5 Mobile Linux OSes that Dare to Compete with Android

Firefox OS

Mozilla announced Boot to Gecko in July 2011, and in June 2012 re-launched it as Firefox OS. The operating system will run on firmware from Chinese manufacturing giants ZTE and TCL (Alcatel One Touch), and will be offered by as many as seven mobile Firefox OS phonecarriers.

So far, only Spain’s Telefonica has actually promised a phone - an entry-level model due in Brazil in early 2013 under its Vivo brand. Firefox OS will then spread to similarly low-cost phones from carriers including Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia and Sprint, says Mozilla.

Open WebOS

HP’s Open WebOS project released version 1.0 on Sept. 28, some nine months after HP announced plans for open sourcing the Linux-based WebOS platform. Last month, CEO Meg Whitman floated the idea of a smartphone coming in 2013, but backed off the comments on Oct.3, saying that an HP-branded mobile device should arrive in the next five years.

Open WebOS has been rebuilt on completely open source components, including QtWebKit, OpenAL Soft, OpenGL ES, WebGL Open webOS ported to a Google Nexusand Gstreamer. HP has also released some open source versions of WebOS productivity apps.


MeeGo is back. Born in Feb. 2010 when Intel and Nokia merged the Atom-focused Moblin with Nokia’s ARM-oriented Maemo project, MeeGo faded quickly after Nokia pivoted to Windows Phone the next year. Shortly afterward, a Finnish startup called Jolla, comprised of former Nokia MeeGo developers, pursued  its own MeeGo plans. These plans were announced in July, when Jolla CEO Jussi Hurmola was quoted as saying that two phones would ship later this year — a mass market phone and a developer model — distributed by Chinese mobile retail giant D.Phone Group.


Tizen is a spinoff from the MeeGo project, but it has adopted far less MeeGo code than Sailfish did. Hosted by The Linux Foundation and backed by former MeeGo backer Intel and leading Android vendor Samsung, Tizen was announced a little over a year ago and arrived as version 1.0 in April. An alpha version of version 2.0 was unveiled on Sept. 25.

Tizen logoThe Tizen 2.0 alpha arrived shortly after a Wi-Fi Alliance document surfaced that seemed to certify a Tizen version of Samsung’s Galaxy S III phone. Samsung, which released a dual-core developer phone for Tizen in limited quantities in June, is expected to announce at least one Tizen phone by early 2013, possibly by the end of the year. Tizen Association member Huawei has also said it will build a Tizen phone, and the rumor mill has hinted at possible future devices from HTC, Asus and Acer.


For years, Ubuntu has been showing up as an alternative OS installation on x86-based tablets and mobile Internet devices (MIDs) via Ubuntu Mobile and Embedded (UME). Ubuntu was the first Linux distro to support ARM processors, resulting in Sharp’s ARM-based Netwalker PC-T1 tablet in 2010.

Ubuntu Android phoneNone of these products did much in the market, however, and Ubuntu has never shipped with a high-profile tablet. In 2011, Ubuntu 11.04 arrived with its touch-enabled Unity interface, and in October that year Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth announced that the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release due in spring 2014 would “power tablets, phones, and smart screens from the car to the office kitchen.”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.