Cars: The Next Big Platform Opportunity for Linux?

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 06, 2011

If you cycled the clock back a few years, you would find that most people who were enthusiastic about Linux tended to debate its prospects as a desktop operating system. Fast-forward to today, and it's clear that Linux is finding many of its biggest opportunities at the server level, in embedded Linux deployments, and in other scenarios that lie outside the desktop computing arena. There are more and more signs that the next frontier for Linux may be in cars, as evidenced by Toyota's decision to join the Linux Foundation as a Gold member.

Toyota claims that it is joining the Linux Foundation to "maximize its investment in Linux while fostering open innovation throughout the automotive ecosystem." The company's statement included this:

"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," said Kenichi Murata, Project General Manager, Electronics Development Div. 1, Toyota Motor Corporation. "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."

Linux is already a part of some in-vehicle entertainment and communication systems, just as it is found running similar systems on airplanes and elsewhere. For example, the MeeGo automotive infotainment system has generated notice, and we've covered the Genivi Alliance's in-car open source initiatives before. In addition, Android phones and tablets are delivering many open source-based applications and services within cars.

Linux is an ideal platform for in-car services--much more so than Windows, the Mac OS or other major operating systems. Cars represent yet another platform, beyond the desktop, where Linux can flourish.