Linaro extends Linux ARM to networking gear

The not-for-profit Linaro plans to offer an open source Linux OS for ARM-based networking equipment

Hoping to extend Linux's reach to ARM-based networking equipment, the not-for-profit engineering group Linaro has launched an initiative to develop code to run routers, switches and other networking equipment.

"As companies use ARM more and more in this space, then Linaro becomes a natural space for them to work together on this core enabling technology," said George Grey, CEO of Linaro. "There is intense interest [here] in the benefits that ARM brings."

The idea behind the initiative is to provide a standardized base Linux distribution that networking equipment vendors can modify and use for their own products, saving them the cost of building and maintaining an OS in-house. Linaro was formed in 2010 to develop Linux-based software for ARM processors for different platforms, such as mobile devices and servers.

The newly formed Linaro Networking Group (LNG) will tackle the work, and is comprised of engineers from networking-component and software vendors such as Enea, Freescale, MontaVista and Nokia Siemens Networks, as well as from ARM itself.

Using Linux as the base, the group plans to develop a standardized open source core platform for networking equipment built with ARM SoCs (system-on-a-chip), such as routers, switches, wireless base stations, and appliances with networking components.

The industry needs networking operating systems that are better suited to today's networking environments, which include large-scale cloud platforms, a wider range of end devices and more diverse forms of data that travel over networking equipment, according to the group.

The working group will generate code that will address a number of different use cases. The group will optimize the Linux kernel so it can offer real-time operations at the control and data plane. It will look at ways of supporting virtual environments with real-time performance. In addition, it will develop ways to reduce latency and improve throughput of packet processing.

The working group plans to first release a set of code by mid-2013, and will issue updates once a month after that.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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Joab Jackson

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