A Walk on the Embedded Side of LinuxWorld

Rick gives his impressions of all things embedded andembeddable at August's mega-Linux event.
Lisa Systems

If you ask Compaq when (or where) you can get an iPAQ with Linux pre-installed, they'll probably refer you to Lisa Systems. Lisa demonstrated their iPAQ/Linux combo, which makes use of Trolltech's Qt/Embedded as its GUI framework, at a pedestal in Compaq's large LinuxWorld pavilion. (See www.lisa.de.)


Like Lineo, LynuxWorks decided not to have their own booth at LinuxWorld. They did, however, have a small presence at a pedestal within Intel's pavilion, where they demonstrated their port of BlueCat Linux to Intel's Internet Exchange Architecture (IXA). (See www.lynuxworks.com.)


Like a show within a show, MontaVista's large pavilion-style booth was bristling with product and technology demonstrations. Beneath a giant hard hat-adorned Tux suspended from the convention hall ceiling, were:

  • A demo of Hard Hat Linux (HHL) 2.0's cross-development tools targeting an Alchemy AU1000 system-on-chip based set-top box reference platform. The use of the new KDevelop IDE was also being shown, as were MontaVista's Target Configuration Tool and newly GPLed Library Optimizer Tool.

  • A demo that dramatized the improvement in interrupt latency that can be obtained using MontaVista's “fully preemptable kernel” enhancement, in which streaming audio was being played in a system that was under a heavy load (repeated disk saves). Interrupt latencies were captured and graphed for visual comparison.

  • A demo of MontaVista's newly announced High Availability Framework, in which a CompactPCI-based Linux system was shown to maintain a video display reliably from a network-based streaming video source while one or more of three Ethernet cables were disconnected.

  • A set-top box demo based on HHL and the recently announced Hard Hat Graphics running on IBM's “Redwood” PowerPC 405-based reference platform.

  • HHL running on an iPAQ PDA, using two approaches—Hard Hat Graphics and Trolltech's Qt/Embedded—including demonstrations of both tools' GUI-builder development methods.

  • Demos of two IBM products: VisualAge Micro Edition, a Java-like VM; and ViaVoice, speech recognition software that supports both desktop and embedded systems. ViaVoice-based speaker-independent command and control supposedly can fit within 200KB of RAM.

  • A delightful demonstration of embedded Linux-based machine control, in which Intrinsyc's tiny StrongARM-based CerfBoard SBC running HHL was shown controlling the walking of a Lego MindStorm Robot that looked like something out of a Star Wars movie. (See www.mvista.com.)

Look What a Tiny StrongARM SBC Plus Embedded Linux Can Do


PalmPalm showed off their Tynux Box StrongARM-based PDA reference platform and Tynux Linux OS. They also had a Korean-manufactured cell phone/PDA on display. (See www.palmpalm.com.)

Red Hat

Joe deBlaquiere (senior engineer) demonstrated a prerelease version of a new Red Hat Embedded Linux Developer Kit. The tool is meant to make it easy for developers to embed Red Hat Linux. According to deBlaquiere, the tool makes use of standard Red Hat SRPMS, so it “leverages the stability of Red Hat Linux transitioned to the embedded space”. A number of predefined baseline configurations are available, including minimum bootable system, minimum networked system, etc., to which developers can add whatever they require by means of an easy-to-use, GUI-based configurator. One unique aspect to Red Hat's target OS builder approach, according to deBlaquiere, is that unlike Lineo's LIPO and MontaVista's LOT, Red Hat's library reduction/optimization process makes use of the four defined EL/IX profiles, with the result that embedded systems will be characterizable as being compliant with a specific well-defined API set. Additionally, Red Hat's RedBoot debugger/boot loader has been integrated into the new Embedded Linux kit as a standard component. deBlaquiere said the first beta release of the new kit is expected within a few weeks. Speaking of which, both RedBoot and Red Hat's other OS, eCOS, were also being demonstrated in Red Hat's pavilion. (See www.redhat.com/embedded.)