The Open-Source Car

The Open-Source Car

Summary: Toyota is joining the Linux Foundation.


Besides a V6 as your engine, your car is very likely to soon be running Linux under the hood. The Linux Foundation will be announcing today that Toyota is joining the Foundation.

Some of you may be wondering, "What the heck is a car company doing joining the Linux Foundation?" The answer is easy. As the Foundation puts it, "A major shift is underway in the automotive industry. Car-makers are using new technologies to deliver on consumer expectations for the same connectivity in their cars as they've come to expect in their homes and offices. From dashboard computing to In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI), automobiles are becoming the latest wireless devices - on wheels."

And, what's one of the most popular systems for dashboard computing, heads-up driving displays and IVI? It's Linux, of course. In a statement, Kenichi Murata, Toyota's General Manager for Electronics Development said, "Linux gives us the flexibility and technology maturity we require to evolve our In-Vehicle-Infotainment and communications systems to address the expectations of our customers. The Linux Foundation provides us with a neutral forum in which we can collaborate with the world's leading technology companies on open innovation that accelerates that evolution."

It's not just Toyota though that's using Linux and open-source software in its cars. GENIVI, the non-profit industry alliance committed to driving the broad adoption of an IVI reference platform, has also committed to Linux. To be exact, GENIVI's members, which include BMW, GM, Peugeot Citroen, and Renault, are backing Intel's embedded MeeGo Linux.

Other car companies, like Ford with its Sync program have played with open source. In Ford's case though what the Detroit car company has actually done is to just open up some of their application programming interfaces (API)s.

That said, as Toyota is showing us today, Linux and open source is continuing to grow in importance as the framework for intelligent devices from digital video recorders (DVRs) to smartphone to, yes, the car your driveway. Happy driving!

Related Stories:

Inside look at car design (photos)

GPS as commodity: TomTom slashes expectations for navigation devices

Smartphone for GPS Navigation is better than a dedicated device

Topics: Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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  • That's great!

    Now my car can talk to my toaster! ;)
    Will Pharaoh
    • After Ford started to use Microsoft's software recently, there were some ..

      @Will Pharaoh: ... problems. Lets see how well Toyota will do with Linux.
      • Really? Everyone I know that uses Sync have no problems

        that they ever mentioned, they think it's great.
        Will Pharaoh
      • RE: The Open-Source Car

        my friend has ford explorer with Sync and he has no problems and he uses WP7 and iPhone, and both never experienced any issues. I rode with him and I too didn't notice any issues.
        Ram U
      • Not 'problems', but 'some problems'; obviously, it is not anything like ...

        @Rama.NET: ... large scale or often failures, but there are discussions about this.
      • RE: The Open-Source Car

        @Will Pharaoh

        Actually, Ford has been surprisingly open about the difficulty that many of its customers have had with the Sync system -- specifically about its complexity, more than it not working. Ford has said the system's interface is complicated and that they're working on improving it.

        The tablet and smartphone interfaces -- be it iOS, WP7 or something like WebOS or Android -- would seem to be fairly appropriate for an in-car system. It just tends to take the auto industry a while to figure out that someone else has already been down this road and figured out the best route, so why reinvent the wheel? (How's that for mixing a few auto-related metaphors?)

        I think they're getting it now, so the next systems should be far easier to use and much more intuitive (or at least familiar).
      • But, man, they used Windows CE...

        @DeRSSS : Linux is "road-tested". SYNC, just like BMW's iDrive are Vista/Honeycomb-like scenarios, that is, products releases before they were ready for prime time...

        You see, building a BSP (Board Support Package) for Windows Embedded Compact 6.0 R3 (WEC6R3 aka WinCE6) can take months of debugging and is rendered useless if you change one component. In case you don't know, that's what killed the "NoDo" upgrade on Windows Phone 7 (based on WEC6R3) on the Samsung phones.

        Linux on the other hand, has millions of drivers, inherited from it's PC era. You don't need a BSP. You just build a kernel with the proper driver support and voil?... you can put your favorite front end on top.
      • RE: The Open-Source Car

        @DeRSSS I think not so well ;)

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      • RE: The Open-Source Car

        @DeRSSS haha lets see how hyundai does with ubuntu! <a href="">reverse mortgage pros and cons</a>
      • RE: The Open-Source Car

        @DeRSSS Open-Source Car it is a great project and I think that thay will not have problem with Linux. <a href="">gallbladder</a>
    • Message has been deleted.

      blind obedience
      • Message has been deleted.

        Will Pharaoh
      • Message has been deleted.

    • RE: The Open-Source Car

      That said, as Toyota is showing us today, Linux and open source is continuing to grow in importance as the framework for intelligent devices from digital video recorders (DVRs) to smartphone to, yes, the car your driveway. Happy driving!
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    • RE: The Open-Source Car

      @Will Pharaoh

      "Besides a <strong><a href="">learn violin online</a></strong> V6 as your engine, your car is very likely to soon be running Linux under the hood. The Linux Foundation will be announcing today that Toyota is joining the Foundation."
      Four words: NOT A GOOD IDEA!
      Seriously, what were <strong><a href="">glaucoma eyes drops</a></strong> they thinking? Adding Linux to a car? Yeah, sure, let's make it easy for the entire world to hack your car, steal everything inside it, get you to drive when the light is red, stop <strong><a href="">bright eyes drops</a></strong> your car and rob you. The list could go on and on, really.

      Sorry, but I just don't like this idea!
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  • Do I trust my brakes to Open Source?

    Just think, with Toyota's legendary brake issues, will Open Source make them better?

    From a quality standpoint can you imagine toyota making their ABS brake system code available to the public and asking the community to do a quality review (remember that's one of Open Source's strong points, many eyes looking at the code)?

    I don't think so, this code will become as proprietary as possible, never be released, and be as tightly guarded as Fort Knox.

    Toyota's only goal is to gain access to all those freebies in the Open Source community that the basement dwelling coders giving their lives away for free are so willing to contribute.

    Considering Toyota's corporate culture (Tokyo knows best, everyone else be quiet!), one wonders what the real goal is?

    Run the engine components on Linux? Probably not. Run the GPS and dashboard stuff on Linux? Maybe.

    Just remember, there's more to open source than Linux -
    • No one said anything about your brakes

      @Cynical99 Exactly. Your infotainment may have Linux UI elements in the future.
      Your Non Advocate
    • Linux own the embedded market today

      Why would they use anything else?

      Using the Linux kernel doesn't require you open source you userland application code.

      Free kernel, extensive embedded toolkits and development tools, high quality, reliable, full source. Why would you select anything else?

      Formembedded Linux is the obvious choice these days.
      Richard Flude
      • I agree, Linux is the obvious choice....for....

        @Richard Flude

        Yes, for vending machines, embedded OS solutions (like my SG560), for machines of all types where you are not:

        <ul><li>connecting a scanner</li><li>using a camera</li><li>needing access to current, high quality software</li><li>needing sustainable, reliable platform</li><li>wanting a consistant user interface ane user experience since there is no desktop because it is not a desktop computer</li><li>concerned with having to perform updates and patches</li><li>does not worry about a threat being introduced by a technician's test equipment if it has been exploited (ala the Iranian Nuclear Program computers)</li></ul>

        I agree that Linux is probably for most applications the best embedded OS kernel around.