Coalition announces Linux interactive TV project

A group of 24 IT companies are banding together to form the TV Linux Alliance, which will focus on developing a Linux environment for the digital set-top box market.

The companies, which come from cable, satellite and telecommunication sectors, are seeking to shorten the time to market, lower development costs and simplify the development of the Linux set-top boxes, the companies said in a statement released at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) conference in Chicago.

The alliance will define a standard API (application programming interface) that will simplify the implementation of TV middleware and device drivers for the Linux operating environment, alliance members said. This will allow network operators to select from a variety of vendors whose offerings are interoperable with the common API, the alliance said.

The alliance expects the new standard to:

-- provide a wider variety of set-top box software technologies delivering a stable operating environment with decreased development costs;-- utilise open-source knowledge and build upon the work of software developers worldwide;-- shorten time to market for chipset and middleware vendors to ease integration of advanced set-top applications;-- support implementation of industry television standards such as CableLabs' OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP), Digital Video Broadcast's Multimedia Home Platform (DVB-MHP), and other middleware specifications.

The alliance includes Microsoft competitors in the interactive television market such as ACTV Inc., OpenTV Inc. and Liberate Technologies. Other companies in the alliance include Sun Microsystems, Motorola. Broadcom, TiVo, Pace MicroTechnology and STMicroelectronics NV.

Microsoft has not been an open-source advocate, suggesting the movement undermines intellectual property rights of corporations and, in general, hurts software companies.

The new Linux specification is expected to be available later this year.