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ARM Embedded Linux, Gadget and Widgets


Linux is much better known for its impact on the desktop rather than in embedded systems. But the importance of embedded linux is growing fast. It is used in phones, payment terminals, printers, network equipment and a host of other devices. This seminar takes a look at what you can build with suitable hardware (Single Board Computer Modules) and Linux. It shows the enormous functionality and flexibility available and includes a look at some of the gadgets we have designed. These include a laser controller for nightclubs, a high-capacity digital storage unit for the telecoms industry, and a handheld computer. The basic structure of an embedded linux system is described, along with the issues and complexities of developing it. Issues unique to embedded systems are dealt with, including interrupt performance, memory usage and the choice of development environment. A practical overview at how to get into embedded development (hardware/software requirements) is provided. This can be remarkably inexpensive, using consumer hardware such as the Gameboy Advance. The paper concludes with a look at the future of embedded systems based around Linux in the next 5-10 years.

Simon Glass

Simon Glass has been involved in Linux as a user and programmer for many years. He has worked as a software engineer in the embedded world. He has held several positions at the chip design company ARM PLC in Cambridge, UK and Austin, Texas. Returning to his home country of New Zealand, he set up Bluewater Systems in 1996 to promote the benefits of ARM technology. The company is now devoted to Linux-based embedded systems. Simon Glass holds a B.Sc (Hons 1) in Computer Science from Canterbury University, Christchurch, New Zealand.