Linux Device Roundup
In this article, Linux Journal speaks with four Linux device experts—Henry Kingman, Rick Lehrbaum, Shawn Powers and Bill Weinberg—in a virtual roundtable to take the pulse of Linux-based devices. They discuss the state of Linux-driven devices, their promise for the future and which ones are their favorites. Our roundtable participants are some of the best-known voices and “virtual pens” in the Linux device space:
Henry Kingman has edited the renowned site LinuxDevices.com since 2003. Kingman started his Web publishing career in 1998 at ZDNet, building a massive TipZone database largely composed of Microsoft software bugs.
Rick Lehrbaum is the founder and editor of the popular site DeviceGuru.com, an independent blog devoted to new and emerging device technologies. In addition to founding LinuxDevices.com—now a part of DeviceForge.com—Lehrbaum cofounded Ampro Computers and consults for companies in the embedded market.
Shawn Powers is the celebrated Gadget Guy product reviewer for LinuxJournal.com and Associate Editor for Linux Journal. He is also technology director for a K–12 school district in Michigan.
Bill Weinberg is an Independent Analyst and Consultant at LinuxPundit.com. He also serves as General Manager of the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum and Mobile Linux Weatherman for the Linux Foundation. Previously, Weinberg was with Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) as Senior Technology Analyst and manager of the group's Mobile Linux and Carrier Grade Linux Initiatives, as well as a founding team member at MontaVista Software.
Henry Kingman: Some trends in the world of Linux may be:
Using desktop and server software instead of special “embedded” software (Nokia started this trend).
Using Linux in place of an RTOS (real-time OS).
Better “free” sources of Linux, such as the kernels, BSPs and filesystems supplied by chip or board suppliers and open-source projects.
More commercial support options, with hybrid service/product companies like Embedded Alley making headway.
Better tools, with the industry aligning behind Eclipse and its top-level Device Software Development Platform.
Trends caused by Linux may include:
Ridiculous feature proliferation, such as multiple radios in mobile devices, car stereos that can park the car, vending machines that phone in orders and so on.
Ubiquitous Web control interfaces.
Near-ubiquitous media rendering and GPS.
Richer interfaces across the board.
Ever-shorter product life cycles.
Rick Lehrbaum: First, Linux is really well established. It's become the default choice for devices with 32-bit processors—that is, developers tend to start with the assumption that they'll use Linux and use something else only if they require special capabilities, or if the “politics” of their company are strongly stacked in favor of an RTOS or Windows CE/XPe.
Second, Linux has become the default OS for several device categories, including the emerging MID, Netbook and Nettop product categories; traditional thin-client terminals; Wi-Fi routers; set-top boxes, such as TiVo and the Roku Netflix box; and very significantly, mid- and high-end mobile phones.
Shawn Powers: I think largely the idea that Linux is no longer a buzzword, but rather the norm, is very significant. It's almost unsettling that so many devices are incorporating Linux, and yet that isn't as unique and exciting as it used to be from a marketing standpoint. Back in August at LinuxWorld, I noticed a huge trend in that so much of the conference was Linux, but wasn't really about Linux. It's as if we've finally taken over the world, and it's not as exciting as we thought it would be.
Bill Weinberg: Linux is becoming increasingly ubiquitous as an embedded software platform. From data gleaned from analyst reports and from my own direct contact with OEMs, about one-third of 32- and 64-bit designs are using Linux. Application areas include mobile telephony, consumer electronics, automotive systems/GPS, telecommunications and networking infrastructure, even medical and aerospace/defense.
Trends that I see include consolidation of systems/software platforms—mobile in particular. The visible manifestations of the trend toward consolidation include the merger of dot-orgs like LiPS and LiMo; companies like ACCESS, Azingo, Purple Labs and others joining LiMo and embracing that platform spec; Intel embracing Ubuntu/Canonical as part of Moblin and also buying OpenHand; Wind River buying Mizi Research; and Sun refocusing the role of Linux-based JavaFX Mobile to complement Google/Android.
Frankly, more important (in my humble opinion) than “.organic” mergers and activities is ORGANIC consolidation. In particular, if you look at the range of FOSS and commercial mobile platforms (including those mentioned above), you will see a consolidation of foundation components around: the Linux kernel 2.6, glibc, GTK+/Cairo/Pango, WebKit, GStreamer and Java (still a must for legacy interoperability). This development is illustrated in Figure 1.
The second major trend is that the upward motion of the value line put OEMs in the pilot seat. OEMs and integrators have a better range of choices with regard to buying and/or building a Linux-based embedded platform and toolkit. They can certainly turn to OSVs, like MontaVista and Wind River, and/or smaller packaged product/services companies. They also can purchase application-purposed vertical stacks for mobile, automotive, MIDs and so on from companies like those mentioned above. They also can, with more confidence than ever before, self-integrate bits directly from OSS projects with their value-added internal code and ISVware. And, they can mix and match. This development is illustrated in Figure 2.
James Gray is Products Editor for Linux Journal.
Fast/Flexible Linux OS Recovery
On Demand Now
In this live one-hour webinar, learn how to enhance your existing backup strategies for complete disaster recovery preparedness using Storix System Backup Administrator (SBAdmin), a highly flexible full-system recovery solution for UNIX and Linux systems.
Join Linux Journal's Shawn Powers and David Huffman, President/CEO, Storix, Inc.
Free to Linux Journal readers.Register Now!
|CentOS 6.8 Released||May 27, 2016|
|Secure Desktops with Qubes: Introduction||May 27, 2016|
|Chris Birchall's Re-Engineering Legacy Software (Manning Publications)||May 26, 2016|
|ServersCheck's Thermal Imaging Camera Sensor||May 25, 2016|
|Petros Koutoupis' RapidDisk||May 24, 2016|
|The Italian Army Switches to LibreOffice||May 23, 2016|
- Secure Desktops with Qubes: Introduction
- Download "Linux Management with Red Hat Satellite: Measuring Business Impact and ROI"
- CentOS 6.8 Released
- Linux Mint 18
- The Italian Army Switches to LibreOffice
- ServersCheck's Thermal Imaging Camera Sensor
- Chris Birchall's Re-Engineering Legacy Software (Manning Publications)
- Oracle vs. Google: Round 2
- Petros Koutoupis' RapidDisk
- The FBI and the Mozilla Foundation Lock Horns over Known Security Hole
Until recently, IBM’s Power Platform was looked upon as being the system that hosted IBM’s flavor of UNIX and proprietary operating system called IBM i. These servers often are found in medium-size businesses running ERP, CRM and financials for on-premise customers. By enabling the Power platform to run the Linux OS, IBM now has positioned Power to be the platform of choice for those already running Linux that are facing scalability issues, especially customers looking at analytics, big data or cloud computing.
￼Running Linux on IBM’s Power hardware offers some obvious benefits, including improved processing speed and memory bandwidth, inherent security, and simpler deployment and management. But if you look beyond the impressive architecture, you’ll also find an open ecosystem that has given rise to a strong, innovative community, as well as an inventory of system and network management applications that really help leverage the benefits offered by running Linux on Power.Get the Guide