Chip giants team up to promote Linux for consumer devices

Five chip makers have created a non-profit joint venture to boost investment in Linux and increase its presence in consumer devices such as cellphones, TVs and tablet computers.

Linaro is founded by ARM, Freescale, IBM, Samsung, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments, and will invest in open source projects that can be used by Linux-based distributions such as Android, LiMo, MeeGo, Ubuntu and webOS.

“The dramatic growth of open source software development can now be seen in internet-based, always-connected mobile and consumer products,” said Tom Lantzsch, executive officer of Linaro.

“Linaro will help accelerate this trend further by increasing investment on key open source projects and providing industry alignment with the community to deliver the best Linux-based products for the benefit of the consumer.”

As the inclusion of MeeGo – created by Intel and Nokia – implies, the company doesn’t plan to leave Intel out in the cold, although it will initially focus on ARM chips.

It will create new releases of optimized tools, kernel and middleware software validated for a wide range of System-on-Chips (SoCs) every six months, say its founders.

“Linaro is intently focused on delivering critical open source components to enable developers building on ARM-based processors. An important element of that delivery is a more complete, higher quality development toolset that increases performance,” said Remi El-Ouazzane, vice president and general manager of TI’s OMAP Platform Business Unit.

“In our leadership role, TI will support Linaro’s efforts by leveraging our open source expertise – evidenced by our participation in Linux kernel enhancement submissions and our support of popular industry development boards.”

The company’s first release is planned for November, and will provide performance optimizations for SoCs based on the ARM Cortex-A processor family.

It’s looking for other partners to join.