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Linux eyes interoperability to fuel IoT progress

Posted: 31 Mar 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Linux  IoT  embedded  AllSeen Alliance  OIC 

Linux is expanding its reach, promising to play a significant role in the Internet of Things. But the open source software needs more attention to interoperability, security and its kernel, according to experts at the Embedded Linux Conference here.

Samsung and Panasonic are expanding additional open source groups. Jaguar Land Rover came to the event saying it will make open source its connected car software, challenging competitors to do the same.

In IoT, Linux commands the gateway today, with ambitious efforts to pack it into end nodes. It already runs on MCUs, with some developers aiming at a Mbyte-size version of the open source operating system, one speaker said.

Intel is working on subsets of Tizen for IoT. "Today its still extremely challenging to run Linux on less than 8MB of memory...[so in IoT] we don't know where the compromises are yet," said Dominique Le Foll, a Linux expert at Intel.

Application protocols such as AllSeen aim to unify the space, running across operating systems and protocols in as little as 256KB of flash, said Greg Burns, chair of the AllSeen Alliance and the originator of the technology at Qualcomm's connected devices group. "Linux is not in that [small code size] space by an order of magnitude," Burns said.

As Linux squeezes down, security remains a top concern.

"We are miles away from where we should be [in security] in the embedded world," said Le Foll. "We have the tools but people only understand them a little, and they don't want to use them," he said.

"There's a huge amount of effort going into security, but one study said 75 per cent of IoT products have gaping security holes," said Bryant Eastham, a principal software architect in Panasonic's new open source effort. "You have people checking master keys into Github, no amount of security we put in can take care of that kind of security flop."

Linux, OIC and AllSeen pursue interoperability

While avoiding a security apocalypse, developers also need to unify a still fragmented Linux base.

"We are trying to build the interstate highways between vertical markets," said Guy Martin, a senior strategist for Samsung's two-year-old open source team who works on the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), an Intel-led rival of the AllSeen Alliance. "Verticals are interesting, but developers are going to build apps that span the verticals and without a common infrastructure at the app layer that doesn't happen," he said.

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