Electronics makers rally around Linux

Eight big-name consumer electronics companies are banding together to spread the usage of the operating system in a range of new devices.

John G. Spooner Staff Writer, CNET News.com
John Spooner
covers the PC market, chips and automotive technology.
John G. Spooner
2 min read
Several large consumer electronics companies are banding together to spread the usage of Linux in a range of new devices.

Matsushita Electric, Sony, Hitachi, NEC, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba on Tuesday announced the Consumer Electronics Linux Forum, or CELF, a consortium designed to adapt and advance the operating system for use in consumer electronics.

Linux is widely used in large computers such as servers, but the eight companies wish to extend the operating system to other devices. While some companies, including MontaVista, have already created their own consumer electronics-oriented versions of Linux, the CELF wishes to spread out development work and take a more collaborative approach.

CELF grew out of a Linux development alliance between Sony and Matsushita inked last December. At the time, the two companies agreed to collaborate on a new version of the open-source operating system for consumer electronics devices and said they would consider founding a forum to further those goals.

The companies said their objective was to create a version of Linux that boots quickly and offers snappy performance for use in digital video recorders and other audiovisual devices. Digital video recorders capture TV programs and store them on a hard drive for later viewing.

The CELF will cover the same basic objectives in a larger forum, with a steering committee made up of engineers from each of the eight companies, and will open up issues to the wider Linux community.

Some of the CELF's initial goals will be to reduce start-up and shutdown times for the operating system, bolster its power management capabilities to help lengthen battery life in devices and reduce its memory requirements. The forum also will work to improve the real-time capabilities of Linux--in other words, the response times for devices that require precise timing, the consortium said in a statement.

The forum will go about its work in a public manner, discussing ideas and then issuing requests and specifications for Linux developers to create software. The resulting software, once certified by the CELF, will be added to the consortium's source tree, a repository of Linux software.

Individuals may join the CELF for free. Corporations wishing to join will pay fees ranging from $4,000 to $16,000, according to the forum's membership agreement posted on its Web site.