First open-source Symbian software released

The launch of the OS Security Package is the first step in the Symbian Foundation's plan to eventually open-source its entire Symbian mobile operating system.

Matthew Broersma Special to CNET News
2 min read

The Symbian Foundation has released its first open-source software package, the first step in the organization's plan to eventually open-source the entire Symbian mobile operating system.

The Symbian Foundation was set up by in June 2008 by Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo, Texas Instruments, Vodafone, Samsung, LG, and AT&T to oversee the development of the Symbian OS as an open-source platform, licensed under the Eclipse Public Licence (EPL). The OS had previously been developed as proprietary software by the Symbian Foundation.

On Wednesday, Symbian made available its first package covered by the EPL, the OS Security Package, according to Symbian developer Craig Heath.

"The OS Security Package source code is now available under the EPL, and it is the very first package to be officially moved from the closed Symbian Foundation License (SFL) to...the EPL," Heath wrote in a blog post.

Heath said the EPL would allow the security package to bypass export regulations in the U.K., where the Symbian code is legally based.

"There is an exemption for software 'in the public domain,' meaning that open-source software isn't export-controlled, so moving it from SFL to EPL was the most straightforward way to make sure that the complete cryptographic functionality would be available to all," he wrote.

The move is also intended to demonstrate that Symbian is "serious" about both open source and security, according to Heath. The next step will be to open source the Symbian kernel, along with a basic set of components and drivers, according to Symbian chief architect Daniel Rubio.

"It has to be accompanied by all other components and drivers to run a shell with full I/O--for example, a Board Support Package, a hardware vehicle and, of course, a freely available toolchain," Rubio said in a blog post. "The good news is that we are working hard to make this happen in the short term, which in my mind is a three-month horizon."

Alongside the shift to open source, Symbian is working to integrate several components of the old software into a new operating system that will be released under the name Symbian ^2. The new OS is to be based on version 9 of the Symbian OS and will integrate the S60, UIQ, and MOAP user interfaces, according to Symbian. It is planned to begin beta testing in the next few weeks, and could appear in handsets in the first half of next year.

In March, Symbian said it plans to release a new version of the OS every six months, with Symbian ^3 planned for the middle of this year. Symbian competes with a number of mobile operating systems, including Apple's iPhone OS, Google's Android, and Microsoft's Windows Mobile.

Matthew Broersma of ZDNet UK reported from London.