Sovereign Tech Fund Boosts Yocto Project to Help Drive Open Source Excellence
The Linux Foundation | 10 October 2023
New funding from the Sovereign Tech Fund will help the Yocto Project drive significant transformation
The Yocto Project is a powerful and versatile open source initiative that offers a comprehensive set of tools and metadata, enabling developers to easily construct custom operating systems. With recently announced financial support from the Sovereign Tech Fund (STF), Yocto Project is poised to drive significant transformation in the open source community. In this blog post, we'll delve into the importance of this funding, explore the areas of development it will cover, and discuss the anticipated outcomes of this collaborative effort.
"Without fanfare, Yocto Project touches most people's lives without their knowledge," notes Richard Purdie, lead Architect at Yocto Project. "At least half the world's internet traffic passes through routers built using Yocto. Add in mobile phone masts, software in cars, software inside core server components, and there are billions of devices all around us that are relied upon every day, making it a key piece of easily overlooked critical infrastructure software."
The Yocto Project: Building Custom Operating Systems
The Yocto Project is a set of tools and metadata that empowers developers to construct custom operating systems using open source components. What sets it apart from conventional Linux distributions is its source-based approach. Instead of relying on pre-compiled binaries, the Yocto Project allows for creating tailored Linux images easily targeted to a specific device's hardware architecture. This flexibility makes it an invaluable resource for a wide range of applications, from embedded systems to Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
The Significance of the Yocto Project
While the Yocto Project may not be visible to end-users, its importance is undeniable. It is the foundational software infrastructure for numerous industries, including automotive, medical technology, consumer electronics, and telecommunications. Companies like BMW Group, OpenBMC, and many operating system vendors depend on the Yocto Project to build their products. This underscores its critical role in developing connected cars, servers, communication base stations, and more.
The Sovereign Tech Fund: A Game Changer
As IoT and embedded systems evolve, the need for specialized engineers to work on the Yocto Project becomes increasingly critical. Additionally, the Yocto Project shares codebases with OpenEmbedded, further emphasizing the need for investment in both projects. Recognizing the importance of the Yocto Project, the Sovereign Tech Fund has stepped in with a mission to enhance its efficiency, security, user experience, and developer engagement.
According to Purdie, "While the Yocto Project is widely used and depended upon, new technology projects tend to attract much more attention, and I'm heartened to see the Sovereign Tech Fund focusing on helping key pieces of infrastructure within the Yocto Project. The significant benefit we bring is that we can ripple the benefits and improvements out through entire ecosystems quickly and effectively, building on one of our founding principles: sharing and allowing collaboration on – and reuse of – processes and technology.
The Sovereign Tech Fund's support will be channeled into several key areas of development:
- Build Process and Workflow Improvements:
- Core workflow improvements, including enhancements to build tooling and workflows.
- Development of the Yocto Project Reference Binary Distribution, focusing on workflow improvements and policies.
- Introduction of Patchtest, an automated testing tool for code patches submitted via mailing lists.
- Security and Quality Improvements:
- Strengthening security processes and the security team.
- Advancing Software Bill of Materials (SBOMs) for improved transparency.
- Addressing tooling issues and enhancing quality-of-life features in Devtool, Recipetool, and Pseudo.
- Integration and Usability Enhancements:
- Updates and improvements to Toaster, a web-based UI for BitBake.
- Integration of VSCode with Yocto Project for enhanced developer features and usability.
- Layer Management Standardization:
- Integration of OpenEmbedded Core best practices into Meta-OpenEmbedded.
- Development of standard tools for managing Yocto layers, promoting layer tooling standardization.
Securing the Future of Yocto Project
The new resources provided by the Sovereign Tech Fund marks a pivotal moment in the Yocto Project's journey. By addressing core workflow, security, integration, and layer management, this funding ensures the long-term sustainability of the project. Moreover, it creates an environment that is welcoming to new developers, encouraging them to contribute and eventually become maintainers.
On the matter of Yocto's future, Purdie says, "With our increasing attention to security and requirements like software manifests, Yocto Project continues to provide solutions that are secure and innovative. Through this work and through collaboration with projects like SPDX the Yocto Project is well placed to deliver solutions that meet or exceed legislation requirements and allow us to take software accountability, security and update solutions to the next level along with leading developments in areas like software reproducibility."
The Yocto Project, with its source-based approach and wide-ranging applications, is a cornerstone of open source development. The Sovereign Tech Fund's commitment to bolstering this project is a testament to its importance within the software ecosystem. As the Yocto Project undergoes these vital improvements, it continues to provide the foundation for countless industries and developers to build innovative and secure solutions. With these developments, the Yocto Project is poised to thrive and remain at the forefront of open source technology for years to come.
About the Sovereign Tech Fund
The Sovereign Tech Fund (STF) supports the development, improvement, and maintenance of open digital infrastructure in the public interest. Its goal to strengthen the open source ecosystem sustainably, focusing on security, resilience, technological diversity, and the people behind the code. STF is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Action (BMWK) and hosted at and supported by the German Federal Agency for Disruptive Innovation GmbH (SPRIND).
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