Symbian Foundation opensources EKA2 microkernel

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Yesterday the Symbian Foundation announced the release of the EKA2, together with supporting development kit, under the Eclipse Public License (EPL). This marks a major stepping stone is the process to opensource the entire Symbian platform, which the Symbian Foundation is currently undertaking. The microkernel is the heart of the operating system and comprises of a 'robust, fully multi-tasking architecture', which 'manages all system resources and frameworks necessary for the co-existence of the processes and applications that make up the complete system'.

The EKA2 microkernel might be considered one on the crown jewells of the platform. It is, in part, responsible for Symbian's indystry leading resource and power management (or, put more simply, is the reason Symbian devices typically have better battery life times and are able to run of lower specified hardware than competing platforms).

The Foundation have also released an associated developer kit, which means it will be easier for developers to start tinkering with the code.

The complete kit, which can be downloaded from, consists of:

  • Open source kernel and other complementary packages
  • High performance ARM compiler toolchain (RVCT4.0): free to developers and companies of less than 20 employees
  • Open source simulation environment based on QEMU
  • Open source base support package for the low cost Beagle Board
  • Supporting binaries
  • Hardware execution environment

Lee Williams said:

"The release of the microkernel demonstrates three vital, guiding principles of the foundation: first, the commitment of many community members to the development of the platform - in this case, Accenture, ARM, Nokia and Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) all made contributions; second, progress in fulfilling our commitment to a complete open source release of Symbian; and third, a tangible example of providing the most advanced mobile platform in the world" said Lee Williams, Executive Director, Symbian Foundation.

"I would like to congratulate Symbian for not only making the source code of its kernel open source, but also the compiler and simulation environment,' said Andrew S. Tanenbaum, author of global bestsellers and widely regarded computer science texts including, Operating Systems: Design and Implementation and Modern Operating Systems. 'The code will be of great interest to programmers and enthusiasts of the Symbian system. It will also show many people that microkernels are widely used in important commercial environments, where both reliability and high performance are essential."

More information is available in the press release and on the Symbian Foundation website.