Symbian platform goes free and open source, starting tomorrow

Symbian, a popular mobile phone platform developed by the Symbian Foundation, is about to undergo a massive conversion from proprietary to open source software. Symbian, used in almost all of Nokia's mobile devices, can be found on over 330 million different devices over the world – as such, it's a pretty big deal when software with a user base such as this becomes completely open for all to see (and edit).

According to Wired, the foundation is four months ahead of its schedule to move the project to open source, which is a pretty substantial amount of time for a project involving a platform of that size. The change to open source is a huge one for companies and individuals alike, as means that anyone will be able to view and modify the code of the operating system, regardless of which device it's currently being used on. This approach may seem somewhat familiar, however, as Google promised to make its Android platform open source as well (and has done so); executive director of the Symbian Foundation, Lee Williams, has promised that the Symbian open source project will go the extra mile.

Williams stated, "About a third of the Android code base is open and nothing more, and what is open is a collection of middleware. Everything else is closed or proprietary." On the contrary, Symbian will be made completely open source, providing the best possible experience for developers. To add to the open source announcement, the Symbian Foundation will announce its platform roadmap and upcoming features all the way to 2011, noting that anybody can influence the roadmap as well as help with new features. If you're interested in getting more involved with the Symbian platform, check out the open source operating system tomorrow. Just a warning, some software associated with features of the phones has yet to be released under an open source license, according to Yahoo!.

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sounds too close to Sybian. go from Ipad to maxipad and now Symbian to Sybian oh well.

why not, jon stewart did it with that dumb muscle machine that looks like ones going for a stroke :P
I know I'm off, but thats what I thought when I clicked the link.

Open source its the future of software development, cause it doesn't depend on a few but everyone who uses it. I think in a near future, everyone will be programming their own stuff.

I don't think open source is the way to go for mobile platforms but they've been on the decline for a long time now. This will slow that down but I don't think it'll reverse the trend unless they can develop a significantly better version. This will however cause Windows Mobile to diminish in marketshare. Some good free alternatives for hardware makers why pay to use their dated os.

Follow the google! IMO, it only gets better for end users since devs all over can fiddle with the source code and make better stuff.

Hasn't this been a long time coming? I did some Nokia dev for a thesis two years back and I think I read on the forums they were moving towards opening it all up. At the time they had opened up so much I believe but had a fair way to go.

Good news but, glad the days arrived.

Smigit said,
Hasn't this been a long time coming?

It has been... about two years ago or even longer perhaps Nokia made its intentions known to let Symbian go open when they founded the 'Symbian Foundation', they still sit on the board, as do Samsung, Sony, LG (I think) and Motorola among others.

yes yes YES if this means that custom firmware can be made now... i've always wanted to remap the shortcut keys on my E90 ... even tho its abit old by now, but i'll be cool all over again if i run a phone with brand new open source firmware

not to mention, i have come up with a way for entering text VERY quickly on the N-Gage thanks to its 'game controller' design, if only i still had it i would love to see it implemented

If this includes source code to the radio drivers, then I'm all for it! Well, I'm all for it anyway but I'd be more for it bit more!

mocax said,
in other words, if future symbian phones sucked, blame the open source community....
Well, quite a bit OSS does suck. Just sayin'.

iamwhoiam said,
Well, quite a bit OSS does suck. Just sayin'.
And quite a bit of OSS rocks.

Just like closed source. Quite a bit sucks. Quite a bit rocks.

What was it that you were "just sayin'", because I don't see a point there. ;)

iamwhoiam said,
Well, quite a bit OSS does suck. Just sayin'.

go on, the big corporations will keep on raping you and you will like it more and more

carmatic said,

will keep on raping you and you will like it more and more

Why all this reminiscence of your own past and personal attacks on other people?

Edited by RealFduch, Feb 4 2010, 3:14pm :

I've heard about this before, and I'm not surprised. I used to love Symbian on Nokias, but you can tell it couldn't catch up with iPhone, and as of recently, Android. Great to see this happening, I think it will definitely speed up the development.

What does this mean for end users though?

Will I get custom firmware for my Nokia E63 now?

As much as I love the phone, there are some quirks that I hate about it ----- no threaded SMS, not automatically selecting the proper WiFi access point...

Not to mention, some of the interface just seems dated, even with skins.

Brandon said,
What does this mean for end users though?

Will I get custom firmware for my Nokia E63 now?

As much as I love the phone, there are some quirks that I hate about it ----- no threaded SMS, not automatically selecting the proper WiFi access point...

Not to mention, some of the interface just seems dated, even with skins.


That's probably why people are switching to the iPhone. The only thing good about the platform it's that you get flash and java, something that the iPhone lacks.

cabron said,

That's probably why people are switching to the iPhone. The only thing good about the platform it's that you get flash and java, something that the iPhone lacks.

Scripting in general, as Python is able to be run on Symbian devices as well, a major gripe for iPhone OS for me: I can't write my own scripts on my iPod.
This move will ultimately benefit consumers as things that weren't included by the manufacturer can now be added after-market.

Lets hope that custom firmware and hacking doesn't void warranty...

Brandon said,
Will I get custom firmware for my Nokia E63 now?

Probably it'll be like with Android, where community makes custom roms with more featuers than original rom, more tweaks, also including new things which are not in official releases yet (ie. HTC Magic phones got SenseUI months before HTC released official update)

I do want custom firmware. While we can't have it, check out Free-iSMS. This app shows sms messages threaded just like in the iPhone. It literally changed the way I send messages. Fully working on my N95-1.