By Davide Ricci
On my flight back to the Bay Area, I was reflecting on my memories of Barcelona at the Embedded Linux Conference Europe 2012. I’m recalling my time on stage, during the opening panel of the Yocto Project Dev Day, with my friends and colleagues from Texas Instruments, Intel, Jupiter, and ... Mentor. Surprised at the mix of panelists? Well, consider this - the power of the Yocto Project comes from the fact that companies across the entire ecosystem are all sitting together at the same table with one common agenda, one common goal in mind.
This year’s LinuxCon Europe seemed to burst with attendees! Many developers who flew in from all over Europe, North America, and Asia also attended Dev Day (held the day right after LinuxCon). Attendance has grown from previous Dev Days and the sea of excited developers nodding their heads in agreement and solidarity at our Dev Day sessions added to the momentum behind the Yocto Project and its goal to drive real change. Yes, we saw many nodding heads, and many smart questions…such as "What is the greatest milestone of the project so far?" or "What are you guys going to work on next?"
Well, it’s all about striking a balance! One of the greatest achievements (and challenges) so far has been creating a balance between the open source movement, which always strives for innovation, with a pace that drives progress. In this case, the major challenges have revolved around the issue of stability and control, especially since one of open source’s biggest advantage is all about speed.
Ultimately, the industry requires both speed and control.
To date, the Yocto Project has been able to set up an open source development infrastructure and a set of release processes to encourage speed but also allow for better control, helping to promote alignment across ecosystem partners and participants. The results of this effort can be seen in the Yocto Project Compatible requirements.
In order to create alignment, the project has to drive awareness of the Yocto Project Compatible benefits and requirements, addressing questions like: What are these requirements, what does it achieve and why should the industry demand Yocto Project Compatible products, board support packages, middleware, etc.? The Yocto Project ultimately fosters faster and more collaborative development using a common set of tools and practices for greater cross-platform compatibility and component interoperability. More about benefits can be read here.
Additionally, we have to ask ourselves if these requirements are strong enough to gain the alignment we need to strike that balance between innovation and stability (i.e. speed and control).
While much progress has been made, there's still work to be done. For example, more work is needed around kernel and toolchain alignment. The Yocto Project has three kernels and picks up a new kernel every 6 months to make sure there's always an edge kernel that hardware vendors could choose to enable their latest silicon. The edge kernel represents future innovation. One of the three kernels is the LTSI kernel; such a kernel represents stability. At this stage, the Yocto Project may now need to look at making the transition between the edge and the LTSI kernels smoother. This is the same case for the toolchain alignment. Although the pace of toolchain change is slower, once the project manages to crack the nut for kernel alignment, toolchain alignment will naturally follow.
I'm sure many interesting discussions will continue around this topic. What makes me confident about the Yocto Project’s steady progress is that each and every one of its participating members is looking at solving the challenge of creating a balance of speedy innovation and stability via a common goal and a shared agenda.
To put it simply, the hard work and collaboration across the ecosystem will help achieve the following…"Yocto Project = open source innovation + stability." Let's keep it going!
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