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Tizen 3.0, the latest version of the Linux-based, partially open source operating system for mobile devices, landed a few days ago.
September 22, 2015
Tizen 3.0, the latest version of the Linux-based, partially open source operating system for mobile devices, landed a few days ago. But the question remains: Is the platform, which has the support of Samsung and the Linux Foundation, ready to become an alternative to Google's Android OS?
Tizen 3.0 introduces several key new features to the operating system, whose first stable release appeared in April 2012. The most important new features include:
"Tested and verified" support for 64-bit Systems on a Chip (SoCs).
Support for multiple user accounts.
Replacement of X with Wayland as the display server.
Revamped security and privilege management tools.
That's a fair amount of new stuff. Combined with the fact that Tizen 3.0 is based on the 4.0 version of the Linux kernel, the new features make this version of Tizen very different from earlier ones in key technical respects.
That said, many of these features don't change much from users' and even developers' perspectives. There are several new systems running under the hood of Tizen, but they are replacements for alternatives that existed before. They don't add significant new functionality.
Meanwhile, while changes such as the replacement of X with Wayland could have some impact on the development of apps for Tizen, the effect will probably be limited, since these are fairly low-level systems that don't matter much when programmers are creating basic mobile apps. Plus, the Tizen 3.0 API remains backwards-compatible with earlier versions. There is no change on that front for developers.
Given that these new features don't really bring radical change to Tizen, it's hard to imagine the new release helping the operating system to fare better in the market. So far, Tizen's primarily role in the real world has been to power Samsung cameras. Samsung also introduced a Tizen-based phone, the Z1, in India last January, and is rumored to have a second model in that line under development. But as far as smartphones go, Tizen's market share is probably even smaller than that of Canonical's nascent Ubuntu for mobile devices.
Of course, noticeably absent from the lineup of devices currently using Tizen are TVs. It's clear from the Tizen 3.0 release notes that developers clearly had smart TVs in mind when building the new version of the operating system. Samsung may be gearing up to push in that direction soon, giving Tizen another type of platform on which to grow.
Still, it's a safe bet that neither Android—the other Linux-based mobile OS—nor proprietary mobile operating systems, such as Apple iOS, have anything to fear from Tizen for the foreseeable future. Tizen 3.0 changes little in that respect.
Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.
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