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Metrowerks tool supports entire embedded Linux dev cycle

Apr 27, 2004 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 17 views

Metrowerks has announced a version of its embedded Linux development suite meant to support the entire device development cycle in a single integrated development environment (IDE). The “Platform Edition” of CodeWarrior Development Suite will ship in May for PowerPC, ARM, and ColdFire, with support for hardware-assisted debugging, kernel-level and application development and debugging, and more, with any… Linux kernel, according to Metrowerks.

A Metrowerks spokesperson said that new kernel-level and board-level debugging capabilities in the Platform Edition tools add the final piece of the puzzle in terms of doing development on and for Linux.

Platform Edition components
(Click to enlarge)

Metrowerks competitor TimeSys also markets its Linux development tools as an end-to-end solution for any Linux kernel. TimeSys's TimeStorm development suite works with Abatron's BDI 2000 JTAG debugger. Wind River also supports Linux board bring up with a hardware-assisted tool. MontaVista, meanwhile, recently released BSP creation software tools, while LynuxWorks partnered with Metrowerks on software-based kernel-level debugging tools for 2.6 kernels.

Metrowerks claims its Platform Edition suites provide several unique capabilities not supported by other “end-to-end” Linux tools providers. These capabilities include:

  • Three or four built-in hardware diagnostics tests enabling developers to detect problems with new hardware or system breakage introduced during the development process
  • Flash memory programming and verification tools that support 150 flash devices
  • Visibility into on-chip cache memory for diagnosing MMU and Linux memory translation errors, a problematic area according to Metrowerks

Hardware-assisted debugging

A spokesperson said the Platform Edition suites are the result of Metrowerks applying its knowledge of bareboard tools to its CodeWarrior Linux-hosted tool suite. CodeWarrior is a cross-platform development suite that supports hosting on Linux, Solaris, and Windows, but only the Linux-hosted version includes the new hardware debugging capabilities.

The Linux-hosted Platform Edition tools include a debugger that supports Linux kernel bring-up on new hardware, and Linux kernel driver development. It supports JTAG debugging on PowerPC using Metrowerks's PowerTAP Pro hardware debugger (bundle pricing available) or an Abatron In-Circuit Emulator (ICE) on other architectures.

Hardware-assisted debugging through JTAG ports on target boards enables Linux OS developers to interactively control and examine the state of the target system during the debugging process. Platform Edition users can quickly access and manipulate files by name or kernel function name via the symbolic window, allowing breakpoints to be set immediately through the CodeWarrior interface, without interrupting the debug process, according to Metrowerks.

Metrowerks acquired its PowerTAP Pro JTAG debugger in November, 2002 from Applied Microsystems. The Platform Edition CodeWarrior release represents the integration of PowerTAP into the CodeWarrior suite for Linux. CodeTest, a memory testing tool acquired at the same time, has also been integrated with CodeWarrior. It provides memory analysis, trace tools, code coverage, and performance analysis, and supports both continuous mode debugging in conjunction with a JTAG probe and standalone software operation.

Application debugging and testing

In addition to a kernel-level stop-mode debugger, the CodeWarrior debugger can be used in conjunction with the Metrowerks AppTRK (application target resident kernel) to debug applications. AppTRK is a debugging agent that works with on-board peripherals such as serial or Ethernet ports to enable developers to stop application processes or single threads within processes without stopping the processor or kernel.

AppTRK provides an alternative to the GNU debugger (gdb) server, and the CodeWarrior debugger is not based on gdb. However, gdb is included with Metroworks board support packages, and can serve as an alternate debugger for Linux-hosted developers, a Metrowerks spokesperson said.

Additional features

Besides a debugger, Platform Edition includes a project manager, text editor, search engine, source browser, and build system. The project manager supports importing source files, as well as pre-compiled binaries in both ELF and DWARF formats. The build system frees developers from the intricacies of gmake, according to Metrowerks.

CodeWarrior supports integration with host-compatible build environments and 2.4.x kernels from almost all Linux technology vendors, Metrowerks says.

More details about the CodeWarrior suite and Platform Edition are available from Metrowerks.


Metrowerks acquired many of its tools through company and product acquisitions, and has worked for some time to integrate them. According to a spokesperson, all its tools except Platform Creation Suite, acquired with Lineo in December of 2002, are currently integrated into the CodeWarrior environment. Such integration provides a seamless atmosphere for complete system development, a spokesperson said.

Metrowerks is investigating at least a loose integration with the Eclipse development platform, according to a spokesperson, despite fears that the technology could represent a step backwards. Eclipse is a fundamental industry trend that Metrowerks may need to address even though it already has its own mature, cross-platform IDE.

Metrowerks is a wholly owned subsidiary of Freescale, which, in turn, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Motorola that Motorola is currently in the process of spinning out. A spokesperson said that Metrowerks's relationship with parent company Freescale has only become closer during the spin-off process. At the same time, Metrowerks's status as an independent Freescale subsidiary will enable it to continue to support multiple silicon vendors, including Freescale competitors, a spokesperson said.

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