If amount of development activity is any thing to go by the next Linux kernel release, version 2.6.30, will be a boon for mobile device makers with more than 50 updates for the ARM platform being included.
The Advanced RISC Machine (ARM) architecture is running billions of mobile phones and other portable devices and has attracted Google and Canonical for their Android and Ubuntu Mobile ports the chip, respectively.
In a sign of things to come in the mobile computing space, Linux 2.6.30 will include support for Nokia's RX-51 Internet tablet and mobile phone, HTC's Himalaya architecture (i-mate, XDA), and a number of Palm devices.
Enhancements to ARM also benefit the QNAP TS-119/TS-219 Turbo NAS storage device.
According to Wikipedia, as of January 2008, over 10 billion ARM cores have been built, and iSuppli predicts that 5 billion a year will ship in 2011. That's big potential for Linux on mobile devices.
Only last month, Canonical released Ubuntu Linux version 9.04 “Jaunty Jackalope” - the first full release ported to the ARM architecture.
IDC telecommunications market analyst Mark Novosel said there are several different camps using Linux on ARM and the main one is Andorid.
“Then there are others like Motorola's Linux, but in Australia that is non-existent,” Novosel said.
Novosel said there is a glut of mobile operating systems and a consolidation is necessary for the industry to be more innovative.
“Developers will dictate what they support and that may mean the end of some operating systems as the carriers can't support all these devices,” he said.
“Linux is the underdog at the moment, when you compare it with Mac OS X on the iPhone which has had a two year head start on Android.”
That said, Novosel would not be surprised if the mobile Linux suppliers consolidated their offerings around Google's Android.
“There is no point in competing one flavour of Linux against another.”