Symbian Opens Up
When Nokia bought Symbian in 2008, nobody had any reason to believe their thoughts were anywhere near Open Source — particularly given that just weeks prior, its Open Source chief declared that when it came to FOSS, the company wasn't "ready to play by the rules." Nevertheless, Open Source was exactly what Nokia had in mind for Symbian, and as of today, the process is complete.
Parts of the Symbian platform have been Open Source for quite some time — portions of the code were Open Sourced shortly after it was donated to the Symbian Foundation, and other portions have slowly been released in the nearly two years since. The complete opening wasn't expected until later this year, but finished ahead of schedule due, said Foundation Executive Director Lee Williams, to "the extraordinary commitment and dedication from our staff and our member companies."
The Symbian Foundation picked the Eclipse Public License as its Open Source variant of choice. According to the Symbian Developer Community site, the EPL was chosen "because it balances our goals of encouraging development of the Symbian platform, builds a contributor community and encourages vigorous commercial competition through innovation on top of the platform." It goes on to specifically address the choice not to use the GPL, saying they "[want] to be absolutely clear" that those using the Symbian platform in devices "will be able to add new features and support new hardware without having to make all of that code open source," excepting certain alterations of the licensed code itself. Some code, however, is available under other Open Source licenses, though examples were not immediately available.
The full Symbian^3 codebase — 108 packages in all — is now available for download from the Symbian developer site, including developer and product development kits.
Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.
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