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IBM Cellphones Handhelds Operating Systems Software Linux

Hardware Companies Team Up To Fight Mobile Linux Fragmentation 47

Nunavut writes with news that a number of hardware companies have banded together to battle the fragmentation of the mobile Linux market. ARM, Freescale Semiconductor, IBM, Samsung, ST-Ericsson, and Texas Instruments are forming Linaro, a nonprofit organization that plans to focus on "low-level software around the Linux kernel that touches the silicon, key pieces of middleware that enable new markets, and tools that help the developer write and debug code." "Linaro's chief goal is to reduce the time that it takes to bring a new ARM-powered product to market with Linux. This effort is largely neutral with respect to what software environment and components individual vendors choose to run in user space. Linaro will not compete with existing platforms such as MeeGo and Android. Instead, it will attempt to improve the shared underlying software components that allow those platforms and others to run on ARM SoCs. In principle, this could actually reduce fragmentation at the lower levels of the Linux stack."
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Hardware Companies Team Up To Fight Mobile Linux Fragmentation

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  • if they'll fail (Score:3, Insightful)

    by underqualified ( 1318035 ) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:28AM (#32468576)
    they'll be yet another fragment
  • by Foredecker ( 161844 ) * on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:33AM (#32468588) Homepage Journal
    I've participated in a few industry wide organizations like this. They can be somewhat effective, but even then, they move very, very slowly.
    • by Alef ( 605149 )
      After having read the FAQ [linaro.org] on the Linaro web site and a blog entry [markshuttleworth.com] by Mark Shuttleworth, I get the feeling that this is an initiative coming from Canonical. If they will be driving this forward, with support from the hardware vendors of course, it might not become your garden variety standards organisation. In that case, the key issue will be to keep the commitment from the hardware manufacturers. But I guess it could work out alright considering Canonical isn't a direct competitor to any of them.
      • I would suspect that the only people unhappy with this particular initiative are those who compete with linux, for obvious reasons, and possibly those companies who currently specialize in doing bespoke embedded linux work for hire. MontaVista, for instance, has basically made a business of doing the (often obnoxious and tricky) work of turning "linux runs on ARCHITECTURE" into "Linux is now running on CUSTOMERS_HORRID_EMBEDDED_BOARD". An industry consortium dedicated to giving that away probably isn't idea
      • Canonical started this a few months ago.
        I work for Canonical (not in this project tough) and follow it with a personal interest.

    • Not necessarily (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @12:08PM (#32469028)
      To quote a BSi project manager I once used to work with, there are 2 sorts of standards initiative - those intended to get something done, which can be very fast, and those intended to hold up standardisation while the prime mover gains market share. Since this is intended to create a standard quicker than Windows 7 whatever edition can gain traction, it could all happen very fast.

      I once had the good fortune to work on a project where the standard proceeded so much faster than capability that for 6 months we were the world's only supplier of a standards-compliant product, though a small one. Believe me, it was worth the effort.

    • by yorugua ( 697900 )

      I've participated in a few industry wide organizations like this. They can be somewhat effective, but even then, they move very, very slowly.

      I hope it turns out better than the old "Project Monterrey" thing...

  • by Burz ( 138833 )

    What is this about improving the ability to bring new Linux-based devices to market? There are scads of them already, and that's part of the problem.

    The fragmentation these devices represent mainly occurs above and below the kernel level: Above in the sense that the libraries and UI kits that are included change greatly not only between devices, but also between iterations of a single product; Below in that there is no (realistically desirable) minimum hardware spec for a Linux-based device in any given cl

    • by aero6dof ( 415422 ) <aero6dof@yahoo.com> on Saturday June 05, 2010 @12:12PM (#32469058) Homepage
      Given the membership and their statements, it actually sounds like they might be working on integrating/standardizing the access to underlying hardware. Most of those manufacturers make ARM chips with various added peripherals. It would certainly save time if I could grab a Linux distro that was everything below the UI level without having to spend time integrating the low level chip libraries to access the custom hardware functions in the chip.
    • by Daengbo ( 523424 )

      I get where you're coming from: choice is bad, especially when it involves MP3 players, TVs, and phones. I get it, but I don't agree. This is about making hardware vendors' lives easier, not application developers'.

  • Summary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bcmm ( 768152 ) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @11:50AM (#32468952)
    Very good idea. Code reuse is always good. However, one minor point about the summary: fat chance of Android either helping or being helped by this - AFAIK, they've already messed up their Linux-derived kernel to the point where you can't assume that modules from actual Linux will work with it.
    • by Qubit ( 100461 ) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @05:40AM (#32474042) Homepage Journal

      I gotta hand it to the MeeGo folks. Their project has goals like

      1) Keep it FOSS. All of it (in the core distro)
      2) Upstream code whenever possible

      Even if you don't use it as a mobile OS, the work being done on it by Intel, Nokia, etc... is going to benefit pretty much every Linux-derived distro out there.

      If Linaro wants to join the party and throw time/money at improving Linux-y software running on ARM chips, that sounds pretty darn good to me!

  • Why "Fight Fragmentation" rather than "Promote Unity"? We're all on the same team right?
    • by sznupi ( 719324 )

      We love to fight, it would seem.

    • by stiggle ( 649614 )

      Fight is "action"
      Promote is "passive"

      Both are "marketing"

      Therefore if you want to convey the synergy of the stakeholders within the working group committee then you need to be forthcoming in the policy statement to delineate the competing elements and actively market your intentions.

      PS. I've been writing crap for management too often the last few weeks - I'm sorry :-)

  • That this will work about as well as the various "let's unite Unix" corporate drum circles from the 80s and 90s.

    They did eventually get things to a point where a subset that wasn't entirely useless could usually compile pretty cleanly, most of the time, sort of, in most places. So long as the code wasn't concerned with whatever the market was concerned with five years prior.

    Linus did more to unite Unix than any of the cross-company bodies.

    To be more fair, moving the compatibility bar forward, even slowly,

  • What's wrong with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrier_Grade_Linux [wikipedia.org]

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.