• November 20, 2012
  • Linux

The Yocto Project…Striking the balance of speed and stability

By Davide Ricci

Davide_smOn 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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