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Betchya Didn’t Know: Cadillac CUE Is Linux Powered

Sections: Infotainment

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Cadillac's CUE allows users to customize the dash display

Cadillac’s Linux-powered CUE system comes in for praise from reviewers for things like this– a fully customizable dashboard instrument display. Could open-source software be the key to longevity and continued relevance for OEM infotainment systems? (Cadillac image courtesy Wired Autopia blog.)

Cadillac CUE is Linux powered, though all but the nerdiest computer nerds probably don’t know what that means. Trust us, it’s a good thing.

According to AutoGuide, Cadillac’s infotainment and connectivity system may have been developed around Linux because its open-source development structure will allow the technology to age better and can, in theory, make it more capable thanks to a broader base of software developers.

AutoGuide also quoted Linux Foundation President Jim Zemlin, who predicted a bright future for Linux-based car infotainment systems.

“We are seeing a lot of interest in Linux among car makers. We expect to see Linux-based systems roll out in more and more cars over the next 6-18 months,” he said.

Wired’s Autopia blog reviewed the Cadillac XTS, one of the first models to get the Linux-based CUE system, earlier this year. The system was not without things that drive most people crazy where infotainment systems and touchscreens are concerned (hello, delayed response to finger presses!), but generally came in for high praise from Wired’s Damon Lavrinc. In particular, he praised the Caddy’s all-digital, customizable dashboard display and said the ability to speak naturally when querying the satnav for directions to a particular address made CUE’s performance in that regard “easily the best we’ve ever experienced in a modern vehicle.”

As someone who has always respected Linux and recently got about three hours of sleep over a whole weekend while trying to boot a Ubuntu-based distro to his nearly decade-old PowerMac G5, this sounds like good news for the future viability of infotainment systems. If Linux can breathe new life and usability into a computer like mine that was all but locked out of the internet because of its original closed-source software (in my case Mac OSX 10.3.9), then surely infotainment systems like CUE should remain viable and useful for the entire life of the car– not just the first five years, or whenever the software manufacturer decides to stop supporting your particular release. By going open-source, automakers like Cadillac can plan for future viability instead of obsolescence, as automakers, computer hardware, and software manufacturers are often accused of doing.

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