2015 Q1 newsletter

The Bootlin team wishes you a Happy New Year for 2015, with plenty of optimism and energy!

Bootlin is happy to take this opportunity to share some news about the latest training and contribution activities of the company.

Kernel contributions

We continue to work significantly on support for various ARM processors in the Linux kernel. Our contributions to the latest kernel releases:

  • 147 patches from Bootlin merged in Linux 3.17, making Bootlin the 14th contributing company for this release by number of patches. See our blog post about this release.
  • 155 patches from Bootlin merged in Linux 3.18, making Bootlin the 14th contributing company. See our blog post for more details.
  • For the upcoming 3.19 release, we already have 196 patches merged.

One of the highlights was that we added support for the Atmel SAMA5D4 SoC to the Linux kernel even before the new chip was announced by Atmel! That’s a very positive sign for customers when an SoC is supported in the mainline Linux kernel sources right at product launch, instead of having to wait for months or years before the community developers can catch up.

Note that we also added Atmel SAMA5D3 SoC support to Xenomai, a hard real-time extension for the Linux kernel. Thanks to this, the Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained board can now run with the 2.6.x release of Xenomai.

Besides those highlights, most of our kernel contributions were as usual centered around support for specific families of ARM processors: CPUs from Marvell EBU and Marvell Berlin, from Atmel and from Allwinner. We added a new network driver for some Marvell EBU processors, added SMP support for Marvell Berlin processors, added a DMA controller driver for Allwinner processors, and did a lot of maintenance work to support these processors in the mainline kernel.

Buildroot contributions

Our involvement into the Buildroot project, a popular embedded Linux build system, is going on. Our engineer Thomas Petazzoni contributed 136 patches to the 2014.11 release, making him the second contributor by number of patches. Thomas is also taking care of the maintenance of the project on a more regular basis, reviewing and merging patches from contributors.

OpenWRT contributions

We have recently started contributing to the OpenWRT project: improve the kernel support to use defconfig, introduce a notion of board to support different NAND configurations for each platform. We will soon to be pushing support for the Marvell Armada 385 platform, and improved support for the Marvell Armada 370 and XP platforms.

Recent projects

Besides our publicly visible kernel contributions, we do also work on customer-specific projects. Among the latest projects we have done:

  • Develop a complete Board Support Package for a custom TI AM335x based platform: U-Boot porting, Linux kernel porting, and development of a Yocto-generated system. Qt5 and OpenGL are used for the graphical application, a fairly complex audio setup had to be supported, and many traditional interfaces as well (USB Host and Device, CAN, display, etc.)
  • Develop a Board Support Package for a custom Marvell Armada 375 based platform for a telephony system. Not only did we port a Linux kernel on this platform, but we also wrote several DAHDI drivers to interface the telephony hardware of the platform with Asterisk.
  • NAND and UBI stress-testing for a customer-specific Freescale i.MX28 based platform. We improved the NAND controller driver, added a new MTD tool to generate bitflips, and did some long term power-cut stress-testing of the UBIFS setup to ensure the reliability of the platform. See our kernel driver improvements and the new nandflipbits tool.
  • Adapt an existing ADC driver for a customer-specific platform to the modern Industrial Input Output (IIO) subsystem of the kernel.

Conferences: FOSDEM, Embedded World and Embedded Linux Conference

Several Bootlin engineers will participate to the FOSDEM conference, taking place on January 30 and February 1 in Brussels. In addition, Thomas Petazzoni will be participating to the Buildroot Developers Meeting that takes place right after FOSDEM in the Google offices in Brussels.

Bootlin will participate to the Embedded World trade show on February 24-26 in Nuremberg, Germany. We will be present at Atmel’s booth and visiting exhibitor booths too. For people in Europe, this will be a good opportunity to ask your questions about our embedded Linux training and engineering services. In particular, you will be able meet our engineers Alexandre Belloni, Thomas Petazzoni (CTO), Michael Opdenacker (CEO) and Anja Roubin as well, the new person in charge of our training services.

This year again, most of the Bootlin engineering team (7 engineers) will participate to the 2015 edition of the Embedded Linux Conference on March 23-25 in San Jose, California. We submitted several talk proposals, but our presence won’t depend on the number of talks that are eventually accepted. Participating to this conference, and to its European edition in the fall too, is very important for us to make sure we do not miss any of the interesting developments in the technical community, and above all to strengthen our ties with the community developers. This helps us to be good technical trainers with valuable experience and information to share. The strong relationships with other community developers (and in particular with project maintainers) also help us when our customers contract us to add hardware support or features to official versions of community projects such as the Linux kernel.

Free technical documentation resources

Since the latest edition of this newsletter, we started running our new Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded course, and we released all training materials for this course. As usual, such materials are meant to be used by people learning by themselves too. All you have to do is get your hands on a Beaglebone Black board, read the slides and try to do the labs!

Our engineer Maxime Ripard also contributed documentation about the DMAEngine subsystem in the Linux kernel.

Upcoming training sessions – Now in Paris too!

The news is that we will run new public sessions in Paris, in addition to the ones we usually organize in Toulouse, Avignon and Lyon in France. We are starting with our embedded Linux and our Yocto courses, but other topics will follow too.

So, here are our next session dates:

See sessions and dates for more details. Of course, we can also deliver our training courses at your location, anywhere in the world. Feel free to contact us for a quote.

If you are interested in more frequent news about Bootlin, you can follow us on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

2014 Q3 newsletter

Bootlin is happy to share some news about the latest training and contribution activities of the company.

Kernel contributions

Since our last newsletter, our engineering team continued to make significant contributions to the Linux kernel, especially in the area of supporting ARM processors and platforms:

  • 218 patches from Bootlin were merged into Linux 3.15, making Bootlin the 12th contributing company for this release by number of patches. See our blog post.
  • 388 patches from Bootlin were merged into Linux 3.16, making Bootlin the 7th contributing company for this release, by number of patches. See our blog post.
  • For the upcoming 3.17 release, we already have 146 patches merged, and we have a lot more work being done for future kernel releases.

The major areas of our contributions were:

  • The addition of an ubiblk driver, which allows traditional block filesystems to be used on top of UBI devices, and therefore on NAND flash storage. Only read-only support is available, but it already allows to make use of the super efficient SquashFS filesystem on top of NAND flash in a safe way.
  • Another major addition is support for the new Marvell Armada 375 and Armada 38x processors. In just two releases (3.15 and 3.16) we almost pushed entire support for these new processors. The network driver for Armada 375 is one missing piece, coming in 3.17.
  • Our maintenance work on the Atmel AT91 and SAMA5 processors has continued, with more conversion to the Device Tree, the common clock framework, and other modern kernel mechanisms. We have also developed the DRM/KMS (graphics) driver for the SAMA5D3 SoC, which has already been posted and should hopefully be merged soon.
  • Our work to support the Marvell Berlin processor has started to be merged in 3.16. This processor is used in various TVs, set-top boxes or devices like the Google Chromecast. Basic support was merged including Device Trees, clock drivers, pin-muxing driver, GPIO and SDHCI support. AHCI support will be in 3.17, and USB and network support should be in 3.18.
  • Additional work was done on support for Allwinner ARM SoCs, especially the A31 processor: SPI and I2C support, drivers for the P2WI bus and the PRCM controller, and support for USB.

We now have broad experience in writing kernel drivers and getting code merged into the mainline tree. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need help to develop Linux kernel drivers, or to support a new board or processor.

Buildroot contributions

Our involvement into the Buildroot project, a popular embedded Linux build system, is going on. We have merged 159 patches in the 2014.05 release of the project (total of 1293 patches), and 129 patches in the 2014.08 release of the project (total of 1353 patches). Moreover, our engineer Thomas Petazzoni is regularly an interim maintainer of the project, when the official maintainer Peter Korsgaard is not available. Some of the major features we contributed: major improvements to Python 3 support, addition of EFI bootloaders, addition of support for the Musl C library.

Regular embedded Linux projects

Of course, we also conducted embedded Linux development and boot time optimization projects for various embedded system makers, with less visible impact on community projects. However, we will try to share generic technical experience from such projects through future blog posts.

New training course: Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded

A large number of embedded Linux projects use embedded Linux build systems to integrate the various software components of the system into a working root filesystem image. Among the solutions available to achieve this, the Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded are very popular.

We have therefore launched a new 3 day Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded training course to help engineers and companies who are using, or are interested in using these solutions for their embedded Linux projects. Starting from the basics of understanding the core principles of Yocto, the training course goes into the details of writing package recipes, integrating support for a board into Yocto, creating custom images, and more.

The detailed agenda of the training course is available. You can order this training course at your location, or participate to the first public session organized on November 18-20 in France.

Embedded Linux training course updated

The embedded Linux ecosystem is evolving very quickly, and therefore we are continuously updating our training courses to match the latest developments. As part of this effort, we have recently conducted a major update to our Embedded Linux course: the hardware platform used for the practical labs has been changed to the popular and very interesting Atmel Xplained SAMA5D3, and many practical labs have been improved to provide a more useful learning experience. See our blog post for more details.

Mailing list for training participants

We have launched a new service for the participants to our training sessions: a mailing list dedicated to them, and through which they can ask additional questions after the course, share their experience, get in touch with other training participants and Bootlin engineers. Of course, all Bootlin engineers are on the mailing list and participate to the discussions. Another useful service offered by our training courses!

This resource is no longer available, but participants to our training sessions are still welcome to contact us by e-mail.

Conferences: ELC, ELCE, Kernel Recipes

The Bootlin engineering team will participate to the Embedded Linux Conference Europe and Linux Plumbers, next month in Düsseldorf, Germany. Several Bootlin engineers will also be giving talks during ELCE:

In addition, Thomas will participate to the Buildroot Developers Day, taking place right before the Embedded Linux Conference Europe in Düsseldorf.

See also our blog post about ELCE for more details.

Maxime Ripard and Michael Opdenacker will participate to the Kernel Recipes 2014 conference, on September 25-26 in Paris. Maxime will be giving his Allwinner kernel talk at this conference. See our blog post for more details.

Last but not least, we have recently published the videos of a number of talks from the previous Embedded Linux Conference, held earlier this year in San Jose. A lot of interesting material about embedded Linux! Check out our blog post for more details.

Upcoming training sessions

We have a number of public training sessions dates, with seats available:

Sessions and dates

Embedded Linux course in Madrid – July 7-11

We are happy to announce a new Embedded Linux training course on July 7-11, in Madrid, Spain.

IGEPv2 boardIt is organized by our partners ISEE (the makers of the IGEPv2 board that we are using in this course), and Silica, a well known component is distributor who is welcoming the session in its offices in Madrid.

The course will be instructed in English by our trainer Marcin Bis. Marcin Bis

The registrations are directly handled by ISEE. See details.

2014 Q2 newsletter

Bootlin is happy to share some news about the latest training and contribution activities of the company.

Bootlin at Embedded World 2014, Nuremberg, Germany

Embedded World 2014, Germany

Embedded World is the world’s largest trade show about embedded systems. In 2013, it attracted around 900 exhibitors, over 22,000 visitors and almost 1,500 congress participants.

This year, Bootlin will be represented by our CEO Michael Opdenacker. This should be a great opportunity for us to understand our customers better, by meeting embedded system makers, by seeing what their needs are and what technologies they use. It will also be an opportunity to meet well known members of the technical community. In particular, here are a few well know people who are going to speak at the congress:

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you are attending this event too and are interested in knowing Bootlin better, for business, partnership or even career opportunities!

Android training sessions in the UK

Bootlin is happy to announce its first public training session outside of France.

British Android robot logo

Of course, we deliver training courses on customer sites all around the world, but this will be the first one open to individual registration that we organize outside of France.

We are starting with an Android system development session in Southampton, UK.

You will enjoy the newest version of our Android course, based on Android 4.x, and using the BeagleBone Black as the development platform for the practical labs. As always in our training sessions, participants walk away with the board used during the practical labs (in this case the BeagleBone Black and its LCD cape), allowing them to continue their learning and experiments well after the end of the course.

Being a popular cruising destination, Southampton is easy to reach from other cities in the UK and in the world.

The Android robot picture is copyrighted by Google. It is licensed under the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution Unported license. The British robot version has been derived by Bootlin, and is available under the same license. Feel free to reuse it and improve it as long as you keep the original author!

Bootlin New Year – 2014

A French version also exists.

The Bootlin team wishes you a Happy New Year for 2014, with plenty of optimism and energy!

We are taking this opportunity to give some news about Bootlin.

In 2013, Bootlin significantly increased its contribution to open-source projects, especially at the Linux kernel level.

639 patches integrated in the Linux kernel, mainly to improve support for Marvell ARM processors and Allwinner ARM processors. For all kernel releases published in 2013, Bootlin has been in the top 30 contributing companies. We now have a significant experience in integrating support for ARM processors in the Linux kernel, and we expect to work more in this area in 2014.

595 patches integrated in the Buildroot embedded Linux build system, in a large number of areas, making Bootlin the second most important contributor after Buildroot’s maintainer. This effort allows Bootlin to keep an up-to-date expertise in cross-compilation and build systems.

26 patches integrated in the Barebox bootloader:

22 patches to the Yocto Freescale layer, mainly adding support for the Crystalfontz boards. In the process, a new image type was developed and significant improvements were made to the Barebox recipe.

Several of these contributions, and many other activities, were driven by development and consulting activities in 2013, with mainly:

  • Linux kernel code development, adding and maintaining support for customer ARM processors or boards in the mainline Linux kernel. Especially on Marvell and Freescale processors.
  • Linux kernel, driver development and build system integration for an Atmel SAMA5 based medical device.
  • Development of Linux kernel drivers for radio-frequency transceivers, on an Atmel SAMA5 based home automation platform.
  • Boot time optimization audits.
  • Buildroot consulting and audit.

We have also significantly improved and updated our training courses:

  • Our embedded Linux and kernel driver development course was updated to use the BeagleBone Black platform, to cover the usage of the Device Tree on ARM platform, and to use a fun I2C device to illustrate the development of a device driver in our labs.
  • Our Android system development course was updated to use Android 4.x, and use the BeagleBone Black as the development platform for the practical labs.
  • Our embedded Linux system development course was updated to use more recent versions of the Linux kernel, in order to cover the usage of the Device Tree on ARM platforms.

Our training materials remain freely available under a Creative Commons license, including their source code, available from a public Git repository.

Bootlin continues to believe that participating to conferences is critical to keep its engineers up to date with the latest Linux developments and create connections with the developers of the Linux community which are essential to make our projects progress faster. For this purpose, we participated to a large number of conferences in 2013:

  • FOSDEM 2013, in Brussels, Belgium. Our CTO and engineer Thomas Petazzoni gave a talk about ARM kernel development
  • Buildroot Developers Meeting, Brussels, Belgium. Our engineer Thomas Petazzoni organized and participated to this 2-days meeting, sponsored by Google, to work on Buildroot developments.
  • Embedded Linux Conference 2013 and Android Builders Summit 2013, in San Francisco, United States. Our engineer Gregory Clement gave a talk about the Linux kernel clock framework. Our engineer Thomas Petazzoni gave a talk about ARM kernel development. See also our videos.
  • Linaro Connect Europe 2013, Dublin Ireland. Our engineer Thomas Petazzoni participated to numerous discussions related to support for ARM processors in the Linux kernel.
  • Linux Plumbers 2013, New Orleans, United States. Our engineer Maxime Ripard attended the conference, and participated to discussions around Android and Linux kernel development.
  • Kernel Recipes, Paris, France. Both Bootlin CEO Michael Opdenacker and CTO Thomas Petazzoni participated to this Linux kernel conference, and Thomas gave two talks: one about ARM kernel development and one about Buildroot.
  • ARM kernel mini-summit 2013, Edinburgh, UK. Our engineers Gregory Clement, Thomas Petazzoni and Maxime Ripard participated to the invitation-only ARM kernel mini-summit. This summit is the key place to discuss and define the next directions for support for ARM processors in the Linux kernel.
  • Embedded Linux Conference Europe, Edinburgh, UK. Gregory Clement gave a talk about about the Linux kernel clock framework and Thomas Petazzoni gave a talk about the Device Tree.
  • Buildroot Developers Meeting, Edinburgh, UK. Our engineer Thomas Petazzoni organized and participated to this 2-days meeting, sponsored by Imagination Technologies, to work on Buildroot development.

A very important development of Bootlin in 2013 is the addition of a new engineer to our team: Alexandre Belloni joined us in March 2013. Alexandre has a very significant embedded Linux and kernel experience, see his profile.

Now, let’s talk about our plans for 2014:

  • Hire several additional engineers. One of them has already been hired and will join us in April, bringing a significant Linux kernel development experience, including mainline contribution.
  • Our involvement in support for ARM processors in the Linux kernel will grow significantly.
  • Two new training courses will be released: one “Boot time reduction” training course, and an “OpenEmbedded and Yocto” training course.
  • For the first time, we will organize public training sessions (open to individual registration) outside of France.
    • Our next Android system development session in English will happen on April 14-17 in Southampton, UK
    • We are also working on embedded Linux and Kernel and driver development sessions in the USA, to be announced in the next weeks.
    • We also plan to organize embedded Linux and Kernel and driver development sessions in Germany, with German speaking trainers.
    • By the way, our Android system development courses in French will continue to run in Toulouse, but there will also be a session on April 1-4 in Lyon.

    See also the full list of public sessions.

As in 2013, we will participate to several key conferences. We have already planned our participation to: Linux Conf Australia (January 2014), FOSDEM (February 2014), Embedded Linux Conference (April 2014) and the Embedded Linux Conference Europe (October 2014).

You can follow Bootlin news by reading our blog and by following our quick news on Twitter. We now have a Google+ page too.

Again, Happy New Year!

The Bootlin team.

New training materials: boot time reduction workshop

We are happy to release new training materials that we have developed in 2013 with funding from Atmel Corporation.

The materials correspond to a 1-day embedded Linux boot time reduction workshop. In addition to boot time reduction theory, consolidating some of our experience from our embedded Linux boot time reduction projects, the workshop allows participants to practice with the most common techniques. This is done on SAMA5D3x Evaluation Kits from Atmel.

The system to optimize is a video demo from Atmel. We reduce the time to start a GStreamer based video player. During the practical labs, you will practice with techniques to:

  • Measure the various steps of the boot process
  • Analyze time spent starting system services, using bootchartd
  • Simplify your init scripts
  • Trace application startup with strace
  • Find kernel functions taking the most time during the boot process
  • Reduce kernel size and boot time
  • Replace U-Boot by the Barebox bootloader, and save a lot of time
    thanks to the activation of the data cache.

Creative commonsAs usual, our training materials are available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license. This essentially means that you are free to download, distribute and even modify them, provided you mention us as the original authors and that you share these documents under the same conditions.

Special thanks to Atmel for allowing us to share these new materials under this license!

Here are the documents at last:

The first public session of this workshop will be announced in the next weeks.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you are interested in organizing a session on your site.

Linux init failures now easier to debug

If you are an embedded Linux developer too, you have probably been frustrated by the lack of information from the Linux kernel when it failed to start the init process when you’re building a new root filesystem. The only thing you get is No init found, and this could hide many different causes:

  • No init program candidate found at all
  • Some init program candidates exist but they can’t be executed, for multiple possible causes (missing execute permissions, failed to load shared libraries, executable compiled for an unknown architecture…)

The good news is that this source of frustration will be gone in Linux 3.13. Thanks to a Bootlin commit merged on Nov. 13, 2013, whenever an attempt to execute an init program candidate fails, there is a message in the console detailing the executable path and the error code. For example:

Starting init: /sbin/init exists but couldn't execute it (error -13)

When you get such a message, all you have to do is lookup the error code in include/uapi/asm-generic/errno-base.h or maybe in uapi/asm-generic/errno.h. In the above example, the -13 code meant permission denied, typically because of missing execution rights.

This had been annoying me for a long time, and I am glad that the Linux kernel community accepted my improvement!

By the way, many more improvements to the Linux kernel from Bootlin are currently getting merged in 3.13. See all our contributions to the Linux kernel.

Embedded Linux and kernel engineer job openings

Bootlin team

We’re getting busier than ever! Bootlin is looking for developers:

  • With experience developing embedded Linux systems
  • With experience developing device drivers for the Linux kernel, and porting Linux on new hardware. See our contributions to the mainline Linux kernel!
  • With technical writing skills and an interest for training

We need to fill at least 2 open positions in the next months, and more will follow in 2014.

Newly graduated engineers are welcome too, provided they already have experience in the above technical fields or with Free Software development.

This time, we are looking for people who will be able to join one of our offices in France (Toulouse or Avignon), to strengthen our engineering teams there.

  • Toulouse is a dynamic city with lots of high-tech and embedded systems companies in particular. Our office in Colomiers can easily be reached by train from downtown Toulouse if you wish to settle there. You would be working with Maxime Ripard and our CTO Thomas Petazzoni.
  • Our main office is settled in Orange in the heart of the Provence region, close to Avignon, a smaller but dynamic city too. It enjoys a sunny climate and the proximity of the Alps and the Mediterranean sea. Accommodation is very affordable and there are no traffic issues! You would be working with our founder Michael Opdenacker and of course remotely with the rest of the engineering team. In particular, we are interested in foreign engineers who could help us develop our services in their home countries.

If you are unable to relocate this time, don’t hesitate to contact us anyway. Depending on your profile and experience, we are still planning to open home based jobs in a few months or years from now.

If you are interested in these positions, here are nice opportunities to meet us in the next weeks:

See a full description and details about how to contact us.