Linux for Suits: Grass Roots vs. Giant Roars

While big-name companies scramble to protect business models, this company is making open-ended devices that give customers the right to control their own telephone and media experiences.

Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal


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You Missed a Few Key Points

Anonymous's picture


CELF doesn't have an agenda of building a distribution. They have an agenda of specifying/building open source technologies that enable Linux to be usable in consumer products. They've done a fair amount of that; check their 1.0 spec. There's at least one distro in the market that delivers ALL of these capabilities.

Consumer products are not intended to be "development target systems". Why would you expect consumer product companies to attempt to provide their consumer products in such a way that they are usable as development target systems? Is it wrong that they won't spend any effort in this regard? Their usage focus is on the consumer user experience, as it needs to be. Consumers don't care what's inside.

Linux in consumer products is moving very fast and very deep. There are multiple phones now on the market from the likes of Motorola PCS, NEC, and soon Panasonic. There are multiple products from Philips, with many more expected. The move to Linux in Asia is so significant that Microsoft is one again moving to a FUD campaign: witness Balmer's recent "we'll sue NEC and Panasonic for patent infringement if they ship Linux based products" speach in China.

In summary:

- CELF has done good enabling work
- Linux is moving forward extremely well in the consumer space.
- Openness of consumer products as a development platform is irrelevant.

Sorry Doc...but you're missing the key points in just about every regard.

Missed points?

D. Searls's picture

Well, there seems to be a lot more on the CELF site than there was when I wrote this piece.

And thanks for pointing out the CELF 1.0 spec (though it would be nice if it were in HTML and not just in .pdf).

Can any of ya'll point me to some examples of the CELF spec at work? Also to companies that are willing to talk (hell, brag) about how they're using Linux in their devices. I'll be going to CES in January, and would like to see more than the tiny handful of companies (which included Unication - bravo for them) willing to talk out loud about how they were putting Linux to use in January 2004.

I'm especially interested in ways that Linux and its values are helping make (I hate the term "consumer") electroinics products more open and interoperable.


Why call a human being a "consumer"?

Anonymous's picture

Dividing customers into "developers" and "consumers" is a recipe for stagnation. At one extreme is the old-school embedded systems model, where you have to get expensive development hardware to change anything. (Priced an ARM development board lately?) At the other extreme is the web model, where anybody can "view source", save, hack, and produce a new site. The web model is a better recipe for progress because it brings in innovation from users who have something to say, not just from those who happen to have a development kit.

It seems to me that Doc has always argued it's a bad idea to segregate some customers into a "consumer" black hole, where product and ideas flow one way and only money flows out.

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