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!

Bootlin at FOSDEM and at the Buildroot Developers Meeting

FOSDEMThis week-end is the first week-end of February, which on the schedule of all open-source developers is always booked for a major event of our community: the FOSDEM conference in Brussels. With several hundreds of talks over two days, this completely free event is one of the biggest event, if not the biggest of the open-source world.

For embedded Linux developers, FOSDEM has quite a few interesting tracks and talks this year: an embedded track, a graphics track (with many embedded related talks, such as talks on Video4Linux, the status of open-source drivers for 2D and 3D graphics on ARM platforms, etc.), and several talks in other tracks relevant to embedded developers. For example, there is one talk about the Allwinner SoCs and the community behind it in one of the main track. Our engineer Maxime Ripard is the Linux kernel maintainer for this family of SoC.

Two Bootlin engineers will attend FOSDEM: Maxime Ripard and Thomas Petazzoni. Do not hesitate to get in touch with them if you want to discuss embedded Linux or kernel topics!

Also, right after FOSDEM, the Buildroot community is organizing its Developers Meeting, on Monday, 3rd and Tuesday 4th February. This event is sponsored by Google (providing the meeting location) and Mind (providing the dinner), and will take place in the offices of Google in Brussels. Ten Buildroot developers will participate to the meeting in Brussels, as well as a number of others remotely. On Bootlin side, Thomas Petazzoni will be participating to the meeting. If you are interested in participating, either physically or remotely, do not hesitate to contact Thomas to register. For more details, see the wiki page of the event.

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.

Bootlin at Linux Conf Australia, January 2014

Linux Conf Augstralia 2014Linux Conf Australia is by far the most well-known Linux related conference of the southern hemisphere, with a good number of Linux kernel related talks and discussions, as well as many other topics around the Linux ecosystem. The 2014 edition of the event will take place in Perth, Australia, and the schedule of talks and mini-confs looks very promising!

For the first time, Bootlin will be participating to this conference: our CTO and embedded Linux engineer Thomas Petazzoni will be giving a talk titled Buildroot: building embedded Linux systems made easy!, during which he will be presenting what Buildroot is, what it is useful for, and how it works.

Beyond this talk, Thomas will be attending the full week of conferences, so do not hesitate to get in touch with him, especially if you’re interested in embedded Linux topics, Buildroot, ARM kernel development, and in Bootlin!

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.

Bootlin Quarterly – 2013 Q1

The Bootlin team wishes you a Happy New Year for 2013, with success in your professional and personal projects, and in contributing to other people’s lives. We are taking this opportunity to give some news about Bootlin.

In 2012, Bootlin continued to work on multiple development projects. The main difference with 2011 is that the projects were much longer. Here are the most important ones:

  • Linux kernel code development, adding and maintaining support for Marvell Armada 370 and Armada XP ARM SoCs in the mainline Linux kernel. Months of engineering work! Our commits appear on git.kernel.org.
  • Linux kernel code development and toolchain work on a new i.MX28 computer-on-module from Crystalfontz, adding support for this system to the mainline Linux kernel. See the project page on Kickstarter!
  • Build system integration, bootloader and kernel driver development, system update mechanism improvements, and general embedded Linux development work.
  • Kernel driver development and upstreaming for AT91 analog to digital converters.
  • Boot time optimization and power management audit on a MIPS based point of sales terminal
  • Boot time reduction project on a ARM based point-of-sales development kit.
  • Embedded Linux system integration, development and support.

Through contract work or through direct contributions, 2012 gave us multiple opportunities to contribute to open-source projects, in particular:

  • 195 patches to the Linux kernel, plus the ones which have been accepted by maintainers but haven’t been included by Linus Torvalds yet. See git.kernel.org for details.
  • 448 patches to the Buildroot build system. See git.buildroot.net for details.
  • 9 patches to the U-boot bootloader.
  • 7 patches to the Barebox bootloader. See git.penguntronix.de for details.

By the way, here’s the git command that you can run in the corresponding repositories to count the commits by yourself:

git shortlog --no-merges -sn --author "free-electrons.com" --since="01/01/2012" --until="12/31/2012"

We gave multiple sessions of our Embedded Linux system development and Linux kernel and driver development courses. We have also completed migrating our training materials from the Open Document Format to LaTeX, and their sources are now available on our public git server, making it much easier to follow changes and contribute to them.

We also created a new Android system development course and delivered multiple sessions of it. It is a four days training course to understand the Android system architecture, how to build and customize an Android system for a given hardware platform, and how to extend the Android platform to take new hardware devices into account.

As in the previous years, we also gave presentations at international conferences:

Also attending these conferences, the Bootlin team also recorded and published videos of the talks:

Thanks to their contributions to the mainline Linux kernel on the ARM platform, Gregory Clement and Thomas Petazzoni have also been invited to the ARM minisummit at the Linux kernel summit in San Jose in August. They were involved in decision making for the next evolutions of the Linux kernel on the ARM architecture.

We also organized and participated to two “Buildroot developer days” events, one in Brussels in February after Fosdem, and one in Barcelona in November after ELC Europe.

We also continued to participate to the development of the community of Linaro, an engineering organization working on improving Linux on the ARM platform. Note that this involvement is now over, allowing Michael Opdenacker to get back to more technical projects.

Now, let’s talk about our plans for 2013.

We plan to continue to hire more engineers to meet growing demand for our development and training services. In particular, a new engineer is joining us in March.

We are also organizing several public training sessions in France, which dates are now available:

We also plan to announce several new training sessions. Being very busy with projects in 2012, we haven’t had time to make progress in the plans we announced one year ago:

  • Git training. A two day training session to clearly understand how to use the Git distributed version control system, both for internal projects and for contribution to open-source projects.
  • Linux kernel debugging, tracing and performance analysis course. A one to two day session to trace kernel execution, investigate bugs and performance issues.
  • Boot time reduction training. A one to two day workshop to learn and master the methodology and techniques to make your embedded Linux systems boot faster.

As we are only in the very early stages of planning and preparing these courses, don’t hesitate to take the opportunity to contact us to let us know your expectations and influence their contents, in case you are interested in such courses.

We will also continue to participate to the key technical conferences. In particular, Bootlin engineers will be present at the Android Builders Summit and the Embedded Linux Conference in San Francisco, and at Embedded Linux Conference Europe in Edinburgh in October. This participation to conferences allows Bootlin engineers to remain up-to-date with the latest developments in the embedded Linux area and to create useful contacts in the community. Do not hesitate to go to such conferences, develop your technical knowledge and to take the opportunity to meet us there!

Last but not least, we will try harder to really write this newsletter every quarter. In 2012, we were so busy with projects that we didn’t manage to release newsletters for Q3 and Q4.

You can follow Bootlin news by reading our blog (31 articles in 2012) and by following our quick news on Twitter.

Again, Happy New Year!

The Bootlin team.

Software patents: letter to European MPs

The software patent threat is back in the European Union, through the “Unitary Patent” project currently reviewed by the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament. In a few words, the idea is to let the European Patent Office (EPO) define what can be patented and what cannot be. The problem is the EPO is well known for supporting software patents, and in addition, there is no democratic control over it.

You will find more details on the unitary-patent.eu and on the Stop Software Patents websites.

After the latest battles against software patents in 2005, it was time for me to take my pen again and try to warn our representatives about the threats from software patents. The below letter was sent last week to each of the JURI committee, in English or in French version.

It doesn’t constitute any in-depth legal study on software patents, because I am only an engineer, without any advanced legal knowledge. It is rather a testimonial of my worries about these patents. These worries are justified by multiple deviances that software patents caused over the years in the whole world, and by the constant pressure faced by our representatives to make such patents legal in the European Union.

It may not be too late to write to your representatives at the European Parliament, but in any case, it isn’t too late to sign the petition that many companies and individuals already signed.

Dear Member of the European Parliament,

I am the creator and General Manager of Bootlin, a young European engineering company specializing in embedded software, supporting worldwide companies in designing embedded systems, on a rapidly growing market.

It’s the availability of a great number of Open-Source building blocks that allowed our company to experience continuous growth since its inception in 2004. Many industrial and consumer electronics products are designed with these building blocks. These blocks are developed by a vibrant community of software developers in the whole world, which our company participates to.

This dynamism would have been reduced if software patents had been legal in the E.U., as they are in the U.S.A. and in Japan. Because of their great number and because they are often trivial, such patents constitute a real “minefield” for inventors creating software and systems embedding software. For a company with limited resources, it is indeed impossible to make sure that the ideas that they implement by programming, or the software components that they reuse, do not step on a method already patented by someone else. The creator of an innovative product including software then runs the risk of having his/her investment ruined by a bigger competitor threatened by this invention. This competitor, if it owns a sufficiently big patent pool, could always find a trivial software patent that the competing product would infringe, and have the distribution of this product stopped. Another danger comes from “Patent troll” companies that do not create any product and only hunt for companies with products that could that infringe the patents they own.

We are also worried by the fact that at least in the software industry, patents are deviated from their primary purpose of fostering innovation. It is the exact opposite that happens, and it seems that patents today are only instruments for giant corporations to fight against competitors, big or small, and to prevent them from distributing competing products. In addition, the first patents granted a temporary monopoly in exchange for revealing a secret manufacturing process. For many software patents, like the famous “double click” patent owned by Microsoft, there is no more secret to reveal, as their effects are very easy to reproduce. However, we continue to grant a monopoly to their owners.

Therefore, our company is worried about the current plans to set up a unitary patent with a flanking unified patent court.

We are concerned that the regulation on the unitary patent, as agreed in December 2011 by the negotiators of the Council, the Commission, and the Committee on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament, leaves any and every issue on the limits of patentability to the European Patent Office (EPO)’s case law, without any democratic control or review by an independent court.

However, in spite of the rejection of software patentability by the European Parliament, through its vote on September 24th, 2003 and July 6th, 2005, the EPO continued to grant software patents, under the deceiving term of “computer-implemented inventions”. That’s perhaps because the EPO has a financial interest in granting as many patents as possible, and therefore fuel an increase in the number of litigation cases, for the profit of attorney offices but discouraging innovation, which is the main driver for our modern economy.

The regulation on the unitary patent is an opportunity for the EU legislators to harmonize substantive patent law in the EU institutional and jurisdictional framework, and to put an end to the EPO’s self-motivated practices extending the realm of patentability to software. Failing to do so, this unitary patent will do more harm than good to the EU ICT firms.

For these reasons, we urge MEPs to adopt amendments which clearly state that the EPO’s decisions are subject to a review from the Court of Justice of the European Union, and which reaffirm the rejection of software patentability, as voted by the European Parliament.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you wish.

Kind regards,

Michael Opdenacker

Embedded Linux, kernel and Android engineer job openings (2012)

Home based jobs in Europe or at one of our offices in France

Penguin worksTo meet increasing demand for its Embedded Linux, kernel and Android engineering services, 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
  • With visible contributions to Free Software used in embedded systems, such as the Linux kernel, BusyBox, build systems, compilers…
  • With technical writing skills and an interest for training

Experience with Android low-level development, allowing to teach our Android System Development course would also be a strong advantage, though not mandatory.

A first possibility is be hired in France. Being able to join one of our offices in France (Toulouse or Orange) will be an advantage, but working from home in other parts of France will be possible too. We are also open to people living in a country with the Euro currency, working from home, and able to work as full time contractors.

We have a first opening that we would like to fill between September and December 2012. If demand continues to grow, we expect to hire more engineers with the same profile in the following months. We also hope to expand the home based jobs to countries outside Europe in the next years, but it will take a bit more time.

See our careers page for a full description.