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There was much activity around Linux in embedded systems this week,
as a result of the Embedded Systems
Conference in San Jose. This conference looks to be a bit of a
watershed event - the occasion where Linux takes the embedded systems
stage. And this is a big stage - some 68,000 people are attending. It is
time to see if all the rosy predictions for Linux in the embedded area
start to come true.
So, what happened this week?
It is an impressive set of announcements, which shows the degree of
interest in Linux in this environment.
- Cygnus Solutions announced the EL/IX embedded
Linux API. The stated goal of EL/IX is to "pre-empt the
fragmentation of embedded Linux," a threat that has not been the
source of a great deal of concern in most circles.
EL/IX sets out to achieve this goal by providing a standard
applications programming interface based on the POSIX real time Unix
standards. Since Linux already implements almost all of this
interface, EL/IX's implementation will not be too difficult. However,
EL/IX will also provide the same API on Cygnus' eCos - an open source
system specifically designed for deeply embedded systems.
Thus Cygnus' strategy is reasonably apparent - they want to make it
easy for developers to make their code work under Linux, then deploy
on eCos. It is a worthy goal, which should certainly help to increase
the penetration of open source software into embedded systems. It
should also help Cygnus maintain its strong position in the embedded
market. (See also: this press
release from Cygnus about eCos - 15,000 downloads so far).
- Lineo (formerly Caldera Thin Clients) put out its embedded
systems road map. Their plan is centered around "Embedix," a
derivative of OpenLinux which is intended for embedded applications.
Embedix contains a lot of changes aimed at the constraints found in
embedded situations; among other things, it will be able to run out of
flash ROM. Embedix initially will run on Intel processors, with MIPS
and StrongARM to follow.
Lineo is also working on "Embrowser," an embedded web browser which is
intended for applications like set-top boxes, kiosks, etc. The first
deployment has already been announced:
MeterNet is building a set-top box using Embedix and Embrowser.
Lineo is aiming at becoming the standard platform for high-end
embedded systems. They have no "lightweight" system like eCos to push
for "deeply embedded" applications (unless you count DR-DOS, which
appears to be heading toward the end of its life). Instead, they are
pushing Linux all the way. Does their approach encourage the
fragmentation that Cygnus warns about? Perhaps, but remember that
Embedix remains an open source system.
- Force Computing announced
a demonstration of its "Centellis 8730" system running Hard Hat Linux. Their
approach is a combined hardware and software system which can be used
in embedded applications.
- emWare announced
the availability of its "EMIT emGateway" software for the Linux
platform (Red Hat only, initially). EMIT is a lightweight networking
protocol for embedded devices which are not able to run a full TCP/IP
stack; emGateway allows a Linux system to talk to such devices. That
puts Linux in a controller position - talking to many embedded
devices, making their services available, and managing them remotely.
LWN's Liz Coolbaugh is at the Embedded Systems Conference this week.
As of press time, we have her
first report from the floor there. It appears to be an exciting time
for Linux in the embedded systems arena.
Web 100, Linux, and high-performance networking. How can we get our
systems to make better use of the high-bandwidth links used in the modern
Internet? A project called "Web 100," currently in the early stages, is
looking at making some TCP changes to allow systems to get the most out of
the Internet - and they plan to do their work on Linux. Here is an LWN feature article about Web
100, what it is trying to achieve, and how it might help to keep Linux in
the forefront of networking development.
What kind of modem does the IBM Thinkpad 600E really have? We have
gotten a wide variety of opinions, but the definitive word appears to be
that it has a modem based on the IBM Mwave DSP. It does not run the Lucent
DSP, though some of the other Thinkpad models do. Hopefully this is our
last word on the subject...
Red Hat's web site will cease carrying LWN in October. We have
enjoyed working with Red Hat, and wish them the best of luck with their web
site efforts. Meanwhile, we encourage all of you who may have been reading
our content via redhat.com to come to the source at lwn.net.
Inside this week's Linux Weekly News:
- Security: a look at the
PC Week cracker challenge.
- Kernel: do device drivers
belong in the kernel source tree?
- Distributions: Caldera's
mailing lists return, Conectiva Linux road show
- Development: Piranha bites
heartbeat, introducing Yams.
- Commerce: Corel starts
- Back page: Linux links
of the week, letters to the editor.
This Week's LWN was brought to you by:
September 30, 1999