Tell us what you want

by Phil Hughes

For those of you who picked up the ELJ supplement at ALS, at COMDEX or received a copy with your regular Linux Journal, let me clarify. What you saw was a supplement to Linux Journal--a test to see if the world was ready for an embedded magazine that focuses on the use of Linux and open-source technology. Response was overwhelming, and here is the first issue of that stand-alone magazine.

Something similar to the response we received from the ELJ supplement happened to the Embedded Linux Consortium, a vendor organization. Born in February 2000, their goal was to have 50 members by the end of the year. They easily surpassed 100 by October. Wanting to be a team player, we have joined the consortium.

When we started Linux Journal back in 1994, there was a lot of community interest but not much in the way of potential advertisers. In publishing, subscription revenue tends to pay to get magazines to people, but it is advertising that pays the rest of the bills.

With ELJ, we decided to offer the magazine for free to qualified readers. While that means we need to work a little harder to get the revenue necessary to pay for the magazine, it also means we can get the magazine into the hands of those who aren't Linux converts yet. Linux and Linux Journal grew up because we managed to show the unconvinced that they should give Linux a chance. Hopefully we can play this same significant role in the embedded Linux market.

We have started ELJ as a bimonthly publication so we all have a chance to get to know at an easy pace. This gives us more time to hear what readers want to see and time to show potential advertisers that we are all taking this market seriously. ELJ will transition to monthly once we are all on track.

This first issue will be mailed to over 75,000 readers located in North America. Some of these folks have already subscribed while others are only receiving a sample issue. Check the mailing label and if your label says SAMPLE, go to to start your own free subscription.

What to Expect

The quick answer is ``what you want''. That is, the contents of ELJ will be what you, the reader, ask for. We want to offer the tools necessary to get the newcomer to embedded Linux up and running as well as help the old-timer make a better product. That includes information on what others are doing and what products are available to help you along the way. But the mix will be directed by what you ask for.

The obvious question is ``are you a technical magazine?'' The obvious answer is ``yes.'' But, we don't assume you are a Linux expert. We realize most of our readers will be hardware and software engineers, and their managers, who understand the embedded market. Where they are looking for help is in seeing how Linux can be used to make better and hopefully lower-cost products.

Some of you will ask if we are a hardware magazine or a software magazine. Well, unlike other computer markets such as the PC desktop, you can't really separate the two. Embedded systems tend to run on custom hardware with custom software. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to make your own boards for all systems--sometimes a PC104 or even PCI board will do what you want--but it does mean you need to know your choices. We will help you out here.

Once you have the hardware, you will need to write and debug your software. Again, we are here to help. With the amazing array of development software and other software tools included with Linux, we are going to show you how to get working software into your product.

If you are working on an embedded product using Linux--whether Linux is included in the product itself or just used in the development--let us know. We are always looking for articles that will help others benefit from the use of Linux.

Web Site

I mentioned the web site above as a place to subscribe earlier. But there is a lot more there as well. For example, all the articles from the ELJ supplement are up there along with discussion forums.

In addition, we have white papers, articles on embedded systems from past issues of Linux Journal and information on our contests. Our first contest is a chance to get a PC104 board designed to run Linux along with a lot of other goodies for free. The catch? You need to actually do something with it. Check it out.

We also will be running contests in each issue where we have written a functional specification for something that either has been requested or we feel is needed. We did this for a movie system for hotels in the ELJ supplement, and the responses have included two systems already implemented to perform the specified task (for details on these systems please see If we can continue to find solutions by simply proposing that we need one, everyone is going to be helped out. More information on this contest is also on the web site.

In Conclusion

In closing, thanks for taking the time to read this editorial. I hope you like what you are hearing. If so, let us know. If not, let us know that as well. Just as Linux Journal is dedicated to being a player in the Linux community, Embedded Linux Journal intends to be a player in the Embedded community. This is your magazine. Let's grow together.


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