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uClinux and Linux headed for unity

Nov 19, 2002 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Salt Lake City, UT — (press release excerpt) — SnapGear Inc. announced today that their core contributions to the uClinux project are making their way into mainstream Linux.

Mainstream Linux is about to gain the ability to go much more deeply embedded without the need for specialized toolchains. This new capability is due in part to the contributions of uClinux developers world-wide, including a number of engineers working at SnapGear Inc. Previously, Linux generally required an MMU (Memory Management Unit) to operate. However with millions of embedded processors on the market that lack such luxuries due to price constraints developers have been forced to either use alternate operating systems or seek alternatives such as uClinux.

Greg Ungerer, Chief Software Wizard at Snap Gear, said: “It is great to see the unification of Linux and uClinux — developers will win by being able to produce highly scalable products while taking advantage of the abundance of open source applications and device drivers written to the Linux API.”

Earlier this month, Linus Torvalds announced inclusions for revision 2.5.46 of the Linux kernel incorporating a number of uClinux patches. The specific patches included . . .

  • m68knommu arch — support for 68K architecture such as Motorola ColdFire
  • v850 arch — the NEC V850 target
  • binfmt_flat loader — the uClinux flat file loader
  • Motorola MCF5272 ethernet driver — integrated on-chip support
  • uClinux MTD romfs map driver — integral to boot-loading and executing from Flash memory

About uClinux

uClinux, or “Micro-Controller Linux”, is the popular variant of mainstream Linux specifically for MMU-less processors and deeply embedded systems, adopted by open source companies such as Red Hat and Lineo, and as well as many Internet appliance manufacturers. Not a separate fork but rather a “shadowing” of the mainstream Linux kernel, uClinux is the world's favorite embedded Linux choice for system architectures lacking a MMU (Memory Management Unit) such as DSP (Digital Signal Processor) and SoC (System On Chip) embedded systems.

Many commercial applications of uClinux have become possible due to the small footprint — as little as half a megabyte of RAM for a complete multi-tasking kernel and networking stack. It is now possible to build Linux appliances as small as an inch by an inch with 4MB each of Flash and RAM yielding Internet-ready products. For more information on uClinux please visit Embedded developers may find useful resources at

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