Fun and Fame

Introducing the Embedded Linux Journal Design Project

Since 1994, Linux Journal has been demonstrating how Linux can be used to solve many problems. Much of the information presented has been in the form of either a HOWTO or documentation of a solution that has been implemented. This is certainly important, but it also seems important that we take an active role in bringing new Linux-based solutions to the world.

We tossed around a few ideas and decided that we could best contribute to this effort by presenting an idea and letting our readers turn it into a design specification. We would then select the best design specification from the entries we receive, publish it and help make the implementation possible.

Will Anyone Get Rich?

We hope so. At the design stage, we will commit $2,500 (US) in prize money. We expect to award all $2,500 to a single participant, but in the case of similar designs or if the best design comes from combining multiple submissions, we will divide the money.

Once the design is complete, we will help move the process into the implementation phase. It's possible that we might have a funding source already established before we publish the initial idea. If not, we may use one of the existing open-source development marketplaces to establish funding.

The important thing here is that the design and implementation be open source. Our definition of open source is a practical one, not a nit-picking one. We want software to be released in such a way that it will do the most possible good, and that means that it should meet every possible contributor's definition of ``free'' or ``open source'' or ``freely redistributable''. So we ask that all code be released with a license that is listed under both ``GPL-Compatible, Free Software Licenses'' on the Free Software Foundation site ( and also ``The Approved Licenses'' on the Open Source Initiative (OSI) site ( This means anyone can be a player in the long-term for the project. For those not familiar with this sort of development model, here are where the paybacks come in:

  • The design we have already addressed. We pay for it because we consider it a good investment that will help the community grow.

  • Development can be funded from multiple sources. If the product is of interest to multiple companies, then each should be willing to commit development dollars. While they will not receive exclusive rights to the implementation, they will get the system they want at a lower price than if they had to finance the whole project themselves.

  • If hardware is involved, companies can make their regular profit from sales of hardware. If the hardware is custom, this is a good chance for open-market competition to drive down end-user cost.

  • On-going support, bug fixes and continuing development can be done on a contract basis. While the developer has an advantage here, anyone can get in on the act because of the nonproprietary nature of development. This also makes it possible for a single company to offer complete support (hardware, software, training and support) for the entire system--something that many customers will require.

Embedded Linux Journal will continue to follow projects to completion. After completion, we will supply links to suppliers of the completed project, including support.



Phil Hughes

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