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How SCOPE creates tomorrow’s Linux

Dec 8, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Foreword — This brief paper explains the forward-looking work done by the SCOPE Alliance in identifying the advanced features needed in tomorrow's Linux kernels. Though focused on “carrier grade systems” for telecom networks, the group's work results in mainline contributions that ultimately benefit any Linux developer, including device developers.

This brief paper explains the SCOPE Alliance's working process, especially as it relates to work done by the Linux Foundation's Carrier Grade Linux team. The paper also sheds light on a couple of the more interesting features that SCOPE advocates for the Linux kernels of tomorrow. Enjoy . . . !

The SCOPE Alliance promotes Carrier-grade features in Linux with the Carrier-Grade Operating System Profile

By Tapio Tallgren, SCOPE Alliance

The SCOPE Alliance, an organization established and driven by leading Telecommunication Equipment Manufacturers (TEMs), is dedicated to promoting and enhancing an ecosystem of COTS/FOSS components. Its focus is the Carrier-Grade Base Platform (CGBP) which contains the essential features that a sovereign platform for carrier-grade network elements should possess. Naturally, a key element of the CGBP is the (carrier-grade) operating system.

A thriving component ecosystem builds on open standards. Therefore, the SCOPE Alliance endorses and promotes their role in the carrier-grade base platform ecosystem. Since such standards are created to meet the requirements of multiple constituents, they do not always reflect the unique needs of the Telecommunication Equipment Manufacturers. Therefore, the SCOPE Alliance has created profiles for the key base platform standards. The profiles spell out the functionality and optional functionality that are most relevant for TEMs. By reducing the number of implementation options, it is easier and more profitable for component manufacturers to produce components that address these requirements.

In recent years, Linux has evolved into a credible operating system for soft real-time and highly reliable systems, such as the network elements of the telecommunication infrastructure. Since the Linux Foundation's Carrier-Grade Linux (CGL) working group is also dedicated to improving the carrier-grade properties of the Linux operating system, it is natural that the two organizations have started a close co-operation. They have, however, slightly different approaches. The Carrier-Grade Linux working group focuses on features that have ready implementations but are not yet part of the mainline Linux distributions. As features become part of the mainstream, they are dropped from the Carrier-Grade Linux specifications.

The SCOPE Alliance, on the other hand, often has a longer-term view and can promote functionality that still faces implementation challenges. Therefore, the evolution of a carrier-grade OS functionality may proceed as follows:

  • A desirable piece of functionality is identified by the SCOPE Alliance's Carrier-Grade Operating System working group
  • In consultation with the Linux Foundation's Carrier-Grade Linux working group, the functionality is identified as a genuine gap
  • As the Linux community acknowledges that the gap would satisfy a genuine need, experimental implementations for it appear
  • When the Carrier-Grade Linux working group identifies a proof-of-concept implementation that largely satisfies the gap, the gap is added to the Carrier-Grade Linux requirements list
  • The Linux distribution vendors that provide Carrier-Grade Linux distributions will then productize the feature
  • Over time, the feature becomes part of the standard Linux distributions. At this point, it is no longer necessary to keep it as a separate carrier-grade requirement.

The latest version of the Carrier-Grade OS gap specification that the SCOPE Alliance has released lists the following as high-priority gaps in Linux:

  • Core Dump Enhancement prioritizes the order in which memory is saved to ensure that the most critical information is saved in limited memory dumps. This helps debugging when there is not enough storage space left to write a full memory dump.
  • System Black Box that works similarly to a black box in an airplane: it stores the important OS and application events that led to a system crash to aid in postmortem analysis.
  • Asynchronous HW Accelerated Crypto support enables use of hardware acceleration to speed up cryptographic (or other packet processing) functions using in protocols.

These are features that Network Equipment Providers could immediately put into good use. These could also be quite useful for normal application or kernel developers. However, the list of Carrier-Grade gaps also includes additional lower priority features such as the extremely handy thread naming feature. This would allow meaningful names to be assigned to threads, making debugging multi-threaded applications more easy and fun.

The SCOPE Alliance profiles can be downloaded for free at

About the author — Tapio Tallgren works with Technologies and Architectures in the Platform Development unit at Nokia Siemens Networks. His most fun assignments in the corporate realm have involved open source projects, be it bringing scripting languages to mobile devices or promoting open source high availability middleware. In his free time, he uses Lego blocks to educate his son about the principles of software engineering.

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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