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New online community launches for embedded Linux developers
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| It probably won't be "Facebook for Linux" but a Web site launching Tuesday is
| intended to create an online community specifically for Linux programmers who
| focus on embedded applications such as mobile devices, set-top boxes,
| industrial controls and everything apart from servers and PCs.
| The Web site, dubbed Meld, is organized and supported by MontaVista
| Software, which markets a Linux software stack, services, support and tools
| for the embedded market.
Embedded Linux has more friends than you may know
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| Sony recently announced that one of its BRAVIA LCD TV factories will double
| production from 2 million TV sets per year to 4 million to meet growing
| demand in Europe. Sony has sold more than 20 million of these TVs, and
| they're all built with embedded Linux.
| So what? Embedded Linux is no surprise. Sony and tens of thousands of other
| companies, from huge to tiny, use embedded Linux every day to deliver
| successful products in every market. That is not news.
| Ten years ago, though, embedded Linux was a surprising-even shocking-idea to
| most people. Back in 1998, fresh from victory in the RTOS industry, I
| introduced the idea of building a software company to make Linux a suitable
| OS for developing smart devices. When I told people the idea, they gawked as
| if I was a few lines short of compilable code.
| "You want to build a company on software that's available for free?" I was
| asked. "Based on the gigantically bloated Unix OS? And with some oddball GPL
| license? How fast do you expect people to kick you out of their office?"
| Every market survey showed that the demand for embedded Linux was zero. When
| we released our first product, industry experts agreed that nobody needed it.
| Embedded Linux won't work because it is "too big, too slow, and not
| real-time," said the head of one RTOS company. The president of another
| derided embedded Linux as "a royal pain in the ass," so no developer would
| ever use it.
| I took heart from a quote attributed to Mohandas Gandhi: "First they ignore
| you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."
| Analyst firms don't agree on how many device engineers use embedded Linux,
| but they all say the number is substantial: 21% of developers use embedded
| Linux, according to last year's Embedded Systems Design survey; 36.7%,
| according to current research by Embedded Market Forecasters. This April, VDC
| reported that Linux is now the leading embedded OS. It shouldn't be
| surprising. After all, commercial Linux vendors succeed because they
| understand what design engineers are looking for.
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