ELC Europe 2010 sessions announced

List of sessions and speakers at ELC Europe in Cambridge, UK

Cambridge, UKBeing a member of the organization committee of the Embedded Linux Conference Europe, I get access to fresh news about this yearly conference. The call for presentations is now over and we have just announced the list of sessions.

Note that this list is not the final one yet. Some speakers haven’t confirmed their participation or haven’t sent their biographies yet. There are also two or three speakers added at the last minute who are not listed yet.

The conference will happen in Cambridge, UK, on October 27-28, 2010. Keep an eye on the website (or on our blog). Registration should open in a few days from now, and all practical details will be given then.

See also the agenda of the GStreamer conference which will happen at the same location on the day before.

Embedded Linux Opportunities – Keynote in Eindhoven

Fontys UniversityIf you live near Eindhoven in the Netherlands, or if you can easily get there, you may be interested in the seminar organized by Fontys University on June 25, 2010.

I will be in Eindhoven on that week to give our Embedded Linux System Development course. The session is organized by Fontys University and Alten PTS, and Fontys invited me to give a keynote at their seminar on Friday.

The seminar topic is: “Embedded Linux for SMEs” – A guide to professional development:

  • Ruud Ermers (Fontys) – A Guide to professional development
  • Gerben Blom (Alten PTS) – Android for SMEs
  • Michael Opdenacker (Free Electrons) – Embedded Linux Opportunities. Ideas and advise for the Open Minded.
  • The grand race, between arm9 controlled vehicles.
  • Technical demos

Here is the abstract for my speech:

Michael Opdenacker created Free Electrons in 2004, a company that is best known worldwide for the technical resources it shares with the embedded Linux community. The more this company shares (in the true sense of sharing: giving and receiving), the more successful it gets.

That’s why Michael will come to exchange ideas and experience on building successful embeddded Linux systems and businesses. Just make sure you send him a SIGSTOP signal at the end of his timeslot.

To water your mouth, this talk will show a few things which are possible with embedded Linux and free software building blocks. You will see how you can turn an idea into something that could keep you busy during your whole life if you are not careful.

So, if you are in the Eindhoven area, this could be a nice opportunity to meet. I hope to see you there!

Buildroot 2010.05 released: again many Free Electrons contributions

Buildroot logoJust one day before the end of May, Buildroot 2010.05 has been released by Peter Korsgaard, as predicted by the fixed release schedule used by the project. It can be downloaded at http://buildroot.org/downloads/buildroot-2010.05.tar.bz2. For the record, Buildroot is a simple and efficient tool to build embedded Linux systems: cross-compiling toolchain, root filesystem, kernel image and bootloader.

Major changes

The major user-visible changes are:

  • Re-organization of the menuconfig layout for packages. All packages are now organized in categories, making them easier to find
  • Our X.org package set has been upgraded to X.org 7.5.
  • Several new packages have been added: cdrkit, cramfs, genext2fs, genromfs, libatomic_ops, librsync, libusb-compat, lmbench, netperf, squashfs, squashfs3, squid. Many of them have been added as the result of a filesystem code generation cleanup
  • On the internal toolchain side (i.e toolchains generated by Buildroot), we have added support for uClibc 0.9.31, GCC 4.4.4, GDB 7.x and binutils 2.20.1.
  • On the external toolchain side (i.e. re-using existing toolchains), we have improved support for multilib toolchains (such as CodeSourcery toolchains)

In addition to these changes, 41 bugs of our bug tracker have been fixed, and dozens of packages have been upgraded or fixed.

Free Electrons contributions

Free Electrons has again made significant contributions to this release:

git shortlog -s -n 2010.02..
   224  Paulius Zaleckas
   182  Thomas Petazzoni, from Free Electrons
   148  Peter Korsgaard
    28  Gustavo Zacarias
    26  Will Wagner
    14  Lionel Landwerlin
     6  Yann E. MORIN
[...]

The things we have contributed include:

  • A big cleanup in the Buildroot code that generates the root filesystem images. It has been moved from various directories in target/ to a single, central location: fs/. The code that handled the compilation of host utilities to generate the filesystem images (genext2fs, cdrkit, mtd-utils, cramfs, squashfs, etc.) has been moved to normal packages, and an infrastructure has been added to factorize the common code of the various filesystem generation makefiles.
  • Better support for multilib external toolchains
  • A new script that generates nice dependency graph (see below)
  • A clarification of the gettext integration, to make it work properly with glibc toolchains.
  • Fixes to bug #75, bug #1789.
  • Dozens of build fixes found by testing random configurations.
  • Various code cleanups, that lead to the removal of several configuration options, which makes the usage of Buildroot a little bit easier.

Dependency graph generation

Thanks to the new package infrastructure that we have included in Buildroot a few releases ago, it is now easier to retrieve the list of dependencies of each package in a generic way. Using this, I recently implemented a dependency graph generation tool. It allows to generate nice graphs of the dependencies for a given package, like libgtk2 in the following example (click for the full sized version):

Note that packages in red are packages that do not use the generic or autotools infrastructure, so we couldn’t determine what their dependencies are.

We can also generate the dependency graph for a complete Buildroot configuration, with all packages:

Using this tool is fairly easy. You must first install the graphviz package on your distribution. For a single package dependency graph:

./scripts/graph-depends libgtk2 > libgtk2.dot
dot -Tpdf libgtk2.dot -o libgtk2.pdf

For a full dependency graph:

./scripts/graph-depends > full.dot
dot -Tpdf full.dot -o full.pdf

Note that the dependency graph always depends on the selected set of packages. It is not the absolute dependency graph, which would contain all existing dependencies. It only show the dependencies as they are in your current configuration.

Plans for the next release

The next release is scheduled for August (2010.08). I have in mind various things:

  • Cleanup of the bootloader compilation code and integration of support for Barebox. This is already implemented in one of my branch, so I should be able to push this fairly soon to Buildroot
  • Cleanup of the Linux kernel compilation code, with a much-wanted simplification of this. Again, this is already implemented on my side, but requires a little bit more work before being able to push this
  • Continue the effort to convert packages to the generic or autotools infrastructure. I have already sent a status update on this topic to the project mailing-list. We have 56 packages to convert to the generic infrastructure and 77 to convert to the autotools infrastructure.
  • Integration with Crosstool-NG, which is a job that Yann Morin, developer of Crosstool-NG has already started.
  • More improvements of the external toolchain integration
  • If some time is left, a cleanup and reorganization of the board support mechanism, so that we can add more boards in a sane way

New jobs at Free Electrons

Penguin worksLooking for kernel and embedded Linux experts

Free Electrons is looking for experienced members of the Free Software community to satisfy increasing demand for development, consulting and training on embedded Linux and on the Linux kernel.

One thing that distinguishes our positions from others is that contributing to the community will be part of your objectives.

All the details can be found on our careers page.

ELCE 2009 videos

Videos from the Embedded Linux Conference Europe, Grenoble, October 2009

ELCE 2009Just a few weeks before the next edition of the Embedded Linux Conference in San Francisco, here are the videos from the previous edition in Europe a few months ago.

These videos were shot by Satoru Ueda and Tim Bird (Sony), Ruud Derwig (NXP) and by Thomas Petazzoni and Michael Opdenacker (Free Electrons). As usual, they are released under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution – ShareAlike Licence version 3.0.

Ruud DerwigIf you have never been to an Embedded Linux Conference yet, these videos should show you how useful this conference is for embedded Linux system developers. This is the place where you can discover new development tools and technologies that will change your working life, benefit from the experience from your peers, get the opportunity to talk to the fantastic people who implement the Free and Open Source software that makes your system run, and win cool penguin goodies. So, don’t miss next next edition in San Francisco.

ELC 2010 program announced

Japantown, San FranciscoThe program of talks and BOFs of the 2010 edition of the Embedded Linux Conference has been published a few days ago, an opportunity to look at the most important and interesting conference for embedded Linux developers. For the record, ELC 2010 will take place from April, 12th to April, 14th in San Francisco, CA, USA, in the same place as the 2009 edition.

A nice set of talks

  • A set of real-time related talks: Real-Time Linux Failure, by Frank Rowand (works for Sony, well known for his preempt-rt related talks at various ELC conferences), Effective Use of RT-Preempt, by Kevin Dankwardt, Using Interrupt Threads to Prioritize Interrupts, by Mike Anderson (also well known for his very interactive talks, he will also be giving his traditional Using JTAG to debug Linux device drivers tutorial), Measuring Responsiveness of Linux Kernel on Embedded System, by YungJoon Jung and DongHyouk Lim.
  • A talk by Grant Likely about Flattened Device Tree ARM support update, an effort to convert the ARM architecture to the same organization used in PowerPC, with a device tree file describing the hardware details instead of platform_device definitions in plain C. An important change for anyone doing ARM kernel development.
  • Several power-management related talks: Runtime Power Management: Overview and Platform Implementation, by Kevin Hillman (who works for Deep Root Systems and has done a huge amount of work in the OMAP power management area). Runtime Power Management is probably the most important change done recently to the power management infrastructure of the Linux kernel, so this talk is certainly worth a look, all the more as Kevin is a very good speaker. On power manegement, there will also be other talks : DVFS for the Embedded Linux, by Yong Bon Koo and Youngbin Seo, Wake-ups effect on idle power for Intel’s Moorestown MID and smartphone platform, by German Monroy (Intel), Workload based aggressive Power Management on the Intel Moorestown MID and future Intel MID/Smartphone Platforms, by Sujith Thomas (from Intel).
  • Japan Town, San FranciscoThe usual tracing-related talks, with Using the LTTng tracer for system-wide performance analysis and debugging by Mathieu Desnoyers and Ftrace – embedded edition, by Steven Rostedt. A talk on debugging Linux toolchain overview with advanced debugging and tracing features, by Dominique Toupin.
  • Talks about platforms: a keynote by Greg Kroah Hartmann on Android: a case study of an embedded Linux project (during which Greg will probably explain why the Android kernel modifications are not mainlined), Experiences in Android Porting, Lessons learned, tips and tricks, by Mark Gross and Understanding and Developing Applications for the Maemo Platform, by Leandro Melo de Sales, even though the recent merge of Maemo and Moblin to create MeeGo is likely to change some technical aspects of application development for this platform.
  • The question of multi-core now also seems to be present in embedded conferences: Strategies for Migrating Uniprocessor Code to Multi-Core, by Mike Anderson, Embedded Multi-core with Adeos, Dan Malek, Lock-free algorithm for Multi-core architecture, Hiromasa Kanda. Multi-core Scheduling optimizations for soft real-time multi-threaded applications – A cooperation aware approach, Lucas Martins De Marchi.
  • Some security talks, with Mike Anderson (again !) talking about Creating a Secure Router Using SELinux and Jake Edge about Understanding threat models for embedded devices
  • Some more-or-less multimedia-oriented talks: Supporting SoC video subsystems in video4linux, by Hans Verkuil, An Introduction to the Qt Development Framework, by Jeremy Katz, GeeXboX Enna: embedded Media Center, by Benjamin Zores, Case Study – Embedded Linux in a digital television STB, by Melanie Rhianna Lewis
  • In the other talks, I’ve noted the Small Business Owners BOF by Grant Likely, Evaluation of Data Reliability on Linux File Systems by Yoshitake Kobayashi, Porting the Linux Kernel to x86 MID platforms, by Jacob Pan, Linux without a bootloader? by Greg Ungerer, Kexec – Ready for Embedded Linux by Magnus Damn, Custom hardware modeling for FPGAs and Embedded Linux Platforms with QEMU, by John Williams, Edgar Iglesias.

Both Michael Opdenacker and I will be there at ELC. We hope to meet you during this conference!

Buildroot 2010.02 released, contributions from Free Electrons!

Buildroot logoBuildroot is a embedded Linux system build system. It automates the process of downloading, configuring, compiling and installating all the components of an embedded Linux system, from Busybox to more complicated software stacks using Gtk, Qt, X.org, Gstreamer, etc. Buildroot is easy to use and extend, making it a nice choice for small to medium-sized embedded Linux systems.

As promised by the fixed-release schedule, a 2010.02 release has been published on Friday, with numerous improvements over the previous version 2009.11, many of which are part of the general cleanup process that the project is doing since the beginning of 2009. These improvements are detailed in the project CHANGES file.

Thomas Petazzoni, from Free Electrons, implemented several of these improvements :

  • Creation of a package infrastructure for non-autotools packages. Buildroot had for a long time an infrastructure to factorize the code needed to build packages based on the autotools build systems. But all other packages were using hand-made Makefiles, which were hard to write and generated a lot of code duplication. Therefore, we have introduced an infrastructure that makes adding new packages much easier, and which allows us to cleanup the existing codebase significantly by factorizing a lot of common code. The autotools infrastructure has also been reworked on top of the generic infrastructure to avoid code duplication as well. At the same time, we have significantly improved the documentation on how to add new packages. This infrastructure is a building block that will allow us to easily add more features to all packages in Buildroot (such as package generation).
  • Removal of the external toolchain source mechanism, which was merged with the normal toolchain building procedure. This special casing was implemented to allow the compilation of AVR32 toolchains, but such an additional complexity wasn’t needed. Now, Buildroot continues to build AVR32 toolchains as it used to do, but the code is much cleaner. Another illustration of our large cleanup effort.
  • Many, many, many fixes to different packages, many of them to ensure that we do not depend on development packages being installed on the host. This is very important to ensure that our build procedure is as independent as possible from the development machine configuration.

From the list of contributors, ordered by the number of patches, Thomas Petazzoni of Free Electrons has been the first Buildroot contributor for this last release :

$ git shortlog -e -n -s 2009.11..2010.02  (removed e-mail addresses)
139 Thomas Petazzoni
124 Peter Korsgaard
26  Lionel Landwerlin
23  Gustavo Zacarias
7   Julien Boibessot
4   Nigel Kukard
4   Sven Neumann
2   Anders Darander
2   Chris Packham
2   Daniel Mack
2   H Hartley Sweeten
2   Richard van Paasen
2   Will Wagner
2   William Wagner
2   Yann E. MORIN
1   Cameron Hutchison
1   Clark Rawlins
1   Francisco Gonzalez
1   Francisco Gonzalez Morell
1   Hans-Christian Egtvedt
1   Lionel Landwerlin
1   Ormund Williams
1   Rob Alley
1   Sagaert Johan
1   grante

For the next release, we will work on additional cleanup of Buildroot and particularly the target/ directory, which contains the code to build the Linux kernel, different bootloaders, and to generate the final root filesystem image in various formats. Improving support for external toolchains is also on our TODO list : supporting multilib toolchains such as the CodeSoucery toolchain, and fixing a long-standing issue with libtool.

Don’t hesitate to try Buildroot, and to report your successes and failures on the mailing-list, in our bug tracker, or on our IRC channel, #uclibc on Freenode.

Embedded Linux practical labs with the Beagle Board

Beagle boardGet valuable embedded Linux experience using our practical labs on a Beagle Board.

We were asked to customize our embedded Linux training session with specific labs on OMAP 3530 hardware. After a successful delivery on the customer site, using Beagle boards, here are our training materials, released as usual under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license:

If you are the happy owner of such a board (both attractive and cheap), or are interested in getting one, you can get valuable embedded Linux experience by reading our lecture materials and by taking our practical labs.

Here’s what you would practise with if you decide to take our labs:

  • Build a cross-compiling toolchain with crosstool-NG
  • Compile U-boot and the X-loader and install it on MMC and flash storage.
  • Manipulate Linux kernel sources and apply source patches
  • Configure, compile and boot a Linux kernel for an emulated PC target
  • Configure, cross-compile and boot a Linux kernel on your Beagle Board
  • Build a tiny filesystem from scratch, based on BusyBox, and with a web server interface. Practice with NFS booting.
  • Put your filesystem on MMC storage, replacing NFS. Practice with SquashFS.
  • Put your filesystem on internal NAND flash storage. Practice with JFFS2 too.
  • Manually cross-compile libraries (zlib, libpng, libjpeg, FreeType and DirectFB) and a DirectFB examples, getting familiar with the tricks required to cross-compile components provided by the community.
  • Build the same kind of graphical system automatically with Buildroot.
  • Compile your own application against existing libraries. Debug a target application with strace, ltrace and gdbserver running on the target.
  • Do experiments with the rt-preempt patches. Measure scheduling latency improvements.
  • Implement hotplugging with mdev, BusyBox’s lightweight alternative to udev.

Note that the labs were tested with Rev. C boards, but are also supposed to work fine with Rev. B ones. You may also be able to reuse some of our instructions with other boards with a TI OMAP3 processor.

Of course, if you like the materials, you can also ask your company to order such a training session from us. We will be delighted to come to your place and spend time with you and your colleagues.

Free Electrons at ELCE 2009

Grenoble

As usual, we won’t miss this year’s edition of the Embedded Linux Conference Europe, which has always been a great source of information and encounters for embedded Linux developers.

Here are details about our involvement this year.

  • I am part of the organization committee, in particular the coordinator for the Technical Showcase.
  • Taking advantage of his stay in Grenoble, my colleague Thomas Petazzoni will make an embedded Linux presentation on Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 7:30 pm, at GUILDE, the local Linux user group.
  • Thomas and I will be present at the Embedded Systems Exhibition on Wednesday, Oct. 14, sharing a booth with our partner CALAO Systems. The exhibition entry is free of charge, and this will be an excellent opportunity to meet us and have enough time to talk about your topics of interest.
  • Thomas will lead the Buildroot BOF with Peter Korsgaard, Buildroot’s maintainer, at 5:35 pm on Thursday, Oct. 15. This informal session will allow users and developers to meet and exchange ideas.
  • I will be the leader of the Small Business BOF on Thursday 15 at 6:35 pm, an informal session for small embedded Linux companies interested in sharing experience and best practices, and of course to know each other better.
  • I will make a presentation on boot time reduction techniques, at 3:40 on Friday, Oct. 16.
  • Albin Tonnerre, who was an intern at Free Electrons this summer, will participate to the Technical Showcase at 12:00 am on Friday, Oct. 16, showing the benefits of LZO decompression on kernel boot time. During his internship, Albin made very nice contributions to boot time reduction, power management on AT91 and to U-boot board support.
  • Thomas Petazzoni will also participate to the Technical Showcase at the same time, showing Buidroot’s new features.
  • We will videotape the conferences we go to and will release the videos later on our website.
  • Thomas organizes a Buildroot developer day on Saturday, Oct. 17, allowing developers to meet and code together. Free Electrons will offer lunch to the participants, and the room will be offered by CALAO Systems. There are no more seats left for space reasons.

Hope to see you in Grenoble!

New jobs at Free Electrons

Penguin worksLooking for kernel and embedded Linux experts

Free Electrons is looking for experienced members of the Free Software community to satisfy increasing demand for development, consulting and training on embedded Linux and on the Linux kernel.

All the details can be found on our careers page.