With apologies to Shakespeare, let me start off by clarifying that we are referring to Free/Libre Open Source Software; about how it is changing the embedded landscape and more importantly the ideas on efficient ways to benefit from this constant stream of innovation.
Very few fields in technology have felt such an impact from open source movement as has embedded software design. The proliferation of popular open source projects, such as the GNU Project, for embedded systems is truly phenomenal. Owing to OSS, there is virtually no barrier to entry into this field of electronics design. All one needs is a decent computer (sans OS), an evaluation board (plenty of choices) and they are good to go! Everything else could theoretically be sourced from the OSS community. OSS has literally democratized embedded software design!
In an ideal world, every engineer could tap into the fast evolving world of open source development, pick the solution for their need, plop it into their project and be off. Alas, the world we live in is far from ideal. While OSS typically offers a great technical solution, it has its downsides and risks when trying to apply it as-it-is to commercial embedded designs. Engineering management, typically driven by cost pressures, very quickly realize the challenges associated in taking open source technology and trying to fit it into their time-critical, revenue-oriented commercial projects. The concepts of clear ownership, shared risk, standardization (although efforts such as The Yocto Project are being made here) etc. are virtually non-existent in OSS.
So, how can one leverage all the open source goodness for commercial embedded development without compromising on the key aspects of risk mitigation (support/warranty), product differentiation (customization)?
Well, I am glad you asked!
Check out this recent webinar for some of my thoughts on how to leverage open-source software for your commercial embedded design needs.
Do you use open-source or a combination or perhaps a commercial solution based on open-source? I’d be very interested in your thoughts. Please feel free to share them in our communities.
As an added bonus, the top most active comment/contributor will receive this cool CodeSourcery t-shirt – compliments of Mentor Embedded!