March 25, 2002

Qtopia and embedded Linux showing up on smart phones soon

- by Tina Gasperson -
Trolltech is officially announcing the arrival of Qtopia today. Yes, it's
already in use on the developer's release of the Sharp Zaurus handheld; and yes,
theKompany has ported a collection of PDA applications using the Qtopia
environment. But Trolltech wants everybody, not just the Open Source community,
to know that Qtopia will be used on products other than the Zaurus.

Qtopia is a complete embedded application environment that is based on Qt and
the Linux kernel. It stays smaller, requiring about 8MB of ROM, because it works
directly with the Linux framebuffer -- there's no need for a bulky X11 server, or
a window manager, or toolkits. Even so, the look and feel is smooth,
high-quality, and colorful. (Click here for
screenshots
.) And it is easy to write applications for Qtopia, says Haavard
Nord, Trolltech CEO, especially if they're already written with Qt. All you
have to do is adjust for the display size, edit the dialogues, and bam, a new
embedded application appears.

That portability from Qt is probably why theKompany has developed a suite
of six productivity/entertainment apps for the Sharp Zaurus series. Each
application is available for $19.95. Nord expects many more development
companies to start working with Qtopia as it makes inroads with Sharp
customers.

Nord calls Qtopia "the third alternative" for PDA users. "It's a
competitor to Palm and Pocket PC. We also co-developed a module that
lets people run Java," he says. And in May, Sharp is expected to release a
"smart phone" that runs on Qtopia, proving that it is not for PDAs only. Plus,
he says, a company called Vercel is
producing a handheld device, code-named UD-1, due for release this summer and
aimed at the teen market. It's billed to be a hip combination of MP3 player,
Gameboy, and Web browser that will take advantage of Qtopia's configurable look
and feel.

There is some
development going on
for the Vercel product, but the company is not willing
to share any details about the progress other than a modest note about winning a
Consumer Electronics Show
Best of Innovations award earlier this year. No release projections or screen
shots of the product are available. "They are kind of shy about giving too much
information about themselves," Nord says.

Qtopia is dual-licensed just like Qt. Free Software adherents can pick it up
with the GPL, and commercial developers can take Qtopia with a proprietary,
for-pay license that will let them keep their code private. "This is a business
model that has worked for us," says Nord.

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