A posse of heavyweight embedded and mobile companies think Linux needs work. To this end, ARM, Freescale, IBM, Samsung, TI and ST-Ericsson financed the creation of a company, Linaro, in early June to smooth out the rough edges of Linux on mobile platforms, making developers’ lives easier in the process.

Tom Lantzsch, CEO of Linaro and formerly of Motorola and TI, said that discipline in the release schedule should be a quick and dirty way to improve developer experience on ARM-based mobile platforms. “ARM currently ships more devices with Linux than any other architecture,” he said.

“By focusing the compiler, kernel and other releases on a consistent six-month cadence, and the releases on partner silicon, we hope to further accelerate the adoption of Linux on ARM.”

But a stricter release schedule is only a small piece of the overall puzzle. Another big piece is testing, which remains difficult for mobile developers, what with multiple devices using multiple forms of Linux and different screen sizes.

Linaro will also seek to build a cohesive test stack for use across all Linux-based mobile devices. Even Android is invited to the party, despite its fork of the Linux kernel. “By aggressively pushing kernel development, Linaro hopes to provide solutions to all distributions to avoid kernel forking in the future,” said Lantzsch.

The goals of Linaro
Broadly, Linaro is about improving Linux on ARM. The company has enumerated its goals more specifically as follows:

1.    Help standardize the industry on common kernel versions and features.
2.    Improve debugging and performance analysis at the kernel level.
3.    Bring power management and performance improvements including boot speed reduction.
4.    Promote and implement device-trees on ARM hardware.
5.    Provide test “heads,” or whole vertical software stacks and distributions, to show what can be done on top of Linaro.
6.    Explore integrating telephony right into the distribution.
7.    Improve the state of graphics acceleration.
8.    Provide QA and validation harnesses to ensure anything built with Linaro is of the highest standard.
9.    Offer performance analysis and suggestions on how to improve.
10.    Supply a whole host of development, archive and image management, and distribution creation and customization tools.