While Windows-centric Ultra-Mobile PCs have yet to make significant inroads among consumers, Linux has continued to drive ever deeper into the mobile world. Already the fastest growing OS in the cell phone market, it looks like we'll soon be seeing a lot more penguins on Internet-connected tablet devices, too.
Intel's new Mobile & Internet Linux Project, at Moblin.org, aims to bring the Linux community together under a common umbrella for the purpose of creating next-generation mobile devices to share the emerging market for small, portable, powerful, and -- most importantly -- connected PCs. Of course, Intel isn't abandoning the Windows-based UMPC by any means. But this move clearly demonstrates that the company takes Linux seriously as a platform.
The Moblin project consists of several connected initiatives, including:
-A platform-specific kernel with active driver support
-Moblin Image Creator, to streamline development and device customization
-GTK user interface framework with extensive customization options for mobile devices
-A full-featured Mozilla-based browser with a Hildon finger-driven interface
-Power management for mobile devices
-Network profile management for wLAN, Bluetooth, and other wireless connections
-Multimedia support for a wide variety of media types with enhanced content management
-Image capture features with an emphasis on capturing, managing, and sharing images from built-in cameras
-Chat support for popular messaging systems
Intel's initiative with Mobile & Internet Linux should be a welcome contribution to the rapidly growing Linux community, which has historically suffered from extreme fragmentation and disorder. With its central role in the PC industry, Intel is uniquely positioned to act as a centralizing force for the Linux community, and has already managed to bring such major players as Canonical and Red Flag to the table.
Meanwhile, Linux will inevitably prove itself a force to be reckoned with on Mobile Internet Devices. Loved for its combination of power and flexibility, the Linux kernel offers excellent performance with low power consumption, making it ideal for portable gadgets. The same characteristics that have earned the respect of cell phone makers worldwide will make Linux a dominant OS in the small tablet space.