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Embedded Linux distro rev’d for ARM11

Dec 11, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 17 views

Denx Software Engineering has updated its industrial Linux and tools distribution for ARM. Optionally available with the Qong EVB-Lite evaluation board pictured, Embedded Linux Development Kit (ELDK) includes cross-tools, real-time add-ons, and target architecture support for ARM chips with or without EABIs (embedded… application binary interfaces).

(Click for larger view of Qong EVB-Lite evaluation board)

Available as an open-source software development kit (SDK), the ELDK Linux distribution and development tool suite is especially popular in Europe's industrial Linux community. The last major version, release 4.1, was announced in January 2007, adding support for Xenomai 2.3 real-time extensions, uClibc for ARM and PowerPC, and AMCC evaluation boards. One recent embedded device to combine ELDK and Xenomai was Neuronics's Katana Robotic Arm (pictured below, at right).

Neuronics's Katana
Robotic Arm

(Click for details)

ELDK 4.2 for ARM is aimed at a variety of embedded and real-time systems running ARM11, ARM9, ARM7, XScale, AT91, and other ARM architectures, says Denx. The company mentions the Freescale i.MX31 and Samsung S3C6400 as two target ARM11 system-on-chips (SoCs) that are well-suited for the distribution. The SDK is available with a new Qong EVB-Lite evaluation board (pictured at top) aimed at industrial devices. The board is based on an i.MX31-equipped Qong processor module that was co-developed with Italian turn-key vendor DAVE.

ELDK 4.2 for ARM is said to offer the following features:

  • Cross development tools, including compiler, assembler, and linker
  • Native tools (shell, commands, and libraries) that run on the target system
  • Firmware for porting to new boards and processors (Denx maintains the open source Das U-boot bootloader)
  • Linux kernel including all device drivers and board-support functions
  • Xenomai real-time kernel extension support
  • EABI support
  • Software and hardware floating point versions
  • SELF (Simple Embedded Linux Framework) for building run-time environments

For ARM chips without hardware FPUs (floating point units), ELDK includes an “arm-linux” target architecture with software floating-point support. However, it also includes an armVFP-linux target architecture said to support ARM's EABI. ARM's EABI offers a way for application code to use “privileged” instructions to access on-chip hardware such as a VFP unit (vector floating point). That results in much better floating point performance compared to software techniques.


ELDK 4.2 for ARM is available now, says Denx, with source code available under GPL and other open source licenses. The ELDK can be downloaded from the Denx FTP server, here, as well as from several mirror sites, and is available on CD-ROM for 100 Euros (about $132 US).

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