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Linux gets squeezed

Smaller, faster PDA apps the target

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It's Easter, and peoples' thoughts turn to many things that are not work. Entertainment, finding new things to do, finding and purchasing that special something you have always wanted and, yes, sometimes even being obliged to do some work. All of them are targets for one's time at Easter, and all can be done online.

But that means being near a computer, or having one with you. Personal devices go some of the way to being a solution, but they still lack a level of capability to make many of these tasks easy, especially as many of these tasks are constantly pushing the bleeding edge of rich media content delivery. One of the reasons is having the right applications running in an appropriate OS, and another is the system footprint many of those applications require.

One of the problems here is that a suitable OS like Linux is generally far too big to make sense on a small personal device, yet that is where many of the applications that are used for both business and web-based transaction applications are found. Getting Linux into a system footprint that makes sense for applications to be embedded into personal devices, while offering a performance that qualifies as real-time, is the target for the latest version of MontaVista Software's Professional Edition Linux.

The company claims that Version 5.0 is the first embedded Linux to include the latest advancements in real time technology, including high resolution timers, designed to enable developers to deliver more comprehensive and better performing end-user applications. For example, it offers average response times for tasks such as scheduling/preemption latency down to five milli seconds, which is reckoned to now make it the performance equal of proprietary real-time operating systems, while saving on applications development costs.

This is enhanced by the new Application Developer Kit, which provides a set of essential plug-ins for Eclipse, the well-established open source IDE. The release also includes powerful analysis tools and a virtual target execution environment to improve developer productivity and deliver more features within shortened development cycles. By targeting Eclipse, it also means that a standard developer environment can be used for both the server and client ends of an application.

The issue of system footprint is also addressed with Version 5.0, which is claimed to offer the smallest footprint of any general use Linux platform. It comes in two highly optimised configurations, with one based upon the standard glibc library. The other, however, is built on the uClibc library, which enables developers and OEMs to the plan in terms of a total deployed system footprint that is under three Mbytes. This is claimed to be a 75 per cent reduction compared with traditional embedded Linux platforms. ®

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