Symbian microkernel goes open source

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The microkernel at the heart of the Symbian operating system Symbian operating system has been released to developers under the Eclipse Public Licence some nine months earlier than expected.

The move to open source is seen as vital to Symbian's survival in the face of challenges from the likes of Apple's iPhone OS and Google's Android, with the opening up of the microkernel a significant step along the way. The microkernel is the heart of the Symbian OS, managing system resources and being responsible for the smooth running of applications.

Developers can download a free Kernel Taster Kit download a free Kernel Taster kit to start getting to grips with the microkernel. According to the Symbian blog , the kit contains everything needed to "get started with textshell builds [and] more than enough to develop baseports and drivers."

Lee Williams, Symbian's executive director, said the move demonstrates the Symbian Foundation's commitment to making the OS completely open source, a commitment that is shared by its partners.

"The release of the microkernel demonstrates three vital, guiding principles of the foundation: first, the commitment of many community members to the development of the platform - in this case, Accenture, ARM, Nokia and Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) all made contributions; second, progress in fulfilling our commitment to a complete open source release of Symbian; and third, a tangible example of providing the most advanced mobile platform in the world." he said.

On top of the microkernel, the starter kit also includes ARM's high performance RVCT compiler toolchain and an open source base support package for the low cost Beagleboard hardware.

Symbian says that 16 out of a total 134 platform packages have now been released into open source since the code was first made available on the Symbian Foundation servers in April 2009. And it's clearly feeling bullish about the progress being made.

"We are ahead of schedule against our goal of completing the process before the middle of next year," reports the foundation's official blog. "We and the various contributors are working hard and extremely focused on making the whole platform available under EPL as soon as we can."