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OSADL Project: Safety Critical Linux

Safety Critical Linux - Working Group Proposal by Nicholas Mc Guire

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The interest in GNU/Linux in the 32bit general embedded market can be seem in numerous surveys, projecting a market share in the 50++ percent by 2012. This and the "side-effects" on GNU/Linux - availability of engineering capacity, know-how availability, wide range of support offerings, and last but not least const-factors - have been one of the incentives to actually start OSADL in the first place.

The two key issues to allow for Linux based systems to be widely accepted in automation industry, or more specifically in industrial computing that needs to be able to offer guarantees, both performance and safety wise - have been identified as:

  • real-time capabilities of mainline Linux
  • certification of Linux based systems

The first issue can be seen as resolved, with most of OSADL supported efforts to improve mainline preemptability - anticipating a truly fully preemtible UNIX class kernel - and timing/deadlock related tooling being mainlined with the current 2.6.2X kernels, the second issue of certification is clearly still open.

Following initial discussions at the embedded world and followup discussion by e-mail - finally a concluding meeting in Linz on June 15, we have arrived at a proposal for constituting a formal working group on "generic embedded systems for safety critical applications" (as preliminary working title) that should address this second crucial issue. This working group should perform its work in three distinct phases.

  • Setup of the initial working group with a small set of industrial and university partners that are actively involved in GNU/Linux related certification efforts. This initial group is to prepare a OSADL white-paper "Certified Linux".
  • Provide the basic infrastructure to OSADL members to aid certification efforts, though concise documentation of technology, providing of extended tools for assessment and validation, outlining possible paths of argument in safety cases and by defining kernel and OS-distribution versions that are considered best suited for safety critical systems.
  • The final goal of OSADL is to - long term - provide a Certified Linux Base (CLB) that would allow integration of safety critical application in a well defined manner and with the certification effort reduced to the product specific aspects as far as this is possible in the context of guiding standards.

This working group is to be established according to the proposal set forth here which is detailing the initial setup (target date March 2008), and following the successful conclusion of the initial phase shall proceed according to agreements found based on the working groups initial findings.

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Next: Introduction Up: Safety Critical Linux Working Previous: Safety Critical Linux Working
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