Vendors Form Embedded Linux Consortium

Membership is currently open and will be based on a dues scale. An application for membership can be found at http://www.linuxdevices.com/files/consortium/ELCapplication.pdf/.

The group formed at an organizational meeting last week during the Embedded Systems Conference at Chicago's McCormick Place.

"When we arrived in Chicago last week, it was after a several month e-mail campaign by Rick Lehrbaum to determine whether embedded vendors of hardware and software would be interested in a Linux consortium. There was a lot of pent-up demand in the room," said Murry Shohat, who is serving as the ELC's interim executive director. Lehrbaum is interim chairman.

The group reserved a room at the McCormick, expecting 30 to 40 people to show up. The room was too small and organizers had to quickly arrange for double the number of seats when 80 people turned out, Shohat said. There was a lunch provided "and the kitchen had to scramble to feed the extra attendees," he added.

One vendor representative commented that their company had been considering calling for formation of such a group for a while, but there was concern that the vendor would be viewed as having a self interest to promote. Shohat said that such concerns were set aside as the group talked because a strong vendor-neutral attitude emerged.

Besides promoting the market for embedded applications for Linux, the increasingly popular open-source operating system, the group will assist member companies and will present a cohesive voice for vendors. For instance, the ELC will obtain technical materials from members and present it at trade shows and conferences. The consortium also will offer startup embedded-Linux vendors marketing help, though that is not intended to be a permanent offering for every member.

"It won't relieve companies of the need to be a complete company," Shohat said. "They've got to build that themselves, but in the early stages I think we can be a big help."

Shohat's main business is a marketing consulting company, Shohat & Kahn. Lehrbaum is with Linuxdevices.com in Palo Alto, California.

The consortium will meet monthly, with some meetings conducted via conference call to accommodate far-flung members. A formation committee named at the Chicago meeting eventually will become the consortium board of directors with an executive committee expected to be spun out of that, Shohat said.

Embedded applications are typically integrated into larger systems to enable them to perform specific functions and are becoming widely used in services for Internet appliances and wireless devices.

Additional information about the group may be obtained by contacting Shohat at murry@sonic.net.

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Nancy Weil

PC World

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