TLWIR 20: Intel’s Progress and Meego Morphs Into Tizen

by Rex Djere on October 3, 2011 · 0 comments


Intel is a great company, but I really haven’t used their products since the late 1990s. I’ve used AMD processors exclusively for over a decade. However, I am so impressed with Intel’s moves towards free software and open source that I decided to do two features on them this week. Both Intel segments discuss how Intel is transforming itself into a more open company. The last feature in this week’s The Linux Week in Review is a discussion of the new Linux-based OS known as Tizen. The 20th edition of TLWIR features these three action-packed stories:

  • Intel Leapfrogs to the Front of the Open Source Pack
  • Intel Is Slowly Morphing Into a Great Open Source Company
  • Meego’s Metamorphosis Into Tizen

Intel Leapfrogs to the Front of the Open Source Pack

Intel has never really been on my radar as a technology company. I have been using AMD microprocessors exclusively for years. In my opinion, AMD processors have traditionally offered a better bang for the same buck. In fact, the last pc that I had containing an Intel CPU was the Gateway PC that I owned in 1996/1997. It sported a Pentium MMX CPU clocked at a screaming 200 MHz. The only device that I own with an Intel processor now is my Dell netbook, which is powered by an Intel Atom processor. However, Intel moved towards the front of the pack of my favorite companies due to its recent announcement. Intel has decided to sponsor a group college technology research programs. The stipulation is that all computer programs developed under this sponsorship program have to be released as open source, and with no patent restrictions. I wish that a lot more technology companies would do this. I applaud Inel’s efforts, in fact, this may be a long term solution to the patent trolling and lawsuits. People that make a living shaking down companies would look a lot more dubious trying to shake down not-for-profit technology research programs. They would probably get laughed off of the university campus.

Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon are the three schools that are part of Intel’s Science and Technology Centers Program. Intel will fund the program with $2.5 million per year for 5 years. The mission of the program will be to advance cloud computing, embedded computing, computer security, and visual computing. Intel used to not hold a significant position of my “favorite companies” list, but this clear support of open source principles has pushed them to number 3 on my short list:

  • Red Hat
  • Google
  • Intel
  • IBM

What companies are on you favorites list?

Intel Is Slowly Morphing Into a Great Open Source Company

When I was coming of age as a computer scientist, Intel struck me as just another example of a technology company that enjoyed a virtual monopoly. I saw the Wintel partnership as dominant technology, but one that produced very little innovation. However, my view of Intel has recently changed…dramatically. First, they announced their partnership with three universities to develop free software and open source solutions that will be unencumbered by patents. Now, I’ve heard Intel’s most recent announcement: they are going to release an open source OpenGL driver before the end of 2011. One of the crippling inadequacies in GNU/Linux for a long time has been the lack of truly open drivers for a lot of high end hardware: video cards, TV tuner cards etc. Intel releasing an open source OpenGL driver is truly a game changer. Does this mean that i will be able to go out and buy that $700 ATI video card, and have access to ALL of its graphics power on a completely free software-driven system? I certainly hope this. This is definitely a large step the right direction. The important question is this: why is Intel making such bold moves towards the direction of open source?

The answer to the question is self-evident. Intel is embracing open source because businesses have shown that they want it. The executives at Intel are certainly not stupid. There is now way that they do not see Red Hat’s profits go up quarter after quarter. I am sure that they are extremely jealous; they want the same level of success for Intel. Open source is a smarter way to work. Volunteers and paid programmers are a much more cost effective way to produce software. As a community, this large group of people can identify problems faster, audit code more efficiently, and produce the same results as proprietary coders in less time. Intel has come to the realization that open source is a smarter way to work. It is true that, for the most part, businesses do not yet care as much about the ethical concerns of the free software movement. Open source is easier for them to understand. However, I believe that understanding the philosophy of open source eventually leads on to the free software movement. I have personally seen evidence of “businesses guys” starting to get the ethical tenets of free software. The best example of this, in my opinion, is Jim Whitehurst, the CEO of Red Hat. He REALLY gets both free software and open source. As his company continues to thrive, I expect to see more companies like Intel imitate his formula. I give kudos to Intel for following such a great example! In the end, it is the consumer that wins.

Meego’s Metamorphosis Into Tizen

In the Franz Kafka’s masterpiece, the Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa awakens to find himself transformed into a grotesque insect. When I read about the recent transformation of Meego to Tizen, I was reminded of the classic novel. Often that which appears beautiful on the surface harbors an internal ugliness, and that what appears grotesque harbors unspeakable beauty. Meego was a beautiful concept, perhaps one that came before its time. I believe that hardware vendors shied away from Meego because they feared the sharing clauses of the General Public License. The do-whatever-you-want-with-the-code nature of Android’s Apache license makes it a lot more attractive. However, that which seems most attractive on the surface is often an attraction of convenience. How often have you seen a physically attractive man or woman who had little substance beneath the polished exterior? I am not trying to say that Android is bad, not at all. What I am saying is this: it is often necessary to deeply analyze the true nature of something to find out its true worth. I think that Meego was always a diamond hidden in unpolished circumstances.

Meego was too good a concept to die completely, so Intel and Nokia have given it a rebirth in the form of Tizen. The Linux Foundation will help Samsung and Intel to drive Tizen’s adoption on a variety of mobile devices: tablets, smartphones, netbooks, and more. It is great to see that the Meego concept will survive, and it is even better to see that Intel has found a partner to replace Nokia. Bravo!


These are not easy times for free software. Patent trolls, both small and large, are doing everything to keep free software from reaching critical mass. However, Android is getting very close to critical mass on mobile devices. If it gains much more market share, there will be no turning back. GNU/Linux is rapidly nearing critical mass on the server market. It really is a race against time. If GNU/Linux reaches some critical market percentage before Microsoft can force hardware makers to ship pcs with Secure Boot enabled, Secure Boot will be DOA. The hardware manufacturers will simply tell Microsoft “no”, and there will be nothing Redmond will be able to do about it. The other possibility is that Secure Boot pcs running Windows 8 will reside in a niche market, similar to Mac pcs now. This will open the door for GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, and other free operating system-based pcs to gain some real market share. If I have the choice between some crippled, locked-down pc, and a truly open pc that allows me to do anything that I want, I will pick the open one every time, as I suspect a lot of people would. If I had to choose a side that I think that Intel will fall on, I think that it would be on the open side. This will be a godsend for freedom. Have a great week! I’ll see you in The Linux Week in Review 21!


  • Blowers, M. (2011, October 3). Tizen consortium takes on android and iphone. Tehnorati. Retrieved October 3, 2011, from
  • Kurman, M. (2011, September 12). Intel to universities: no patents, please, just open source. Innovation Excellence. Retrieved September 14, 2011, from
  • Larabel, M. (2011, September 14). Intel aims for open-source opengl 3.0 driver by year’s end. Phoronix. Retrieved September 15, 2011, from



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