanced -- and open -- mobile platforms. It's rooted firmly in Linux, and can be configured to run in many iterations on a wide variety of mobile devices, ranging from netbooks to in-car information and entertainment systems. So why is Intel turning over the reins to the Linux Foundation? As the Linux Foundation's Executive Director, Jim Zemlin, tells the New York Times, Moblin is working out to be a strategic platform as much as it is a mobile one.

Intel has many resources -- developers, hardware, monetary -- that it can devote to Moblin. It's already done so for the last two years. Turning over central control of the well-received platform to the Linux Foundation (and the wider community) is undoubtedly raising some eyebrows and causing a few hearts to flutter at Intel. But as Zemlin said, it's a strategic move -- Intel can remain competitive with the new influx of ARM-based mobile products, it will have a say in the operating system that its chips are powering. By letting go, Intel is actually giving its development team more resources with which to work.

Intel's Doug Fisher, vice president of the Intel Software and Services Group, stated that the Linux Foundation is the way to take Moblin "to the next level." While the Foundation has been granted a significant amount of control over the project, Intel is -- and will remain -- a key player. The idea, of course, is that with more people involved in development, working with the platform on numerous devices and in a variety of settings, Moblin -- and the Intel chips behind it -- will become indispensible to developers and (even more significantly) end-users.

Is it a leap of faith for Intel? Most definitely. It's not a bad bet it's making, though -- opening the project further invites new ideas, and a community and userbase with a real sense of ownership and belonging, without sacrificing all that much control and input. Intel is thinking of the future, looking at it in a broader, very different light. It's also an enormous vote of confidence in the quality of open source software, and what a large community working together is capable of producing.