Linux Foundation Accelerates Automotive Grade Linux

Ford and Mazda join the effort as first Unified Code Base distribution is announced.

Automotive Grade Linux

Linux is driving into 2016 with new members joining the Automotive Grade Linux project and a new Unified Code Base distribution to enable the next generation of automotive technology.

AGL is run as a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project that first got started in September 2012. Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi Motors and Subaru are now officially joining the ranks of the AGL project alongside existing members, which include Toyota, Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and Honda.

The addition of Ford to the AGL project is particularly noteworthy for a number of reasons.

"We are very excited to have Ford on board," Dan Cauchy, general manager of Automotive at the Linux Foundation, told eWEEK. "This is the first U.S.-based OEM to join AGL."

Ford has an existing partnership with Microsoft, which enables the SYNC in-vehicle infotainment system on many Ford vehicles. Cauchy noted that Microsoft is not currently involved in AGL and he's not aware of any plans for the company to do so. He emphasized that AGL is and will remain a Linux-based open-source project and will welcome any company that is willing to help AGL to achieve its goals.

"The growth and momentum of AGL has been incredible in the past year," Cauchy said. "We are at 60 members now. That's about 50 percent growth in the past year."

AGL's goals include expanding the use of Linux in the automotive industry. Back in June 2014, AGL released its first reference platform, which is now being expanded with the Unified Code Base (UCB). The AGL code release in 2014 was a reference platform built on top of Tizen IVI (in-vehicle infotainment) and it was primarily focused on demo applications, according to Cauchy.

"It was not meant to be a full distribution, but rather a proof of concept and a way to gain momentum within AGL, and we succeeded nicely," he said.

In June 2015, AGL announced the release of the AGL Requirements Specification, which serves as the design and requirements document for the AGL UCB distribution. The goal of the UCB is to have a complete stack for automotive applications.

"By unifying the best open-source components into a single software stack, we believe that we have built a distro that can be used by the entire auto industry and help eliminate fragmentation," Cauchy said.

The AGL project also now has put in place the development infrastructure needed to host the new UCB distro, including Git code repositories, Gerrit code review, Jira bug tracking and Jenkins continuous integration technologies. The AGL's infrastructure is all hosted by the Linux Foundation and operated under an open-source governance structure.

At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, the Linux Foundation will be showing a demonstration of the AGL Unified Code Base. Among the demos that will be shown are Home Screen, Media Browser, HVAC Control and Display, AM/FM Radio and Navigation applications.

Looking forward, there is a lot more work to be done to expand the capabilities of the AGL UCB distribution in 2016. Cauchy noted that an AGL UCB distribution release is currently planned for the middle of the year, though the full content of the release is still being determined.

"Although AGL has been initially focused on IVI, we are also planning to develop different profiles for instrument cluster, heads-up-display [HUD], telematics and eventually control systems," Cauchy said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.