Sensors Online: Is Linux Bringing Open Systems to the Factory Floor?
May 07, 2003, 11:00 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Peter Wurmsdobler)
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"For some time now, Microsoft Windows has been the computing
platform of choice for data acquisition, control, and networking
systems based on the PC architecture. But little by little, the
presence of Linux has grown in this arena. The big question is:
Will Linux gain dominance on the factory floor because of the
growing demand for nonproprietary systems? And is Linux bringing
more open systems to this area. Before answering these questions,
some terms have to be explained in more detail.
"First, the phrase open system means different things to
different people. Market leaders and providers of vertical
solutions call their systems open if they simply publish the
underlying corporate technology. By doing so, you can use the
technology, but its control remains with the originator. And
sometimes the phrase is mistakenly applied to widely used
technology, such as Microsoft's Win32 API. But Microsoft is the
sole source of this interface, and it's under the company's
control. So far, the industry has seen no concurrent
"As discussed here, the phrase open systems has a more precise
meaning. They are component-based systems with vendor-independent
interfaces. The interfaces aren't encumbered by ownership or patent
protection. They're the result of consensus (e.g., IEC-61131 and
XML) or the release of control of proprietary technology by the
initiator (e.g., TCP/IP or Ethernet). Consequently, the end user is
vendor independent and can choose from various interface
implementations, which can evolve over time..."