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Industry group aims Linux at automation apps

Nov 2, 2007 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

As the market for Linux in industrial automation grows, so do the activities of the Open Source Automation Development Lab. In a new whitepaper celebrating the OSADL's first birthday, Carsten Emde looks back at the organization's early accomplishments, and outlines its current projects and future plans.

The OSADL emerged when industrial automation manufacturers wanted to define a mechanism to make source code widely available in a way that would ensure fair distribution of development costs, writes Emde. As a result, one of the OSADL's key roles is still to act as a “purchase community” in which membership fees help delegate the development of widely endorsed open source projects.

According to Emde, the OSADL was modeled after its acronym-sake, the OSDL (Open Source Development Labs), which recently merged with the Free Standards Group (FSG), to form the Linux Foundation (LF). What the OSDL/LF has done for Linux in general, the OSADL aims to do for Linux in automation.

In its first year, OSADL has grown to 17 members, up from the original eleven, together representing 50,000 employees worldwide, Emde reports.

Emde writes that the group's projects currently include:

  • Adding real-time to the mainline Linux kernel — This project focuses on the integration of the “RT-Preempt patches” into mainline Linux. So far, 60 to 70 percent of the patches have been added, with the rest due in the next kernel releases.
  • Safety critical Linux — In the automation world, obtaining safety certification with a Linux kernel requires intensive documentation and red tape. This project aims to streamline the process by helping to document many of the basic issues regarding the main Linux kernel, as well as identify “the latest stable kernel” for automation.
  • Upstream submission — Because many Linux drivers and kernel components for automation are never submitted to the mainline kernel, it creates extra work every time internal kernel interfaces are changed. OSADL is guiding companies through the submission process, starting with contributors to the lm_sensors kernel subproject.
  • Universal framework to access field-bus devices — The OSADL is creating a standardized layered framework to access fieldbus and other industrial I/O devices.
  • Board support packages (BSPs) — This project aims to produce a BSP classification system ranging from level 0 (you can boot up, but that's about it) to level 4 (the functionality of all hardware components is supported by a released mainline kernel).
  • Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) — The kvm module for hardware virtualization is now part of mainline Linux, allowing the automation industry to combine the often separate control computer and user interface on a board design, with the interface acting as a kvm-based virtual system. This project aims to define how to do this via the RT-Preempt patched kernel, without hindering real-time operation.

To learn all about the OSADL and its automation-oriented projects and activities, read Carsten Emde's complete article, here.


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



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