The Linux Foundation recently announced Nokia, Marvell and VirtualLogix as new members. Each vendor gives an interesting perspective on how Linux is penetrating various IT and telecom markets, and new areas of expansion for the open source OS.
The Linux Foundation was started in January of this year, after the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) and the Free Standards Group (FSG) merged. Both the OSDL and FSG were focused on bringing standardization of Linux technology in general, and for various markets — such as carrier-grade Linux, Linux in the data center and mobile Linux. Members of the group include Google, Novell, NEC, HP, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, Intel and NEC, among dozens of others.
Mobile telecom giant Nokia has worked with Linux widely in the past, developing a mobile Linux browser. Nokia has not embraced Linux in its cell phones as widely as other handset makers. However, two years ago, it granted free use of its technology patents to be included in the Linux kernel. Nokia says it's involvement with the Linux Foundation will focus on the development of its Linux-based tablet PC.
Marvell, a maker of network silicon and reference design products for Ethernet switches and other network gear, is interested in Linux as an embedded platform, possibly as an operating system layer for enterprise and consumer network gear, such as switches and routers. Many network vendors, including Cisco and 3Com, use embedded Linux in various specialty processing blades and modules in their switches and routers. Moving embedded Linux processing into the merchant network silicon area seems like a logical next step.
VirtualLogix brings an interesting twist on Linux virtualization to the Linux Foundation. Rather than virtualizing OS images on server hardware (i.e. Xen, VMWare), this vendor specializes in virtualization of real-time and embedded applications, such as mobile phones and network infrastructure applications. VirtualLogix is targeting the development of virtualized Linux on single-chip systems, such as Texas Instruments' digital signal processors (DSP), and ARM embedded-system processor families.
With the reorganization of the Linux Foundation earlier this year, the group hit some rough patches, as it announced the layoff of some technical staff, and the resignation of its CEO. The group appears to be back on track now, and it appears to still have the clout to draw interesting and powerful new members.