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Recap of the ELISA November Workshop

By December 16, 2021Blog, Workshop

Written by Philipp Ahmann, ELISA Project Ambassador and TSC member

The 8th ELISA Workshop, which took place on November 8-10, had 158 registrants that learned more about the various working groups and networked with ambassadors. Participants were active and stable in the technical discussions, which helped plan for next year, and proved that there is continuous interest and motivations in these topics. Additionally, new ideas were shared and can be considered as sources of inspiration and for critical thinking with e.g. talks about STPA, the z-model or open source and the community problem along with new approaches to safety and importance of processes and testing.

Overall, ELISA workshops have more of a conference character presenting major achievements and results of achievements from the last quarter. Interested newcomers as well as community participants receive a very good status update in which direction ELISA moves forward on its way to enable Linux in safety applications. 

On the other hand, this brilliant forum to sync up and align in a virtual format, misses a bit of the in-person discussion and brainstorming that made ELISA’s first workshops so enjoyable. With a community spread across the world longer working sessions are seldom and almost not possible. Prime time slots are used to align to reach as many people as possible.

As this year’s workshops come to a close, we hope that travelling and hybrid workshops become possible again. In this type of format, the core community can take joint working sessions, while talks and presentations can still attract newcomers and other interested to get an overview about what is going on in the community and what to target next. We hope to see you in-person next year if possible. 

In case you missed the November virtual workshop, let us take a look at a few selected sessions from the conference. 

Day 1 started with the newcomer and welcome session. It provided an overview about what Linux is and how safety comes into picture to form the name ELISA. The statistics shown during the talk on the usage of Linux in industry are quite impressive and speak for themselves. Linux is everywhere. (Or almost everywhere.)

Additionally, new details about two new working groups were presented – Linux Features for Safety Critical Systems Working Group and Open Source Engingeering Process Working Group. Originally, these two groups started as one but as the group grew and evolved two streams were observed and needed. Both are in good hands, with Paul Albertella from Codethink, which will continue to focus on the actual open source development process and Elana Copperman from Mobileye/Intel will start concentrating on Linux features for safety-critical systems.

How important such Linux features and development processes are could be slightly depicted from the presentation about Linux in Safety Systems explained by Christopher Temple from arm. He illustrates quite well which different levels of complexity a system could have. He also reminded the audience that there can be a difference between simply following a safety integrity standard for the necessary processes and actually creating a safe product. It is interesting to see that you may be able to show standard conformance without having safety properly implemented and creating a safe system which is not certifiable or in conformance with a safety standard.

On the second day the slides about Certification Using the New Approach to Safety presented by Paul Albertella showed that modern safety certification and assessments need to bring a good tool support towards tool support and automation along with proper tool classification and qualification as a major step to achieve efficient certification and generation of evidence, irrespective if you are running proprietary or open source software. 

In another session Lukas Bulwahn from Elektrobit helped the participants on understanding the z-model in which the challenge on pre-existing software is illustrated, where a logical model would be to write requirements, go over to integration and verification to derive software architectural design, leading to software unit verification to finally create a “z” by moving to the originally existing Software unit design and implementation. This can help to approach existing stacks which do not fall into strict recommendations such as demanded by e.g. ISO26262. This said, it has to be kept in mind that the “z” fills the gap and can create a complete “v” in the end, although you may run into issues during an ASPICE assessment.

Day two was concluded by Shaun Mooney from Codethink, who gave insights on how to use STPA for ISO26262. STPA has been used within the medical devices work group since a long time and recently found its way also into the automotive work group, where it serves as an alternative to a traditional HARA. A very important element of the STPA, beside others, is the identification of unsafe control actions (UCA) to unveil potential harms/hazards and risks in a very structured and visual way.

Day three was a nice mixture of technical insights into the Linux kernel and new approaches and directions towards safety qualification of Linux application. The strong demand to consider both Linux software development within the community and the strict regulations by safety integrity standards to come to a certifiable product, were brought to the point by Lukas Bulwahn’s talk. It was thought to encourage critical thinking on safety integrity standards and the community problem. Let us hope that the work of ELISA can make a difference and the effort we take will direct in the solution of this problem, eventually even with updated or new safety integrity standards, which include state of the art software development process and quality measures, so much needed for complex systems.

As for the previous workshops the last session wraps up and includes the goal settings for the next quarter along with the request to not let the discussions stop here…

If you reach this point of reading the blog post, you seem to be really interested in joining the ELISA community, so don’t miss to register to your mailing list of choice.

Short TL:DR summarizing words about the workshop:

  • Less registered people, but very stable number of attendees during the workshop and on level of last workshop
  • Good “take home” messages letting you think about the challenges of Linux and open source communities to approach safety integrity standards
  • New approaches in fields of architectural analysis, tools, development process, testing and engineering show the demands where Linux and open source need to go different ways and where safety integrity standards need to evolve to keep up with the complexity of software written by a large scale community.
  • ELISA community would benefit from a hybrid approach enabling in person working sessions to let the workshop be a workshop and have less conference style.
  • The ELISA community grows and reaches a point where harmonization is needed. Brainstorming times are over and everybody shares concepts and proposals how to achieve the goal to enable Linux in safety applications.

Videos and recordings of the workshop presentations can be found here