Sony, Panasonic, others stump for Linux

A consortium of companies releases software to advance use of Linux in consumer electronics devices.

A consortium that includes Sony, Panasonic, Royal Philips Electronics and other companies has taken a step toward advancing the use of the Linux operating system in consumer electronics devices.

The CE Linux Forum announced earlier this week the release of the first CELF Specification and Reference Implementation, a collection of open-source patches for Linux. Among the patches are some designed to make it easier for consumer electronics devices using the Linux OS to start up and shut down faster, consume less power and use less memory, among other things. They were chosen and developed by various working groups within CELF.

The patches are meant to make it simpler and quicker for developers to create products and get them on store shelves. Increasingly consumer electronics devices are using operating systems and software to perform functions such as playing back audio and video and managing digital media. With the patches, Linux developers won't have to start from scratch with each new product.

"Companies won't have to reinvent everything with every product," said Richard Doherty, analyst with research company The Envisioneering Group. "I expect more and more entertainment devices are going to be Linux based, and this should increase the rate of innovation...This also means it will be easier to make (devices) interoperable and get (them) to market faster."

Some devices already use Linux, such as TiVo's digital video recorders and a .

"This is the first example of coordination between companies trying to find common solutions to common problems," said Scott Smyers, chair of CELF.

CELF was formed a little more than a year ago to spread the usage of Linux in consumer electronics devices. It includes Hitachi, NEC, Panasonic, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba Corporation, as well as more than 50 other member companies.

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