Thursday, May 21, 2009

Linux development platform takes on license compliance

Embedded Alley has upgraded its "Development System for Linux" with tools to create software Bills of Materials, track open source components, trace binary sources, and help OEMs comply with open source license obligations. The new platform also adds support for the Freescale i.MX31 PDK (pictured).

EA's tracking system for open source licensing compliance is claimed to be a first for a Linux development platform. The tracking tools reflect the growing cost of license compliance for OEMs, as well as the frustration developers have with hunting down sources and licensing different components used in open source projects.

"Device manufacturers are using more and more open source packages, and with the number of stacks proliferating, each with different licensing, it becomes more challenging to track," said EA's COO, Matthew Locke, in an interview, "There's a need for a greater level of sophistication of these compliance tools, helping people through production and beyond, and helping OEMs comply with licensing obligations. We're combining development tools with best practices."

The focus on component tracking and licensing appears to be part of a trend in Linux development platforms. With key technological components now in place, the platforms are increasingly focusing on procedural and supply chain issues aimed at reducing development time. For example, the upcoming MontaVista Linux 6 will offer different versions based on various semiconductor distributions, and it provides a new build platform and content server for keeping track of open source components. Timesys has also focused on tracking issues with its DIY-oriented LinuxLink 3.0 subscription service. (See farther below for more on the new license compliance features, as well as additional comments from Locke.)

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