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SPECIAL REPORT: Consumer electronics giants launch Linux league

Jul 1, 2003 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

[Updated 10:00pm Jul. 2, 2003] — What began as a small but powerful call for an embedded Linux collaboration among Japanese consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers last December turned into a roar today, as eight consumer electronics powerhouses proclaimed the establishment of the “CE Linux Forum” (CELF). The nascient group, which currently includes Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., Sony Corporation, Hitachi Ltd., NEC Corporation, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Sharp Corporation, and Toshiba Corporation, issued the following statement today, outlining its initial mission . . .

CELF will discuss and formalize requirements for extensions to Linux to meet the needs of CE products such as audio/visual products and cellular phones, etc. CELF will publish such requirements and will accept and evaluate open source solutions that support to meet the published requirements. CELF will also promote broad usage of Linux for CE products. IBM, an industry leader in Linux solutions and supporter of open standards ecosystems, is pursuing membership and plans to be an active participant in the CELF.

Linux is widely used today in personal computers and network servers, and has been selected as an OS for CE products. On December 18th, an announcement was made to develop Linux for CE products and to establish a forum with the aim to enhance the Linux platform for consumer electronics devices.

CELF will first aim to improve the following:

  • Further improve the startup and shutdown time
  • Improve real-time capabilities
  • Reduce ROM/RAM size requirements
  • Improve efficiency of power management

CELF's main activities will include defining requirements for a variety of extensions in “Linux based CE products,” collaborating and reaching consensus with open source projects as well as with the Linux community, thereby promoting the proliferation of CE Linux based digital electronics in the electronics industry.

Additionally, IBM said it is pursuing membership and plans to be an active participant in the CELF; and MontaVista Software subsequently issued an announcement the day following CELF's launch, strongly endorsing the CELF initiative — although it did not formally announce an intention to join the group.

Membership info

Details on membership are available in a 19-page membership agreement document (PDF download) which lists the following premises for membership:

  • Whereas the Members acknowledge the benefits of using the Linux operating system in consumer electronics products;
  • Whereas the Members acknowledge the shared benefits of common specifications and reference implementations to advance the development of Linux and increase the utility of Linux for use in consumer electronics products;
  • Whereas the CE Linux Forum seeks to develop specifications for describing operating system technologies and embedded system functionalities for the purpose of enabling the implementation of such technologies and functionalities in the Linux operating system;
  • Whereas the CE Linux Forum seeks to encourage rapid and broad industry deployment of Linux and to foster the development of and contribute to the Linux community; Whereas the CE Linux Forum seeks to promote and encourage interoperability of implementations and products using Linux;
  • Whereas the CE Linux Forum seeks to solicit the participation and comments of all interested parties on a fair, equitable and open basis;
  • Whereas the Members seek to cooperate in good faith to support the CE Linux Forum and to not take any action that will adversely affect or impact the purposes and objectives of the CE Linux Forum.

Interestingly, the last item in the above list appears to preclude membership by companies who deprecate embedded Linux, unlike the charter of the Embedded Linux Consortium, which counted Wind River and QNX — both of whom were known to staunchly compete with embedded Linux — among its early membership.

According to the membership agreement, the categories of membership and the associated rates (in U.S. dollars) are as follows:

  • Founding Member – $16,000 — “Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. and Sony Corporation, by virtue of their unique role in creating and sponsoring the CE Linux Forum, have special rights and obligations with regard to the CE Linux Forum.”
  • Appointed Member — $12,000 — these members are voting members of the Steering Committee; additionally, they can serve on the Architecture Group, can chair or serve as a members of a Working Group, and can be appointed as a member of the Forum Office, but cannot chair or co-chair either the Steering Committee or the Architecture Group.
  • Associate Member — $8,000 — privileges of these members are similar to those of Appointed Members, except they are limited to nonvoting attendance at Steering Committee meetings.
  • Supporting Member — $4,000 — these members are not permitted to observe or participate in the Steering Committee; they can serve as members of the Architecture Group, chair or serve as a member of a Working Group, but cannot chair or co-chair the Architecture Group, and cannot be appointed as a member of the Forum Office.
  • Special Supporting Member — $0 — these members represent themselves as individuals, rather than their employers or any sponsoring company, and are invited to become Forum members by the Steering Committee. They can be members of the Architecture Group, chair or serve as members of a Working Group, but cannot observe or participate in the Steering Committee, nor chair or co-chair the Architecture Group, nor be appointed as a member of the Forum Office.

Becoming a member of the CE Linux Forum requires “petitioning” for membership, and being approved by the steering committee. Members must participate actively and can be removed for non-participation by a “super majority” vote of steering committee members, the agreement stipulates.

The CE Linux Forum architecture group will publish and maintain a “Forum Source Tree,” which presumably will represent a reference implementation that meets a CE Linux specification developed by the group. A provision in the bylaws that states that each member “conveys to the Founding Members a non-exclusive, undivided, and equal ownership in the copyrights in the Standardized Specification and any Member Input made by such Member that is included in the Standardized Specification.”

Further information is available at the group's website, The group's office can be reached by phone in the U.S. at +1-408-955-4941, or by email.

Added perspective

For further perspective, we provide the following round-up of some of the more interesting news items and articles from around the web that relate to this significant announcement . . .

Note: Additional stories will be listed as they come to our attention, so check back here for the latest updates.

Other related stories:

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