Open Source Adoption in Embedded System

Sure, everyone likes it: free software, no royalties, good quality, tested, proven to work, etc..who doesn’t ? But the fact is that the adoption of open source in embedded system is low.

IMO, there’s one single fact that create this issue: product lifetime. The problem with embedded system is that the product lifetime (specially for the processors) is very short. Some new processors or ASIC can only last for 2-3 years, before gone out from the market.

But the silicon manufacturers are not the scape goat for this problem. For me, its distributors fault. The manufacturers usually give 2-3 years time before they completely stop the production. So the product should have 4-6 years lifetime according to the manufacturers point of view. But distributors usually sees end-of-life notification as “don’t stock this part” sign, unless some company order these products regulary. As the result, once end-of-life notification comes out, we can only depends on the number of item that’s stocked in distributor side. Once they run out of stock, it means we’re out of business too unless we can re-design the whole embedded system using new components.

So, what’s the relation of this with open source ? The time that most of open source projects need, from creation until mature, is longer than product’s lifecyle. So, we can have the most qualified open source software, but it’s running on obsolete processor(s) or ASICs that’s no longer produced.

If only we can have dedicated open source developer, payed by the company’s community, maybe we can solve this problem…But who wants to be an open source developer ?


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