On first blush, it seemed like an April Fool's Day joke, but it's real: Magic Lantern has discovered how to run Linux on Canon EOS cameras, opening the door to new innovations.
You'll have to excuse our initial skepticism regarding this story, as it hit the internet precisely on April Fool's Day, but the evolving thread on Magic Lantern's forum, along with user photos, confirms this rather extraordinary news. The team at Magic Lantern, responsible for bringing many pro film and photography features to Canon EOS cameras via its popular firmware 'add-on', have successfully run the latest Linux kernel on select cameras.
While some on the Magic Lantern forum wondered about the direct usefulness of running Linux on EOS cameras, it takes a little background in how Magic Lantern works to see its potential. Currently, Magic Lantern run on top of the official Canon firmware and must interact with Canon's code to perform most of its advanced functions. But by booting to Linux, it's conceivable for the Linux OS to run in parallel with or in place of the Canon firmware for certain functions, granting developer direct, low-level access to the hardware.
Magic Lantern has insisted that its product is not a 'hack', as the Canon code is not changed in any way, but running Linux might push Magic Lantern in new, uncharted territory. Or Linux on Canon EOS may not get past the tinker-stage. But the project, if you can call it that, has attracted the attention of some developers and the company has an open call to anyone with Linux coding experience who wants to join the effort.
In September of 2014, Magic Lantern joined forces with the Apertus for its Axiom open source 4K camera project after it concluded its successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. While it's great to see Magic Lantern branch out to devices from other manufacturers, it's encouraging for the owners of Canon cameras that the ML team is still developing innovations for its core users (and investigating a cleaner way to implement those innovations).