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The Birth of the Embedded Linux Consortium

Mar 26, 2000 — by Rick Lehrbaum — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Last Fall, several companies in the newly emerging Embedded Linux market approached me to request that I help create a vendor-neutral Embedded Linux trade association. Initially, I used the resources of my newly established Embedded Linux Portal website ( to propose the establishment of a group called the “Embedded Linux Consortium”, or “ELC”. The idea for the ELC rapidly picked up momentum.

Next, I scheduled an ELC Organizational Meeting to be held at the Chicago Embedded Systems Conference in March. The purpose would be to create a Formation Committee to fund the ELC and share responsibility for it until it was incorporated and a proper Board of Directors elected.

March 1st came, and the ELC Organizational Meeting drew an overflow crowd — nearly double the expected turnout. We instantly could see that the ELC is destined to be a major force in the embedded market. During the first hour of the meeting, more than $100,000 was pledged to initially fund the organization. Also, Lineo donated the domain name,

A week later, the birth of the ELC was broadcast via a press release that received extensive worldwide coverage (read it at The announcement lists the Formation Committee members, summarizes the organization's goals, and includes this supporting statement from Linus: “This new Embedded Linux Consortium is an expression of the current explosion of interest in using Linux in thousands of specialized embedded, mobile, and appliance applications. The ELC provides a valuable resource in advancing the growing use of Linux in embedded applications, an area where Linux can provide enormous benefit.”

Vision and Mission

Although official Vision and Mission statements will be established by the soon-to-be-elected Board of Directors, I indicated my thoughts on the subject in an “ELC Manifesto” posted at and distributed at the ELC Organizational Meeting:

  • Suggested Vision: The Embedded Linux Consortium (ELC) will be a nonprofit, vendor-neutral trade association whose goal is the advancement and promotion of Embedded Linux throughout the embedded, applied, and appliance computing markets. Members will contribute membership dues and efforts, in return for a growing market opportunity for all.

  • Suggested Mission: To make Linux the #1 OS choice for developers designing embedded systems.

In short, by creating and supporting the Embedded Linux Consortium, we will maximize the depth and breadth of penetration of Linux within the enormous — and enormously diverse — embedded market.

Membership Categories

We currently plan to have three membership categories: Corporate Executive Member ($5,000 per year); Corporate Affiliate Member ($1,000 per year); and Individual Member ($150 per year). Recognizing that there are many individuals who contribute to the open-source code base that is the basis of Linux itself, I've also proposed that the $150 annual membership fee for Individual Members be waived in the case of individuals who have contributed significantly to the open-source code base.


The ELC's activities are likely to be along two main threads: technical, and promotional. It's likely (though not required) that the Individual Members will be mostly focused on technical activities, whereas promotional and marketing activities will probably be more of a concern of the Corporate Members (and, appropriately, primarily funded by them).

On the promotional side, I expect we'll have a marketing task force concerned with evangelizing Embedded Linux. Likely are website, PR, tradeshows, collateral materials, and membership growth.

The technical role of the ELC is less clear than the evangelical role, in light of the enormous success the existing open-source development process has had in bringing Linux (and its related technologies) to where they are today. Nonetheless, it is certainly possible that technical committees or special interest groups will coalesce around issues of interest to multiple ELC members. Whether these translate into standards activities remains to be seen. In any case, the existing Linux and open-source development process must be supported, not circumvented or undermined!

Status and Further Information

The ELC is now officially incorporated as a non-profit trade association in the State of California and has the beginnings of a web site in operation. For the latest ELC news and info, or to obtain a membership application, visit:

Rick Lehrbaum is the Founder of, “the Embedded Linux Portal”, and has been elected Interim Chairman of the Embedded Linux Consortium.

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