Electronic Design

Development Tools Make Waves At LinuxWorld Conference/Expo

A plethora of Linux development tools premiered at last month's LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in New York City. Many, like Borland's Kylix, have been much anticipated. Others, such as Transvirtual Technologies' PocketLinux, have been generally available during their development.

PocketLinux suits set-top boxes, Compaq's iPAQ, and other embedded devices. Version 1.0 starts with a Linux 2.4 kernel on a handheld computer like the iPAQ. It also boasts Transvirtual's Kaffe, a PersonalJava 1.2-compliant Java virtual machine, and runtime. PocketLinux (www.pocketlinux.com) features XML, DMO, and Jabber support, too. Jabber is an XML-based messaging system that acts as the link between the handheld client and the XML-based PocketLinux Portal.

Kylix brings Borland's (www.borland.com) Delphi rapid application development (RAD) tool to Linux. An object Pascal dialect, Delphi has been very popular for Windows-based development. Kylix's ad-vanced, multiproject integrated development environment (IDE) includes a forms designer, object inspector, source-code editor, compiler, linker, and advanced debugger (see the figure).

Over 165 extensible Component Library for Cross-Platform (CLX) components are included. The NetCLX components work with Apache, Linux's standard Web server. Delphi and Kylix applications are portable between environments if the applications are restricted to the common CLX subset. Direct use of Win32 support under Delphi, however, will make porting to Kylix more difficult. Linux has some RAD tools, but Kylix is important because of its Windows connection.

Another approach especially applicable to embedded designs is now available from LynuxWorks (www.lynuxworks.com), maker of BlueCat Linux and LynxOS. Visual LynuxWorks is an add-on to Microsoft Visual Studio, the home for development tools Visual C++ and Visual Basic. It uses the Visual Studio IDE but adds cross-compiler, linker, and debug support. Development occurs on a Windows PC connected to a target system where the resulting application is downloaded and debugged.

Visual LynuxWorks doesn't address the user interface, a design feature normally found in Visual Studio tools, since most target applications use custom user-interface hardware. Kylix is an interesting complement to Visual LynuxWorks. Much of Kylix addresses an application's user interface.

Visual LynuxWorks comes with a C++ compiler. It supports BlueCat and LynxOS, and it can generate applications for almost any Linux platform. It's an ideal development platform for programmers with a Visual Studio and C++ background who focus on applications for Linux systems.

LynuxWorks also demonstrated its common application binary interface (ABI) for BlueCat and LynxOS. A common ABI lets unmodified applications run on a standard embedded environment like BlueCat or an RTOS like LynxOS. LynxOS is compatible with Linux at the API level, but it uses a LynuxWorks proprietary base.

Cross-platform development news continued with Lineo's (www.lineo.com) Embedix SDK for Windows. With it, designers can cross-develop Linux applications on Windows NT and 2000 platforms. SDK includes a copy of the Metrowerks CodeWarrior, which combines a text editor, project manager, search engine, compiler, linker, and debugger into a single IDE. Meanwhile, Metrowerks' (www.metrowerks.com) preflashed Motorola MPC8260 processor board comes in a convenient and ready-to-run development system. It works with the SDK, including CodeWarrior.

Linux gained reflective memory (RM) support with Lineo's release of Embedix RM. It brings industrial-strength shared memory to embedded Linux. Embedix RM adds less than 60 kbytes to an embedded footprint. The replicated memory can be connected via a number of different transport mechanisms and routes. Embedix RM works with Lineo's Embedix Realtime RTOS as well as other Linux systems that use the 2.2.x or later kernel. And, the Embedix RM GUI provides an interactive design system for laying out shared memory blocks, redundant controllers and connections, and configuration files.

Replicating memory images over the network is useful, but distributed management is indispensible. Caldera Systems (www.caldera.com) showed off its newly announced Volution. This Linux distribution-neutral Web- and directory-based system-management software targets enterprise Linux installations. It also manages embedded systems. Typically, designers will use it more in high-end systems than in small Internet appliances. Volution lets network administrators manage users and systems that use policies and profiles. It supports enterprise features like hardware and software inventory, software distribution, health monitoring, system configuration, and scheduled actions. Its Webmin management tool supports real-time analysis and presentation of network information as well as the ability to configure remote systems.

While software made up the bulk of new releases at LinuxWorld, ZF Linux Devices (www.zflinux.com) announced some new hardware. The company demonstrated its MachZ PC-on-a-Chip, which uses less than 0.5 W when running at 133 MHz. It comes with a choice of Linux or Wind River VxWorks. The MachZ Integrated Development System includes Red Hat Linux 6.2, BlueCat Linux, and LynuxWorks development tools.

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