Re: Req: (Free) Embedded Platforms for Education



Chris Hills wrote:
so the best solution would be to have a FOSS :)

I don't believe that for many reasons.


Sorry for the nitpicking (well, not really, because this really _is_
important to me), but what would those reasons be? Remember, this is not
for some company with no FOSS experience trying to get their product to
market within a predefined time/cost frame (even then - if done right, free
software certainly can compete with closed & proprietary software).

Since in an academic environment you can have always motivated students
that can develop and tune the software; more importantly we learn more
when looking at the source code! So the motivation is not only about
money :) it has to do also by the amount of knowledge that people can
get and transfer 'freely' to other.

Then you don't need FOSS. In fact in your situation it would be counter
productive.

Why is that? Even if the students don't get to see a single of the OS source
code, the professor/tutor certainly can get (and use!) a lot more
information about an open source OS than about a closed OS.

I have noticed that few state of the art FOSS exist for embedded
systems

This is true and will remain so.

Attach a serial console to your SoHo network router - chances are it's
running Linux. There are complete families of commercial devices running
Linux (e.g. Buffalo *station NAS, Linksys routers, ...).
On the development side, the embedded systems ports of GCC are profiting
from every new GCC release. There are certainly areas where FOSS lacks
behind, but the strongest argument for free software is that you're able to
change that, and even if you don't, others certainly will.

:( This has to do perhaps with the fact that dev. environments are so
related to (hardware) technologies that most of the time proprietary,
am I wrong when saying that?

No that is part of the reason.


Marvell seems to be a company with a horrible reputation when it comes to
being open about their products, yet they're actively pushing support for
their devices into the Linux mainline.
The OpenMoko team is working on free drivers for the 2D/3D accelerator chip
that's going to accompany their first mass-market mobile phone (FIC
Neo1973).
Major embedded players (Windriver for example) are moving to Eclipse.
I'm confident the list of free software being in state of the art embedded
use could be continued for quite a while.

The point is that this isn't a fundamental problem, it just takes time to
realize the benefits that come with free software.

Regards,

Dominic Rath

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