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Consumer electronics manufacturers agree on long-term Linux kernel

Oct 26, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

The Linux Foundation announced a Long Term Support Initiative (LTSI) project created by its Consumer Electronics (CE) workgroup, intended to reduce duplication of effort in maintaining private industry kernel trees. The LTSI project intends to deliver an annual release of a Linux kernel suitable for supporting the lifespan of consumer electronics products and regular updates of those releases for two to three years.

The LTSI effort was announced in general terms by Linux kernel maintainer and SUSE fellow Greg Kroah-Hartman at August's LinuxCon conference in Vancouver, and was fully unveiled this week at LinuxCon Europe in Prague. Developed and supported by companies including Hitachi, LG Electronics, NEC, Panasonic, Qualcomm Atheros, Renesas, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba, LTSI intends to create and maintain a long-term support (LTS) Linux kernel tree.

The LTSI tree will be designed to be stable in quality for the typical lifetime of a CE product, says the Linux Foundation (LF). The idea is to each year release an LTS industry tree that lasts two to three years along with a two year community LTS tree. LTSI will then maintain the trees by back-porting new features.

In addition, the Linux Foundation CELF workgroup will maintain an industry staging tree to solicit innovations from embedded system engineers to accelerate innovations of upstream Linux, says the LF. These changes will then be merged into a community's tree.

Reducing duplication of effort

The goal is to reduce the amount of time and money each CE company spends back-porting, bug testing, and developing drivers on their own, as well as the time spent maintaining them. Driven by a two to three month Linux kernel release cycle, current industry kernel maintenance represents a major "duplication of effort," according to the LF.

In many ways, the LTSI effort is the embedded equivalent of what Red Hat, SUSE, Canonical, and other Linux distro vendors provide for their own enterprise customers. The LF expects the LTSI tree will be used as the foundation for most embedded systems, as well as the base for semiconductor and software vendors, distributors, and system/application framework providers.

Stated NEC executive and LF board member Tsugikazu Shibata, "We need kernels that are both regularly updated and well maintained, and LTSI will provide that."

Stated Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation, "The CE industry has leveraged Linux to reduce costs and speed time to market. Now they are taking the next step to reduce the costly duplication of effort at work maintaining custom kernels."

Or as Scott Merill comments more bluntly on TechCrunch, "This is a terrific example of the power of open source software development. Stop screwing around maintaining your own custom kernel tree and driver set because that stuff doesn't really provide you much competitive advantage in the market."

LF adds five new European members

Also at LinuxCon Europe, the Linux Foundation announced five new European-based members to the nonprofit Linux advocacy group: AboveIT, Comarch, CSR, Symbio, and Tieto. Earlier this month, the LF announced seven new European members: Codethink, KeyPoint Technologies, Lanedo, Meinberg Funkuhren, Picochip, Puzzle ITC, and RPA RusBITech.

Availability

More information on LTSI may be found at the Linux Foundation's CE working group project page. More testimonials from supporting companies may be found on this LTSI testimonials page.


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