Firefox OS, Ubuntu and Jolla's Sailfish at MWC
At Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, centre stage was given to a panel discussion between the figureheads of the three newcomer operating systems in the mobile space: Mozilla Chair Mitchell Baker (Firefox OS), Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth (Ubuntu for Phones), and Jolla CEO Marc Dillon (Sailfish OS) spent an hour discussing their respective products.
In her introduction to the keynote panel, Mitchell Baker highlighted the need for "meaningful innovation" in a mobile space that is currently dominated by the incumbents Google and Apple. Firefox OS made a spectacular debut at the mobile phone event with 18 carriers and manufacturers showing support for the non-profit foundation's first foray into creating a mobile phone operating system built for the open web. Sony joined the supporters during the show, adding its weight to Firefox OS and releasing an experimental Firefox OS developer image for its Xperia E smartphone.
Mark Shuttleworth stressed that carriers and partners are looking to differentiate themselves from the current flood of Android devices and that the Ubuntu mobile interface delivers a chance for just that. Canonical has been showing the Developer Preview of Ubuntu for Phones and Tablets, which can now be installed for testing by anyone with a Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, 7 or 10 device. Attendees were able to flash their devices with the preview at the Ubuntu stand if they wanted to try out the mobile OS.
In addition to these two open source alternatives, Jolla, whose platform mates a proprietary user interface with open source underpinnings, has now released a first version of the SDK for its Sailfish OS. Jolla CEO Dillon remarked at the panel that the time was right to give people alternatives, and like Shuttleworth, suggested that his company is doing its best to do so. The Sailfish SDK is based on QtCreator, the Mer project's build engine and an emulator for the operating system. The SDK is released under a combination of open source licences and the company states its goal with Sailfish "is to develop an open source operating system in co-operation with the community", but it has not made clear what parts of the code, beyond the Mer underpinnings, it intends to open under which specific licences.
Meanwhile, the Tizen Association has officially released Tizen 2.0, which was demonstrated at MWC on a Samsung-designed reference phone. Tizen, the successor to Meego (the Linux Foundation and Intel's mobile Linux project) and LiMo (the long-established Linux for phones consortium) is being actively developed by Samsung and is expected to appear on a number of Samsung devices in the coming year.