A Quick Guide to Embedded Linux: What Is It and Why Use It? 

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Written By Berry Mathew

Embedded operating systems are meant to improve the hardware and firmware development process. Dozens of embedded OS have been developed by engineers to fulfill narrowly-targeted features. Thus, it’s crucial for you to understand the tools you’ll need to use to implement embedded systems for your product. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive guide to Embedded Linux and how you can benefit from using it for your project. 

What is Embedded Linux?

Embedded Linux is a Linux OS version that operates on versatile embedded systems like mobile devices, routers, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Linux kernel is a part of embedded Linux, which works with the help of open-source tools and GNU utilities. The core advantage of embedded Linux development is the availability of pre-made software that can be instantly incorporated into an embedded app by a developer. Using ready-to-go code enables business owners to cut development hours and costs.  

Embedded Linux transforms the development of complex embedded systems, making it faster and easier. Besides, embedded Linux is compatible with versatile software solutions, including serial communication protocols, TCP/IP stack, etc. 

You can learn more about embedded Linux development and technologies at https://lembergsolutions.com/embedded-linux-development 

Why embedded Linux?

Before you opt for embedded Linux to build your embedded system, analyze this operating system to learn whether it fits your specific business and tech needs. 

Below, you’ll find the benefits embedded Linux can bring your business: 

  • Add or remove any components, as Linux is an open-source OS 
  • Use code parts for free and save embedded development costs 
  • Build your embedded device quickly and efficiently using readymade libraries like SPI, TCP/IP stack, Linux Kernel, and other features
  • Embedded Linux complies with versatile processors like ARM, MIPS, X86, and SH. You can also utilize Raspberry Pi boards for your embedded Linux device 
  • There’s a variety of embedded Linux software and support providers.

After considering embedded Linux’s advantages, you can decide whether this OS fits your project. The core benefits of using embedded Linux are time efficiency and reasonable pricing.   

How can you use embedded Linux? 

Embedded Linux is a scalable system that works on multicore processors. Thus, it is suitable for business owners looking to build complex applications.

Let’s review some specific types of applications that can be built with embedded Linux: 

  •  Data processing apps

Embedded Linux is a reliable system for data processing apps. It is even used to develop firmware for spaceships and satellites due to its adaptability and flexibility. If you want to build an app with several threads and parallel performance, embedded Linux is a suitable solution.   

  • AI-based apps

Whether you’re looking to build industrial solutions or networking apps, you can create any narrowly-targeted system with embedded Linux. Embedded Linux ensures the smooth performance of your complex ML algorithms, as this system is accurate and stable. Embedded Linux is also a feasible option for the development of AI-based applications.

Complications caused by embedded Linux

Regardless of the numerous advantages of using embedded Linux, you should still be aware of the potential complications you can face while using this system. 

Engineers add new features and refinements to the system daily, making it suitable for many projects. However, it also complicates the understanding of embedded software for engineers, as it’s impossible to keep up to date with all updates. 

It would help if you also remember that any changes in your embedded device will affect the embedded Linux software. To fix this mismatch, you’ll have to either replace the hardware components of your device or introduce necessary software changes. 

Besides, embedded Linux takes up more memory than other embedded development tools. 

The enlisted complications are no threat to the smooth development of your device using embedded Linux if your engineers are aware of each potential pitfall. Make sure to hire engineers that are experts in embedded Linux development or find a third-party partner to take responsibility for trouble-free device development. 

Embedded Linux tools: Buildroot and Yocto 

Buildroot and Yocto are the two main tools that simplify the use of embedded Linux. These tools speed up the development of custom embedded systems, improving the whole process.   

Buildroot facilitates the development of embedded Linux systems using cross-compilation. This tool makes the embedded system concise by deactivating the extra compile-time settings. Engineers can still enable any settings manually for a specific device’s system.

Buildroot collects each component from the source, yet, it doesn’t cover the target package management. Though Buildroot was created to manage basic scenarios, it can be expanded to meet more complex objectives.

At the same time, Buildroot is scalable, and developers can have a field day integrating features into its embedded Linux. Buildroot runs on Kconfig and Makefiles.

Yocto is another tool for embedded Linux development. It enables engineers to create custom Linux distributions with the help of metadata and cross-platform tools. Yokto helps engineers keep software narrowly focused on the embedded app requirements. If you’re looking to build an application, improve process management, or get help with archiving, Yocto is a perfect option. 

All in all, Yocto will reduce the number of your customization complexities and decrease the cross-architecture migration failures. 

The takeaway

The tech industry progresses quickly, so you must bring your product to market before your competitors. Embedded Linux is a multi-purpose system that can meet any of your embedded device engineering needs. Embedded Linux allows you to develop a custom device quickly and efficiently using premade open-source code. There are also tools like Buildroot and Yocto that will make your experience with embedded Linux even better.