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Today MontaVista released four freely available embedded Linux SDKs in the Meld SDK Library, bringing the total to five. Each of these SDKs contains a complete, buildable software package, including the Linux kernel, a root filesystem, a cross-development toolchain, and most importantly the MontaVista Linux Integration Platform tools, based on (and including) BitBake.

These SDKs are available for download now to Meld members (registration is free).


Intel Architectures Explained

Intel Architectures Explained

Ever wonder about all those fancy project names Intel gives for its various architectures, and how they are related?  A new page available on the Meld embedded Linux community shows a very interesting graphical representation:  the family of Intel processors from the venerable i386 down to the present day Atom and Nehalem.

What I like best about this representation is its family tree aspect, specifically the part showing the “new” Atom processor evolving directly from the older P6 architecture rather than from more modern (some might say “overmodern”) generations of packaged cleverness.  The drawing was created by Klaas van Gend, one of my colleages at MontaVista.  Thanks, Klaas!

Full disclosure—I am an admin for the Meld community.  Feel free to poke around and join us, as there is more where that came from.


Developer Advocate. It has been on my business cards since I arrived at MontaVista last fall, but I don’t know if it has ever been defined in print. My MontaVista blog‘s name is a play on the term “playing devil’s advocate”, but what does it actually mean to be one? What is the role of a Developer Advocate in the world of open-source?

The short answer is that I am an ambassador for Linux developers, currently acting within this corporate structure. Obviously, since they are my employers, I have a vested interest in helping MontaVista succeed. What the term means to me, though, is that a major component of that interest is to help embedded Linux developers succeed in general, mostly because they help to advance the cause and penetration of the current best embedded operating system.

As a community admin, technical writer, and developer, I have several avenues by which I advocate.

One is that I help to administer an open community called Meld. Meld is sponsored by MontaVista, but it is truly open, meaning that anyone can join and discuss any embedded Linux topic, including the merger of Wind River with Intel, the recent webinar about fault-tolerant memory management, or even the thrill of rolling your own kernel, none of which directly involve MontaVista. In company meetings about Meld and at conferences, I try to represent the needs of developers at large and help to keep Meld open and non-corporate. (I’m swimming with the flow in that case—MontaVista as a corporation and the entire Meld team are as dedicated as I am to that level of openness.)

Another way I advocate for developers is as a technical writer, by helping to document important tools, like MontaVista Linux 6. It is fascinating to be a part of building such a complex tool and useful tool and to try to find the best ways to explain it.

A third method is to find ways we as a company can give back to the communities that support us. This is more than just the kernel community, of course: CELF and elinux.org, the Linux Foundation, OpenEmbedded and BitBake, and Moblin are all organizations and projects that share a common goal in helping embedded Linux succeed.

Actually, to boil it down, I figure it is my job to help embedded Linux developers succeed. I think that sums it up nicely.

If you are an embedded Linux developer, don’t be shy about letting me know how I can help YOU succeed, by email or in the comments below. Bear in mind that I have been working in this direction since 1992, long before MontaVista or any other Linux company existed.


Last week, I attended and presented at the 2009 Embedded Linux Conference and the 2009 Linux Collaboration Summit.  The conferences were co-located at the Kabuki Hotel in San Francisco, CA.  Both conferences were extremely useful individually, but the combination of the two was absolutely electric.

ELC is a twice-annual conference, in the US in springtime and in Europe in the fall.  This year marked its first co-location with a Linux Foundation conference, although the two groups have long had a correspondence relationship.  I attended some fantastic sessions, beginning with Dirk Hohndel’s keynote on ubiquitous Linux—very appropriate for an embedded conference.   I sadly missed a few of the sessions that day due to scheduling conflicts, but was able to attend the eLinux.org wiki BoF and submit a few changes.  I’m actually very excited about eLinux.org because it is a wealth of information that fits very well with what we are trying to do with Meld, and I was glad to see so much participation (even if some bribery was involved).

The next day was full of fascinating information.  I attended a presentation on Maemo, a keynote by embedded maintainer David Woodhouse, a great talk by embedded luminary Jim Ready, a fascinating discussion by David Mandala from Ubuntu on how they got such a large distro to work well in an ARM environment, as well as an extremely interesting panel hosted by Tim Bird and featuring Matt Mackall, Jon Corbet, and David Woodhouse.  The evening provided a showcase of demos, including my demo of Meld running in Firefox on a Beagle Board.

Wednesday was a rough one, because it was the day the two conferences overlapped.  It was quite odd to wake up to find the population in the hotel’s conference area quadrupled, quite literally, and the rooms changed around to accommodate all of the new conferencegoers.  I didn’t get a chance to see many of the remaining technical talks because I was riveted by the keynotes, most of which addressed community either directly or indirectly.  I also managed to meet several community leaders, including Karsten Wade, Joe Brockmeier, and Jono Bacon.  As a newcomer to community management, I found all of them welcoming, open, and filled with advice about community-building.  The advice itself was worth the price of the trip—they gave me a lot to think about, particularly Karsten, whose role with Fedora is probably most similar to mine in the embedded space.

I gave my ELC presentation Wednesday as well, and was pleased to see some participation despite being opposite a very compelling panel featuring representatives from Sun, Microsoft, and the Linux Foundation.  Note that Free Electrons recorded all of the sessions at ELC, including mine, so I expect to see those online in the coming weeks.  Well done again, guys.

The Linux Collaboration Summit is normally an invitation-only affair.  This year, however, they invited all ELC members to stay for the remaining two days and participate.  Thursday and Friday were simply a blur of packed sessions, including one I gave with Joerg Bertholdt, VP Mktg at MontaVista, during the Community Best Practices track on Friday morning.  The attendees were mostly community managers and active members, and we had a lively discussion about community and its role in product development and commericalization as well as some details about Meld itself.  The final presentation I attended was by Dr. Christine Hansen, a global advisor to governments and large institutions.  The place was just packed with fascinating information.

I came home exhausted on Friday afternoon, very grateful for such events and eager for more (after a rest!).

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