Linaro is leading ARM Linux unification efforts, according to its CEO, and the organisation is looking to lead the ARMies of chip makers in other areas of Linux development as well by acting as a safe "demilitarised zone" for the many ARM vendors that make up its membership.
Linaro , a non-profit organisation, was formed in June 2010 by ARM, Freescale, IBM, Samsung, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments, in part to take on the problem of an explosion of ARM-based System-on-a-Chip (SoC) implementations and Linux variants to support them. Compared to the desktop processors that we are more familiar with, ARM-based chips allow for a lot of variation, especially in SoC implementations, as the only common component tends to be the ARM-designed cores. With embedded applications though, the software is being written specifically for the chip, so the desktop concerns of portable code are pushed to one side as each chip maker creates numerous specialised ARM chips, each with their own operating system. More and more, that operating system is Linux and with the success of ARM there was also an massive expansion in the number of variants of Linux being sent upstream to the mainstream kernel.
Within nine months of Linaro forming, that expansion became a real issue as Linus Torvalds lost patience. Linaro uses the principles of open source collaboration and collaborating around open source to take on that challenge. Now, with 120 full-time engineers distributed around the world – half of them assigned to the organisation by member companies and 90 of them working on shared common problems – Linaro has grown substantially. The H talked to CEO George Grey and CTO David Rusling to catch up on how they were taking on this challenge.