Friday, April 10, 2009

Linux Foundation Collab Summit: the Meld project for Embedded Developers

Benefits to a Social Approach in Development
Joerg Bertholdt, VP Marketing, MontaVista Software, Inc. & Jeffrey Osier-Mixon, Developer Advocate and Meld Community Manager, MontaVista Software, Inc.
Community is one of the defining properties of open-source software in general and Linux specifically.  To foster further innovation at the rate that the market demands, the power of community - the heart of open source - must be embraced. However, the nature of community is open sharing, which seems counter-intuitive to marketers and businesspeople working in competitive markets.  There are few markets as competitive or dynamic as the embedded world. How can companies cooperate at some points in the development cycle while they maintain their differentiation at other points? How can open communities---including mailing lists, blogs, forums, corporate communities, and conferences---promote and enable this cooperation to accelerate development? This presentation draws a detailed picture of the wealth of community involvement surrounding embedded Linux and presents a look at the evolution and future of cooperative development.  It also introduces Meld, a new community that enables embedded Linux developers, hardware manufacturers, and software providers to connect, share, and design commercial-ready embedded devices.

Embedded is a large market with something like 5 Billion embedded devices sold (per year?) dwarfing the server and desktop devices in the market. But the number of embedded developers contributing to the various open source community is a tiny part of the total number of contributors.

Each device in the embedded space is "similar" but never identical to all of the others.  And, for each embedded device provider to be involved in all of the communities that they draw technology from is
cost and time prohibitive.

This talks core proposal is that the creation of a new community might be the answer to allowing these embedded developers to participate in the community.  As a result, MontaVista helped create an open community for embedded developers called "meld" - with 1,001 members (in decimal, not binary!  ;-). 

Tim Bird referred to Meld as potentially the facebook of embedded developers.   Jeff walked through the interactive site to demonstrate how people can connect, fill out profiles, and provide some recognition for seniority within their communities and among their interests.  In general, the goal is to tap and share knowledge among embedded developers as a means of building a community around a shared general interest, despite the diversity of interests of the individual members.

Meld is intended to grow organically based on member interest and will align with hardware communities such as OMAP, PowerPC, etc, the Embedded communities, the Linux communities (via, and Embedded Linux such as, other wikis and communities.

Their committment is:  Helping embedded Linux engineers to Connect, Share and Design collaboratively.

It is too early to tell if the community has been successful, but with 1,001 members in a month it is off to a good start.  There are definitely competitors cooperating in the forum, e.g. timesys, wind river, along with the host montevista.

The site is a highly modified but originally canned solution, possibly based on or related to a .NET style framework.


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