Tech giants unite behind Linux to take on iPad

A group of tech heavyweights have joined have joined forces to speed up the process of developing ARM-based devices running Linux.

ARM, Freescale, IBM, Samsung, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments have formed a new company called Linaro, "a not-for-profit open source software engineering company dedicated to enhancing open source innovation for the next wave of always-connected, always-on computing," said the company, tipping its hat firmly in the direction of Apple's two million-selling iPad.

In a statement, the company said it was formed to, "increase investment in open source, address the challenges in developing products for sophisticated consumer markets and provide the support of a broad array of semiconductor products."

Linaro will invest resources in open source projects that can then be used by Linux-based distributions such as Android, LiMo, MeeGo, Ubuntu and webOS.

The outfit says it will provide a stable and optimised base for Linux distributions and developers by creating new releases of optimised tools, kernel and middleware software validated for a wide range of SoCs, every six months.

The aim is to reduce time-to-market for products such as tablets, smart phones, digital televisions, in-car entertainment and enterprise equipment.

The company's first release is planned for November 2010 and will provide performance optimisations for SoCs based on Brit chip shop ARM's Cortex-A processor family.

"ARM and our partners have a long history of working with, and supporting, open source software development for complex SoCs based on the ARM architecture," said Warren East, ARM CEO. "As a founding member of Linaro, we are working together with the broader open source community to accelerate innovation for the next generation of computing, focusing on delivering a rich connected experience across the diversity of devices in our daily lives."

Linaro intends to work closely with the Linux Foundation, much to the delight of the open source organisation's Jim Zemlin: "The Linux Foundation is happy to see ARM and Linaro increase their investment in Linux," he said. "We are supportive of any investment that contributes to the mainline kernel and the many upstream open source projects that make up Linux based operating systems today."