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Nokia woos Linux programmers

The top seller of mobile phones releases software to let Linux programmers develop Java software for its cell phones.

Nokia, the top seller of mobile phones, has released software to let Linux programmers develop Java software for its cell phones, the company said on Tuesday.

Nokia is a strong backer of the use of Sun Microsystems' Java software on its cell phones, touting Java's ability to let the same program run on a variety of different phone models.

Until now, developers have typically had to use a Windows computer to write Java programs for Nokia phones. But the Finnish company made available on Tuesday a free Linux version of its developer's tools for Java, which can be downloaded from Nokia's Web site.

"It was in response to what developers were asking for," said Letitia Andrews, developer tools marketing manager for Nokia. In addition, several market studies also indicate that Linux is "the up-and-coming operating system for developers," she said.

According to Evans Data, 12 percent of programmers writing software for wireless devices work primarily in Linux. Companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Red Hat and Penguin Computing are creating computers and software specifically geared toward programmers and other technical users.

The developer kit lets programmers write Java applications that comply with version 1 of the Mobile Information Device Platform (MIDP), a collection of Java features geared specifically for cell phones. Nokia plans support for the recently completed MIDP 2.0, but Andrews declined to say when tools that support the new platform would be released.

The developer kit also includes support for Nokia-specific enhancements to MIDP 1, such as user interface improvements for games or sound features for customized ring tones, Andrews said.

The Nokia tools are certified to work with Red Hat's 7.2 version of Linux, Andrews said.

The Windows version of Nokia's development kit is also free.