April 2, 2009 at 6:11 pm
Intel is handing over control of Moblin, the Linux-based operating system developed for Atom CPU-powered netbooks, to the non-profit Linux Foundation. By setting Moblin free, Intel is hoping that the operating system will attract more interest from netbook vendors who are currently steadfastly sticking with Windows XP.
In doing so however, Intel could be taking a big risk. The promotion of the Linux-based OS could see netbook vendors move away from Intel CPUs/chipsets to rivals such as the Nvidia Ion platform or even to ARM-powered CPUs.
“Nothing restricts any participant in the Moblin open-source project from taking this and putting it on ARM,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. “They are willing to let Moblin be used even by their competitors because they feel pretty bullish about their ability to compete. It’s a risk/reward that has been proven with other vendors.”
Zemlin said Intel had turned to his organization because it has a “solid track record of being a place where neutral development can take place“. The Forum draws members from hardware, software and end users who can help drive development and adoption.
Moblin runs only on devices and PCs using Intel’s Atom or Core 2 CPUs, along with Intel’s integrated graphics chips. It has been taken up by OEMs including Asus, HP, and Dell. Zemlin noted Intel developers would remain on Moblin adding the Foundation is not: “Going to get in the way of the core developers who work on it [Moblin]. From a governance perspective, that won’t change“.