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SERCOS Embraces Linux

22 April 2009

At an announcement made at Hannover Fair, Peter Lutz, managing director of SERCOS International (SI), said his organisation will provide an open source software driver library for the SERCOS III real-time Ethernet communication system master implementation.

Peter Lutz (left), with Dr. Carsten Emde
Peter Lutz (left), with Dr. Carsten Emde

“It will be the first high performance real-time protocol which makes driver software available as source code, without any license fees and without usage limitations,” he said.

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Photo: Peter Lutz, managing director of SERCOS International (left), shakes hands with Carsten Emde, OSADL managing director.
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The intention, he said, is to the SERCOS III Master Driver into mainline Linux. Developers will be able to use the software for any purpose and will be able to distribute their software without license charge. They will be able to analyse and modify the source code and distribute those modifications.

SI is co-operating with the Open Source Automation Development Lab (OSADL) to disclose the SERCOS III master driver. OSADL promotes and co-ordinates the usage of open-source software for machine and plant control systems.

“The reason for the high quality and stability of open-source software is the large number of developers and testers due to the open source software license,” said Carsten Emde, OSADL managing director. “Progress is not just dependent on the resources of one single company. Anyone who uses the free software makes the commitment to publish their improvements and make them available to other users,” he said.

THE LINUX OPEN SOURCE CONCEPT

Dr. Emde gave an illustration of the open source concept. Suppose two automobile manufacturers need to make the same transmission gear. It is a necessary component for their cars and will not differentiate one manufacturer’s vehicle from another, so why waste development time and costs building the same part? If the two auto companies co-operate and share the joint development, they will both benefit in the end. This is the concept of “open source”—basically it is to share the costs of something both companies need to have, but will not differentiate their products in a competitive sense.

“With the availability of the SERCOS III master library it will become much easier for manufacturers to develop a SERCOS III master and to benefit from future improvements and extensions of the software,” said Mr. Lutz.

He noted that machine builders are recognising a “huge demand” for open control platforms based on modern real-time Ethernet protocols. The Linux open source operating system, he said, “is increasingly establishing itself as a standard in this market.

“Therefore it is advantageous for vendors and users that the SERCOS III master library will become part of mainline Linux and that it now will be supplied under a license compatible with Linux.”


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