Developers Mull Linux Choices

At this week's open-source extravaganza, LinuxWorld, Metrowerks, MontaVista and IBM all have embedded announcements on tap.

As momentum for embedded Linux systems builds, open-source developers are divided on whether commercial tools or open-source options are the best way to write to embedded Linux devices.

At this weeks open-source extravaganza, LinuxWorld, Metrowerks Inc., MontaVista Corp. and IBM all have embedded announcements on tap.

Metrowerks, based in Austin, Texas, will showcase its Linux tools for embedded developers—tools the company acquired when it bought the assets of Embedix Inc.s Lineo technology last month. Metrowerks is expected to announce a deal with Advanced Micro Devices Inc. at the show to support embedded Linux development on AMD microprocessors.

Another Linux distributor, MontaVista, of Sunnyvale, Calif., has announced that the CEE (Consumer Electronics Edition) of its Linux operating system and cross-development environment is suited for embedded devices.

MontaVista CEE 3.0, expected this quarter, will feature power management technology, developed with IBM, that can cut processor power consumption by up to 50 percent, said officials for the companies. MontaVista will also announce an addition to its carrier-grade enterprise embedded technology at LinuxWorld.

Meanwhile, IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., is pushing embedded development primarily through its Eclipse open-source development platform, while companies such as MontaVista, Red Hat Inc. and QNX Software Systems Ltd. are working to deliver a CDT (C Development Toolkit) for Linux.

Ed Hintz, director of software development at SlickEdit Inc., of Morrisville, N.C., said SlickEdit will ship a CDT plug-in next quarter. "The Eclipse market and the embedded market are very important to us," Hintz said.

Besides Eclipse, IBM officials are touting WebSphere Studio Device Developer for embedded development.

Despite the availability of commercial tools for embedded Linux development, several developers say they prefer to go with open-source tools.

"You wont find too many Linux users interested in using anything but the GNU tool chain," said Russell Nelson, a developer with Handhelds. org, in Potsdam, N.Y., an open-source effort to create a Linux distribution for handhelds. "Why pay for a compiler/ linker/editor when youve already got one?"

Jim Gettys, a developer at Hewlett-Packard Co.s Cambridge Research Laboratory, in Cambridge, Mass., said his organization, which provides Linux software for HPs iPaq handheld, has developed its own tools. "Normal Linux development serves just fine," Gettys said.