Embedded Linux Conference schedule announced, several talks from Free Electrons

The schedule for the upcoming Embedded Linux Conference, which takes place on March 23-25 in San Jose, has been announced and is available publicly at http://elcabs2015.sched.org/, together with the Android Builders Summit schedule. As usual, there are lots of talks that look very interesting, so we can expect a very useful conference once again.

ELC 2015

This time around, there will be three talks given by Free Electrons engineers:

So, book your tickets, and join us for the Embedded Linux Conference at the end of March!

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Free Electrons at FOSDEM 2015

FOSDEM BannerFor many open-source developers based in Europe, the FOSDEM is probably the most useful, interesting and exciting conference. Once again this year, several Free Electrons engineers will attend the conference:

  • Maxime Ripard, mainly involved in Allwinner related kernel development, as well as more recently OpenWRT support for Marvell platforms
  • Antoine Ténart, involved in Marvell Berlin related kernel development, and one of the developers of our Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded training course
  • Alexandre Belloni, involved in Atmel processors related kernel development, and also one of our Yocto expert.
  • Thomas Petazzoni, involved in Marvell EBU processors related kernel development, and doing a lot of Buildroot contributions.

If you are attending, and want to know more about Free Electrons, or discuss career or project opportunities, do not hesitate to contact us prior to the conference. Many of us will probably attend a significant number of talks from the Embedded track, so it should be easy to find us.

Last but not least, Alexandre Belloni will be giving a talk about Starting with the Yocto Project, which will take place on Sunday, at 3 PM in room Lameere.

Finally, Thomas Petazzoni has organized and will participate to the Buildroot Developers Meeting organized right after FOSDEM, and sponsored by Google and Mind.

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Meet us at Embedded World 2015!

Atmel booth at Embedded World 2014Free Electrons will be present at Embedded World 2015 in Nüremberg, Germany on February 24-26. We will be present on the Atmel Corporation booth (4A-220) to demonstrate our Atmel-related developments and offerings.

Four people from Free Electrons will be present: Michael Opdenacker (CEO), Thomas Petazzoni (CTO), Anja Roubin (training operations) and Alexandre Belloni (embedded Linux engineer).

Do not hesitate to get in touch with us prior to the event if you would like to schedule a meeting to discuss business, project or career opportunities.

If you are interested in our training services, we will have very special discount vouchers for people who visit us at Embedded World.

You will also be able to ask us for free advise during the trade show. We have vast experience on embedded Linux and its kernel, and we will be most happy to give you ideas and pointers to resources that should be useful for your projects.

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2015 Q1 newsletter

This article was published on our quarterly newsletter.

The Free Electrons team wishes you a Happy New Year for 2015, with plenty of optimism and energy!

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

Kernel contributions

We continue to work significantly on support for various ARM processors in the Linux kernel. Our contributions to the latest kernel releases:

  • 147 patches from Free Electrons merged in Linux 3.17, making Free Electrons the 14th contributing company for this release by number of patches. See our blog post about this release.
  • 155 patches from Free Electrons merged in Linux 3.18, making Free Electrons the 14th contributing company. See our blog post for more details.
  • For the upcoming 3.19 release, we already have 196 patches merged.

One of the highlights was that we added support for the Atmel SAMA5D4 SoC to the Linux kernel even before the new chip was announced by Atmel! That’s a very positive sign for customers when an SoC is supported in the mainline Linux kernel sources right at product launch, instead of having to wait for months or years before the community developers can catch up.

Note that we also added Atmel SAMA5D3 SoC support to Xenomai, a hard real-time extension for the Linux kernel. Thanks to this, the Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained board can now run with the 2.6.x release of Xenomai.

Besides those highlights, most of our kernel contributions were as usual centered around support for specific families of ARM processors: CPUs from Marvell EBU and Marvell Berlin, from Atmel and from Allwinner. We added a new network driver for some Marvell EBU processors, added SMP support for Marvell Berlin processors, added a DMA controller driver for Allwinner processors, and did a lot of maintenance work to support these processors in the mainline kernel.

Buildroot contributions

Our involvement into the Buildroot project, a popular embedded Linux build system, is going on. Our engineer Thomas Petazzoni contributed 136 patches to the 2014.11 release, making him the second contributor by number of patches. Thomas is also taking care of the maintenance of the project on a more regular basis, reviewing and merging patches from contributors.

OpenWRT contributions

We have recently started contributing to the OpenWRT project: improve the kernel support to use defconfig, introduce a notion of board to support different NAND configurations for each platform. We will soon to be pushing support for the Marvell Armada 385 platform, and improved support for the Marvell Armada 370 and XP platforms.

Recent projects

Besides our publicly visible kernel contributions, we do also work on customer-specific projects. Among the latest projects we have done:

  • Develop a complete Board Support Package for a custom TI AM335x based platform: U-Boot porting, Linux kernel porting, and development of a Yocto-generated system. Qt5 and OpenGL are used for the graphical application, a fairly complex audio setup had to be supported, and many traditional interfaces as well (USB Host and Device, CAN, display, etc.)
  • Develop a Board Support Package for a custom Marvell Armada 375 based platform for a telephony system. Not only did we port a Linux kernel on this platform, but we also wrote several DAHDI drivers to interface the telephony hardware of the platform with Asterisk.
  • NAND and UBI stress-testing for a customer-specific Freescale i.MX28 based platform. We improved the NAND controller driver, added a new MTD tool to generate bitflips, and did some long term power-cut stress-testing of the UBIFS setup to ensure the reliability of the platform. See our kernel driver improvements and the new nandflipbits tool.
  • Adapt an existing ADC driver for a customer-specific platform to the modern Industrial Input Output (IIO) subsystem of the kernel.

Conferences: FOSDEM, Embedded World and Embedded Linux Conference

Several Free Electrons engineers will participate to the FOSDEM conference, taking place on January 30 and February 1 in Brussels. In addition, Thomas Petazzoni will be participating to the Buildroot Developers Meeting that takes place right after FOSDEM in the Google offices in Brussels.

Free Electrons will participate to the Embedded World trade show on February 24-26 in Nuremberg, Germany. We will be present at Atmel’s booth and visiting exhibitor booths too. For people in Europe, this will be a good opportunity to ask your questions about our embedded Linux training and engineering services. In particular, you will be able meet our engineers Alexandre Belloni, Thomas Petazzoni (CTO), Michael Opdenacker (CEO) and Anja Roubin as well, the new person in charge of our training services.

This year again, most of the Free Electrons engineering team (7 engineers) will participate to the 2015 edition of the Embedded Linux Conference on March 23-25 in San Jose, California. We submitted several talk proposals, but our presence won’t depend on the number of talks that are eventually accepted. Participating to this conference, and to its European edition in the fall too, is very important for us to make sure we do not miss any of the interesting developments in the technical community, and above all to strengthen our ties with the community developers. This helps us to be good technical trainers with valuable experience and information to share. The strong relationships with other community developers (and in particular with project maintainers) also help us when our customers contract us to add hardware support or features to official versions of community projects such as the Linux kernel.

Free technical documentation resources

Since the latest edition of this newsletter, we started running our new Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded course, and we released all training materials for this course. As usual, such materials are meant to be used by people learning by themselves too. All you have to do is get your hands on a Beaglebone Black board, read the slides and try to do the labs!

Our engineer Maxime Ripard also contributed documentation about the DMAEngine subsystem in the Linux kernel.

Upcoming training sessions – Now in Paris too!

The news is that we will run new public sessions in Paris, in addition to the ones we usually organize in Toulouse, Avignon and Lyon in France. We are starting with our embedded Linux and our Yocto courses, but other topics will follow too.

So, here are our next session dates:

See sessions and dates for more details. Of course, we can also deliver our training courses at your location, anywhere in the world. Feel free to contact us for a quote.

If you are interested in more frequent news about Free Electrons, you can follow us on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Linux 3.18 released, Free Electrons contributions

PenguinLinus Torvalds has recently released the 3.18 version of the Linux kernel. As usual, LWN.net made an excellent coverage of the merge window: part 1, part 2 and part 3.

As of 3.18-rc6, LWN.net gathered some statistics about the 3.18 kernel contributions, and Free Electrons is ranked as the 14th contributing company for this release in number of patches, right after MEV Limited and before Qualcomm.

A quick summary of our contributions:

  • Improvements to the support of Atmel ARM processors: addition of a memory driver for the RAM controller (Alexandre Belloni), improvements to the irqchip driver to support the new SAMA5D4 processor (Alexandre Belloni), updates to the defconfigs (Alexandre Belloni), new clock driver for the SAMA5D4 processor (Alexandre Belloni), preparation work for multi-platform (Boris Brezillon), numerous fixes to clock drivers (Boris Brezillon), NAND driver improvements (Boris Brezillon), new reset and poweroff drivers and moved all the corresponding logic to a Device Tree based description (Maxime Ripard), refactoring of the clocksource driver and move to the proper drivers/clocksource directory (Maxime Ripard).
  • Improvements to the support of Marvell EBU ARM processors: XOR driver improvements (Ezequiel Garcia), pin-muxing description in Device Tree for more platforms (Ezequiel Garcia), support for the RTC on Armada 375 (Grégory Clement), support for the Spread Sprectrum Generator on Armada 370 (Grégory Clement), improvements to the support of the Armada 370 RD platform (Thomas Petazzoni), extensions to the cpufreq-dt driver to support platforms with independent clocks for each CPU, various fixes.
  • Improvements to the support of Marvell Berlin ARM processors: add support for the Ethernet controller by re-using the existing pxa168_eth driver (Antoine Ténart).
  • Improvements to the support of Allwinner ARM processors: addition of the support for a phase property to the Common Clock Framework, and usage in the context of the MMC clock on Allwinner processors (Maxime Ripard).
  • Various small UBI improvements (Ezequiel Garcia).
  • A number of trivial fixes: removal of IRQF_DISABLED, typo fixes, etc. (Michael Opdenacker).

The detailed list of the patches we have contributed:

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DMAEngine Documentation: Work (finally) in Progress

While developping a DMA controller driver for the Allwinner A31 SoCs (that eventually got merged in the 3.17 kernel), I’ve realised how under-documented the DMAEngine kernel subsystem was, especially for a newcomer like I was.

After discussing this with a few other kernel developers in the same situation, I finally started to work on such a documentation during the summer, and ended up submitting it at the end of July. As you might expect, it triggered a lot of questions, comments and discussions that enhanced a lot the documentation itself but also pointed out some inconsistencies in the API, obscure areas or just enhancements.

This also triggered an effort to clean up these areas, and hopefully, a lot more will follow, allowing to eventually clean up the framework as a whole.

And the good thing is that this documentation has been merged by the DMAEngine maintainer and is visible in linux-next, feel free to read it, and enhance it!

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Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded training materials published

Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded trainingAs we announced in out latest newsletter, we recently launched a new Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded development training course.

The first public session will take place in Toulouse, France on November 18-20 and we still have a few seats available. We can also deliver on-site sessions at the location of your choice, see our Training cost and registration page for more details.

However, what brings us here today is that we are happy to announce the release of all the training materials of this new course: like all Free Electrons training materials, they are available under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license.

Fully committed to its knowledge sharing principles, Free Electrons has chosen to publish those materials even before the first session has taken place.

The materials available are:

We of course welcome reviews, feedback and comments about these materials, in order to improve them where needed. Send us your comments!

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Call for participation for the FOSDEM Embedded developer room

BrusselsThe FOSDEM is by far the largest and most vibrant open-source event in Europe. With 5000+ participants, 400+ talks in just two days, a completely free entrance with no registration required, and many topics covered, it has become over the years a major meeting event of open-source developers.

The 2015 edition will take on January 31 and February 1st in Brussels. Like most years, a specific track dedicated to embedded systems is on the schedule, called the “Embedded Developer Room”. A call for participation has been published, and proposals are expected by December, 1st.

It is worth mentioning that the scope of the FOSDEM Embedded Developer Room goes much beyond Embedded Linux: it covers all types of embedded systems, including micro-controller based development, fun hacking or do-it-yourself projects, and much more. Looking at last year’s schedule of the Embedded Devroom is a good way of getting a feeling of the topics that are covered.

Also, FOSDEM has many other tracks that can be interesting to embedded Linux developers: last year there was a track about Tracing and debugging, a track about Memory and Storage, a track about Hardware, a developer room about Graphics, etc.

So, save the date, and join FOSDEM 2015 in Brussels!

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Videos of XDC2014 and Kernel Recipes 2014

Recently, two interesting conferences took place in France: the X.org developer conference (in Bordeaux, October 8th-10th) and the Kernel Recipes conference (in Paris, September 25th-26th).

X.org Foundation logo

Kernel Recipes logo

Both conferences have now published videos and slides of the different talks:

  • for the XDC 2014 conference, they are available in the program page
  • for the Kernel Recipes conference, they are available from the schedule page

It also means that the video of the talk given by Free Electrons engineer Maxime Ripard about the support for Allwinner processors in the kernel is now available: video, slides.

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Call for participation for the Embedded Linux Conference 2015

San Jose, CaliforniaThe Embedded Linux Conference Europe is just over that it’s already time to think about the Embedded Linux Conference 2015, which will take place on March 23-25 in San Jose, California.

The call for participation has been published recently, and interested speakers are invited to submit their proposals before January, 9th 2015. The notifications of whether your talk is accepted or not will be sent on January, 16th and the final schedule is planned to be published on January, 23th.

At Free Electrons, we really would like to encourage developers who are working on interesting embedded Linux related projects to submit a talk about what they are doing: talking about a specific open-source project, feedback on some experience doing an embedded Linux based product, etc. The scope of topics covered by the Embedded Linux Conference is fairly broad, so do not hesitate to submit a proposal. Giving a talk at this conference is really a great way of getting feedback about what you’re doing, raising awareness about a particular project or issue, and generally meeting other developers interested in similar topics.

It is worth mentioning that for those people whose talk is accepted, the entrance ticket is free. For hobbyists working on their own on open-source projects, the Linux Foundation also has the possibility of funding travel to the conference.

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