CeBIT Open Source Project Lounge -- OSADL

OSADL -- Open Source Automation Development Lab


The Open Source Automation Development Lab (OSADL) is among the 15 projects presenting their work in Hanover, Germany, enabling the Linux kernel for real-time Ethernet.

In a nutshell- describe your project in a few words:

Linux is real-time-capable and has in the meantime become the standard operating system for industrial embedded systems and automation. However, the industry clearly needs real-time communication, such as real-time Ethernet. The Open Source Automation Development Lab (OSADL) project sets the conditions for real-time Ethernet in the Linux kernel and implements two open source protocol stacks.

When did the project begin?

About two years ago.

How many active members does the project have?

The initial vote to get the project going showed a support of a majority of over 30 OSADL members. The implementation of the Linux components is headed by kernel developer Thomas Gleixner (of Linuxtronix GmbH). Updating the real-time Ethernet stack is a joint effort of OSADL and its members the Ethernet POWERLINK Standardization Group (EPSG) and SERCOS International (SI).

How did the project come about?

Many machine builders have opted for Linux for different reasons. One thing for sure is that open source software is not something you discontinue, considering its viable product lifecycle of 10 years or more. Linux has to come to terms with the replacement of classic fieldbus systems with real-time Ethernet protocols and to make these protocols available.

What would make a CeBIT visitor interested in your booth?

We want to make people aware of the fact that Linux is being widely used in the industrial sector and especially in embedded systems. With the implementation of very powerful real-time Ethernet, we can demonstrate that Linux can live up to the challenge. Of course, this is also an argument in favor of opting for Linux for other application environments, because it shows the high flexibility and scalability of the Linux kernel.

Who do you make your software for?

For all requiring real-time Ethernet under Linux: machine builders, carmakers, commercial vehicle manufacturers, equipment (such as medical devices) makers, drivetrain (such as wheelchair and locomotive) manufacturers and facility (such as water treatment plant and energy distribution) contractors.

Where do you see your biggest current challenge?

To further optimize performance, we have to find a mechanism to detect incoming real-time Ethernet packets much earlier on, strip them off and send them to the respective stacks. The mechanism must be effective enough to be adopted into the Linux kernel.

If you were to hire a full-time project developer now, what problem should he or she be ready to solve?

Further adaptation of the protocol stacks so that they can be included in the Linux kernel.

Under which license is the software currently offered?

The kernel components are under GPLv2, Ethernet POWERLINK is under BSD licensing and SERCOS III/CoSeMa is under LGPLv2 licensing or higher.

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