Consumer devices to get more support for using Linux

Hitachi, LG, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba join forces to create, maintain kernel for consumer electronics

In an effort to make Linux even more appealing for embedded consumer electronics than it already is, the Linux Foundation today announced a new project where the foundation will take on long-term support of a Linux kernel suitable for consumer devices. The project, aptly named the Long Term Support Initiative, includes a who's-who in the consumer electronics world including some of the companies that have entered into broad patent cross licensing agreements with Microsoft for Linux and Android.

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Companies participating include Hitachi, LG Electronics, NEC, Panasonic, Renesas Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sony and Toshiba. The Linux Foundation will host the project.

LTSI was announced during the LinuxCon Europe show, occurring this week in Prague. The project will provide an annual version of a Linux kernel tailored for consumer electronics and then all will work together to handle regular updates of the kernel for two to three years, the typical lifespan of many consumer products.

While Linux has been a popular choice for embedded projects because it eliminates license fees, it isn't always the cheapest choice when factoring in man hours of maintaining individual versions for unique electronics needs. With this project, device makers will no longer need to duplicate effort when it comes to fixing and testing bugs or developing new drivers on their own. Companies will collaborate directly with kernel developers to maintain this kernel.

In somewhat related news, the Linux Foundation also celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Yocto Project with the release of version 1.1. Yocto is an embedded Linux project hosted at The Linux Foundation. It provides templates, tools and methods that help create custom embedded Linux versions. Yocto now boasts participants from companies like TI, FreeScale, Intel, Mentor Graphics, Wind River and MontaVista.

I hope that the savings these manufacturers reap results in higher quality, less expensive gadgets for us to consume. But seriously, what does it say about our society that the lifespan of a consumer device is a mere two years?

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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