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Linux founder endorses Google's Nexus One

The Google phone gives Linus Torvalds mobile phone religion--though more for apps than voice calls. Also: Firefox progress using Android's Linux.

It's still not clear how well Google will surmount challenges selling its Nexus One to ordinary folks, but when it comes to endorsement from the tech-savvy realm, it doesn't get much better than this.

Google's Nexus One
Google's Nexus One Google

Linus Torvalds, leader of the Linux kernel programming project, said Saturday not only that he likes the Google phone, but that it was good enough to convert him into a mobile phone believer.

"I generally hate phones--they are irritating and disturb you as you work or read or whatever--and a cell phone to me is just an opportunity to be irritated wherever you are," Torvalds said in a blog post. "But I have to admit, the Nexus One is a winner."

The whole idea of talking on the phone still isn't that exciting to Torvalds, though. Instead, it was other features that won him over.

"I've wanted to have a GPS unit for my car anyway, and I thought that Google navigation might finally make a phone useful," Torvalds said. "And it does. What a difference! I no longer feel like I'm dragging a phone with me 'just in case' I would need to get in touch with somebody--now I'm having a useful (and admittedly pretty good-looking) gadget instead. The fact that you can use it as a phone, too, is kind of secondary."

Google's Android operating system used in the Nexus One is built atop a Linux foundation, but the applications typically don't run on the Linux. Instead, they run atop Linux on a Java-like layer, Google's Dalvik virtual machine and accompanying software libraries.

More recently, though, Google issued a Native Development Kit for software that runs directly on the phone's Linux operating system. Through that technology, Mozilla is working on a version of Firefox for Android.

"Android has been pretty great to work with so far; it's a bit unusual platform for us due to its Java core, but with the NDK we're able to bridge things together without many problems," said Mozilla Vladimir Vukicevic, who's working on the software, on Thursday. "We're still a ways to go before any kind of usable alpha release, but we're certainly one step closer. We'll also be able to accelerate our progress now that we have some of the basic scaffolding in place."