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CIP Member Spotlight: Hitachi

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The Civil Infrastructure Platform (CIP) project aims to speed implementation of Linux-based civil infrastructure systems, build upon existing open source foundations and expertise, establish de facto standards by providing a base layer reference implementation, and contribute to and influence upstream projects regarding industrial needs. CIP is driven by some of the world’s leading manufacturers of civil infrastructure systems and industry leaders including Cybertrust, Codethink, Hitachi, Plat’Home, Renesas, Siemens, Moxa and Toshiba.

This spotlight series highlights CIP members and how they are contributing to open source software solutions that will benefit the world’s technical systems. Today, we highlight Hitachi in a conversation with Hidehiro Kawai, Researcher.

What does your company do and what is your role? 
Hitachi is a global company that provides solutions and products in a variety of fields, including electric power, transportation, IT, etc. for more than 100 years.  Our main mission is to create a better society by social innovation.  We have good knowledge of IT and OT (operational technology) for many fields, competitive products, and digital solutions powered by AI or machine learning.  Closer collaboration with customers and our technologies will realize the social innovation.

As a researcher for Hitachi, my role is to develop an industrial grade open platform which supports our innovations. Specifically, I’m working to develop a software-based fault tolerant system for civil infrastructures which requires high availability, integrity and robustness.

Why is your company investing in an open source “base layer” of industrial grade software?  
An open platform and open source technology will become a key factor to making things innovative in the IT industry and civil infrastructure systems.  Sharing efforts for a non-competitive “base layer” will accelerate our innovation. Currently, systems are becoming more open and flexible to incorporate new valuable technologies. For example, global businesses are working with more open source technologies to maximize trends with IoT, edge computing and more.

Why did your company join CIP? Can you provide a use case scenario? 
The best part of open source software is that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance. But even with continuous updating it is not easy to keep this software reliable and secure for more than 10 years. This is where CIP comes in. We thought it would be better if we joined the CIP project and shared this effort among other industry leaders.

The CIP framework would be suitable for IoT controllers which requires real-time processing, super long-term support, flexibility, security and connectivity – all, which be provided by CIP.

How are you currently active in CIP?

As a Platinum member, Hitachi is active on the Governing Board as well as the Technical Steering Committee (TSC). I am the representative for TSC and share CIP requirements, issues and updates among the Hitachi group. This helps Hitachi understand CIP’s progress and mission as well as helps make CIP’s activities more effective.

What benefits have you seen or what do you expect to achieve? 
Though it may take several years to get a return on our investment from CIP, we believe that it is important to keep contributing to CIP. In order to ensure the safety and security for the civil infrastructure platform, we need to keep working with OSS and develop long term support for more than 10 years.

Recently, CIP has put a focus on security and is considering to provide a framework or tools to assist and comply with security standards like IEC 62443. This is a huge milestone and, once we’ve achieved this, all CIP members and contributors will get see benefits.

Where do you see civil infrastructure systems in 20 years? 
I am amazed at how innovation moves so quickly. In 20 years, I think most of our life will be automated or assisted by AI. In fact, AI will be rooted in open source technology and collaboration with contributors and projects who will provide tons of data. I think we may even see a day where AI maintains the CIP kernels!

CIP Member Codethink Reveals Technical Report Card

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CIP’s mission is to extend the life of industrial systems and solutions by up to 10 years. To do this, a lot of testing, testing and more testing has to happen! Codethink helps lead CIP’s Technical Steering Committee and plays an integral role in the technical community. As such, Codethink shares updates and progress reports on an ongoing basis. In this new blog post, Agustin Benito Bethencourt shares what Codethink has been focusing on this year and the results of these efforts.

CIP 4.4 kernel maintenance
Ben Hutchings, CIP’s Debian kernel maintainer, has been the 4.4-cip kernel
maintainer for almost two years now. His role is to design, establish and consolidate the CIP kernel maintenance process, integrating it with the upstream stable kernel process as much as possible, reducing exceptions to the minimum, since they will be maintained by CIP on its own for the coming years. Until now, almost all of those exceptions are directly related to platform
specific features.

This year, as maintainer, Ben is focused on security as well as supporting the CIP community, providing advice and answering questions about the Linux Kernel and the Debian LTS process.

Several versions of the CIP kernel have been released so far in 2018, being the latest one published this past May 18th, version 4.4.130-cip23. A new version of the CIP kernel will be published right before the Open Source Summit Japan 2018 starts.

If you are interested in using the CIP 4.4 kernel, please visit: https://gitlab.com/cip-project/cip-kernel/

After industrial leader Moxa joined CIP in 2017, Codethink put efforts in promoting other kernel developers from CIP Members to participate in the kernel 4.4 stable review process. This is being one of the most rewarding activities for Codethink. Bringing new blood to a critical process for so many companies could become one of the most relevant contributions CIP can
make to the Kernel community.

Testing
After the strategy change decided by CIP at the end of 2017, Codethink has put Board at Desk(B@D)[3], the tool based on kernelci.org used to test the kernel, in maintenance mode, at least until the new CIP testing infrastructure is up and running. kernelci and LAVA versions have been updated, some minor improvements to ease the configuration has been merged, the Renesas board IWG20M is now supported in B@D and the documentation has been improved. Led by Robert Marshall from Codethink Ltd, two activities will focus the test automation efforts the coming weeks/months:

* Move B@D into containers, which will allow us to share efforts with AGL and
integrate B@D with the new CIP testing infrastructure.

* Modify the current integration process so B@D becomes more resilient to
upstream changes with heavy impact to the tool.

These actions will reduce the maintenance effort so they will allow us to
focus on creating tests.

Other activities
Codethink contributes to CIP in several other areas as well. Agustín Benito will talk about the CIP kernel process at Open Source Summit Japan 2018 and introduce CIP to Open Source developers at the OpenSouthCode  in June. Codethink has also contributed to the CIP blog with an article earlier this year and is an active participant at the CIP Technical Steering Committee.

For more information, visit CIP’s wiki page: https://wiki.linuxfoundation.org/civilinfrastructureplatform/ciptesting

CIP Member Spotlight: Moxa

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The Civil Infrastructure Platform (CIP) project aims to speed implementation of Linux-based civil infrastructure systems, build upon existing open source foundations and expertise, establish de facto standards by providing a base layer reference implementation, and contribute to and influence upstream projects regarding industrial needs. CIP is driven by some of the world’s leading manufacturers of civil infrastructure systems and industry leaders including Codethink, Hitachi, Plat’Home, Renesas, Siemens, Moxa and Toshiba.

This spotlight series highlights CIP members and how they are contributing to open source software solutions that will benefit the world’s technical systems. Today, we highlight Moxa in a conversation with SZ Lin, a Software Supervisor.

What does your company do?

Moxa is a leading provider of industrial networking, computing, and automation solutions for enabling the Industrial Internet of Things. With 30 years of industry experience, Moxa has connected more than 30 million devices worldwide and has a distribution and service network that reaches customers in more than 70 countries.

Moxa offers a full spectrum of innovative, high-quality solutions that have been deployed in a wide variety of industries, including factory automation, smart rail, smart grid, intelligent transportation, oil and gas, and marine.

I am currently leading an embedded Linux team that helps develop industrial-grade Linux distribution to adapt the Linux for various products especially the industrial related computing systems. For more information about Moxa’s ARM-based Linux Platforms, click here.

Why is your company investing in an open source “base layer” of industrial grade software?

There are lots of industrial Linux products in Moxa. In order to fulfill the goal of long-term support; we need to align the kernel version and focus the resources to maintain it.

CIP aims to speed implementation of Linux-based civil infrastructure systems, build upon existing open source foundations and expertise, establish de facto standards by providing a base layer reference implementation, and contribute to and influence upstream projects regarding industrial needs.

As such, we think the best solution is to build an industrial base layer via cross-enterprise collaboration, because every company has similar problems. We can reduce the maintenance effort, exchange our knowledge and make the product better.

Why did your company join CIP?

We’ve been interested in CIP for a long time – even before Moxa joined the project in January 2018. Every solution Moxa creates offers reliability, safety and is easy to integrate. We believe CIP will help us ensure high-quality software components that will address the long-term needs of smart cities and the future of manufacturing.

How are you currently active in CIP?

We share knowledge and collaborate with other members in the Technical Steering Committee to help determine technical policy and strategic decisions for CIP. Additionally, Moxa has formed a team to help maintain the CIP kernel. This team reviews and discusses the kernel patch with CIP members.

What benefits have you seen or what do you expect to achieve?

Building secure, robust and long-term support products.

Since Moxa provides industry solutions for Rail, ITS, Smart Grid, Marine and Oil & Gas, we need to offer industrial-grade platform and product with long-term stable, secure and robust features. We believe that the CIP base layer is the best for such applications.

Where do you see civil infrastructure systems in 20 years?

The explosion of IoT has made the issue of cybersecurity more important than ever. If there is a security attack, there will be massive damage in civil infrastructure systems, some that we might not recover from. This is why CIP is so important –  it address the needs and security of long-term software for the power generation and distribution, water, oil and gas, transportation and building automation industries.

Join CIP at Open Source Summit Japan!

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Register now for Open Source Summit Japan. Click here

Next month, more than 1,000 open source enthusiasts, developers and influencers will visit Tokyo for The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit – Japan. Open Source Summit Japan is the leading conference connecting the open source ecosystem under one roof, providing a forum for technologists and open source industry leaders to collaborate and share information, learn about the latest in open source technologies and find out how to gain a competitive advantage by using innovative open solutions.

The event, which takes place June 20-22, will cover the open source technologies with sub-conferences LinuxCon, ContainerCon and CloudOpen; help ecosystem leaders to navigate open source transformation with tracks on business and compliance; and explore the newest technologies and latest trends touching open source, including networking, serverless, edge computing and AI.

This year, developers will have the opportunity to learn about the Civil Infrastructure Platform (CIP) and how to get involved with industry leaders such as Codethink, Hitachi, Moxa, Plat’Home, Renesas, Siemens and Toshiba.

Attendees can stop by CIP’s booth in the sponsor showcase and experience interactive demos from Hitachi, Plat’home and Renesas. Leaders from the project will be on-site to answer questions, discuss the importance of industrial grade open source software and how it impacts the city of the future.

If seeing CIP in action at the booth isn’t enough, there are two CIP-focused sessions at the conference as well:

  • Agustín Benito Bethencourt, Principal Consultant at CodeThink and active CIP TSC member, will share a technical summary for CIP on Wednesday, June 20 at 3:10 – 3:50 pm. He’ll discuss Long Term Support (LTS) the 4.4 Linux kernel, the extensive testing the kernel goes through and the impact of all the technical activity that increases long term maintenance. To learn more about this session or to add it to your schedule, click here.
  • Yoshitake Kobayashi, Senior Manager of Open Source Technology Department for Toshiba and chair of the CIP Technical Steering Committee (TSC), will present an overview for CIP that shares progress CIP has made since inception two years ago and discuss CIP’s roadmap and the future of the project on Friday, June 22 at 4:20 – 5 pm. To learn more about this session or to add it to your schedule, click here.

Additionally, CIP member Wolfgang Mauerer, Senior Key Expert and Professor for Siemens AG and active TSC member, will provide best practices and guidelines for embedded linux quality assurance on Thursday, June 21 at 4 – 4:40 pm. He’ll share tips designing and running automated statistical tests that capture relevant information, how to properly evaluate the resulting data and common mistakes in over-interpreting statistical results and predictions. To learn more about the session or to add it to your schedule, click here.   

If you haven’t registered for your OSS-Japan yet, use CIP’s community code “OSSJ18SPN20” and you’ll receive 20% off your pass. We hope to see you in Japan!

CIP Member Spotlight: Plat’Home

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The Civil Infrastructure Platform (CIP) project aims to speed implementation of Linux-based civil infrastructure systems, build upon existing open source foundations and expertise, establish de facto standards by providing a base layer reference implementation, and contribute to and influence upstream projects regarding industrial needs. CIP is driven by some of the world’s leading manufacturers of civil infrastructure systems and industry leaders including Codethink, Hitachi, Plat’Home, Renesas, Siemens, Moxa and Toshiba.

This spotlight series highlights CIP members and how they are contributing to open source software solutions that will benefit the world’s technical systems. Today, we highlight Plat’Home in a conversation with Masato Minda, Manager of IoT Strategic Business Deployment.

What does your company do?

Plat’Home is a pioneer and leader in the open source computing industry including Linux in Japan. When the company was founded in 1993, it focused on Open Source Computing and developing and exploring the new frontier that OSS and Linux can enable. Plat’Home designs, develops and manufactures Linux Servers and Gateways since 1996, and the products are widely adopted by the Japanese Telecommunication Carriers, utility companies, power plants, and social infrastructure including smart city and building.

OpenBlocks 600 with signature by Linus Torvalds (Oct 2009)

 

The manufacturing of Linux Microserver, “OpenBlocks”, which is specially designed for the large-scale deployment of social infrastructure. Plat’Home is trusted by the Japanese customers by our commitment for the long-term use and professional support for both hardware and software including Linux.

Why is your company investing in an open source “base layer” of industrial grade software?

In 2014, we launched a new type of microserver that is designed to address common IoT LAN & WAN connectivity challenges in the IoT market in various use cases, where sensors and devices are embedded ubiquitously in social infrastructure and used long term. Plat’Home is committed to meeting and exceeding customer expectation and requests.

OpenBlocks IoT VX2 (The latest model)

 

Why did your company join CIP? Can you provide a use case scenario?

Since launch, our intention has been to make industrial-, and carrier-grade Linux that we can offer for an extended amount of time. CIP’s mission aligns with ours and will help us achieve long term support for our customers. Our products are currently used in building automation, city management, network management and so on. Under such mission critical circumstances the operating system is required to operate reliably over a long period of time.

How are you currently active in CIP?

As a founding member of CIP, we collaborate with other members in the Technical Steering Committee and help determine technical policy and decisions for CIP. Additionally, we participate in several of the top-tier IoT trade shows such as the Embedded Linux Conference and Open Source Summit Japan. 

What benefits have you seen or what do you expect to achieve?

The current main use of our products is the IoT gateway that are used under conditions that require long-term stable operation in various locations. We believe that the CIP base layer is the best for such applications.

Since Plat’Home has focused on OS, middleware and communication layers, we don’t have many resources available to cover specific vertical needs or requirements. One of the best benefits of being in CIP is that we can collaborate with companies like Hitachi, Siemens, Toshiba and Renesas on the same mission.

Where do you see civil infrastructure systems in 20 years?

Today, Linux is also used on many mobile phones. In the next 20 years, anything that can be connected will be connected. Linux is one of the most important pieces of computer software in devices, network and cloud. We believe it will be the same trend in civil infrastructure systems.

 

CIP on display at ELC-NA

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Last month, CIP participated in The Linux Foundation’s Embedded Linux Conference + OpenIoT Summit North America in Portland, Oregon. Around 730 embedded and IoT technologists from 360 companies and 31 countries around the globe attended the event to collaborate with experts on a wide range of topics of embedded Linux and industrial IoT issues. This was an increase from last year, making this an important industry event for embedded and IoT developers. In fact 75% of attendees already said they are planning on attending next year.

CIP, which sponsored the event at the Gold level, had a strong presence at the show. In fact, Philip DesAutels, Senior Director of IoT for The Linux Foundation, mentioned CIP during his keynote. He was speaking about the increasing trend of how hardware functionality is moving into software and identified CIP as an important Linux Foundation project that is mission critical for the future of smart cities and industrial IoT by providing long term software support.

Philip DesAutels giving his keynote speech at OpenIoT Summit

 

CIP also had a booth in the technical and demo showcase that featured demos from Renesas, which displayed the Real Time Linux Patch, and Plat’Home, which showed the CIP kernel connected to its IoT devices.  Each day of the conference, the showcase hall was packed with attendees who wanted to learn about the latest projects and products, view hands-on demos and interact with other community members. In fact, 98% of attendees survey said they visited sponsor booths.

Additionally, 15 CIP technical experts attended the event from member companies including Renesas, Hitachi, Siemens, Plat’Home, Toshiba and Codethink for a face-to-face TSC meeting, collaborate with other projects and to attend the 12 keynotes and some of the 90 breakout sessions.

Yoshitake Kobayashi, Senior Manager of Open Source Technology at Toshiba’s Software Development and Engineering Center and Chair of CIP’s TSC, also gave a talk about CIP’s mission to develop an open source industrial-grade software for civil infrastructure projects, starting with a 10-year Super Long-Term Support (SLTS) Linux kernel built around the LTS kernel. CIP expects to add other similarly reusable software building blocks that meet the safety and reliability requirements of industrial and civil infrastructure. CIP supports electrical and power grids, water and sewage facilities, oil and gas plants, and rail, shipping and transportation systems, among other applications. If you missed the session, you can watch the video here or view the presentation here.

Yoshitake Kobayashi presenting CIP to ELC attendees

 

Other CIP members Wolfgang Mauerer and Jan Kiszka, both from Siemens AG, also showed their technical passions for other topics. Wolfgang shared best practices, how to design and run automated statistical tests that capture relevant information, and how to properly evaluate the resulting data. Jan offered a deep dive into the Xenomai community, plans to revive it, maintaining the core and defining its relationship to PREEMPT-RT. The presentation is available here.

Wolfgang Mauerer from Siemens giving a talk about statistics and evaluation

Jan Kiszka from Siemens sharing plans to revive the Xenomai community

 

Overall, the CIP members interacted with other open source projects, learned more about IoT best practices, shared their knowledge about embedded and Linux and got a chance to have some fun.

For more about CIP, read the latest coverage:

Additionally, CIP will be attending Open Source Summit Japan on June 20-22 and the Embedded Linux Conference (ELC) Europe/OpenIoT Summit Europe in the UK on October 22-24. Stay tuned here for more details or come see us there!

CIP Member Spotlight: Codethink

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The Civil Infrastructure Platform (CIP) project aims to speed implementation of Linux-based civil infrastructure systems, build upon existing open source foundations and expertise, establish de facto standards by providing a base layer reference implementation, and contribute to and influence upstream projects regarding industrial needs. CIP is driven by some of the world’s leading manufacturers of civil infrastructure systems and industry leaders including Codethink, Hitachi, Plat’Home, Renesas, Siemens, Moxa and Toshiba.

This spotlight series highlights CIP members and how they are contributing to open source software solutions that will benefit the world’s technical systems. Today, we highlight Codethink in a conversation with Agustín Benito Bethencourt, Principal Consultant and active CIP member.

What does your company do and what is your role?

Codethink is an independent engineering and consultancy services company. We specialize in system-level infrastructure to support advanced technical applications, working across a range of industries including finance, automotive, aerospace, medical and telecoms. We deliver critical technology services and solutions for international corporates. We develop and maintain system-level software and infrastructure within three practices: Enterprise, Devices and Automotive.

We have a wealth of experience in truly understanding the software development life-cycle and are happy to provide specialist expertise to slot into an existing project/product team, or to handle the turnkey supply of a complete solution to a managed budget, time or quality. We are experts in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). We participate in upstream and are active contributors to a wide range of FOSS projects.

As a consultant at Codethink, I have two main roles: I help customers to transition from traditional embedded delivery models to modern ones, embracing Open Source best practices and agile principles, either in R&D or in production environments with a special focus on automotive at the moment. Additionally, I represent Codethink at The Linux Foundation and CIP project.

Why is your company investing in an open source “base layer” of industrial grade software?

Historically, Codethink has a very strong Open Source Software background. We believe that within the civil infrastructure industry there is plenty of room for sharing effort in the open, to create a commodity base system that can be maintained and shaped long term, enabling numerous stakeholders to participate and consume such software and knowledge for product development. Open Source ecosystems offer good opportunities for companies like Codethink to learn and demonstrate capabilities by actively participating in and contributing to CIP.

Why did your company join CIP?

Modern software practices are moving towards producing and deploying software fast enough so that it can be kept up to date. A significant part of our business revolves around that idea. There are environments though, in which following this approach is particularly challenging. The Civil/Social Infrastructure industry is one of them.

When it comes to software delivery or maintenance, for instance, the time perspective and economics for developing products that will still be operating in 50 years, is new to most of those coming from Open Source, especially when applied to safety critical environments. This is the main reason we wanted to participate in the foundation of CIP. The Linux Foundation project represents – for us – the perfect forum to challenge ourselves while helping others to embrace an Open Source mindset.

How are you currently active in CIP?

Our previous experience in open source community environments, helped Codethink to play an important role in shaping and foster CIP as an open source forum. As the project shifted its focus to the CIP kernel, Codethink led the testing and maintenance effort. We currently share the responsibility with Siemens, who is managing the real-time version of the CIP kernel we maintain.

Additionally, Codethink supports CIP on several other fronts such as promotion, content creation, participating in CIP governance forums, building strategic relations with other projects, etc.

How are you going to use the software?

Since Codethink is a consulting company, we don’t ship products based on CIP’s industrial grade software, but some of our customers do, especially those in industries where safety is critically important. For example, our Automotive OEMs customers are great candidates for the software.

What benefits have you seen or what do you expect to achieve?

In the kernel front, for instance, CIP takes advantage of all the work done by the kernel community on the 4.4 LTS process. CIP is adding additional effort to that process, contributing directly upstream instead of creating a separate and independent process where upstream is just an input, which requires additional effort to close the circle when contributing back to upstream. Our current simple process has proved to be very efficient.

Once the current LTS process ends, CIP will be maintaining such a critical component on its own. That will be the moment of truth for CIP. The same will apply to the rest of the components of CIP’s “base layer”, called CIP Core, which relies on Debian sources.

If the learning process we are currently following at CIP is successful, and the consolidation of the project reaches the required activation threshold, CIP will become a key forum for all those parties that ship long lasting Linux based products. Otherwise, the scope of the Initiative will be solely determined by the needs and efforts of the current members which, looking at the size of some of them, might be a bright future too.

Where do you see civil infrastructure systems in 20 years?

I see civil infrastructure systems following the general path that embedded industries and automotive are following, where the commoditization of part of the software stack is the only approach to tackle the increasing complexity, leaving enough resources to focus on differentiation factors that add value to customers. This process should push companies towards sharing more effort and resources. Open Source enables the healthiest environment in which to do so.

I think that the same principle will apply to safety critical related systems, although the adoption there will probably be slower but inexorable.

In summary, the overall transition from being Open Source consumers to producers first and contributors later, will take place faster than most think, just like it has in other industries before the Civil/Social Infrastructure.

Real-time patchset for the CIP Kernel

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By Daniel Wagner, CIP member and kernel maintainer and Embedded Linux Developer at Siemens AG

CIP aims to establish a “base layer” of industrial-grade tooling using the Linux kernel and other open source projects. This base layer will be available for use by developers creating software building blocks that meet safety, security, reliability and other requirements that are critical to industrial and civil infrastructure projects.

As part of this mission, CIP provides super long term support (SLTS) for the kernel. This is an important base and the CIP kernel maintainers, like myself and Ben Hutchings, are working within various environments in order to meet Industrial Grade requirements. As we’re working on the SLTS, we realized that it was missing the real-time aspect of the operation system.

While the Linux Foundation’s Real-Time Linux collaborative project is working on getting the final features from the RPEEMPT_RT patchset into mainline kernel, there is no direct support a -rt flavor for the CIP kernel. There are stable real-time patches for 3.2, 3.10, 3.18, 4.1, 4.4 and 4.9. They are based on top of the LTS trees maintained by Greg Kroah-Hartman, Sasha Levin and Ben Hutchings.

The use cases CIP project is targeting have a life cycle of for more than 10 years. In theory, this is the time in which products shipped with the CIP kernel will be under maintenance. However, identifying and backporting relevant fixes becomes increasingly difficult as upstream kernel development diverges further from a stable branch. Any given SLTS branch is unlikely to be maintainable for more than 10-20 years.

Since the first CIP kernel is also 4.4 based, maintaining a variation of the 4.4-rt stable patchset is possible without too much overhead. The CIP real-time patchset will be follow the 4.4 stable-rt patchset as close as possible. The stable-rt patchset won’t gain new features (e.g. hrtimer rework, cpu hotplug rework, no_hz fixes) because backporting has a high risk of breaking stable-rt. Therefore, the stable-rt maintaining goals overlap with the cip-rt goals, which allows keep the variations of the real-time patchset smaller.

For more details, visit the CIP kernel maintenance wiki page. If you want to join the conversation or ask questions, subscribe to the CIP Dev List.

CIP Member Spotlight: Siemens

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The Civil Infrastructure Platform (CIP) aims to speed implementation of Linux-based civil infrastructure systems, build upon existing open source foundations and expertise, establish de facto standards by providing a base layer reference implementation, and contribute to and influence upstream projects regarding industrial needs. CIP is driven by some of the world’s leading manufacturers of civil infrastructure systems and industry leaders including Codethink, Hitachi, Plat’Home, Renesas, Siemens and Toshiba.

This spotlight series highlights CIP members and how they are contributing to open source software solutions that will benefit the world’s technical systems. Today, we highlight Siemens in a conversation with Urs Gleim, Head of the Central Smart Embedded Systems Group.

What does your company do and what is your role?

Siemens is a global company providing products and solutions in the domains power generation and transmission, medical diagnosis, building technologies, industry, as well as rail and road mobility solutions. I head the “Smart Embedded Systems” group at the central unit “Corporate Technology”. This is a central expert center working for all of the business units as well as driving global strategic topics for the company.

How would you describe your company in a few sentences?

Siemens comes from the electrification and automation sector and is sometimes considered “old industry” in the middle of the transformation of a world of connected complex and heterogeneous systems. In the past, there were single purpose devices. But now, almost every device that has computing power, has an operating system that gets connected and can run different types of software. This transformation massively changes business models and technology. Siemens is one of those changed business models and technology.

Why is your company investing in an open source base layer of industrial grade software?

Today, we have lots of products that are Linux-based. Many of these products were developed independently, which resulted in a huge number of different Linux versions and distributions. With all of these different versions in use, developers work to maintain all them in parallel.

Furthermore, having more and more products connected increases the demand for providing security patches on short notice. Developers have worked in this way for a long time but this set-up is not scalable and cannot be managed like this in the future. To make matters more complicated, many companies are doing the same thing and maintaining several software stacks in parallel.

The solution to this complicated issue is the harmonization of the Linux versions used in products. This is called the base layer and it’s the foundation of what CIP is working on. As member companies collaborate on this base layer will save money, resources and time in the long-run.

Why did your company join CIP?

The idea of having an industrial-grade, long-term maintained Linux kernel was discussed for several years. At Siemens, there are some internal harmonization and cost effective work sharing activities but the real traction comes from close collaboration with upstream projects. From our point of view, this is only possible in an Open Source project driven together by partners who have the same problems. The Linux Foundation connected Siemens with other industry-leading companies that have the same vision. This is how we became a founding member of CIP.

How are you currently active in CIP?

As a founding member, Siemens has several people on the technical steering committee who help drive the strategic direction of the project. We are also active in CIP Core, in the testing effort, build environment and are driving the real-time support. Additionally, I am also the chair of the Governing Board.  

How are you going to use the software?

Based on the CIP kernel and CIP Core, we are building our internally used Linux distribution for different hardware platforms used in products. Beside the above mentioned cost savings, this harmonized approach also reduces OSS clearing of kernel and base packages as well as allows a central security & vulnerability management.

What benefits have you seen or what do you expect to achieve?

We expect reduced cost per product for patch and vulnerability management, maintenance, testing, and open source software clearing. We already see an increasing test coverage since the test tool chain and the tests are continuously improved by all members.

Where do you see civil infrastructure systems in 20 years?

Some of the ones we install now will still be here in 20 years. That’s why we need the Civil Infrastructure Platform.

 

 

When Nature strikes in 2018, CIP has your back

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Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and floods have devastating effects on communities across our country. This year alone, we had back-to-back Hurricanes with Harvey, Irma and Maria and it took many months for the affected areas to begin rebuilding their electricity, water and waste management, communication and transportation systems after they were down.

These systems deliver essential services and social interactions that are crucial for daily life. They are among what IHS estimates are  20 billion connected devices this year that will continue to increase dramatically next year and onward. These connected systems and devices are being adopted in a widespread of different industries that are stored at the edge, which means edge computing at every level will become the norm. This trend highlights the urgent need for security, reliability and feature-rich software that will maintain these systems.

This exemplifies the mission of the Civil Infrastructure Platform (CIP). CIP aims to provide a base layer of industrial grade open source software components, tools and methods to enable long-term management of critical systems. Hosted by The Linux Foundation, CIP is driven by some of the world’s leading manufacturers of civil infrastructure systems such as Codethink, Hitachi, Plat’Home, Renesas, Siemens and Toshiba. These member companies are working together to create a reliable and secure Linux-based embedded software platform that can be sustained more than 10 years and up to 60 years.

CIP Members at ELC-Europe

 

CIP has already made huge strides since launching in April 2016. In fact, this year CIP members created the CIP Core, a ​reference ​minimal file system ​that offers a customizable environment that developers can use to test the CIP kernel and core packages and Board AT Desk (B@D) v1.0, a customized and easy to deploy instance of the kernelci.org and LAVA projects that allows developers to test Linux kernels on boards connected to their own development machines using the tooling provided by kernelci.org. In addition, CIP also continued to maintain the kernel and make ongoing updates, bug fixes and support maintenance.

As 2018 quickly approaches, CIP will continue its momentum. The new year will bring a focus on functional safety, an exploration of how CIP can help safety standards and certification in automobiles and more collaboration with industry influencers like Debian and other open source projects. CIP will also be making testing efforts more harmonized with the Linux Kernel community, particularly with LTS maintained by Greg Kroah-Hartman. CIP is planning to build an infrastructure to contribute the test results to LTS. Ultimately, these efforts will get CIP closer to its mission of creating industrial grade software that is resilient, secure and reliable so that when weather disasters strike, there won’t be as much of an issue to bring systems back online.