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Embedded Linux group merged into Linux Foundation

Oct 27, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

The Linux Foundation (LF) and its smaller embedded Linux counterpart, the Consumer Electronics Linux Forum (CELF) announced they will merge, with CELF becoming a technical workgroup at the LF. With the merger of the two non-profit groups, the Linux Foundation will expand its embedded computing technical programs, and will launch a new embedded Linux “Yocto Project.”

The two Linux advocacy and software development organizations say that there is a growing overlap of members in both groups (see farther below for background on each). By combining resources they can more efficiently enable the adoption of Linux in the consumer electronics industry, say the organizations.

CELF, also known as the CE Linux Forum, will become an official workgroup of the Linux Foundation, and CELF members who are not already LF members can be grandfathered into the organization at the Silver membership level, says the LF. The Linux Foundation will take over the management of CELF's web infrastructure and technical events, most notably the European and American Embedded Linux Conference (ELC) events, considered to be the world's preeminent embedded Linux conferences.

Open source software technology showcase at last year's ELC conference

The Linux Foundation says that with the CELF merger, it will continue existing CELF development projects and expand its own technical work in the embedded space. In addition, the LF is launching a new embedded Linux workgroup called the Yocto Project. The Yocto Project will provide open source tools to help companies make custom Linux-based systems for embedded products, regardless of hardware architecture, says the LF.

The open source Yocto Project "brings together the elements needed to make the normally difficult embedded Linux development process easier," says the foundation. The Yocto Project is launching with version 0.9, offering initial versions of common build tools. Participation in the workgroup is said to be completely open, and the LF is inviting new contributors.

The Yocto Project sounds somewhat similar to the Linaro project announced in June by ARM Holdings and five semiconductor manufacturers. Linaro's goal is to develop standardized, open source Linux tools, kernel, and middleware software for consumer electronics.

There are several major differences, however. Linaro is a company project, as opposed to a community one, and is focused solely on ARM platforms. Jointly owned by ARM, Freescale, IBM, Samsung, ST-Ericsson, and Texas Instruments, Linaro will initially support ARM Cortex-A tools on distros including Android, LiMo, MeeGo, Ubuntu, and WebOS.

CELF background

Organized to promote the use of Linux in digital consumer electronics products, CELF was established in 2003 by eight major consumer electronics companies: Panasonic Corp. (Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.), Sony Corp., Hitachi, Ltd., NEC Corp., Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Sharp Corp., and Toshiba Corp.

Over the years, the group has been known principally for its hosting of the U.S.-based ELC and European ELCE conferences. However, it has also developed and maintained a collection of patches aimed at improving Linux's start-up time, memory footprint, power consumption, and other characteristics.

In this, CELF can be considered the CE counterpart to the industrial-focused embedded Linux group Open Source Automation Development Lab (OSADL). OSADL joined the Linux Foundation in May as a Silver member. The group, however, continues as an independent organization.

Linux Foundation background

Launched in 2007 as a merger between the Free Standards Group (FSG) and the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), which went on to inspire the foundation of the embedded-focused OSADL, the Linux Foundation bills itself as a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux.

The FSB/OSDL merger brought together several major Linux standards under the Linux Foundation. For example, compliance with the FSG's core Linux Standards Base (LSB) standard is a pre-requisite for registration with OSDL specifications such as Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) and the embedded Linux Platform Specification.

Today, the LF hosts conferences like LinuxCon and the invitation-only LF Collaboration Summit, which in recent years has been co-located with the CELF's ELC shows. In addition, the LF pays the salary of Linux kernel creator and overseer Linus Torvalds, and sponsors the open source Linux kernel project, as well as numerous workgroups.

The LF also launched a job site, runs the relaunched site, and involves itself in lobbying and legal issues related to Linux and open source software.

The LF's conferences have primarily focused on enterprise and server Linux (where the big money resides), with desktop Linux a secondary consideration, and embedded Linux a distant third. Yet in the last two years, the LF has increasingly focused on embedded Linux, taking a major step in April 2009 when it took over formal sponsorship of the embedded Linux Moblin project from Intel. When Moblin and Maemo merged to form MeeGo, the LF stepped up to oversee the MeeGo project as well. 

Stated Jim Zemlin (pictured), executive director of The Linux Foundation, "CELF has done a good job of stewarding the consumer electronics industry through this period of rapid adoption of Linux. By combining their technical work with our broader reach and existing staff and programs, we should be able to foster tighter collaboration between industry and the Linux developer community as well as take Linux to even more devices and more use."

Stated Nobuhiro Asai, chair of board of directors of the Consumer Electronics Linux Forum, "CELF and The Linux Foundation have co-located technical events in the spring over the last couple of years to exchange technical information. We have noticed an increasing number of technical areas that both organizations are interested in. This merger is a natural transition to accelerate the use of Linux in consumer electronics and strengthen the involvement of CE-related companies within the Linux developer community."


The Linux Foundation's new Yocto Project may be found here.

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