Getting some help with build systems

One of the most rewarding parts of working at Konsulko Group has been our returning customers. Months, sometimes years, after we’ve successfully completed an engagement, we’ll hear from the same client (sometimes at the same company, sometimes at a new one) that they would like Konsulko’s help on their latest project.

Konsulko engineers have decades of experience at all levels of open source embedded software, from Linux kernel and low-level subsystems, through middleware and application development, to QA, maintenance and tools, but it is our expertise with the Yocto Project/OpenEmbedded build system that’s usually a part of everything we do.

From the time it first appeared in 2003, the OpenEmbedded build framework revolutionized embedded development, providing a systematic and reusable way to build custom Linux distributions for unique embedded devices. Almost ten years ago, OE became the build system of Yocto Project, and OE’s “recipe” approach was further structured and enhanced by layers.

Konsulko engineers have been there since the earliest days. We’ve seen a lot, learned a lot, and apply our expertise to helping our customers – old and new – build their “own” Linux distro for their own product.

ELC goes virtual

Registration is now open for Embedded Linux Conference (ELC), the premier vendor-neutral technical conference of developers working on embedded Linux. Held virtually this year on June 29 – July 2, 2020, ELC will feature four full days of education, collaboration, and deep dive learning opportunities presented from locations across the globe.

Konsulko Group engineers are scheduled to give two sessions. CTO Matt Porter will teach his popular tutorial, Introduction to IIO and Input Drivers, and Principal Software Engineer Paul Barker will be giving a talk as part of the Project Mini-Summits.

Although we won’t be able to literally “see” you there, we hope you will join us in supporting the virtual edition of this important Linux Foundation event.

Working remotely by design

The coronavirus pandemic has forced all of us to fundamentally change the way we live. Thankfully, at Konsulko Group, it has yet to significantly change the way we work. Working remotely is the norm for Konsulko engineers. In fact, Konsulko was built on the idea of Globally Employable Engineers™ based throughout the world.

We all have permanent personal workspaces that are fully equipped with the best tools for remote development work and collaboration. Members of our team have years of software engineering experience, excellent English language skills, and are comfortable working directly with our customers.

In these times when travel is necessarily limited and in-person meetings can endanger health and safety, we are happy to share our best practices based on our extensive experience as remote workers. Please feel free to contact us.

Meanwhile, we continue our work in the open source community while helping our customers build great products for the better times ahead. Stay healthy.

Now a Mender Authorized Referral Partner

As Embedded Linux pioneers, Konsulko Group is excited to work with Mender.io, a leader in open source over-the-air (OTA) software updates. Konsulko has already completed several successful projects for our customers using Mender end-to-end OTA software update manager. 

As a Mender Authorized Referral Partner we believe we can give our customers robust and secure open source OTA solutions that can be extended for large scale software deployments.

Please contact Konsulko Group directly to see how we can integrate open source over-the-air software updates into your next product.

Please read more on Mender’s blog.

Konsulko Group is going to Embedded World

When Embedded World began in 2003, Linux and open source were still a very small part of the embedded software business. Year after year, Embedded Linux has grown steadily. This year at Embedded World 2020 over 120 companies will be highlighting over 130 Embedded Linux products and services, including the Linux Foundation and Automotive Grade Linux (Hall 4 / 4-171).

If you are coming to Nuremberg, February 25-27, we hope will see you around the AGL stand, on the show floor, or at one of the many social events. Please contact us directly if you’d like to set up a meeting.

See you at FOSDEM

Konsulko Group engineers will be attending FOSDEM ’20 on February 1 & 2. Look for us during the conference around the Automotive Grade Linux and OpenEmbedded stands, or at Leon Anavi’s presentation on Saturday, Building Homebridge with the Yocto Project. Hope we see you in Brussels!

The Year in Review 2019

Konsulko Group has completed another busy year, working hard to solve our customers’ problems, while building efficient and reliable open source software for their products in development.

We’ve helped our customers launch exciting new products across the spectrum of embedded systems: automotive, medical devices, networking equipment, and cutting-edge consumer electronics.

As Globally Employable Engineers, we are geographically distributed across North America and Europe, but thanks to today’s technology, we have worked together every day as a team, often in real time.

At Konsulko Group we believe production software should be closely aligned with OSS community work upstream, and we work to make that happen. Our community work in key open source projects includes the Linux kernel, Yocto Project, OpenEmbedded and Automotive Grade Linux. We participate in important OSS conferences like FOSDEM and SCaLE, sponsor TuxCon and OpenFest every year, and have published two new “how to” technical papers, useful to developers at all levels (available on this website).

We’ve continued our close relationship with the Linux Foundation and Automotive Grade Linux, supporting AGL development, demos and member meetings. Konsulko Group gave technical talks at ALS Tokyo, ELC San Diego, ELCE and Yocto Project Summit Lyon, and the AGL AMM Monte Carlo, and participated in the OSLS Half Moon Bay.

Through the Embedded Apprentice Linux Engineer program, Konsulko provided well-received training sessions in 2019 at SCaLE 17x Pasadena, ELC San Diego and ELCE Lyon. We’ve given on-site and remote training to major companies in North America, and remain a Linux Foundation Authorized Training Partner.

All in all, 2019 seems like it has gone quickly. We now look forward to working with you in 2020 and beyond.

Hope to see you at the AGL booth at CES

Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) is a collaborative open source project accelerating development of a fully open software platform for automotive applications. At CES 2020, AGL will be highlighting both members and the broader AGL ecosystem, demonstrating connected car services, audio innovations, instrument cluster applications, security solutions and more, all running on the AGL open source software platform.

Again this year, Konsulko Group will be supporting the AGL booth at CES [Westgate (Tech East) Smart Cities, booth 1815]. Come see us during the show or at the AGL Evening Reception on Wednesday, January 8 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm.

Building a DIY SOHO router, 6 months on

Building a DIY SOHO router using the Yocto Project build system OpenEmbedded, 6 months on

A little more than six months ago, I posted part 4 of our series on making a SOHO router using the Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded. After 6 months of deployment, this is a good time to follow up on how the router has worked out in residential use.  The zeus code-name Yocto Project release was just announced, and that means that the release we started out with in part 1 is now close to being out of support.  That’s not a problem since we designed in support for moving to new software releases using Mender to deliver software updates.

One of the most important metrics in a project like this is, how does it perform?  From the standpoint of a family of 4 heavy internet users, it’s gone really well.  The WiFi range is only a little better than before, but that’s not really a function of the software.  Making everyone use Pi-hole has only resulted in a small number of places where I needed to override the blacklist and allow something in.  From an end-user point of view, this has worked as well as any off-the-shelf router.  From the administrator point of view, I’ve done scheduled maintenance during the day on a weekend, and it really did take only the 5 minutes I promised everyone rather than turning into one of those worst case scenarios where something broke and it takes an hour to fix it.  In fact, the update portion of the plan has gone exceedingly well.  While I didn’t make a post about moving to warrior from thud, I did that transition a while ago and it went smoothly.  Mender introduced a change that required attention be paid while migrating, but it was documented and went smoothly.  On the metadata side, the upgrade was as easy as one could hope.  A few of the bbappend files needed to be updated for a new version, and some of the changes I had made and pushed upstream as part of the original series were now just included, so they got dropped from my layer.

One of the things I touched on in the series was about using the update functionality to test development changes in a production environment.  The chance to do that came up with a systemd-networkd issue that was a problem in my local setup.  The upstream project requested people verify the problem exists with newer versions of systemd and a new enough version was available in what would become zeus.  So I made a quick weekend project of doing an update of my layers to build with a newer version of all of the metadata, removed the work-around, and flashed the image in place.  A quick reboot confirmed that the issue was indeed fixed, and then rather than commit to running an otherwise in-progress release I simply rebooted and automatically rolled back to my stable release.  With the network back up again, I updated the issue in upstream Bugzilla to let them know the problem was fixed.  After a bit longer, a few other people also confirmed it worked for them and now the issue is resolved.

In terms of the metadata itself, there have been a few clean-ups to what I did in my own layer with each release update I’ve done.  In the series I left out what hardware I was building on, and I also left out talking about using the linux–yocto recipe.  Since I first wrote the series linux-yocto has become easier to use, and I found this as part of reviewing my own changes like they were brand new with each upgrade.  I was setting some variables that initially didn’t have reasonable default values, and now they do and I don’t need to set them myself.  This in fact means that moving forward, rather than a version-specific kernel bbappend file, I can go with an always-used one to enable the additional kernel CONFIG options that I need for a time-based firewall.

I started out by mentioning that zeus has been released, and I’m working on migrating to it as I write this.  In fact, it’s so new that I’m doing my own little port of the meta-mender core layer to zeus for my needs. I expect that by the time I do my first update from one build of zeus to the next there will be an official update I’ll be able to use instead.  Looking forward, this was a great little project that also was a lot of fun.  The goals I set way back at the start have been met, and I’m happier with my network than I have been in a long time.  Of course, the list of features an off-the-shelf system provides is always growing, and there’s now monitoring and display items on my weekend project list now to keep up.  I foresee using and improving this setup for a long time to come.

Konsulko Group sponsors OpenFest 2019

Again this year, Konsulko Group is very pleased to be a sponsor of OpenFest, November 2-3, 2019 in Sofia, Bulgaria. As a team of embedded Linux and Open Source Software community and industry veterans, we are always happy to support important OSS events.

Headquartered in California, Konsulko works with customers throughout North America, Europe and Asia to develop and maintain Open Source-based solutions for products. Our European subsidiary, Konsulko Ltd is based in Sofia.

Konsulko’s focus is upstream and production software design, enablement, optimization, and maintenance for customers in a wide array of embedded software markets including automotive, networking, industrial, medical devices and IoT.

Our senior leadership have been contributors in the Linux kernel and other OSS communities since the late 1990s. Konsulko engineers are involved today in many Open Source projects, including the Linux kernel, U-Boot, Yocto Project, OpenEmbedded, and Automotive Grade Linux (AGL). Members of the Konsulko team have been key participants in major software projects with Google, Sony, NEC, Nokia, Nvidia, MIPS, Texas Instruments, NXP, Juniper Networks, Huawei, Robert Bosch, Groupe PSA, and Jaguar Land Rover.

If you are attending OpenFest, we’d love to talk with you about engaging Konsulko’s engineering expertise and experience on your project. Or if you’re an accomplished software developer with a passion for Linux, please contact us about joining the Konsulko team.