Free seat in Android training session

Student penguinsAt Free Electrons, we owe a lot to the Free Software community, and we’re doing our best to give back as much as we can.

One way of doing that is welcoming community contributors in our public training sessions about embedded Linux, Linux kernel and Android system development organized in France. We’ve done that multiple times in the past, and this allowed us to meet very interesting people (who even had very valuable experience and points of view to share with the other course participants), while of course giving them extra knowledge that they can use for further contributions.

The next session in which we can offer a free seat is about Android system development, and will take place on June 20-23 in Toulouse, France. The session has a value of 1890 EUR (without V.A.T.) and includes lunch and breaks, as well as a free Beaglebone Black board with its 4.3″ LCD touchscreen cape.

This course will teach you how to modify Android to support a new embedded board (assuming that it is already supported by the Linux kernel), and how to build a real system through accessing specific hardware, customizing the filesystem and using debugging techniques.

How to apply?

  • You need to be a student or a contributor to a free software project, which doesn’t have to be related to the embedded field, and even if your contributions are modest.
  • Write to award@bootlin.com before May. 30 and tell us about your contributions and your interest in the session.
  • Thomas Petazzoni and Michael Opdenacker will review all the proposals and will select the candidate who best stands out in terms of past contributions and/or in potential for further ones after taking the course. Free Electrons reserves the right not to select any candidate if nobody actually makes a sufficiently interesting application.
  • The winner will be notified by June 2, and will have to be ready to travel to Toulouse and stay there the whole 4 days at her/his own expense.

Don’t hesitate to apply to this free seat. In past editions, we didn’t have so many people applying, and therefore you have a real chance to get selected!

Free Electrons welcomes Boris Brezillon and Antoine Ténart

Boris Brezillon
Antoine Ténart

We are happy to announce that our engineering team has recently welcomed two new embedded Linux engineers: Boris Brezillon and Antoine Ténart. Boris and Antoine will both be working from the Toulouse office of the company, together with Maxime Ripard and Thomas Petazzoni. They will be helping Free Electrons to address the increasing demand for its development and training services.

Antoine started his professional experience with Embedded Linux and Android in 2011. Before joining Free Electrons in 2014, he started with low level Android system development at Archos (France), and worked on Embedded Linux and Android projects at Adeneo Embedded (France). He joined Free Electrons early March, and has already been involved in kernel contributions on the Marvell Berlin processors and the Atmel AT91 processors, and is also working on our upcoming Yocto training course.

Boris joined Free Electrons on April, 1st, and brings a significant embedded Linux experience that he gained while working on home automation devices at Overkiz (France). He was maintaining a custom distribution built with the Yocto. Boris also has already contributed many patches to the mainline Linux kernel sources, in particular for the Atmel AT91 ARM SoCs. Boris is also developing the NAND controller driver for the Allwinner ARM processors and has proposed improvements to the core Linux MTD subsystem (see this thread and this other thread).

Embedded Linux Conference 2014, Free Electrons participation

San JoséOne of the most important conference of the Embedded Linux community will take place at the end of this month in California: the Embedded Linux Conference will be held in San Jose from April, 29th to May, 1st, co-located with the Android Builders Summit. The schedule for both of these events has been published, and it is full of interesting talks on a wide range of embedded topics.

As usual, Free Electrons will participate to this conference, but this participation will be the most important ever:

If you are interested in embedded Linux, we highly advise you to attend this conference. And if you are interested in business or recruiting opportunities with Free Electrons, it will also be the perfect time to meet us!

Android training sessions in the UK

Free Electrons 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 Free Electrons, and is available under the same license. Feel free to reuse it and improve it as long as you keep the original author!

Android seminar slides

Android robotWe have delivered two seminars about Android during the last quarter of 2012. The seminars were held in Belfort and Grenoble, France, and were organized by Captronic, a French public program to support innovation in electronic systems.

This one day seminar targets people who wish to understand the constraints and implications of using Android in embedded products, and know the steps to follow. The seminar is led by Maxime Ripard, Free Electrons’ Android expert. Maxime is also the creator of Free Electrons’ Android system development course.

Agenda

Morning

  • General introduction to Android
  • Opportunities to use Android in embedded systems which are neither phones nor tablets
  • Details on Android’s architecture and how to customize it:
    • Source code and compiling
    • Android changes to the Linux kernel
    • Bootloaders for Android
    • Supporting new hardware
    • Android filesystem layout
    • Android native layers and calling a C program to access specific hardware
    • Introduction to application development
    • Customizing the system
    • Using adb (Android Debug Bridge) for debugging and device remote access
    • Advice and resources

Afternoon

  • Completing the morning presentations (if necessary)
  • Demonstrating multiple aspects of system development with Android:
    • Getting sources and compiling
    • Android emulator demonstration
    • Starting Android on an electronic board with an ARM OMAP3530 processor, using a serial console.
    • Adding support for specific buttons. “Back” button example.
    • Using adb: installing, accessing system logs, accessing a command line interface on the device, exchanging files with the PC.
    • Customizing the system: change the product name, the default wallpaper, add new properties.
    • To access specific hardware (such as a USB device), development of a native library and accessing this functionality from the Android framework through a specific class and JNI library.
    • Describing an application that allows to control a USB device.
    • Questions and answers

Presentation slides

Note: see updates to these materials.

Creative commonsPresentation slides are available in PDF and LaTeX source formats. As usual, they are released under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution – ShareAlike 3.0 license. This means that you can reuse and modify them according to your own needs.

If you are interested in having one of us run such a seminar on your own part of the world, giving the audience the opportunity to ask all the questions they can have on the use of Android in embedded systems, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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, Free Electrons 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.

Free Electrons at the Libre Software Meeting

In a previous post, we detailed all the talks of the Embedded Systems and Open Hardware track of the Libre Software Meeting, taking place in Geneva in early July.

Free Electrons will have a quite important presence at this event, with three talks and one tutorial given by Free Electrons engineers. You’ll find below the descriptions of the talks given by Free Electrons. Both my colleague Maxime Ripard and myself will be present at Libre Software Meeting, and we will be happy to meet you there to discuss Embedded Linux and Android topics!

A look through the Android Stack

Android has established itself in the past years as a major player in the mobile market, outperforming any other mobile systems.

To do so, Google relied both on well established open-source components, such as the Linux Kernel, and munching them together in a brand new userspace environment. This talk will detail the most important components of Android userspace and the interactions between them that allow developers to face a consistent API for their applications.

This talk will be given on Tuesday 9th July 2012, at 14:00, by Maxime Ripard, embedded Linux and Android engineer at Free Electrons. Maxime is also teaching our newest training course on Android system development.

Buildroot: a nice, simple and efficient embedded Linux build system

Started in late 2001 by uClibc developers, Buildroot has grown over its 10 years history from a testing tool for the uClibc C library to a complete, vendor-neutral, embedded Linux build system. Until early 2009, the project was mostly unmaintained and the quality slowly decreased, frustrating many Buildroot users. Fortunately, since early 2009, Peter Korsgaard took over the maintainership of Buildroot, and the project has considerably evolved since then: stable releases are published every three months, the user and developer community has grown significantly, the existing features have been cleaned up, many other new features have been added, the project is no longer uClibc-specific and the quality has been vastly improved. Buildroot now offers a nice, simple and efficient mechanism to build small to medium sized embedded Linux systems, such as the ones found in many industrial systems or highly dedicated systems. Many users are amazed about how easy it is to get started with Buildroot, especially compared to other build systems. This presentation will show how Buildroot can be used to build embedded Linux systems, highlighting the new features and improvements made over the last few years, and detailing how the simplicity of Buildroot allows you to focus on developing the applications for your system. A quick overview of the future Buildroot developments will also be provided.

This talk will take place on Wednesday 10th July at 17:00 and will be given by Thomas Petazzoni, embedded Linux engineer at Free Electrons, and long time Buildroot contributor.

Linux kernel on ARM: consolidation work

In Spring 2011, Linus Torvalds asked the ARM Linux maintainers to clean up the contents of arch/arm/ in the Linux kernel code by doing more consolidation between ARM sub-architectures.

More than a year later, a lot of work has been accomplished in this area, especially thanks to the introduction of the device tree for the ARM architecture, the pinctrl subsystem and the clock framework into the Linux kernel.

Through this talk, we will present the challenges the ARM architecture creates in terms of Linux kernel support, and then describe from a technical point of view how the device tree, the pinctrl subsystem and the clock subsystem work and how they can improve the consolidation between different ARM sub-architectures.

The talk will be designed to be accessible to an audience having only a moderate knowledge of kernel programming and internals, and will therefore provide enough context for such audience to understand the issues that those different mechanisms are striving to solve.

This talk will take place on Thursday 11th July at 10:00 and will be given by Thomas Petazzoni, embedded Linux engineer at Free Electrons.

Tutorial on using Buildroot, a nice, simple and efficient embedded Linux build system

Started in late 2001 by uClibc developers, Buildroot has grown over its 10 years history from a testing tool for the uClibc C library to a complete, vendor-neutral, embedded Linux build system. Until early 2009, the project was mostly unmaintained and the quality slowly decreased, frustrating many Buildroot users. Fortunately, since early 2009, Peter Korsgaard took over the maintainership of Buildroot, and the project has considerably evolved since then: stable releases are published every three months, the user and developer community has grown significantly, the existing features have been cleaned up, many other new features have been added, the project is no longer uClibc-specific and the quality has been vastly improved. Buildroot now offers a nice, simple and efficient mechanism to build small to medium sized embedded Linux systems, such as the ones found in many industrial systems or highly dedicated systems. Many users are amazed about how easy it is to get started with Buildroot, especially compared to other build systems.

This workshop follows the Buildroot presentation proposed in the same topic. During one half-day participants will be introduced on how to efficiently use Buildroot for their own projects:

  • Basic usage of Buildroot: generate the first system, boot it on a hardware platform
  • Add packages to Buildroot
  • Customize Buildroot for real-life projects: how to integrate project specific patches, configuration and customization

Participants are invited to come with their own laptop, installed with a sufficiently recent GNU/Linux distribution. Participants are recommended to attend the Buildroot talk by the same speaker before attending the workshop, as the talk will give an overall introduction on Buildroot.

This tutorial will take place on Thursday 11th July from 14:00 to 17:00 and will be given by Thomas Petazzoni, embedded Linux engineer at Free Electrons, and long time Buildroot contributor.

Embedded topics at the Libre Software Meeting, Geneva, July 9-11

Libre Software Meeting, Geneva
Libre Software Meeting, Geneva

The Libre Software Meeting is a community-driven free software event that exists since 2000, composed of talks and workshops. Its 2012 edition will take place from July 7th to July 12th in Geneva, Switzerland.

In the context of this conference, I was responsible with Florian Fainelli from the OpenWRT project to organize the Embedded systems and open hardware track. This track will offer an interesting selection of talks related to embedded topics, concentrated between July 9th and July 11th:

Geneva
Geneva

In the Operating Systems track, some other conferences might be of interested to Embedded Linux developers as well:

The entrace to the Libre Software Meeting is free, so don’t hesitate to book your train or flight tickets, and join us at this event!

Android Builders Summit 2012 videos

On February 13-14th 2012, the second edition of the Android Builders Summit took place in Redwood Shores, near San Francisco in California. While Free Electrons was not officially in charge of video recording for this conference, we recorded the talks we attended and that we are glad to share below. The Linux Foundation has also recorded those talks (except a few of them for which they had technical issues), and we provide those additional links below. You can also follow our reports from day 1 and day 2 of this conference.

You’ll find below our videos of the main talks we recorded, and also the videos of the lightning talks that took place on the evening of the first day of the conference. Enjoy!

Main talks

Karim YaghmourVideo capture
Opersys
Leveraging Linux’s History With Android
Slides
Free Electrons video (32 minutes):
full HD (386M), 450×800 (107M)

Arnd Bergmann, Tim Bird, Greg Kroah-Hartmann, Zach Pfeffer, moderated by Jonathan CorbetVideo capture
IBM/Linaro, Sony Network Entertainment, The Linux Foundation, Linaro, LWN.net
Panel: Android and the Linux Kernel Mainline: Where Are We?
Free Electrons video (38 minutes):
full HD (525M), 450×800 (156M)

Marko GargentaVideo capture
Marakana
Customizing Android
Slides
Linux Foundation video
Free Electrons video (50 minutes):
full HD (409M), 450×800 (131M)

Tetsuyuki KobayashiVideo capture
Kyoto Microcomputer
How ADB(Android Debug Bridge) Works
Slides
Linux Foundation video
Free Electrons video (33 minutes):
full HD (365M), 450×800 (100M)

Andrew BoieVideo capture
Intel
Android OTA SW Updates
Slides
Linux Foundation video
Free Electrons video (61 minutes):
full HD (698M), 450×800 (189M)

Benjamin ZoresVideo capture
Alcatel-Lucent
Android Device Porting Walkthrough
Slides
Linux Foundation video
Free Electrons video (69 minutes):
full HD (534M), 450×800 (179M)

Jason Kridner, Khasim Syed MohammedVideo capture
Texas Instruments
Using Android outside of the Mobile Phone Space
Slides
Linux Foundation video
Free Electrons video (34 minutes):
full HD (414M), 450×800 (120M)

Tom MossVideo capture
3LM
The Android Ecosystem
Linux Foundation video
Free Electrons video (27 minutes):
full HD (267M), 450×800 (82M)

Karim YaghmourVideo capture
Opersys
Headless Android
Slides
Free Electrons video (50 minutes):
full HD (462M), 450×800 (145M)

Tom FoyVideo capture
Intrinsyc
Android on eMMC: Optimizing for Performance
Slides
Free Electrons video (34 minutes):
full HD (234M), 450×800 (90M)

Wolfgang MauererVideo capture
Siemens
Real-Time Android
Slides
Free Electrons video (59 minutes):
full HD (418M), 450×800 (155M)

Jim HuangVideo capture
0xlab
Improve Android System Component Performance
Slides
Linux Foundation video
Free Electrons video (54 minutes):
full HD (457M), 450×800 (152M)

Rodrigo ChiossiVideo capture
Samsung
AndroidXRef: Speeding up the Development of Android Internals
Slides
Linux Foundation video
Free Electrons video (38 minutes):
full HD (313M), 450×800 (108M)

Mark BrownVideo capture
Wolfson Microelectronics
Towards a Standard Audio HAL for Android
Slides
Linux Foundation video
Free Electrons video (47 minutes):
full HD (227M), 450×800 (123M)

Jen CostilloVideo capture
Topics in Designing An Android Sensor Subsystem: Pitfalls and Considerations
Slides
Linux Foundation video
Free Electrons video (36 minutes):
full HD (238M), 450×800 (101M)

Aleksandar (Saša) GargentaVideo capture
Marakana
Android Services Black Magic
Linux Foundation video
Free Electrons video (61 minutes):
full HD (410M), 450×800 (169M)

Lightning talks

Dario LaverdeVideo capture
HTC
HTC Dev
Free Electrons video (3 minutes):
full HD (44M), 450×800 (13M)

Robert McQueenVideo capture
Collabora
Integrating GStreamer and PulseAudio in Android
Free Electrons video (4 minutes):
full HD (49M), 450×800 (16M)

Mark GrossVideo capture
Intel
Android build times and host tweakage
Free Electrons video (4 minutes):
full HD (37M), 450×800 (13M)

Tony ManssonVideo capture
Linaro
Painless debugging of native code in Android-based device (using DS-5)
Free Electrons video (4 minutes):
full HD (32M), 450×800 (13M)

Paul ArssovVideo capture
ARS Technologies Inc.
How easy is it to support external hardware on Android platform
Free Electrons video (4 minutes):
full HD (33M), 450×800 (13M)

Karim YaghmourVideo capture
Opersys
Cyborgstack
Free Electrons video (4 minutes):
full HD (60M), 450×800 (18M)

Yahya MirzaVideo capture
Aurora Borealis Software
Towards a heterogeneous application for compute driver performance testing and analysis
Free Electrons video (3 minutes):
full HD (47M), 450×800 (14M)

Joe BornVideo capture
Sonrlabs
Sonr, Serial headphone interface and hardware
Free Electrons video (4 minutes):
full HD (38M), 450×800 (13M)

Android gdbclient command

Before you even start building Android, Google’s instructions tell you to source the build/envsetup.sh shell script.

This script exports a number of environment variables (that’s why you have to source it), mostly setting the PATH to your different toolchains and to your output directories.

It also defines a number of shell functions. Among them some functions are advertised, like the well-know lunch, that is used to configure to some extent the build system, or the grepping functions, but some are not, like pid, which uses adb to get the PID of a process running on the device.

Among the latter, one seems pretty useful: gdbclient. What gdbclient does is obviously gdb related but in fact it does more than that.

First, you run it by doing gdbclient <binary>:<port> <process_name>

Then it sets up adb with the forward command so that you use it as a transport layer to your device, while it appears as (in that case) opened TCP sockets both on your machine and on the device.

Then, it attaches a gdbserver to the process you gave as the third argument on the device.

Finally, it launches your cross-gdb on your workstation, loads the debugging symbols from the file passed as first argument, and sets up a remote debugging session. All of that through USB!

This is definitely useful, and I can’t say why Google doesn’t advertise it more, but hey, it’s there!