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SnapGear embedded Linux distro boasts 2.6 kernel, merged uClinux

Sep 29, 2003 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

Version 3.0 of SnapGear Embedded Linux, based on Linux kernel 2.6, is now available for free download. The latest SnapGear security-oriented embedded Linux distribution is claimed to be the “world's first production Linux system powered by the 2.6 kernel” — but is also a watershed release in that for the first time, commercial developers can use a stable mainstream Linux kernel distribution, without… patching, to build deeply embedded systems on devices without a memory management unit (MMU). uClinux patches were merged into the 2.5.46 release in November, 2002.

Support for MMU-less processors (uClinux) merged into kernel 2.5.46

“The uClinux patches were merged during the 2.5 kernel development process, due in large part to the work of engineers at SnapGear,” noted Andrew Morton, head maintainer of the 2.6 Linux kernel.

“Much of the 2.5 kernel effort was focused on scaling the Linux kernel up for very large systems, but the uClinux contribution means that the new kernel scales further down than ever before so the latest kernel will run out-of-the-box on small systems based around the m68k, v850 and SuperH processors,” added Morton.

SnapGear says it led the development of uClinux, prior to the release of the 2.6 kernel, resulting in uClinux ports to more than 100 platforms based on processors from (among others) Intel, Motorola, and Renesas (a joint venture of Hitachi and Mitsubishi). This development work has now merged into the 2.6 Linux kernel, according to SnapGear.

“SnapGear Embedded Linux 3.0 is the first production Linux to incorporate the benefits of the 2.6 Linux kernel,” said Rick Stevenson, CEO of SnapGear. “Embedded systems developers can now use the mainstream Linux kernel in their designs, even with deeply embedded processors lacking memory management hardware.”

“Embedded Linux is rapidly becoming a popular choice of operating system for networking devices because of its real-time reliability, scalability, and open-source development support,” said Brian Davis, director of business development at Renesas Technology America.

Other new features

According to SnapGear, its latest embedded Linux distribution includes security enhancements, a developer's toolkit, and support for a wider range of processors and encryption hardware than previous versions.

SnapGear says the new 2.6 kernel enables more efficient use of encryption hardware for secure Internet connections and supports a wider range of processors from Intel, Renesas, Motorola, AMD, and NEC.

New features in SnapGear Embedded Linux 3.0 include:

  • Improved support for Intel XScale processors
  • Improved resistance to denial of service attacks
  • Faster encryption through improved support for hardware acceleration
  • Upgraded Virtual Private Networking (VPN) support for PPTP, L2TP and IPSec

In addition to its uClinux contributions, SnapGear says it pioneered an implementation of Microsoft's PPTP VPN standard on Linux, it claims.says its engineering team

SnapGear says its embedded Linux distribution represents state-of-the-art embedded Linux technology for deeply embedded microprocessors with or without MMU (memory management unit). SnapGear claims its embedded Linux is unique in providing commercial quality tool chains and processor support in a freely downloadable open source format.

Australia-based Snapgear began in 1995 as device maker Moreton Bay, before its acquisition by Lineo. Its focus was primarily hardware, so Lineo spun it back out under the SnapGear name during Lineo's strategic shift toward software and tools (prior to Lineo's subsequent acquisition by Metrowerks).

SnapGear says it now provides design, engineering, and fulfillment services for network appliances for secure Internet communications. SnapGear claims its embedded Linux distribution runs in more than 20 million devices globally, including 2 million devices based on the previous version of SnapGear Embedded Linux.

SnapGear Embedded Linux 3.0 can be downloaded from

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