MeeGo merges with LiMo to form Tizen

Published by Rafe Blandford, David Gilson at 10:50 UTC, September 28th 2011

Multiple sources have announced today that the Linux Foundation and LiMo Foundation have agreed to merge their respective mobile operating systems, MeeGo and LiMo. The resulting operating system, Tizen, will support HTML5 as its primary development environment. Like MeeGo, it will be designed to support a range of device classes like smartphones, tablets, Smart TVs, netbooks, and in-vehicle-infotainment systems. The Tizen project will be governed in much the same way as the MeeGo project. This includes a technical steering group of which Intel and Samsung are members. Read on for more details.



The MeeGo project announced today that it saw HTML5 as the future of mobile application development and would be “working hard” to help developers transition from MeeGo development to Tizen development.

As stated by Imad Sousou on the MeeGo blog:

By now, you may have read that The Linux Foundation, with the support of several other companies, announced a new project, Tizen, to build a new operating system for devices. This new project is first and foremost open source, and based on Linux. So it begs the question: why not just evolve MeeGo? We believe the future belongs to HTML5-based applications, outside of a relatively small percentage of apps, and we are firmly convinced that our investment needs to shift toward HTML5. Shifting to HTML5 doesn’t just mean slapping a web runtime on an existing Linux, even one aimed at mobile, as MeeGo has been. Emphasizing HTML5 means that APIs not visible to HTML5 programmers need not be as rigid, and can evolve with platform technology and can vary by market segment.

Granted, this is a judgment on our part on which reasonable people could disagree, but that’s the conclusion I came to.

Intel also welcomed the change, encouraging MeeGo developers to develop in HTML5 for cross-platform compatibility between MeeGo and Tizen. It also affirmed its commitment to its App-Up application store, stating that it would be distributing Tizen applications.

And yes, MeeGo continues for our devices in market. MeeGo is a great choice for emerging markets and we’ve seen amazing devices already like the ASUS EeePC x101. AppUp continues to support MeeGo and we encourage MeeGo developers to continue to build and submit apps for our netbook devices in market. We also encourage MeeGo developers to consider a common development framework of HTML5 to bridge development between MeeGo and Tizen devices. And on the netbook side the MeeGo neetbook apps in the Intel AppUp center will be compatible and will run unchanged with Tizen netbook. So for those developers who invested in MeeGo for netbooks your apps will continue on Tizen netbooks.

As for application development for Tizen, the Intel AppUp developer program is a key destination for developers with the developer enabling programs you know from us, including; application labs, accelerator funding, developer challenges, and community engagement, to help drive development and app innovation for the Tizen™ platform. Intel’s strategy has always been to provide choice when it comes to operating systems. To this end, we work closely with partners such as Microsoft and Google on Windows and Android respectively. Tizen is just one more example of Intel’s contribution to open source, in an effort to help satisfy customer demands.

The LiMo Foundation also release a statement about Tizen.

Tizen combines the best open source technologies from LiMo and the Linux Foundation and adds a robust and flexible standards-based HTML5 and WAC web development environment within which device-independent applications can be produced efficiently for unconstrained cross-platform deployment. This approach leverages the robustness and flexibility of HTML5 which is rapidly emerging as a preferred application environment for mobile applications and the broad carrier support of the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC). Tizen additionally carries a state-of-the-art reference user interface enabling the creation of highly attractive and innovative user experience that can be further customized by operators and manufacturers.


What role for Qt?

The future of Qt in relation to Tizen is uncertain. It was not mentioned in any of today’s press releases. The Tizen website does make reference to a native development, but does not provide any further details. Instead HTML 5 is promoted as the development environment of choice and in an elastic piece of thinking is given as the reason for the need to evolve MeeGo.

However, Qt is a key component in many MeeGo related projects (e.g. part of the reference design for the GENIVI alliance for IVI devices) and, as noted above, Intel have indicated that there will be backwards compatibility with existing MeeGo netbook applications.

It seems likely that politics has a role to play here. Qt came into the MeeGo project from Nokia. Despite recent moves towards open governance, is still very much associated with Nokia. Intel were unhappy that Nokia switched to Windows Phone and  the member of LiMo (including Samsung) may prefer to avoid mentioning or relying on what is perceived to be a competitor's asset. 

In our opinion the likely scenario is that Qt will continue to play a major role in Tizen projects, but it will not be promoted as part of the core primary developer environment. Qt may be included as part of the default offering or it may be left to integrators to provide a version of Tizen with Qt. A possible example of how this might work in practise comes from Nomovok, who today released a press statement indicating that they would provide a version of Tizen integrated with Qt as part of their Steelrat system.


David Gilson and Rafe Blandford, for All About MeeGo, 28th September 2011.

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