LinuxICE – Freedom to Choose


Those of you who have been around the forums for a while surely have come across our local Linux advocate Kev000. For the past couple years or so, Kev has been laying the groundwork and developing LinuxICE and its counterpart nGhost Media Center. LinuxICE is an open-source car computing platform protected under the GNU/GPL License. Recently I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the origins and status of the project. Here is my transcription:



Kevron Rees is a software engineer from Salt Lake City, Utah. He has always considered himself a Windowspower user” but looked at Linux as “the unconquered mountain”. In 2006 he joined the Car computing hobby, as it was a combination of two things he really liked. When a 600 MHz Epia wasn’t enough to handle the demands of Windows, Kev was inspired to search for another solution. That was when he installed his first Linux desktop and began research for development strategies.

Kev wanted a complete system that was free, did everything that you would want in the car, and did it well. Ideas were passed around in the Mp3Car Linux forum about starting a distro that was small, quick and included only the software and drivers you wanted to run in the car; thus, LinuxICE was born.

linice_desktop.pngEubey was the guy that really kick started it. He chose the name "LinuxICE" and currently does all the graphics for it. Kev quickly jumped on the bandwagon. Others then followed. The LinuxICE + nGhost projects combined, have almost 15 contributors including graphics artists, testers and developers.

LinuxICE is very young (still in its Beta stages) and cannot be compared directly to any Windows based solutions, though it is maturing quickly. LinuxICE is an attractive alternative for commercial system developers and others who are looking for an alternative to paying the “Microsoft Tax”. It has become the showpeice of the OpenICE platform (an initiative to standardize Car Entertainment/Infotainment and provide a framework for building your own system from the ground up... see http://openice.org for details).

linice.png

Moblin , LinuxICE’s closest kin, is an interesting beast. It is backed by Intel and stretches its reach from Internet tablets to the car. It has similar goals and is backed by commercial companies. Because Moblin is also open-source, components from each project benefit each other. Moblin is not considered so much as competition but more of a symbiosis; both contribute to car infotainment for the benefit of the user.

As with any open-source application, community support pushes quicker development and an overall better product. Kev informs me that they plan to release nGhost 2.0.2 on Friday. Here is a short clip of some new features in the next release of LinuxICE (Beta4) produced by kantlivelong. I strongly encourage anyone who has an interest in this project to give it a try. Provide some feedback or write or some code.