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Linux Foundation Announces Long Term Support Initiative for CE Manufacturers

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The Linux Foundation is rocking out in Prague this week and they’ve got some interesting news to share. In addition to adding five new European members and the one year anniversary of the Foundation’s Yocto Project, they’re announcing their “Long Term Support Initiative” to foster a stable kernel release suitable for use in consumer electronic devices. It aims to provide “both an annual release of a Linux kernel suitable for supporting the lifespan of consumer electronics products and regular updates of those releases for two years.” The list of companies involved in the LTSI is a list of household CE names: Hitachi, LG Electronics, NEC, Panasonic, Samsung Electronics, Sony, Toshiba.

From the press release:

This new initiative is crucial because device makers are doing significant backporting, bug testing and driver development on their own, which carries substantial cost in terms of time-to-market, as well as development and engineering effort to maintain those custom kernels. Through collaboration in this initiative, these CE vendors will reduce the duplication of effort currently prevalent in the consumer electronics industry.

This is a terrific example of the power of open source software development. Stop screwing around maintaining your own custom kernel tree and driver set because that stuff doesn’t really provide you much competitive advantage in the market. Instead, collaborate with others on the “plumbing” so that everyone gets the best kernel available, and differentiate your product offering with a better user experience, or features unique to your product.

The goal is to reduce the number of private trees currently in use in the CE industry and encourage more collaboration and sharing of development resources.

The Linux Foundation has been extremely aggressive lately in shepherding this kind of collaborative development. The Yocto Project is another good example of this, as is the recently announced Linux Automotive Summit. The inexorable march of Linux into more of our every day devices in an interesting thing to watch, and I’m eager to see the Long Term Support Initiative bear fruit.