Canonical joins GENIVI, creates Ubuntu IVI Remix
Canonical has announced that it is joining the GENIVI Alliance, the non-profit industry alliance which is creating an open source "In-Vehicle Infotainment" reference platform. Canonical is also creating a GENIVI-compliant Ubuntu IVI Remix, based on the Ubuntu Core subset of the Linux distribution, which supports Intel and ARM processors.
Talking to The H, Chris Kenyon, VP of OEM services at Canonical, said that automotive suppliers had been asking for something from Canonical in the IVI space for as much as eighteen months. The suppliers already used Ubuntu in their development systems and wanted to be able to use the same technology in the products they delivered. "This is more a pull by them than a push by us" said Kenyon though Ubuntu now had all the right elements for the automotive market. Companies wanted to get their product to market faster and were looking for a platform with a "proven cadence" which was "fundamentally cross architecture". Ubuntu's ARM support and Canonical's work with Linaro along with its work with Qt, a core component in the in draft GENIVI specifications, puts Ubuntu IVI Remix in a strong position to be the "off the shelf" solution for GENIVI members.
In terms of actual availability, he says that a proof-of-concept IVI Remix is due around July or August of this year based off Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal". A final release will then appear with October's release of Ubuntu 11.10 which would lead to automotive suppliers offering Ubuntu based IVI systems to car makers in the first half of 2012. "It's clear to me that suppliers want to get their products to market faster" said Kenyon, while noting that product lifecycles in the automobile business are a lot longer
Kenyon also noted that the IVI Remix would be the first of a new "Ubuntu Core" partnership. Although Ubuntu Core is "more a way of thinking at the moment", Kenyon says that there will be new Ubuntu Core partners in the future and that the Ubuntu IVI Remix would provide a good reference for those partners.
In-Vehicle Infotainment systems are mostly disconnected from the car control systems but integrated into vehicles to provide rear-seat entertainment, radio/CD/MP3 playback, navigation and location-based services and connectivity to mobile devices. GENIVI was founded by Intel, BMW, Delphi, GM, Magneti-Marelli, PSA Peugot Citroen, Visteon and Wind River Systems in 2009 and now has many members in the IT and automotive industry. The group had previously chosen MeeGo as the basis for a reference platform and MeeGo for IVI version 1.0 was released in August 2010.