Linaro is a not-for-profit company dedicated to developing a great ARM kernel for Linux. The initial concept for the company came out of a discussion with a mobile OEM who said each of its system-on-chip (SoC) vendors had a separate Linux kernel for ARM. This was clearly very in-efficient not only for SoC companies but also OEMs, and the key software partners needed to add more resources and time to fix the problem—not good for anyone. So ARM decided to get all the key players together (Freescale, IBM, Samsung, ST-Ericsson, and Texas Instruments) and create what is now Linaro. Twelve other companies has since become members.
Let’s face it, setting up a company doesn’t fix the underlying problem immediately, even though some people would have liked it to. A clarion call came from the industry when Linus Torvalds said “Gaah....This whole ARM thing is a f**king pain in the a*se,” and this was probably true in March 2011. Someone had to react and move quickly to fix this.
When you get a 100+ brilliant engineers from six companies focused on a problem and the eyes of an industry upon you, great things can happen. All you need is spirit, drive and the right people in the right place at the right time and just about anything can be made possible. So where are we now and why am I optimistic for the future? There is a lot to celebrate:
- Linus now says “Over the past year, ARM has gone from a constant headache at every merge window to an outstanding citizen in the Linux community” – Aug 29, 2012
- There has been a 150% increase in downloads from Linaro.org
- Linaro and new members have launched the Linaro Enterprise Group (LEG) focused on servers with 14 key industry players including AMD, AppliedMicro, Calxeda, Canonical, Facebook, HiSilicon, HP, Marvell, RedHat, Samsung, ST-Ericsson, TI and of course, ARM – not bad given its humble beginnings.
- Linaro is the third most significant named contributor to the Linux 3.5 kernel
- Code that Linaro has upstreamed has become the standard for the industry – code including DeviceTree for ARM and Unified Memory Management (UMM) for multiple architectures
- The Google Chromebook leverages some of the fundamental code from Linaro. This must be one of the hottest products in the market this season. I know, as all the US shops I went to last week were sold out.
But probably most important to me is that we have created a company that is focused on delivering to the ARM ecosystem a product that will make all who participate potentially more successful in their industry. Really, Christmas is about goodwill and thinking about others, these are great values for just about anyone, but they lie at the heart of a strong ecosystem that helps and enables everyone to succeed. Linaro saves costs, is more effective and efficient at developing the Linux kernel, and has a great team of engineers and managers that makes me proud to be associated with it. I think the future looks very positive for Linux everywhere and especially Linux on ARM with Linaro at the heart of this.
Ian Drew, Executive VP of Marketing and Business Development, ARM, joined ARM as vice president of Segment Marketing in July 2005 and was responsible for ARM’s worldwide segment marketing programs. In 2008, Ian was appointed as vice president of Marketing responsible for ARM’s corporate marketing strategy across the major markets such as mobile computing, mobile solutions and embedded. In 2009, he became EVP Marketing.
Before joining ARM, Ian worked at Intel Corp. for 14 years in various senior management roles around the world including Asia, Russia, Europe and the U.S. His last position was as GM of the Russia/CIS office in Moscow, responsible for all the sales and marketing activities in the region. Before his GM position in Moscow, he was running Intel’s telecom group in Asia.
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