Muli Ben-Yehuda's journal

January 12, 2004

gby talk at Telux on Embedded Linux

Filed under: Uncategorized — Muli Ben-Yehuda @ 3:30 AM

I left work early today, around 1630 or so and went to hear gby talk about Embedded Linux at Telux. The talk was excellent, gby being his highly entertaining self, as usual. I heard previous incarnations of this talk in the past, at August Penguin I and elsewhere, but was still glad I decided to come. The talk was a bit too short, though, lasting only 50 minutes. The slides were extremely pretty, in Hebrew with the Codefidence logo featured prominently.

I missed the first 15 minutes of the talk, due to having to find something to eat or risking fainting. Being a slave to your stomach sucks. When I came into the classroom, gby was talking about how to do safe firmware and configuration updates, where safe is defined as being atomic – if a power failure happens at any given moment, you either get the old firmware/configuration or the new firmware/configuration, nothing else (bottom line is prepare everything and then use rename(2), which has an atomicity guarantee). Then he talked about the necessity of being able to reproduce exactly how you built the system, what configuration files you used, etc. This isn’t specific to embedded systems, of course, it’s correct software engineering regardless of the platform.

Then gby went on to talk about uClibc as a possible glibc replacement, busybox for your application needs, and even a tiny X server, Kdrive. He also showed a “slot server”, which is a complete PC on a single PCI card. Neat toy, I wish I had one to play with. Think of running a virtual machine running completely on its own CPU…

After the talk, a bunch of us went to a nearby pub. I drank a half of Guinness, which was surprisingly tasty (I’m not much of a beer connoisseur). In attendance were gby, Shachar, Doron and Ori Idan (I think…). We swapped war stories, talked about the state of the industry and the state of Microsoft in particular, and much fun was had. The story of how I got a bug report from MS research was quite well received 🙂

While we were talking, I asked gby where I might get a “slot server” card and if the specs were available. Turns out that he doesn’t need his, and he loaned it to me to play with! Yay for cool new toys! Now I just need to find specs for it, and then get it to run Linux 😉

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