Linux remains high on the agenda with regards to mobile handset operating systems but some degree of fragmentation looks likely to remain. This week, a handful of major operators committed to rolling out devices this year based on the LiMo Foundation’s flavour of Linux.

NTT DoCoMo, Orange, SK Telecom, Telefonica, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone, have all committed to deploying handsets based on the latest version of the LiMo Platform.

To date 33 commercial handset models have been certified as LiMo compliant, including ten being displayed at Mobile World Congress next week by NEC and Panasonic together with new prototype models from LG Electronics and Samsung.

Further active operator participants in the LiMo Foundation include KTF, SFR, Softbank Mobile, Swisscom, and Telecom Italia.

LiMo has one of the biggest presences in the mobile Linux space, since last summer’s absorption of Linux splinter group the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum. The LiPS Forum’s member base counted players from across the mobile ecosystem, including chipset suppliers, Linux OS and mobile stack vendors, handset designers and OEMs and regional and global wireless operators, but decided to merge with LiMo in the wake of announcements by a number of LiPS members that they would be joining LiMo – Access, France Telecom / Orange, Open-Plug, Purple Labs and Texas Instruments.

Many members of LiMo are also members of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), which develops the software for the Google-backed Android platform, indicating that many carriers are reluctant to reduce their reliance on multiple flavours of Linux.

“The mobile industry’s shift toward true openness has come another step closer to being realized and major operators from around the globe continue to back the LiMo Foundation,” said Malik Kamal-Saadi, principal analyst of handsets and devices at industry analyst Informa. “As more and more companies jump on the open source bandwagon, industry unification around mobile Linux is expected to gain momentum, enabling the delivery of next-generation handsets and new waves of innovative applications that will provide consumers with a truly personalized mobile web experience.”

On Monday, the LiMo Foundation endorsed the OMTP BONDI specification, designed to allow diverse web applications and widgets to make use of native functionality on mobile handsets, such as calendar, camera or contact services.

The organisation said that to date, the mobile industry has lacked a common specification that allows for easy re-use and portability of web applications and widgets-often forcing developers to repeatedly re-write their code in order for their program to run on the many different types of mobile handsets. The purpose of BONDI is to create a common interface between these applications and the underlying handset functionality.