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Tools and distributions for embedded Linux development

May 13, 2010, 03:03 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tom Parkin)

"The deployment of Linux on the desktop and in the server room is well served by the general-purpose distribution. In the embedded world things are very different: although Linux is used widely, the concept of the general-purpose distribution is much less in evidence. Many vendors rely on forked board support packages or home-grown builds to create their systems, effectively creating their own customized distribution in the process. While embedded platforms represent a challenge to the traditional Linux distribution, there is no shortage of community projects to support the development of embedded Linux systems.

"What makes embedded systems different?

"The primary challenge presented by embedded systems is their diversity. Embedded device hardware tends to vary both in terms of design and capability. Even between generations of the same product, it is not unusual for a major system component such as the CPU to change completely. In addition, most embedded devices contain a fair amount of custom, closed-source software which is not packaged by a distribution. The combined effect of this hardware and software diversity is that most embedded devices are unique in one way or another, meaning it is difficult to design an embedded distribution which is simultaneously general enough to be useful and targeted enough to be efficient across a range of embedded platforms."

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