Unified Embedded Platform Specification Established and Promoted by Embedded Linux Consortium Board

ELC Initiative Includes Plans for Test Suite and Certification/Branding Program

Embedded Systems Conference 2001, SAN FRANCISCO, April 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The Board of the Embedded Linux Consortium (ELC) announced today that it would unveil a single unified specification for an embedded Linux platform to its 124 member companies. This specification, and its associated test suite, will provide a rallying point for the embedded Linux industry and avoid possible fragmentation in this fast moving market.

Prompted by the collective interests of the ELC Board acting on behalf of a proactive membership, this move is a first because it presents the industry with a unifying platform for pervasive computing devices at an exceptionally early moment. As such, an embedded Linux platform would constitute a viable, durable and exceptionally competitive choice for any company considering investment in today's legacy alternatives.

The ELC Board announced that it plans to endorse a unified specification (ELC Platform Specification), which will reference existing specifications such as the POSIX 1003.13 PSE 52 and PSE 53 and the Linux Standard Base.

The endorsed ELC Platform Specification will cover basic OS services that must be supported in any compliant embedded Linux system. The ELC Platform Specification proposal will be distributed in outline form to the membership for comment shortly, with aggressive plans for public distribution of the full document in the near future.

"Our objective is to encourage the adoption of a single unified embedded Linux 'platform' for embedded middleware and application software, so that software developers can rely upon the APIs being available in any ELC-endorsed embedded Linux and do not have to develop separate ports and validation for each embedded Linux distribution," according to ELC Chairman and CEO of LynuxWorks, Dr. Inder Singh. "This will help to establish Linux as a viable open, multi-vendor software platform alternative to other single-vendor embedded solutions, such as Windows CE, PalmOS or VxWorks and further accelerate the adoption of Linux in emerging post PC applications."

The proposed ELC Platform Specification would use the union of POSIX 1003.13, PSE 52 and PSE 53 real-time profiles, as a starting point to scope the functionality of the platform, and take into account current Linux practices and APIs to form a robust platform for embedded systems that the ELC believes would be supported by all major embedded Linux vendors, and sought by embedded Linux consumers.

A primary purpose of the ELC Platform Specification would be to serve as a target to develop an ELC-sponsored open-source test suite and a certification program for the purpose of verifying compliance. Current ELC plans are to outsource the development of the test suite, as well as the testing and certification program, to an established standards organization such as the Free Standards Group or the Open Group working with the open source community.

In addition, the ELC Board is planning to develop a trademark and logo that will be available to members for use with products certified to be compliant with the Unified Specification. The test suites will be provided as open source materials, and be available for self-test as an alternative to the certification/branding program.

"My personal hope is to see the ELC Platform Specification released within a few months, and the test suites and certification programs in place within the next year," said Singh.

In parallel with its work in connection with the ELC Platform Specification, the ELC also plans to set up a working group to adopt and promote a specification for Graphical User Interfaces, as well as a committee to recommend other areas to be added to the specification in the future.

"Standards efforts improve the market opportunity for all vendors especially when such efforts are timely and supported by a majority of vendors in an industry. The availability of products written to published specifications will undoubtedly help to increase adoption rates and ease the application development and integration process," said Daya Nadamuni of Dataquest.

"This move should place Linux on a more level playing field for embedded designers and developers to confidently select embedded Linux for deployment in multiple product lines and diverse industry solutions," said senior analyst Paul Zorfass with IDC/FTI. "ELC Board members Red Hat, IBM, LynuxWorks, Lineo, and MontaVista have recommended a robust specification in the ELC Platform Specification. This will certainly increase the role of embedded Linux for product evaluation and standardization."

"Linux promises to be a major force in the Post-PC embedded markets, provided it avoids the fragmentation of the UNIX wars of an earlier era," said Harry Kohl, financial analyst with Sutro & Co. "The ELC initiative for a common platform should open up huge addressable new markets for Linux in emerging embedded applications such as hand-held devices, set top boxes and internet connected products, which are potentially much bigger than the PC market."

About the Embedded Linux Consortium

Responding to the rising tide of interest in Linux for embedded applications, representatives from dozens of technology firms formed the ELC, a vendor-neutral trade association dedicated to advancing the depth, breadth and speed of Linux adoption in the enormous embedded computer market. In its first 75 days, membership hit 75 (now at 124). The ELC offers free membership to developers who demonstrate their participation in the Open Source code base of the Linux operating system. More details about the ELC are available at http://www.embedded-linux.org.

Additional Statements from ELC Board Members

IBM Corporation's Device Software Product Manager and ELC Vice Chairman Dan Bandera said, "IBM believes promoting the formation of a single, embedded Linux platform target for middleware and application development is in the best interests of our customers and the entire industry. Open standards are key and this ELC effort reinforces IBM's Linux strategy..."

Lineo's Chief Technical Officer and ELC Board member Tim Bird said, "The vendor-neutral ELC Platform Specification represents actual working practices among a significant number of Linux developers around the globe today. This technology not only fits Lineo's conception of an embedded Linux platform, it should appeal to a very broad cross section of the industry."

Jim Ready, CEO of MontaVista Software and ELC Board member said, "MontaVista is pleased to endorse the ELC Platform Specification. The time and place are right for the introduction of a platform specification. Finally, embedded developers will be able to target an open, vendor neutral and powerful standard upon which a wide variety of middleware packages, development tools, and applications will operate. This initiative by the ELC marks the beginning of the end for proprietary, closed source embedded operating systems."

Greg Wright, the ELC Board member representing independent software developers, remarked, "A round of applause will be heard from the developer community; they will be able to put away their darts and blindfolds now that we know what the platform standard is and will continue to be."

Michael Tiemann, Chief Technical Officer of Red Hat and ELC Board Member said, "Linux has faced tremendous challenge on a variety of fronts. We knew that the greatest challenge facing Linux in the embedded market would be the threat of fragmentation. I am very pleased that the ELC has facilitated the endorsement of a single platform standard based on existing technologies, practices, and requirements important to the ELC membership. I am sure this will help Linux achieve the stature in the embedded market that it has achieved in other major segments, and Red Hat looks forward to making major contributions to ensure the success of this specification."

NOTE: Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.