Embedded Linux Conference 2019

Embedded Linux Conference 2019

Here we go again! This trip got exited even before it begun. I checked my passport the day before we should leave and noticed that my passport has expired. Outch. Fortunataly I was able to get a temporary passport at the airport. I must admit that I'm not traveling that often and do not have these 'must-checks' in my muscle memory..

This time we were heading Lyon in France. The weather is not the best but at least it is not freezing cold as in Sweden as it is this time of the year.

The conference

The conference this year is good as usual. Somehow, my attendence focus has switched from the technical talks to actually connect and talk to people. Of course, I have a group of people that I allways meet (it is mostly the same people that shows up on the conferences, after all), but I have met far more people than I used to. Am I beginning to be social? Anyway, as said before, it is fun to have a face on the patches I've reviewed or got comments on.

The talks

I mostly go for the "heavy technical" talks, but the talk I appreciated most this year had a very low technical level. The talk was performed by Gardena [1] that is doing gardening tools. Yes, water hoses and stuff. They described their journey from a product family that historically have no software at all, to a full blown embedded Linux system with all the legal implications that you can encounter with open source licenses. Gardena became sued for breaking the GPL license, which could be a very costly story. What Gardena did was absolutely the best way to handle it, and it was really nice to hear about. The consensus is that Gardena now have a public github account [2] containing the software for their Garden Gateway products [3]. Support for the SoC that is used were using is not only published, but also mainlined(!!).

Gardena hired contractors from Denx [4] for mainlining U-Boot and Linux kernel and also hired the maintainer of the radiochip that they were using. Thanks to this, all open parts of their product is mainlined and Gardena even managed to get the radio certified, which have helped at least two other companies.

Hiring the right folks for the right tasks was really the best thing Gardena could do. The radiochip maintainer fixed their problem in 48 man-hour, something that could take months to fix for Gardena. The estimated cost of all these "mainlining work" was only 10% of their budget, which is really nothing. It also made it possible for Gardena to put their products on the market in time. One big bonus is that the maintainence is far mor easy when the code is mainlined.

This is also how we work on Combitech. Linux is not part of our customers "core competence", and it really should not be. Linux is our core competence, that is why our customers let us take care of "our thing", IOW Linux development.

But why does all this make me so happy? First of all, the whole Open Source Community is really a big thing to me. It has influenced both my career choices and my view on software. In fact, I'm not even sure that I had enjoyed programming without Open Source.

So, Gardena, Keep up the good work!

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