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Embedded linux gets even leaner

Dec 22, 1999 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Moreton Bay has released what it calls “the world's smallest DHCP server for Linux”. This lean DHCP server software is designed specifically for use in embedded environments, and it is the latest addition to the Moreton Bay's embedded Linux suite. Source code is freely available under the GNU General Public License.

The DHCP server binary is 22k. When running, it has a total memory size of under 40k. This compares with popular Linux servers like ISC DHCP (V3.0b1pl1) where the server binary alone is 463k, and an even larger run time memory footprint is needed.

“Our DHCP server is truly a lean offering,” said Matthew Ramsay, R&D project leader at Moreton Bay. “It has all that is necessary to serve IP, Gateway and DNS server addresses and to manage WINS NetBIOS names, although it does not have the feature set of the likes of the ISC DHCP server.”

“We have honed our DHCP server so it uses minumal resources,” he said. “We even store configuration files in binary format making the additional storage space required for IP and MAC addresses the smallest possible. Normally a DHCP server will store this config information in ASCII, which makes it more readable. But when storage space is in short supply every byte counts.”

Moreton Bay's offers a small footprint, fully Internet-enabled, Linux environment for embedded appliances – eLIA. eLIA has been designed so that it can scale to suit almost any 32-bit embedded or appliance application at a tiny cost. This can free developers and integrators from the constraints of high-cost microprocessors, complex support devices, expensive memory requirements and fixed storage. Complete Internet-ready eLIA-based hardware solutions have been integrated with build costs under $100, and they can be little larger than a matchbox.

“eLIA is initially available for the Motorola ColdFire range of fully-integrated RISC microcontrollers. It is built upon the extremely successful Motorola 68K ColdFire which can deliver 70 MIPs in a $15 package.” said Peter Cronk VP Business Development. “For integrators who don't want to develop from the chip level up, Moreton offers a hardware developer platform that provides a complete, customizable, ColdFire-based eLIA solution.”

“We also have a range of packaged solutions for partners interested in complete dial-up or LAN-based Internet appliances. Our NETtel range of packaged ColdFire/eLIA solutions was released at the Linux Business Expo at Comdex Fall and it was chosen by Linux Journal as a finalist for the Penguin Playoff's Best Hardware award.”

NETtel is a “black box” for interconnecting local devices and networks to the Internet. However its flexibility, and the key to its popularity, lie in the choice of Linux as the embedded operating system.

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