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Trolltech announced Monday that more than 50 companies are developing or shipping Linux-based devices using its Qtopia graphical application platform software, including more than 20 mobile phones. These successes signal “a surge in the market for handsets built on the popular open source Linux operating system,” the company says.

“We think that 2005 is going to be a real breakout year for Linux on cellphones,” Trolltech CEO Haavard Nord told “There seems to be a huge interest in Linux. Linux is just now getting mature for the market. Currently, we’re working with more than 20 manufacturers [who are] building Linux phones today,” he said.

Motorola has already been shipping Linux phones in China and has achieved its initial objectives there, according to Nord. “We expect that in 2005, Motorola is going to start shipping Linux phones outside of China,” Nord added.

Regarding the embedded Linux operating system itself, Nord said, “There’s a very clear trend. Many of [the handset makers], when they start their projects, are rolling their own [Linux]. But when they get serious about producing a phone, they very often, in the majority of cases, go to MontaVista to have a Linux kernel customized for their hardware. Things that they typically have trouble with, if they roll their own Linux, are power management and boot-up/startup time. We think that MontaVista can play a big role there, in helping them to customize and make Linux really work on their handsets.”

Read the full story on Twenty New Linux Cellphones on the Way, Says Software Maker.