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Article: A walk on the Embedded side . . . of LinuxWorld

Aug 22, 2000 — by Rick Lehrbaum — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

One short year ago, “embedded Linux” barely existed, from a commercial perspective. Last week's 150,000 square foot LinuxWorld conference (San Jose, CA) clearly demonstrated how far embedded Linux has come in just a dozen months. Better than one in ten of the more than 160 exhibitors rolled out new products and services aimed at embedded Linux developers and applications.

In case you missed the show, here's a brief summary about each of the exhibitors who highlighted embedded Linux in one way or another . . .

Adomo — previewed an easily expandable, easily administered Linux based home information system that offers fast access to information along with the ability to communicate easily (article). The system consists of a Linux based home server and a network of thin terminal devices which provide access to information, Internet based services, and group oriented applications.

Agenda Computing — previewed the Agenda VR3, a new Linux-based hand-held PC that will be introduced to the market this Fall at a base price of $149 (article). The device, which is based on an NEC VR4181 system-on-chip processor, features an open source operating system and will be supported by a web-based open application development community.

Applied Data Systems — showed a number of single-board computers (SBCs) that are oriented towards solving the embedded display challenges of companies developing a wide range of embedded system products. Three interesting demos in the ADS booth included:

  • A new on-board interactive computer system for golf carts (story)
  • ViewML, a new embedded Linux browser (story), running on the company's Graphics Client, a compact (4″ x 6″) Intel StrongARM SA-1110 based SBC
  • A “sneak preview” of the new, tiny (3″ x 4″) Bitsy, which contains a 206 MHz Intel StrongARM SA-1110 CPU and SA-1111 companion I/O chip.
Computer I/O — unveiled a unique embedded software and services “middleware solution” for the communications industry (story). The software enables Microsoft Windows clients to transparently communicate with Linux-based embedded data acquisition servers, without concern for operating system, network compatibility, or protocols.

Emperor Systems Software — showed several examples of Internet appliance applications running on top of the company's embedded Linux and JAVA software technologies, including “TV-Linux”, a TV set-top box solution, and “Studio-Linux”, a broadband server solution for interactive television.

IBM — showed a wide range of Linux based systems, from massive million-dollar systems, to the incredibly tiny embedded Linux wrist watch (article). IBM also announced availability of its VisualAge Micro Edition Java Virtual Machine for embedded Linux systems (story), and also demonstrated some new Linux-based Thin Client systems (story).

Indrema — promoted its upcoming embedded-Linux based TV set-top gaming console (article) and game software developer network. The company announced a collaborative open game development initiative (story), plus strategic relationships with Red Hat (story) and LinuxCare (story).

Infomatec — showed several example Internet appliance applications, including a set-top box and a webpad, that demonstrated typical products based on the company's Linux kernel based Java Network Technology (JNT) operating system technology.

Intel — demonstrated embedded Linux running on a wide variety of board-level computers, including a small Taiwan-manufactured Pentium-based embedded single-board computer.

ISDCorp — although ISDCorp was recently acquired by LynuxWorks (story), ISDCorp had its own booth in which it showcased the broad array of Royal Linux support for ARM and MIPS processors. Royal Linux was shown running on: ARM SA-1100 (StrongARM); Cirrus Logic 72xx system-on-chip (ARM 7 with MMU); Intel SA-1110 processor (StrongARM system-on-chip); LinkUp Systems 7200 (ARM 7 based system-on-chip); MIPS TI processor (MIPS R4000 architecture); Toshiba 3912 (MIPS R3000 architecture); NEC VR4121 (MIPS R4000 based system-on-chip) running on a Vadem Clio handheld PC. Features demonstrated on the systems included Royal Linux, networking, TCP/IP, Apache server, LCD displays, touch input screens, audio, and MP3.

Lineo — showed a large array of eye-catching demonstrations of the company's Embedix Linux operating system. These included:

  • Embedix RealTime (story), featuring the Linux Trace Toolkit
  • Embedix SDK, with Target Wizard
  • Embedix running on the new Motorola MBX2000 EBX form-factor single-board computer
  • Embedix GUI, running on a TV set-top box
  • NETtel Virtual Private Network (VPN) Routers
  • uClinux (story), running on a Coldfire 5307 board, driving an audio amplifier to play MP3 data on a pair of speakers. uClinux was also shown controlling a robot HITEC controller module (HS300), driving five servo motors.
  • uClinux, running on the tiny SIMM-sized “uCsimm” Dragonball-based computer board (story) was shown driving a full-sized VGA LCD display.
  • Embedix Linux and Embedix GUI were shown running a simulated automated teller machine application, on an Advantech touch screen computer.
Incidentally, Lineo was handing out free bootable floppies containing Atomic RTAI, an open source functional real-time Linux distribution that fits on a single floppy diskette (story). Lineo also made several new product announcements including: Embedix Real-time, High Availability Cluster, and support for Embedix development on Windows hosts.

LynuxWorks — in addition to all its Royal Linux demos that were running at the ISDCorp booth, LynuxWorks also showed Blue Cat Linux running three demos in their booth:

  • BlueCat Linux cross development was demonstrated, showing the capability to support multiple embedded processor families in a cross-development environment, with the targets Internet-attached and controlled remotely from one cross-development host, using Rlogin.
  • A second demo showed compatibility between LynxOS and BlueCat Linux, based on a pair of Motorola's new MBX2000 EBX SBC (see Motorola, below) — one running BlueCat, and one running LynxOS. The Linux multimedia application 'GIMP' (graphic image manipulation program) was shown running on both platforms.
  • A third setup demonstrated high availability and fail-over capabilities. A chess program ran on a Linux PC machine, with a UTML browser providing graphical display of the chess board. The chess program itself ran as a server on one of two system controllers. When the first system controller fails, an alternate system controller automatically takes over the server function.
Metro Link — exhibited its ability to develop custom embedded Linux based graphics display solutions and technologies. One such technology example is Micro-X, a scalable X server implementation for embedded systems and consumer electronics. Metro Link also disclosed several products that are currently under development, including a home information management technology suite, multimedia tools, and 3D rendering software (derived from OpenGL).

MontaVista — beneath the shadow of huge, suspended renditions of the company's signature hard-hat-wearing penguin and Kerbango's Internet radio was a dizzying array of demonstrations of Hard Hat Linux and its features:

  • IBM's VisualAge Micro Edition embedded JVM (story), riding on top of MontaVista's Hard Hat Linux was demonstrated on one of Embedded Planet's “Linux Planet” demo systems (story), running various touch screen interfaces and games.
  • Ziatech (story) demonstrated their unique “Ketris” CompactPCI hot swap and CPU fail-over technology, running on Hard Hat Linux.
  • The Microwindows embedded GUI and windowing system (story), and ViewML browser (story) were shown running on MIPS, StrongARM, and PowerPC processors.
  • Hard Hat Linux was shown running on the tiny Intrinsyc CerfBoard (story) and serving web pages.
  • Hard Hat Linux was shown running on the IBM's PowerPC 405GP “Walnut” evaluation board.
  • Hard Hat Linux was shown running on Bus-Tech's 1U configurable rackmount appliance (story)
  • MontaVista's new Cross Development Tools and Integrated Development Environment (story) were demonstrated along with the Hard Hat Linux distribution. Hard Hat Linux cross environment was hosted on Motorola's new MBX2000 EBX form-factor SBC (see Motorola, below), and targeted on an Intel “PICA” (X86) platform. The demo showcased the use of Code Crusader and DDD for debugging.
  • The Kerbango Internet Radio (story) was shown, streaming audio broadcasts from Real Audio servers around the world. As you might guess, its embedded operating system is none other than MontaVista's Hard Hat Linux.
One more thing. If you happened to drop by MontaVista's booth at the right moment, you were treated to a really cool demo — a Compaq iPAQ PDA running Hard Hat Linux and the Microwindows GUI, including handwriting recognition (story).

Motorola Computer Group — took the wraps off their new highly integrated yet compact single-board computer, the MBX2000, in the EBX (5.75″ x 8.0″) form-factor. The MBX2000 (story) is based on a low power version of Intel's Pentium II processor (BGA1 package), and includes a display controller, Ethernet interface, and a long list of additional I/O ports. Motorola also announced a partnership with Red Hat to support the high availability requirements of telecom applications (story).

Synergy Microsystems — demonstrated Linux running on the company's PowerPC based VME and CompactPCI CPU boards, and announced an agreement to offer TimeSys' Linux/RT on Synergy's products.

TimeSys — three demonstrations acquainted attendees with the TimeSys Linux/RT operating system and associated tools:

  • a demo of the quality of service (QoS) capabilities of Linux/RT showed the impact on streaming video from a USB camera when processes are added to the system — with, and without QoS parameters enabled.
  • a second demo illustrated the use of three new TimeSys tools — TimeTrace, TimeWiz, and TimeWarp (story) — including their capability to model system scheduler performance under varying “what if” conditions.
  • A Motorola Pentium-based CompactPCI computer board was shown running as an embedded target, from flash memory.
Transvirtual Technologies — you could hardly get near Transvirtual's booth! What was all the excitement about? Transvirtual has unveiled PocketLinux (story), a new open-source embedded Linux implementation that runs on PDAs like the Compaq iPAQ and VTech Helio.

Trolltech — announced a graphical user interface (GUI) toolkit and windowing system for embedded Linux based devices, called Qt/Embedded (story). In its smallest configuration, Qt/Embedded loads from just 700K of ROM (disk).

ZF Linux Devices — showcased the company's MachZ 'X86' system-on-chip processor (story) and associated development tools and platforms. ZF's demo's included:

  • a very small self-contained demo board containing the MachZ, several active components, and a small LCD display.
  • the MachZ Integrated Development System, which contains an ATX form-factor PC-compatible motherboard based on the MachZ system-on-chip processor plus PCI plug-in cards for video and networking. The system demonstrates the features of ZF's MachZ and serves as an evaluation and development environment.
  • the zPortPC Home Internet Appliance system (story), an aesthetically packaged device intended to serve as a small, cost-effective platform for a wide range of Internet appliance applications. Choose your favorite color from among a rainbow of options!

Well, that's all for now. See you at the next LinuxWorld Expo and Conference next January (info), in New York!

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