Off to the Embedded Linux Conference Europe and Open IoT Summit, Berlin 11th-13th October 2016

It’s hard to believe another year has passed and it’s time once again for the Embedded Linux Conference, and next week I’ll be off to Berlin to join a couple thousand other Linux enthusiasts for our annual bash.

A lot has happened in the past 12 months especially in the fields of security and the Internet of Things (IoT). A lot of people were talking about the IoT a year ago, we’re now seeing a lot more projects being completed, especially in industrial IoT, and there have been a number of high-profile hacking cases in the past 12 months (baby monitors, automotive (Tesla this time) and industrial (Ukraine National Grid)) to give food for thought about security.

Of particular interest is the Zephyr project, which has appeared on the scene this year. Zephyr is a small, scalable RTOS developed by the Linux Foundation for use on resource-constrained systems supporting multiple architectures. That means IoT, where the greatest challenge is making connected devices cheaply enough to be embedded in walls or remote plant/machinery and remotely monitored, maintained and upgraded. Zephyr has Intel and NXP backing it, which underlines how cramming as much functionality into an extremely small piece of silicon is what it’s all about. It’s released under the Apache License 2.0 (with a BSD licensed fork available) and is aimed at ARM Cortex-M3 + M4, x86, ARC, RISC-V and Nios II architectures.

There’s also a renewed interest in Realtime Linux, with a Real Time summit being co-located with the conference. This follows the announcement last year that the PREEMPT_RT patch would be mainlined under the auspices of the Linux Foundation Real-Time Linux Project.

There’s also a lot of IoT presentations on networking and connectivity, 6LoWPAN, Bluetooth, etc., and some of the more traditional subjects such as NAND FLASH which can be the bane of many an embedded project. But not so much about new features in the kernel. The kernel is still progressing and there’s a new version every 3 months or so, with new drivers and new architectures being supported. But it’s very much an evolution of what’s already there. The Linux source has now surpassed 22 million lines of code, and nobody uses any more than a small fraction of it in a given build.

There’s a separate conference the week before on containers and what’s going on in kernel and userspace. Much of what is going on now reflects an increased interest in container architectures and docker, higher levels of abstraction, bigger systems, and a focus on big data and artificial intelligence.

But perhaps one of the most intriguing speaker slots has in its title “Life Beyond Linux”. Could that mean we’re looking at a next generation operating system?

Andy McCormick
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About Andy McCormick

I provide expertise and training for Embedded Linux courses. I have over 20 years of experience in the embedded sector, gained at companies such as Pace, Open TV and Sony Semiconductor Europe. I've led work on numerous projects at all stages in the design cycle with comprehensive expertise in software engineering design, support and integration.
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