Embedded Linux Gets a Boost in Newly Unified Project

Whatever your opinion of Linux's desktop potential, few would dispute the value of the open source operating system in embedded devices such as mobile phones and personal media players. After all, it's fast, it's free, it's open source, it's customizable and it's extremely stable, among many other advantages.

Whereas building custom designs with embedded Linux has typically required significant development work, however, a new initiative promises to make it much easier. Specifically, the Linux Foundation's Yocto Project has teamed up with the like-minded OpenEmbedded community on a unified effort to advance embedded Linux across a variety of chip architectures, the foundation announced on Wednesday.

Shared governance will be one result, as will a shared OpenEmbedded Core consisting of software build recipes and core Linux components. The project aims to prevent fragmentation and reinforce the OpenEmbedded methodology as an open standard for embedded Linux build systems.

"Linux is huge in the embedded market because it can be adapted for any application, but it isn't always easy to get started with a custom design," says Grant Likely, Linux kernel developer, Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board member and president of Secret Lab Technologies. "I'm thrilled that OpenEmbedded and the Yocto members are working together to make building custom Linux systems simple and reliable."

'Massive Collaboration'

Along with the new union, the Linux Foundation also announced on Wednesday a newly expanded roster of companies supporting the project. Included among those contributing to it today are Cavium Networks, Dell, Freescale Semiconductor, Intel, LSI, Mentor Graphics, Mindspeed, MontaVista Software, NetLogic Microsystems, RidgeRun, Texas Instruments, Tilera, Timesys and Wind River.

"The Yocto Project and the OpenEmbedded community bring together the industry's key stakeholders from the embedded Linux community to build a core set of technologies to advance Linux for the burgeoning systems and devices market," said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation, which also offers a series of training courses in embedded Linux development. "This kind of massive collaboration is exactly what makes Linux the driving force behind today's new technology innovations."

Indeed, a raft of new embedded Linux devices will likely result from the new project, as many of the companies involved were quick to point out.

Reducing Time to Market

"The collaboration between Yocto and OpenEmbedded promises to deliver a flexible, standardized infrastructure and enable Dell to deliver innovative customer solutions more quickly," said Mark Cathcart, senior distinguished engineer and director of software engineering in the Dell Enterprise Products Group, for example.

Bottom line? Expect to see Linux appearing ever more frequently in an exciting and growing array of embedded devices.

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk .

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