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Linux SDK straddles DIY, commercial approaches

Dec 16, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

Linux professional services and consulting firm Embedded Alley (EA) is edging into the embedded Linux tools business with its own software development kit (SDK). EA's “Embedded Alley Development System for Linux-based Devices” combines open-source software and services, and “facilitates build and integration of in-house and third-party commercial software,” says EA.

The Embedded Alley Development System includes cross compilers, a choice of Glibc or uClibc C libraries, debuggers, prepared file system images, and product-specific supporting libraries, says EA. For source-level debugging, a graphical, Eclipse-based IDE (integrated development environment) is provided, enabling users to step through source code, scripts, and configurations. (See farther below for more details.)

Buy and DIY

EA is selling its development system outright, as well as continuing to offer consulting services based on the offering. The product is touted as a happy medium between commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) Linux toolkits — which EA notes often lock developers into outdated or unwanted components and limit interoperability — and DIY or RYO (roll-your-own) development models, which can prove time-consuming.

The Embedded Alley Development System offers an embedded SDK for ARM and MIPS platforms, aimed at board-level port, driver, and application development, says EA. The software is said to include “stable current versions” of open-source kernels, libraries, tools, and utilities. However, EA also enables OEMs to acquire and swap in their own kernels and components from sources including, other open source repositories, or vendor and supplier sites, says the company.

OEMs can select Linux kernel versions, patches, and other software from the package, as well as run dependency and compatibility checks across the components, integrate new versions of existing components, or add new tools. Alternatively, they can hire Embedded Alley to customize all or parts of the system for them.

Matthew Locke

A Twist on the Timesys model

According to EA's COO, Matthew Locke, the product is an extension of the Silicon Vendor Partner Program (SVPP) announced in April. With the ongoing SVPP, EA works from a similar SDK, but offers customized, pre-validated versions that vendors can freely distribute. EA also provides mainline kernel maintenance and regression testing as part of the program.

“We've turned the tools that we're using internally for the SVPP into a standard offering,” said Locke in an interview. “The partner program is different in that we give our partners a complete pretested system and kernel that they can hand out to their customers as a reference.”

The Embedded Alley Development System is somewhat similar to Timesys's LinuxLink subscriptions, Locke allowed, but with a difference. “What we have done is rolled it into a package that you can download and install like a more standard SDK,” said Locke. “Instead of having some of this hidden behind a portal, you have access to everything. There's an ISO image and other tools, so you have a validated started point, and you can add on top of that. You can swap in and out internal tools, or add additional tools.”

Specific features of the package are said to include:

  • Eclipse-based graphical IDE, as well as command-line development environments
  • Enables rebuilding from source using a preconfigured build system
  • Standard Ubuntu hosting (other hosts available)
  • Latest-stable GNU toolchain (Glibc or uClibc), and Gdbserver
  • Fully tested, latest-stable Linux kernel, with kernel source preconfigured to hardware
  • Startup scripts and utilities optimized for Fastboot, Udev, Busybox, Dropbear, Network setup, Ppp, and Mtd-Utils
  • Utilities for testing and test load, including Bonnie++, Netperf, and Crashme
  • Pre-configured root file system images: UBIFS and squashfs flash file system for production, and NFS root filesystem for development
  • Test utilities and setup
  • Documentation, including user guide and test plan

Stated Pete Popov, Embedded Alley CEO, “We created the Development System to give OEMs the 'best of both worlds', COTS and custom. Our goal is to enable OEMs to build the widest range of embedded applications, with up-to-date project code, without having to replace their build systems or reinvent development practices.”


The Embedded Alley Development System for Linux devices is available now, says EA, at an undisclosed price. The software will be demonstrated, along with its recently announced Application Modeling solutions for NAND flash at CES in Las Vegas, January 8-11, at the EA suite at the Mirage Hotel.

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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