Focus: Embedded Systems

by Marjorie Richardson

Today, embedded systems can be found wherever you look, from elevators to power company facilities to electron accelerators. They form a very important, though mostly unseen, part of our lives. This month, we take a good look at how embedded systems work and how to build one that is cross-platform-compatible. Embedded systems require real-time programming, and we have an article discussing this topic. Is there truly such a thing as real time? Read it to find out.

Linux's stability and performance make it a perfect choice for use as an embedded system, but size is another matter. Downsizing can be a difficult task. Just making the decisions regarding what to cut and what to keep can be both time-consuming and complex. Is it worth it?

One company has bet their business that it is. Caldera Thin Clients has changed its name to Lineo, Inc. and is coming out with an embedded Linux system. Called Embedix, this system is based on Caldera's OpenLinux. I talked to Lineo's Lyle Ball to find out about this product and future plans for the company. (The interview will be in our next issue.)

Another company chose a different road. Cygnus wrote their own embedded operating system, called eCOS, which they have released as open source. Charles Curley has written an article comparing eCOS to RTLinux, which appears in the “Strictly On-Line” section on our web site,

Elsewhere in this issue, Craig Knudsen tells us why Transvirtual made the decision to adopt Microsoft Java Extensions, and Michael Hammel talks about Side Effects Software, their port of Houdini to Linux and what it means to the community.

At LinuxWorld on August 11, I had the pleasure of having lunch with our leader, Linus Torvalds. As a change of pace for both of us, I took the opportunity to talk to him about personal matters rather than Linux. (See interview in issue 67.)

—Marjorie Richardson

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