Recent technology news makes it seem as if everything relating to the Linuxkernel and Google’s open source Android distribution were going to take overthe world: Android,Linux OSes top 2013 survey , Intelbets on Linux , IPcore for Android apps is royalty-free, and Chinato build standard OS around Ubuntu .
Not so fast say Embedded.com columnists such as Bill Gatliff in “EmbeddedAndroid? Call me, maybe , ” Jack Ganssle in “Linuxwins – or does it?” and my blogs on “Real-timeAndroid: Impossible Dream?” and “WhatLinus Torvalds hath wrought.” While Linux and Android have improved enoughto be considered in some embedded apps, there are numerous other MCU anddeterministic designs where an RTOS is a better choice.
To make sure you are making the correct choice in your next embeddeddesign means that you need to know as much about open source operating systemsalternatives as you do about your commercial RTOS: when to use Linux or Androidand when not to, when to use them in combination and the criteria by whichto make such decisions.
[ Clickhere to register for DESIGN West 2013 , April 22-25 at the San JoseMcEnery Convention Center. Options range from an All-Access Pass — whichincludes Black Hat (security) Conference Session to Free Expo Admission].
At the conference you will have choice among almost two dozen operatingsystem and open source software related classes and hands-on tutorials organizedinto four tracks: Linuxkernel and operating system , EmbeddedAndroid, and the AndroidCertificate Program as well one on Real-timeoperating systems. Of these my Editor’s Top Picks – some ofwhich I hope to attend – are:
MulticoreThread to CPU Mapping on Linux and other RTOSes (ESC-305 )in which Fridtjof Siebert, CTO, aicas GmbH, will compare the performanceof strategies for mapping threads to CPUs in these systems, with particularemphasis on Linux with PREEMPT_RT patch and other real-time OSes providemeans to restrict the OS's scheduler to run certain threads on specific CPUs.He will analyze how application performance can be improved using these mechanisms.
“Real-TimeLinux: Not So Fast! ” (ESC-308 ), in which William Gatliff willdeal with the fact that although Linux has a well-deserved reputation fornot being a “real-time kernel”, there are work-arounds that will help thedeveloper adapt it so that it is real-time enough for many embedded designs.
To do this he will focus on various POSIX.1b system calls related toscheduling, memory management, timing, and other critical functions and howto pick the right Linux distribution that has been enhanced for true real-timework.
“GetUp and Running Quickly with Embedded Vision Using OpenCV on Android”(ESC-323 ), in which Eric Gregori of BDTI will explore how variouscomputer-vision algorithms can be used in real-world applications. Usingthe OpenCV computer-vision library, he’ll explore several interesting real-timeOpenCV algorithms running on Android.
“DebuggingTechniques for Embedded Android and Linux” (AC-200 ) in whichRyan Kuester of Insymbols will discuss and demonstrate different debuggingtools including Eclipse, DDMS, MAT, oprofile, strace, and gdbserver as wellas how to make the choice of the right tool and how to interpret the results.It is one of three classes, interested developers must take to gain AndroidCertification .
For more background on the conference and some of the recent Embedded.comdesign articles, webinars and technical white papers on these topics I recommendthis week’s Embedded Tech Focus Newsletter on “Riding the Linux/Androidwave.” In addition, there are a number of other design articles thatI think will complement what you will learn at ESC DESIGN West including:
Comparing the real-time scheduling of the Linux kernel and an RTOS
Multicore networking in Linux user space with no performance overhead
Open Embedded: An alternative way to build embedded Linux distributions
Android hardware-software design using virtual prototypes
Android, Linux & Real-time Development for Embedded Systems
Understanding Android’s strengths and weaknesses
As you learn more about Linux, Android and other open source ways ofdoing embedded design, you will no doubt come up with insights and tricksthat are worth sharing with your fellow developers. I look forward to hearingfrom you and how we can work together to develop blogs or design articleson the site.
Embedded.com Site Editor Bernard Cole is also editor of thetwice-a-week Embedded.comnewsletters as well as a partner in the TechRite Associates editorialservices consultancy. He welcomes your feedback. Send an email to , or call928-525-9087.