TV Linux Overview

TV Linux Alliance is a consortium of technology suppliers to cable, satellite and telecommunication network operators who wish to support the deployment of Linux-based digital set-top boxes capable of interactive television applications and services.

Linux Working For Interactive Television

The demand for Linux on set-top boxes is increasing, as companies recognize that Linux offers a compact, robust and extremely stable OS layer. The open nature of Linux allows many brilliant minds around the world to contribute to and enhance a single code base. Constant review by thousands of engineers ensures that functionality is added and bugs are fixed much more quickly than with proprietary solutions.

Having multiple Linux operating system vendors support a single, common set of APIs encourages hardware, middleware, and other vendors to consider Linux as a viable alternative to more costly and restrictive proprietary operating systems. Without a standard for Linux, many different permutations will develop, thus giving rise to conflicting API sets that support essentially the same functionality.

Linux Working For Interactive Television

The TV set-top box market is characterized by a variety of hardware platforms. On top of this, several middleware solutions run on the various set-tops—and between the middleware and the set-top hardware resides an embedded OS. The Linux operating system offers an excellent OS layer for set-top boxes, however it is impractical for middleware and hardware companies to support endless permutations of Linux. By working to standardize a single version of the Linux operating system for digital television, the TV Linux Alliance will ensure efficient software porting and device driver development. An industry standard will further promote a Linux solution for television devices that is the most robust, least expensive, and offers the shortest time-to-market.

Having a standard set of APIs for the operating system provides chip-set manufacturers with a clear roadmap for supplying Linux-based device driver support, which will accelerate their time-to-market.

For middleware vendors, using a standard Linux offering means a single Linux port can be achieved and maintained, and eliminates repeated porting efforts for middleware and key low-level functionality required to support applications such as Video on Demand (VOD) and Electronic Program Guides (EPGs). This approach results in shortened integration times, lower porting costs, and faster time-to-market for fully integrated set-top box solutions.

Building an Open Standard

A single, agreed-upon Linux development direction will also offer content and application providers faster access to advanced features—such as PVR and USB—as well as capabilities not yet imagined. A standard Linux API set will enable the most advanced and sophisticated set of interactive TV applications, without fragmenting development and slowing market delivery. This API set will also be a key component of supporting industrystandard middleware specifications, such as CableLabs’ OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) and Digital Video Broadcast’s Multimedia Home Platform (DVB-MHP).

The TV Linux Alliance is chartered to produce a series of TV Linux API Specifications and a supporting set of open source code implementations. This approach will allow complete set-top Linux solutions to be created quickly and efficiently using interchangeable components from different providers, which in turn ensures a greater range of choice for network operators and advances the industry.

About Linux

Linux is developed under the GNU General Public License and its source code is freely available to everyone. However, this doesn’t mean that Linux and its assorted distributions are necessarily free. Developers may charge a fee for their distribution as long as the source code remains available. Companies may also charge for support and services provided alongside the freely available code.

Bringing Linux to the embedded device market has required some reduction of the system’s size, memory requirements and power management features. A number of companies now offer embedded Linux distributions, sophisticated development tools, and embedded Linux expertise. Now, with support of the TV Linux Alliance, the power and convenience of Linux will be more broadly available as an embedded operating system for TV set-top boxes.

General Linux Set-Top Box Solution

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