Embedded Linux Development with Yocto Project

Embedded Linux Development with Yocto Project Cover

We were kindly provided a copy of Embedded Linux Development with Yocto Project, written by Otavio Salvador and Daiane Angolini. It is available at Packt Publishing, either in an electronic format (DRM free) or printed.

This book will help you start with your embedded system development and integration using the Yocto Project or OpenEmbedded.

The first chapter sheds some light on the meaning of commonly misused names: Yocto Project, Poky, OpenEmbedded, BitBake. Then, it doesn’t waste time and explains how to install and use Poky to build and then run an image. The entire book is full of examples that can easily be tested, providing useful hands-on experience, using Yocto Project 1.6 (Poky 11).

The following chapters cover:

  • Hob: a user friendly interface, however, it will soon be deprecated and replaced by Toaster.
  • BitBake and Metadata: how to use BitBake, how to write recipes for packages or images, how to extend existing recipes, how to write new classes, how to create a layer, where to find existing layers and use them.
  • The build directory layout: what the generated files are, and what their use is.
  • Packaging: how to generate different package formats, how to handle a package feed and the package versions.
  • The various SDKs that can be generated and their integration in Eclipse.
  • Debugging the metadata: what the common issues are, how to find what is going wrong, and solving these issues.
  • Debugging the applications on the target: how to generate an image with debugging tools installed.
  • Available tools to help achieve copyleft compliance: in particular, how to cope with the GPL requirements.

Finally, there is a chapter dedicated to explaining how to generate and run an image on the Wandboard, an i.MX6 based community board.

The book is easy to read, with plenty of examples and useful tips. It requires some knowledge about generic embedded Linux system development (see our training) as only the Yocto Project specifics are covered. I would recommend it both for beginners wanting to learn about the Yocto Project and for developers wanting to improve their current knowledge and their recipes and also understand the BitBake internals.

Speaking of the Yocto Project, it is worth noting that Free Electrons is now offering a Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded training course (detailed agenda). If you’re interested, join one of the upcoming public training sessions, or order a session at your location!

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Slides from the LinuxCon North America 2014 conference

The LinuxCon North America conference was held a few days ago in Chicago.

LinuxCon North America 2014

A number of slides from the conference have been published. While the conference is a general purpose Linux conference, there were quite a few talks discussed kernel or low-level related topics that may be of interest to embedded Linux developers. Amongst them, we noted:

Not all the slides have been posted yet, so be sure to check the slides page regularly for updates!

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Free Electrons at the Embedded Linux Conference Europe

DüsseldorfThe Embedded Linux Conference Europe will take place on October 13-15 in Düsseldorf, Germany. As usual, a large part of the Free Electrons engineering team will participate to the conference, with no less than 7 engineers: Alexandre Belloni, Boris Brezillon, Grégory Clement, Michael Opdenacker, Thomas Petazzoni, Maxime Ripard and Antoine Ténart.

Several of our talk proposals have been accepted, so we’ll be presenting about the following topics:

In addition to this participation to the Embedded Linux Conference Europe:

  • Many of us will also participate to the Linux Plumbers conference, on October 15-17. It’s another great opportunity to talk about topics around real-time, power management, storage, multimedia, and more.
  • Thomas Petazzoni will participate to the next Buildroot Developers Meeting.

As usual, we’re looking forward to this event! Do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you’re interested in meeting us during these events for specific discussions.

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Embedded Linux training update: Atmel Xplained, and more!

Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained boardWe are happy to announce that we have published a significant update of our Embedded Linux training course. As all our training materials, this update is freely available for everyone, under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-SA) license.

This update brings the following major improvements to the training session:

  • The hardware platform used for all the practical labs is the Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained platform, a popular platform that features the ARMv7 compatible Atmel SAMA5D3 processor on a board with expansion headers compatible with Arduino shields. The fact that the platform is very well supported by the mainline Linux kernel, and the easy access to a wide range of Arduino shields makes it a very useful prototyping platform for many projects. Of course, as usual, participants to our public training sessions keep their board after the end of the course! Note we continue to support the IGEPv2 board from ISEE for customers who prefer this option.
  • The practical labs that consist in Cross-compiling third party libraries and applications and Working with Buildroot now use a USB audio device connected to the Xplained board on the hardware side, and various audio libraries/applications on the software side. This replaces our previous labs which were using DirectFB as an example of a graphical library used in a system emulated under QEMU. We indeed believe that practical labs on real hardware are much more interesting and exciting.
  • Many updates were made to various software components used in the training session: the toolchain components were all updated and we now use a hard float toolchain, more recent U-Boot and Linux kernel versions are used, etc.

The training materials are available as pre-compiled PDF (slides, labs, agenda), but their source code in also available in our Git repository.

If you are interested in this training session, see the dates of our public training sessions, or order one to be held at your location. Do not hesitate to contact us at for further details!

It is worth mentioning that for the purpose of the development of this training session, we did a few contributions to open-source projects:

Thanks a lot to our engineers Maxime Ripard and Alexandre Belloni, who worked on this major update of our training session.

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Linux 3.16 released, Free Electrons 7th contributing company

Linus Torvalds has released the 3.16 kernel a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the KernelNewbies LinuxChanges page has not been updated, but LWN.net summaries of the merge window (part 1, part 2 and final part) give a good summary of the important changes available in Linux 3.16.

On Free Electrons’ side, 3.16 has been our most active kernel cycle ever: we have merged 388 patches in this cycle, making Free Electrons the 7th company contributing to the Linux kernel by number of patches according to the statistics. Free Electrons is ranked right after Texas Instruments, and before Novell, Renesas or Google. (Note that the statistics rank Free Electrons as 9th, but this includes the “Unknown” and “Hobbyists” categories which are not companies). This strong participation clearly shows Free Electrons’ ability to get code merged in the mainline Linux kernel, as we’ve progressively done since kernel 3.6 over the last two years.

We are therefore available to help companies willing to add support for their hardware (processor, system-on-chip, module, or board) to the mainline Linux kernel. Do not hesitate to contact to get the discussion started.

Our major contributions have again been focused on the support of various ARM processor families:

  • On the Atmel SoC family
    • Conversion of the SAM9RL processor to the Device Tree. Done by Alexandre Belloni.
    • Huge cleanup of ADC/touchscreen handling: improvements in the IIO at91_adc driver to support more SoC families, and conversions of several Atmel platforms to use this driver, and then finally removal of the old atmel_tsadcc driver. Done by Alexandre Belloni.
    • Numerous fixes to the clock handling on various SoCs, following their conversion to the Common Clock Framework. Done by Alexandre Belloni.
    • Conversion of the SAM9RL, SAM9x5 and SAM9n12 SoCs to the Common Clock Framework. Done by Boris Brezillon.
    • Boris Brezillon is now one of the official maintainers for AT91 clock support.
  • On the Allwinner SoC family
    • Addition of PWM support to sun4i and sun7i. Done by Alexandre Belloni.
    • Addition of SMBus support to the regmap subsystem. This was needed to support the P2WI bus of Allwinner A31. Done by Boris Brezillon.
    • New I2C driver for the P2WI bus of Allwinner A31, used to communicate with the PMIC. Done by Boris Brezillon.
    • Improvements to the Allwinner pinctrl driver needed to support the P2WI bus. Done by Boris Brezillon.
    • Addition of a driver for the PRCM (Power, Reset and Clock Management) unit of the Allwinner A31. Done by Boris Brezillon.
    • Numerous cleanups of the pinctrl driver for Allwinner. Done by Maxime Ripard.
    • Addition of the ARM PMU description in the Device Tree of Allwinner platforms. Done by Maxime Ripard.
    • Add USB support for Allwinner A31. Done by Maxime Ripard, with some help from Boris Brezillon.
    • Various improvements to Allwinner clock drivers. Done by Maxime Ripard.
  • On the Marvell Berlin SoC family
    • Addition of basic Device Tree descriptions for several Marvell Berlin processors and boards. Done by Antoine Ténart.
    • Addition of clock drivers and DT clock descriptions of the Marvell Berlin processors. Done by Alexandre Belloni.
    • Addition of the pinctrl drivers for the Marvell Berlin processors. Done by Antoine Ténart.
    • Enabling of SDHCI and GPIO support on Marvell Berlin. Done by Antoine Ténart.
  • On the Marvell EBU SoC family
    • Addition of watchdog support for Armada 375 and Armada 38x, which required some changes to the existing watchdog driver. Done by Ezequiel Garcia.
    • Addition of thermal support for Armada 375 and Armada 38x, which required some changes in the existing armada_thermal driver. Done by Ezequiel Garcia.
    • Improvements of the pxa3xx_nand driver used for NAND support on Armada 370/375/38x/XP to use the newly introduced ECC strength and step size Device Tree bindings, which allows from the Device Tree to override the ECC constraints described by ONFI, when needed to match the bootloader constraints. Done by Ezequiel Garcia.
    • Addition of a generic software TSO (TCP Segmentation Offload) layer, and the corresponding changes to enable this feature in the mv643xx_eth and mvneta network drivers. This gives a huge performance boost in transmit operations! Done by Ezequiel Garcia.
    • SMP support for Armada 375 and Armada 38x has been added. Done by Grégory Clement.
    • cpuidle support for Armada XP has been added. Done by Grégory Clement.
    • USB support (USB2 and USB3) for Armada 375 and Armada 38x has been added. Done by Grégory Clement.
    • Hardware I/O coherency support for Armada 375 and Armada 38x. Done by Thomas Petazzoni.
    • Enabling of the SDHCI and AHCI interfaces on Armada 38x. Done by Thomas Petazzoni.
    • Major clean-up of Marvell Orion5x support. This is an older ARMv5 family of processors from Marvell, having a lot of similarities with Kirkwood and more recent Armada. This cleanup include many Device Tree conversions, up to the point where a few Marvell Orion5x platforms can now be fully described using a Device Tree, with no board file. Done by Thomas Petazzoni.
    • Addition of a new Device Tree binding for fixed network links, i.e links that do not use a MDIO-controlled PHY. This involved both some generic PHY layer improvements, and corresponding changes in the Marvell-specific mvneta network driver. Done by Thomas Petazzoni.
    • Addition of a work-around for a relatively complex PCIe/L2 errata affecting Armada 375/38x, which fixes heavy PCIe traffic when the system is running with hardware I/O coherency enabled. Done by Thomas Petazzoni.

Here is the complete list of patches from Free Electrons merged into the 3.16 kernel:

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Marvell publishes the datasheet of the Armada XP processor

thumb-armada-xpA bit more than a month after publishing the datasheet of the Armada 370 processor, Marvell has now released a similar datasheet for the more powerful Armada XP processor. The datasheet is available as a PDF document, with no registration, at http://www.marvell.com/embedded-processors/armada-xp/assets/ARMADA-XP-Functional-SpecDatasheet.pdf, with a link to it clearly visible on the Armada XP product page.

As most of our readers probably know, Free Electrons has been working and continues to work significantly on the Linux kernel support for Marvell processors. Thanks to this work done for more than two years now, the mainline Linux kernel has pretty good support for the Armada XP processor. This processor is a nice monster: up to 4 cores (PJ4B cores, which are roughly equivalent to Cortex-A9 but with LPAE support), up to 10 PCIe interfaces, multiple SATA interfaces, up to four Gigabit network interfaces, and many, many other things (XOR engine, cryptographic engine, etc.). Many of the processor features are already supported in mainline, and lately we’ve been focusing on power management features: cpuidle support for Armada XP will be part of 3.16, cpufreq support will either be part of 3.17 or 3.18, and suspend/resume should hopefully be part of 3.18.

The Armada XP processor is used in publicly available products:

At Free Electrons, we are again really happy to see Marvell opening this datasheet, as it will allow all community developers to further improve support for this processor in the Linux kernel, but also in other open-source projects.

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Linux 3.15 released, an overview of Free Electrons contributions

The 3.15 of the Linux kernel was released just a few days ago by Linus Torvalds. As explained by LWN.net, the headline features in 3.15 include some significant memory management improvements, the renameat2() system call, file-private POSIX locks, a new device mapper target called dm-era, faster resume from suspend, and more. One can also read the coverage by LWN.net of the first part and the second part of the merge window to get more details about the major new features in this release.

As usual, Free Electrons contributed to the Linux kernel during this 3.15 cycle, and with a total of 218 patches contributed, it’s a new record for Free Electrons. According to the KPS statistics, Free Electrons ranked #12 in the list of companies contributing to the Linux kernel for the 3.15 kernel (if you exclude the “Unknown” and “Hobbyists” categories, which aren’t really companies).

The main features contributed by Free Electrons again centered around the support for ARM processors:

  • By far, the largest contribution this cycle was the initial support for the new Armada 375 and Armada 38x processors from Marvell. Gregory Clement, Ezequiel Garcia and Thomas Petazzoni have been working on the code to support these processors since a few months ago, and started pushing the patches to the public in February this year. For the Marvell Armada 38x processor, it means that the code was pushed in mainline even before the processor was announced publicly! The features supported in 3.15 for these processors are: interrupts, GPIO, clocks, pin-muxing, serial, I2C, SPI, timer, L2 cache, SDIO (only for 375), SATA (only 375), XOR, PCIe, MBus, networking (only for 38x), NOR and NAND support. Many other features such as SMP, I/O coherency and various other peripherals will be supported in 3.16.
  • Convert support for the Atmel AT91SAM9RL processor to the Device Tree, done by Alexandre Belloni.
  • Addition of iio-hwmon to the Freescale i.MX23 and i.MX28 processors, which allows to use the internal temperature sensor of the processor. Done by Alexandre Belloni.
  • Multiple fixes and improvements to the AT91 ADC support. Done by Alexandre Belloni.
  • Support for the watchdog in Armada 370 and Armada XP was added, done by Ezequiel Garcia.
  • A driver for the SPI controller found in Allwinner A31 SoC was added, as well as all the Device Tree information to describe this controller and related clocks. Done by Maxime Ripard.
  • Support for the I2C controller found in the Allwinner A31 SoC was added into the existing mv64xxx-i2c driver, as well as the necessary Device Tree information to use I2C on this SoC. Done by Maxime Ripard.
  • Audio support was enabled on the Armada 370 SoC, re-using existing code for Kirkwood, and therefore making audio work on the Armada 370 DB platform. Done by Thomas Petazzoni.
  • A number of issues in the PCIe support for Marvell processors have been fixed, thanks to the reports from a number of users. Done by Thomas Petazzoni, with help from these users.

We also contributed other things than just support for ARM processors:

  • The main contribution in this area is the addition of UBI block, a driver that allows to use read-only block filesystems such as squashfs on top of a UBI volume. The code was originally written by David Wagner who was an intern at Free Electrons, and later taken by Ezequiel Garcia who did a lot of additional cleanup work and community discussion to get the driver merged. Some details about this feature can be found in the Linux-MTD documentation.
  • A generic Device Tree binding to express NAND ECC related information in the Device Tree was contributed by Ezequiel Garcia.
  • The quest to remove IRQF_DISABLED continued, by Michael Opdenacker.

In details, all our contributions are:

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Marvell publishes the datasheet of the Armada 370 processor

thumb-armada-xpOver the last two years, Free Electrons has contributed support for the Marvell Armada 370 and Marvell Armada XP processors to the mainline Linux kernel. These ARM processors are used mainly in Network Attached Storage devices but also in other devices such as printers. Until now the datasheet for these processors was only available for Marvell customers and partners under NDA, but last week, Marvell finally released the datasheet of the Armada 370 publicly, with no restriction, no registration, no NDA. The Armada 370 processor can already be found in several consumer grade products:

From now on, on the Marvell page related to the Armada 3xx family, the Armada 370 Functional Specification as well as the Armada 370 Hardware Specifications can be found. While the Armada XP datasheet is not available at this time, it is worth mentioning that the vast majority of the peripherals are exactly the same between Armada 370 and Armada XP, so even Armada XP users will find useful information in this datasheet.

Free Electrons is happy to see that Marvell is making more and more progress towards mainlining their kernel support and opening their datasheets publicly. We strongly believe that the openness of these datasheets will allow hobbyists and developers to improve the support for Armada 370 in the open-source ecosystem, be it in the Linux kernel, in bootloaders like U-Boot or Barebox or even in other projects.

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Embedded Linux course in Madrid – July 7-11

We are happy to announce a new Embedded Linux training course on July 7-11, in Madrid, Spain.

IGEPv2 boardIt is organized by our partners ISEE (the makers of the IGEPv2 board that we are using in this course), and Silica, a well known component is distributor who is welcoming the session in its offices in Madrid.

The course will be instructed in English by our trainer Marcin Bis. Marcin Bis

The registrations are directly handled by ISEE. See the flyer (document in Spanish) for this session for all practical details and for registration details.

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2014 Q2 newsletter

This article was published on our quarterly newsletter.

Free Electrons is happy to share some news about the latest training and contribution activities of the company.

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