The Embedded Linux Consortium released its first specifications to the application development community last month, with the hopes of creating a standard set of parameters for writing interoperable embedded Linux applications.
Formed in 2000, the consortium has been working for the past year or so on the embedded Linux specifications, creating a standard API for software to run on an embedded Linux device - that is, hardware where the Linux operating system is not loaded into memory, as in a PC, but instead is burned or loaded onto a chip. Such devices include PDAs, cell phones, single-purpose network appliances, and other "gadget-like" products.
The embedded systems market has been even more of a proprietary market than commercial PC and server operating system software. Over the last few years, device makers have turned to embedded Linux as a way to create products more inexpensively without incurring heavy licensing charges.
Products such as Sharp's popular Zaurus PDA are based on embedded Linux, and a cell phone from NEC based on embedded Linux is expected to arrive sometime this year.
Members of the Embedded Linux Consortium include IBM, Agilent, Matsushita, Panasonic, Red Hat, Samsung, Sharp and Sony. Some Embedded Linux software products include Red Hat's embedded version; Monta Vista Linux's Hard Hat Linux; LynuxWorks' Blue Cat Linux; and Midiori, made by Transmeta, which also happens to cut paychecks for Linus Torvalds, a software engineer there.