Fire, Brimstone and Real-Time Linux

Debate continues over the best approach to real-time capabilities and the Linux kernel.
Red Hat “Adjusts” Its Embedded Strategy

Red Hat discontinued development of its eCos open-source embedded operating system and is rumored to have discontinued many of its embedded Linux development efforts.

Asked whether Red Hat was still in the embedded market, Red Hat Chief Technology Officer Michael Tiemann replied, “Yes—but our strategy is to expand the scope of Linux to encompass the embedded space.” Expanding on this point, Tiemann said “the embedded world that [Red Hat is] most interested in needs a Linux platform that extends into the embedded space”, as opposed to a unique version of Linux tailored specifically to embedded devices.

These statements explain Red Hat's move away from products like eCos, an open-source embedded operating system that Red Hat inherited via its acquisition of Cygnus Solutions in late 1999, and µClinux, a version of Linux geared toward resource-constrained, “deeply embedded” devices that Red Hat got involved in via its mid-2000 acquisition of Wirespeed. In addition, Tiemann's reduced investment statements explain Red Hat's developing embedded-oriented tools, like the Embedded Linux Developers Suite (ELDS).

Tiemann elaborates on what he means by “a Linux platform that extends into the embedded space” in a guest editorial for LinuxDevices.com entitled, “How Linux will Revolutionize the Embedded Market” (www.linuxdevices.com/articles/AT7248149889.html). That editorial basically unfolds a strategy that treats the embedded market as a portion of a continuum—one that increasingly demands greater consistency of technology, APIs, middleware and tools, due to growing end-to-end application connectivity and interoperability.

The best approach, Tiemann argues, is to offer a solution that meets the needs of the entire range of requirements within a single platform, rather than providing a unique version of Linux specially tailored to embedded systems. Quoting from the conclusion,

The deeper I look into environments adopting Linux, from embedded to enterprise, the more I believe that Linux has the requisite DNA and development model to scale truly from embedded to enterprise as a single platform, and Red Hat's focus will remain on ensuring that what works for the mainframe, and the server, and the workstation, also works for the appliance, the carrier, the router, the PDA, and the cell phone; and, of course, vice-versa.

Three Reviews on Hollabaugh's Embedded Linux

Finally, here are links to three excellent on-line reviews of Craig Hollabaugh's well-received book, Embedded Linux:

Embedded Linux is published by Addison-Wesley Professional (ISBN: 0672322269) and is available at various on-line retailers. Amazon.com provides 43 sample pages of the book on their web site.

Rick Lehrbaum (rick@linuxdevices.com) created the LinuxDevices.com and DesktopLinux.com web sites. Rick has worked in the field of embedded systems since 1979. He cofounded Ampro Computers, founded the PC/104 Consortium and was instrumental in creating and launching the Embedded Linux Consortium.

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