Is Linux inside your consumer electronics device?
Linux is increasingly becoming the primary embedded operating system for a myriad of consumer electronics devices, including eBook readers, TVs, mobile phone and media players. To date, one of the primary organizations helping to lead Linux for consumer electronics has been the Consumer Electronics Linux Forum (CELF). CELF is now being merged with the Linux Foundation in an effort to help further integrate and expand the Linux ecosystem.
"The demand for Linux in the consumer electronics and embedded markets has been accelerating for a decade now, but we've hit a tipping point where it is now both the fastest growing area of computing and one of the biggest growth opportunities for Linux," Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation told InternetNews.com. "CELF and The Linux Foundation have been collaborating on their annual technical conference for the last two years and we worked well together. We think it makes sense now to combine forces since Linux in the embedded space is growing so rapidly."
The Linux Foundation has been a leading voice in the Linux industry since it was formed in 2007 after succeeding Open Source Development Labs (OSDL). The Linux Foundation is also the employer of Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux.
CELF was formed in 2003 with Panasonic Corporation (Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.), Sony Corporation, Hitachi, Ltd., NEC Corporation, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Sharp Corporation, and TOSHIBA as founding members. There is some overlap between CELF members and current Linux Foundation members, which might also mean a membership savings cost for consumer electronics vendors. As part of the merger, CELF will become a workgroup of the Linux Foundation.
"Those vendors can now just pay Linux Foundation membership if they choose," Zemlin said. "There will be no stand alone fees for the CELF workgroup."
Moving forward there are a number of challenges that Linux faces in the consumer electronics space that the Linux Foundation is aiming to overcome.
"We think building Linux on embedded devices can be made easier by collaborating on common build tools and infrastructure," Zemlin said. "There is an unnecessary burden on vendors to rely on their own tools in embedded Linux. We also think that just by getting the industry together with the community and explaining how important it is to upstream drivers, for instance, will go a long way toward fueling this market."
The new 'Yocto' project from the Linux Foundation may also help with the consumer electronics Linux challenges. Zemlin explained that the Yocto Project provides open source, infrastructure and tools to help developers create their own custom Linux distributions for any hardware architecture.
"This is a collaboratively developed, open source build system that is focused on the embedded segment," Zemlin said. "It will speed embedded vendors time to market by establishing a shared build infrastructure."