Tokyo software developer Access on Feb. 14 announced some definitive plans for the Palm operating system—and the future is Linux.
It was the first such announcement since Access bought the struggling Palm OS maker Palmsource last September, making it a wholly owned subsidiary.
The next version of the Palm OS is code-named ALP, which is short for the Access Linux Platform.
"We hope to be a big part of the mobile Linux momentum wave," said Albert Chu, vice president of business development at PalmSource in Sunnyvale, Calif.
PalmSource expects to make the ALP SDK (Software Developer Kit) available to its licensees by the end of 2006, Chu said, meaning it would likely appear in devices by mid-2007 if anyone licenses it.
Major components of ALP include a standard Linux kernel, a GIMP toolkit (GTK+), the GStreamer media framework and the SQLite database engine.
Before the acquisition by Access, PalmSource acquired mobile Linux vendor China MobileSoft, in Sept. 2004.
Besides being based on Linux, ALP will combine pre-existing PalmSource and Access technology, including the popular Access NetFront Web browser and PalmSource applications such as HotSync synchronization software and the Palm Desktop.
ALP features an application framework called MAX, which allows for the concurrent operation of multiple operations and tasks, and easy access to background tasks, Chu said.
Such multitasking was a key feature in version 6 of the Palm OS, Palm OS Cobalt, which PalmSource announced in Feb. 2004. But Cobalt has yet to appear on any devices.
Most devices running the Palm OS today support Palm OS Garnet, which is based on Palm OS version 5.
PalmSource officials said that applications designed to run on Garnet will also run on ALP. (There are no native Cobalt applications because there are no Cobalt devices shipping.)
"We expect lots of developers to continue to build things on the Palm OS and we will allow these applications to run on ALP," Chu said. "The message to developers is to continue doing what youre doing, and the investment wont be lost."
ALP will also support applications based on J2ME, Chu said.
Aiming to give something back to the open-source community, Access and PalmSource designed a component object framework called Open Binder, designed for small devices.
The Binder driver is available at www.openbinder.org.