Two New Flowers Join the Garden GNOME

One of the hottest areas of Linux development these days is in mobile Linux — it seems everyone has their hand somewhere in the Linux-on-cellphones pie. Two of the big players in the field — Google and Motorola — kicked their involvement up a notch yesterday by becoming official members of the GNOME Advisory Board.

Google has had its hand in the mobile mélange for quite some time — as just about any Linux geek can tell you — sponsoring the development of the Android mobile Linux platform, and just last month saw the first release of the T-Mobile G1, currently the crowning-jewel of Google's Android crown. Motorola is no lightweight either, holding the distinction of having released the first Linux-based cellphone — the A760, released in China, which ran MontaVista Linux — in 2003. The company went on to develop it's own Linux/Java hybrid — MOTOMAGX — but will be dropping the platform along with Symbian and anything else that may be out there to focus exclusively on Android and Windows Mobile.

The decision to sign up with GNOME — which through its GNOME Mobile & Embedded Initiative is promoting the use of GNOME on mobile platforms — seems a fairly common-sense one, particularly with GNOME's well-known emphasis on usability and user-friendliness, attributes that will likely prove quite important in bring Linux phones to largely un-Linux-familiar mobile phone users. Motorola already utilizes a great deal of GNOME software — SQLite, gStreamer, and Bluez were mentioned specifically in the announcement — while Google uses Ubuntu — which uses the GNOME Desktop — internally and has frequently funded Summer of Code projects that involve GNOME development. Jumping in with financial support and advice for the project seems the next logical thing to do.

It is important to note, though, that the GNOME Advisory Board is not the GNOME Foundation Board, and acts in a purely advisory capacity, providing the project with the benefit of the experienced gained by its members many years in successful business. It is composed of a mix of non-profit organizations, which are admitted without cost, and for-profit companies, which — based on size — make an annual donation of $5,000 - $10,000. Among the members are Intel, Red Hat, Sun, HP, Debain, IBM, Mozilla, Nokia, Canonical, Novell, and the Software Freedom Law Center, which also provides pro bono legal services for the Foundation.

According to the Foundation, the additional funding will be directed towards accessibility outreach, usability studies, internationalization efforts, and other projects that support the goal of universal access.

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