Report from the Second Embedded Linux Expo and Conference

by Rick Lehrbaum

I suspect it will come as no surprise that the second Embedded Linux Expo and Conference (ELEC), held October 27, 2000 in Westborough, Massachusetts (near Boston), was another great success. As in the case of last June's ELEC, the event was well attended from both the attendee and exhibitor perspective, and the day was permeated by a clear sense that Embedded Linux is truly ``a market on fire''.

The Pre-Conference ``Hands-on Workshop''

This time, there was an additional day--the day prior to the one-day Conference and Expo--devoted to an all-day, classroom-style, Embedded Linux hands-on workshop. The session was conducted by Kevin Dankwardt of K Computing, a training and consulting firm. I had the pleasure of attending that session and can heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about embedding Linux.

There were about 25 participants, and we worked in groups of two to a lab bench. Get this: our project for the day was (working in teams of two) to convert the PC on each of our lab stations into a remotely controlled ``headless'' (i.e., no graphics output) embedded MP3 player. Basically, in the course of the day, we started from Red Hat Linux 6.2 sources and built a minimized kernel (starting from menuconfig) and file system, created and tested a system image, compressed and transferred the system image to a floppy diskette, booted from the floppy, and tested the resulting stand-alone MP3 player. Incidentally, we used Busybox for embedded utilities, syslinux to load Linux and GoAhead as the embedded web server.

And, it worked! By the end of the day, we were happily controlling our Linux-PC based MP3 player remotely via html-based play, pause and stop buttons using the browser on another team's PC. Well, being an embedded Linux newbie myself, I must admit that it was really helpful to be teamed up with a UNIX guru from the MIT Lincoln Laboratory (thanks Mark!). In retrospect, I can't recall the last time I've learned so much in a single day.

If you'd like to see what you missed, you can view the slides from the seminar online:

Meanwhile Back at the Expo and Conference

The event was nicely organized, with one large room for ``table-top'' style vendor exhibits and a second large room for the technical presentations. Sally Bixby, RTC event manager for the Embedded Linux Expo and Conference, provided these summary statistics:

  • 40 exhibitors

  • 150 technical conference attendees

  • 250 overall attendees of the event

  • 5 representatives of the press

  • Attendees came from 15 US states, plus five countries: Norway, UK, Indonesia, Japan and Canada

The exhibitors, who represented a broad range of software, hardware, tools and services targeting the Embedded Linux market, included ACT/Technico, AMIRIX Systems, Cirrus Logic, Cogent Computer Systems, Computer I/O Corporation, Cowboy Industries, CSP, DevelopOnline, Embedded Linux Consortium, The Embedded Community, EMJ Embedded Systems, Generic Logic, Green Hills Software, Highlander Engineering, I-Logix, Infomatec, Intrinsyc, Lanner Electronics, Lineo,, Embedded Linux Journal, LynuxWorks, M-Systems, MEN Micro, Metro Link, MontaVista Software, Neoware Systems, NETsilicon, Objective Interface Systems, OnCore Systems, PalmPalm Technology, PEP Modular Computers, QNX Software Systems, Reasoning, Tilcon Software, TimeSys, Trolltech, Ultimate Solutions, WIN Enterprises and Xycom Automation.

The Technical Presentations

As in the case of the first ELEC event (last June), the technical presentations were high caliber, avoided blatant commercialism and spanned a broad range of topics and issues on using Linux in embedded applications. We are making the speakers' slide presentations available on-line, as we did following the last conference. Please use the links provided in the Resources section to view more information on each of the ELEC speakers and their talks, including (if available) the presentation slides.

I think all who attended the event in Westborough are looking forward to one or more future ELEC events. Currently the RTC Group has scheduled three ELEC's for 2001, adding a Japan event in addition to the eastern and western US events.


Rick Lehrbaum ( created the ``embedded Linux portal'', which recently became part of the ZDNet Linux Resource Center. Rick has worked in the field of embedded systems since 1979. He cofounded Ampro Computers, founded the PC/104 Consortium, and was instrumental in launching the Embedded Linux Consortium.

Load Disqus comments