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Issue of March 2003 
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Linux seeps into devices

An industry consortium which includes Red Hat, MontaVista Software and IBM is trying to make it easier for companies to use the Linux OS in cell phones, network routers, and other devices.

The consortium, which is named the Embedded Linux Consortium, aims to ensure that Linux for 'embedded' devices conforms to certain guidelines. Since Linux is an open source software project, anyone can modify and redistribute the software's underlying source code, which sometimes makes for a fast-changing and chaotic environment as companies and hobbyists develop and distribute their Linux-based products.

The Embedded Linux Consortium's effort called the ELC Platform Specification, helps freeze some aspects of Linux technology, providing a more stable foundation for companies thinking of using Linux in their gadgets.

On another front, a company called Reasoning, which provides automated software inspection services, scrutinized part of the code of Linux and five other OSs comparing the number and rate of programming defects. Specifically, Reasoning examined TCP/IP, a key networking technology, and found fewer errors in Linux.

The company feels that the open source implementation of TCP/IP in the Linux kernel clearly exhibits a higher code quality than commercial implementations in general-purpose OSs. The Linux defect rate was 0.1 defects per 1,000 lines of code.

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