2019 at Bootlin, a year in review

First of all, the entire team at Bootlin wishes you a Happy New Year, and best wishes for 2020 in your personal and professional life. The beginning of the new year is a good time to look back and see the achievements of the past year, which is why we review the 2019 year in terms of Bootlin news and activity.

Linux kernel contributions

In 2019, we made contributions to Linux 5.0, Linux 5.1, Linux 5.2, Linux 5.3 and Linux 5.4. We contributed a total of 1078 patches to these releases.

Some of the highlights were:

  • The brand new subsystem to support the MIPI I3C bus that we developed from scratch was merged in Linux 5.0. This paved the way to support both I3C controllers and I3C devices in Linux. See our blog post.
  • The Marvell Ethernet controller driver was extended to support packet classification offloading in hardware.
  • A brand new driver in the IIO subsystem for the TI ADS8344 ADC chip.
  • Support for HW-accelerated H264 video decoding was added to the Allwinner VPU driver, as part of our crowd-funded project, see our recent blog post.
  • Numerous improvements in the support of Allwinner, Microchip and Marvell platforms, see our blog posts for each kernel release for more details.

Other contributions

  • We contributed 52 patches to the U-Boot project in 2019: a new network driver the Microsemi Ocelot platform, improvements to the MTD subsystem, fixes to the NXP LPC3250 and Rockchip PX30 platform support.
  • We contributed 314 patches to the Buildroot project, our most significant contribution is support for top-level parallel build, which will land in the upcoming Buildroot 2020.02 release. In addition, Bootlin engineer Thomas Petazzoni remains an active Buildroot co-maintainer: in 2019 he reviewed and merged 2924 patches from other contributors, out of the total of 5503 patches merged throughout the year.
  • We improved our Web-based Elixir code browser. Elixir now indexes the sources of 16 projects, allows to browse various types of include files, has support for project specific HTML post-processing filters, has a new REST API (thanks to Carmeli Tamir), and has many fixed bugs. All this activity corresponds to a round number of commits: 128.

Engineering projects

Of course, most of the contributions described above are driven by the engineering projects we have with our customers worldwide. Here are some of the significant engineering projects we worked on in 2019:

  • Implemented support for MACsec hardware offloading, and support for this functionality for the Microchip VSC8584 Ethernet PHY. We presented this work in detail in a blog post, and submitted 4 iterations in 2019 and hope to see this merged in early 2020.
  • Improved the Intel GMA500 display driver to support page flipping, so that one of our customers can use the Weston Wayland compositor on hardware platforms that use this display controller.
  • Started a project to support the Microchip VSC8572 Ethernet PHY in Linux, used as a pass-through to SFP cages. As part of this project, we already contributed patches to convert the cpsw network driver to phylink, and we will contribute VSC8572 patches once the project has made enough progress.
  • Migrated a complete Buildroot-based BSP for a Danish customer in the healthcare industry: migration to a newer Linux kernel version and a newer Buildroot version for a Microchip AT91SAM9G45 platform and a TI AM335x platform.
  • Migrated a complete Yocto-based BSP for a Belgian customer to a newer mainline version of the Linux kernel for an i.MX6 platform, implemented secure boot and optimized the boot time.
  • For a major US customer, implemented a complete Linux BSP for a custom Xilinx Zynq 7000 platform: upstream U-Boot, upstream Linux and Yocto-based build system. As part of this project, we did a number of kernel contributions and we still have a major kernel contribution pending: a complete DRM driver for the logiCVC display controller.
  • For a German customer in the healthcare industry, continued to support additional hardware features of an i.MX6 platform, and built a complete new BSP for an SAMA5D3-based hardware platform.
  • For a Canadian customer, completely upgraded the Linux BSP for a NXP LPC3250 platform: update to U-Boot upstream, to Linux upstream, and migration to Buildroot as a build system.
  • For an Italian customer, started a brand new BSP for a Rockchip PX30 based platform, which will require a number of improvements and additions to the Linux kernel support for this platform, which we will work on in 2020.
  • For a Belgian customer, migrated a Linux BSP for an OMAP44xx platform with complex audio interfaces to a recent upstream Linux kernel version.
  • For a French customer, implemented and delivered a complete Yocto-based Linux BSP for an i.MX6 platform.
  • For the French company Overkiz, updated, cleaned-up and upstreamed to the Linux kernel the Device Tree files for their Microchip SAMA5 home automation platforms.
  • Implemented support for software-based ECC and external hardware ECC engines in the SPI flash subsystem of the Linux kernel, for one of our customers that manufactures flash chips. This patch series is still under review, but we expect to get it merged in early 2020.
  • Implemented support for dm-verity and SELinux in OpenWRT, for one of our customers. See our blog post.
  • Continued to work on implementing top-level parallel build in Buildroot, which finally got merged at the end of 2019 in upstream Buildroot.
  • Continued to work on improving the support for Microchip ARM processors and Marvell Armada ARM processors in the Linux kernel, in many areas.
  • For a customer building a complex audio product based on an Allwinner system-on-chip, we implemented support for TDM in the Allwinner audio interface driver and used it in conjunction with PDM microphones.
  • Published a long series of blog posts on how to create a Linux system with Buildroot for the STM32MP1 platform: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5. This series will continue in 2020.
  • Completed the work on the Allwinner VPU that was funded by the Kickstarter campaign of early 2018: the Allwinner VPU driver was merged, with MPEG2, H264 and H265 decoding support, see our blog post.
  • Continued to work on the support for the RaspberryPi platforms, making a number of enhancements to the display support and its testing, as we reported in a blog post.

Training

Our training business has seen quite a bit of activity in 2019:

  • We created and published a new training course: Displaying and rendering graphics with Linux. This 2-day course, created by Bootlin engineer Paul Kocialkowski provides a detailed walk-through of Linux graphics: graphics hardware and theory, low-level support in the Linux kernel, support in user-space in Wayland or X.org, OpenGL acceleration, etc. This course is available on-site and we already delivered it to customers in Spain, Portugal and France.
  • Our Embedded Linux and Yocto/OpenEmbedded training courses have been ported to use the STM32MP1 platform for practical labs, and we became a member of the STMicroelectronics Partner Program. The support for STM32MP1 in our training courses is proposed as an alternative to the Microchip SAMA5D3 platform (for the Embedded Linux training) and the BeagleBone Black (for the Yocto training) that we continue to support as well.
  • Thanks to funding from Zuehlke Engineering in Serbia, we expanded our Linux boot time optimization training course to 3 days, adding much more lecture and lab content, and collecting useful benchmarks that we later shared in the Embedded Linux Conference Europe.
  • Overall our publicly available training materials have received 376 commits during the course of 2019, all visible in their GitHub repository.
  • We delivered many of our on-site training courses in France, India, Spain, Serbia, Poland, Finland, Portugal, Nederlands and Austria, and continued to offer our training courses in public sessions in Avignon, France.

Conferences

As usual in 2019, we attended and participated to a number of conferences:

  • Our networking experts Antoine Ténart and Maxime Chevallier attended the Netdev 0x13 conference in Prague.
  • Bootlin engineer Alexandre Belloni attended the SiFive Tech Symposium about the RISC-V architecture, in Grenoble.
  • A significant part of our engineering team attended the Linux Plumbers conference in Lisbon.
  • Bootlin engineer Grégory Clement attended the Kernel Recipes conference in Paris.
  • Our display/video expert Paul Kocialkowski attended the X.org Developers Conference, in Montreal.
  • And of course, we attended the Embedded Linux Conference Europe 2019. We gave 5 talks and 2 tutorials at this event (see our blog post) and shared our selection of talks.
  • We participated to the Capitole du Libre conference in Toulouse, where Michael Opdenacker gave a talk on Embedded Linux from scratch in 40 minutes (on RISC-V).
  • Participated to the Buildroot Developers Meeting throughout the year: after FOSDEM 2019 and before ELCE 2019. See our report from the FOSDEM meeting.
  • Recruiting

    • An additional engineer joined our team in Lyon: Kamel Bouhara. Kamel is now working with our senior engineers Grégory Clement and Alexandre Belloni in this office.
    • During the summer 2019, Victor Huesca joined Bootlin as an intern in Toulouse, and worked on improving the tooling used for the maintenance of the Buildroot project. All the work done by Victor is now used by the Buildroot community, see our blog post for more details.
    • An additional engineer will join our Toulouse office at the end of January 2020, and 3 interns will also join Bootlin during the first half of 2020, working on improving the Elixir Cross Referencer, and contributing to Linux and U-Boot.
    • We still have positions opened for Embedded Linux and kernel engineers, see job offer.

    Author: Thomas Petazzoni

    Thomas Petazzoni is CTO and embedded Linux and kernel engineer at Bootlin. He is a lead developer of Buildroot and also a contributor to the Linux kernel. More details...

4 thoughts on “2019 at Bootlin, a year in review”

  1. Hi Thomas,

    Now days i facing some trouble/Slowness to loading any page or LXR site.
    Not sure its from LXR site problem or some other network issue.
    i have tried to access with different-2 network like from office, form Home etc.
    and observed same issue

  2. Hi, I have been using the website to glimpse through Linux kernel code, and it worked fantastically! However since mid December, some updates seemed to significantly slow down the rendering, to the extend that any source file larger than a couple thousand lines could often take 20+ seconds to load, with webpage unresponsive even after loading complete. I tried chrome/mozilla on both linux and windows based system, and the issue persists. Not sure if anybody else experienced the same.

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