In his column this month, Rick Lehrbaum consolidates the embedded Linux arena into three basic categories: telecommunications infrastructure, handheld mobile devices and internet-edge devices (this includes server/gateway/firewall-type devices as well as digital set-top boxes). With the exception of the desktop, this includes just about everywhere one might expect to find Linux.
Rick has been tracking the progress of Linux in these areas for the last couple of years, reporting on tradeshows and devices that, exceptionally, ran Linux. However, that has changed very quickly, and now the trend that is impossible to ignore in Rick's columns is that the computing world is increasingly embedded, and embedded is increasingly Linux.
As Doc Searls has been saying often of late, “Linux has won.” Consequently, the success stories that were so compelling two or three years ago about some company switching their servers to Linux have long since ceased to be news. This doesn't mean that there aren't fights to be fought and progress to be made, but it does mean that Linux and the open-source development model have certainly been proven as viable for every level of computing.
An indication of the success of Linux was the Open Source Development Lab's announcement at LinuxWorld, New York earlier this year of the Carrier-Grade Linux Working Group initiative—also discussed by Rick (LJ, May 2002). The group's goal is to aid in the creation of any component necessary to make Linux the best choice for carrier-grade applications.
In a related event, Ibrahim Haddad, whom many readers will recognize as a fairly regular contributor to LJ, e-mailed me recently to let me know that, after three years of hard labor, Ericsson is taking some of his group's work to the Open Source community. Ibrahim works as a researcher at the Ericsson Corporate Unit of Research in Montréal, Canada. The most important part of the work that is being open-sourced is an architecture for security on telecom-grade Linux clusters. It is called DSI (Distributed Security Infrastructure). Ericsson will be sponsoring its development and is looking to the Open Source community for help. They have officially joined the OSDL to work with other members of the Carrier-Grade Linux Working Group.
The DSI team has authored an article in this issue explaining the project (see page 92). The project's web site is not yet up, but anyone interested in contributing to it may contact any of the team members listed at the end of the article.