Automakers have been adding electronic gizmos to vehicles for decades, and operating systems have been developed to allow each system communicate with one another. The OSs are different from one brand to the next, but BMW wants to help develop a system using an open-source Linux platform it's helping to create along with Google and Wind River Systems.

Using Linux as a base would allow anyone with a background in coding to make changes to the system to suit each manufacturer's needs. Plus, a single platform would make it easier for third-party vendors to create hardware or an application and be sure that it would work correctly in any vehicle using the OS. Automakers such as General Motors and Chrysler sound interested in the idea, while Ford and Honda, which already use a Microsoft OS in their cars, have a few more questions that need answering before they are ready to jump on the open-source bandwagon. In any case, in-car gadgetry's not going anywhere and it will take years for any one system to made standard.