The top 7 Linux IoT projects

working iot

It’s a Linux world, and the rest of computing is just living in it – often literally, thanks to containerization. IoT, in all of its manifold forms, is no exception, and the Linux Foundation lists these seven projects as the key players in the march of connected open-source systems. Here’s a quick rundown.

Automotive-Grade Linux

Started: 2012

Key Members: A mix of big car companies (including Mazda, Suzuki, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Ford), and a diverse array of well-known tech names. Everything from carriers (China Mobile, NTT), silicon makers (Intel, ARM, Nvidia) to electronics powerhouses like LG, Samsung and Panasonic.

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Big Idea: The plan, which is evident from the extensive and wide-ranging list of official project members, is to create an overarching standard for all areas of automotive IoT – everything from telematics to instrumentation to self-driving cars to streaming Netflix for the kids in the back seat. AGL boasts that it’s the only such ecosystem that’s aiming at all those targets at once.

EdgeX Foundry

Started: 2017

Key Members: Big names like AMD, Dell/EMC and VMware, operating systems players like Canonical and Linaro, and a host of smaller companies, many of which are related to the cloud in some way.

Big Idea: There are lots of projects and even companies floating around the technology industry with “foundry” in their names, possibly because it sounds industrious and hardworking.

It’s arguably more appropriate than most usages here, because EdgeX Foundry is a project devoted to creating open standards for industrial IoT – not all the way down at the sensor level, but ensuring that the hubs, routers and servers that connect them are all speaking the same language.


Started: 2012

Key Members: It was originally a Samsung project, but several other major East Asian tech giants are now members of the executive or advisory boards, including SK Telecom, LG, Huawei, KT and NTT. Oh, also Intel, Orange and Vodafone.

Big Idea: Tizen started life as Samsung’s bargaining chip during its sometimes-tense relationship with Google Android on the way to the top of the global smartphone marketplace – Tizen was, ostensibly, a replacement operating system the company could turn to if it decided it didn’t like working with Android anymore.

These days, Tizen is likelier to show up on Samsung-built smart watches and TVs than on smartphones (though the company does still have some plans to deploy it there), but there are some clouds on its horizon, with the recent revelation of a large number of serious security holes.


Started: 2014

Key Members: The big players are U.S.-based 3D Robotics and China’s Yuneec International, both unmanned aerospace companies. Also on board are Intel, Qualcomm and a raft of lesser-known names related to drones.

Big Idea: You’ll be stunned to learn that the big idea is drones – Dronecode aims to deliver an open-source UAV platform, encompassing everything from flight control and autopilot to a custom developer API for “advanced use cases.” Dronecode’s codebase can be used to create software for custom-built drones, whether you’re making them to swoop around and annoy the neighbors or monitor complex atmospheric conditions.


Started: 2016 (as joint)

Key Members: Lots of different stakeholders here, including CableLabs, LG, Microsoft, Samsung and Cisco, in addition to the usual players like Intel and Qualcomm. Everyone from the cable ISPs to the wireless providers to smartphone makers to Lowe’s is on the Open Connectivity Foundation’s membership rolls.

Big Idea: These were originally two different projects, but they merged in 2016 under the aegis of the Linux Foundation’s OCF. The idea is to combine IoTivity’s discovery and data management tools with AllJoyn’s service frameworks and router functionality for a complete, generic IoT platform.

Zephyr Project

Started: 2016

Key Members: Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Intel is a platinum member, along with Linaro, NXP Semiconductors and electronic design automation company Synopsys.

Big Idea: Zephyr is a real-time operating system designed to be both highly secure and able to be run on devices with extremely limited computing power – i.e. lots of IoT endpoints. Everything from connected sensors to signage up to the wireless gateway level should be able to run Zephyr, and the current objective seems to be ensuring compatibility across the huge range of devices on which it could be useful.

Yocto Project

Started: 2010

Key Members: In addition to ubiquitous open-source names like Intel, AMD and Linaro, companies like Juniper Networks, Dell and even Comcast are participants in the Yocto Project.

Big Idea: Yocto is a project designed to help users create customizeable Linux distributions that will run on whatever embedded hardware is available. The core of the project is a development environment that includes tools and guidelines for the creation of those systems, and methods to keep them up to date for any system that a user wants to run them on. The idea is to allow app creators to focus more on core functionality and less on adapting their software to run on particular platforms.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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