Tag Archive for: embedded linux

Konsulko Group: The Year in Review 2022

2022 went by quickly with Konsulko engineers working closely with our customers, our partners and the open source community. For the tenth straight year, Konsulko Group has helped our clients build outstanding commercial products with Embedded Linux, Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded, as well as deploying Over-the-Air (OTA) software updating.

Engaging with our customers

We had particular success with our Konsulko Continuous Time Engagement™ offering, providing dedicated engineering resources for two of the world’s largest semiconductor companies. This model provides guaranteed engineering time for an agreed period. KCTE has allowed our customers to use our engineers on a variety of their requirements, and switch between these tasks as the rest of their project and in-house engineering required.

Of course, many of our clients prefer Konsulko OnDemand Time Engagement™, SOW-based engineering for high level consulting, on-demand support, and specific tasks within a larger project. KOTE is also best for longer term engagements without a hard deadline that can be stopped and started as necessary, and projects with an expected pause (such as bring-up of new hardware which almost always results in a re-spin of the PCB).

Partnerships and Conferences

We continue our strong relationship with the Linux Foundation and Automotive Grade Linux. We worked with mender.io and PHYTEC, providing support and development for their customers. With our friends at ICS, we presented at a joint webinar in August, Software Update Mechanisms: Selecting the Best Solution by Konsulko’s Leon Anavi and ICS’ Jeff Tranter.

Our Konsulko engineers were active participants (often in person, sometimes virtually) in conferences and developer gatherings. Leon Anavi, Vitaly and Maria Wool, and Tim Orling made presentations at the Embedded Linux Conferences (North America and Europe), FOSDEM and Yocto Project Summits:

Tim also posted a technical paper on Using kernel config fragments to remove an unwanted feature.

Two top engineers join the Konsulko team

The bar is pretty high for joining Konsulko Group. Some of our team have thirty years experience with embedded software and Linux. Most have over twenty and all have over fifteen years, working (and playing) with Linux and the open source community. So we were happy to welcome Denys Dmytriyenko and António Oliveira to Konsulko Group this year.

Denys is a long time Open Source Software developer, contributing code to many FOSS projects, like glibc, PostgreSQL, KDE, MythTV, LIRC, OpenEmbedded, and Yocto Project. Before joining Konsulko Group, he worked as Software Developer and Architect for Texas Instruments for almost 20 years on numerous Embedded Linux (MIPS and ARM-based) products. Since 2011 Denys has served on the OpenEmbedded Board of Directors, and since 2019, on the Yocto Project Technical Steering Committee. He is a long time contributor and maintainer of numerous recipes and layers in the OpenEmbedded/Yocto Project universe.

António has worked in development of highly optimized hardware and software ranging from deeply embedded microcontrollers to full-fledged graphical user interfaces. During this time, he has gained extensive experience in build automation tools, analog and digital circuits, powerline communications, and low power and low frequency radio communications. An active member of the open source community, he has contributed to Yocto Project and the Linux kernel. In addition to his work as an embedded engineer, António served eight years on the executive board of his local parish in Portugal, including four years on the municipal council.

We hope you will have the opportunity to work with Denys, António and the rest of Konsulko Group in 2023.

Konsulko Group to speak at Yocto Project Virtual Summit

Konsulko Group’s Leon Anavi will present Porting Mender to New i.MX 8M Plus Machine and Working with Toradex BSP at the Yocto Project Virtual Summit. Leon will focus on porting Mender, a popular open source over-the-air software update solution, to Toradex Verdin iMX8M Plus SoM. He’ll examine the exact steps to build images for it and the Dahlia carrier board using the long-term support release of Yocto Project and the Toradex BSP.

Tim Orling will present two technical “lightning talks.” Running QEMU Images with virtio, virsh and virt-manager will discuss some experiences building and launching QEMU images with tools that leverage libvirt and virtio on a host. Creating an Installer that Leverages bmaptool will describe how to create an installer image using output from another image and writing all the partitions at once to the target using bmaptool.

The Yocto Project Virtual Summit is a 3-day technical conference for engineers, open source technologists, students and academia in the OSS space. Learn about Yocto Projects’ direction, get training on the next wave of embedded Linux technologies and network with industry peers, Yocto Project maintainers, OpenEmbedded maintainers and other experts.

Registration is $40 for the whole event. We hope you are able to join us.

Pick the Right Software Update Solution for Your Product

Live Webinar:

Software Update Mechanisms: Selecting the Best Solution for Your Embedded Linux Device

August 18, 2022 at 1 pm EDT/7pm CET

Get the foundation you need to make an informed decision on the right solution for your software update needs. Leon Anavi of Konsulko Group and Jeff Tranter of ICS will examine several different industry approaches, including A/B updates with a dual-redundant scheme, delta updates, container-based updates and combined strategies, as well as the leading technologies that support these approaches.

You can find complete information and register here for the free webinar on the ICS website. Hope you’ll join us on August 18.

Join us at Embedded World in Nuremberg, June 21-23, 2022

Are you coming to Embedded World? Konsulko Group will be there, too, supporting our partners and friends.

Be sure to stop by the Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) stand in Hall 4 to see the AGL ecosystem and to say hello.

Better still, if you’d like to set up an appointment at the show to talk with us about your company’s embedded products and your software development requirements, please contact us to set up a meeting.

Konsulko Group speaking at Embedded Linux Conference Austin

Konsulko Group engineers will make two presentations at the Embedded Linux Conference North America (ELC) in Austin, Texas (and virtual), June 21-24, 2022.

Software Update Mechanisms

On Wednesday, June 22 at 2:35pm CDT (Texas time), Leon Anavi will present How to Choose a Software Update Mechanism for Embedded Linux Devices.

This talk will look at the advantages and disadvantages of widely-used industry approaches: A/B updates with dual redundant scheme, delta updates, container-based updates and combined strategies. Open source technologies such as Mender, RAUC and libostree-based solutions implement these strategies and provide tools to manage updates of multiple devices. Leon will discuss how to choose an appropriate open source solution to implement for a specific project.

Edge Computing with RISC-V and Linux

On Thursday, June 23 at 2:55pm CDT, Vitaly Vul and Maria Vul will present Edge Computing with RISC-V Platforms Running XIP Linux.

XIP stands for eXecute In Place, allowing code to be executed directly from flash without copying the code to RAM first, making it possible to run Linux on such RISC-V devices as Kendryte K210, which has only 8 MB of SRAM, not only for demonstration purposes but for real applications as well. This talk will cover running edge computing specifically on K210 under Linux with XIP enabled.

Part of Open Source Summit North America

These and many other excellent presentations at ELC are part of the Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit. We hope you will join us in June.

Embedded Linux engineers have a choice to make in June

At Konsulko Group, we’ve participated in the “virtual” developer conferences created out of necessity over the past couple of years. We eagerly awaited the return of the face-to-face meetings of the embedded community.

Our first opportunity was the Embedded Linux Conference in Seattle last September. Although major components were still virtual, those who where able to attend in person experienced the event “together“ in ways that even the best remote simulation cannot achieve.

So we are very much looking forward to ELC (part of Open Source Summit North America 2022) in Austin, Texas, and the return of Embedded World in Nuremberg, Germany. Unfortunately, the pandemic initially forced rescheduling of both. Now they will occur on exactly the same dates (starting June 21, 2022) half a world apart, making it impossible to attend both onsite.

Which conference should you attend?

Unless you live in Texas or Germany, choosing by geography may not be the best option. The conferences are very different.

ELC is the premier event for companies and developers using Linux in embedded products. It gathers the technical experts working on embedded systems and applications for education and collaboration, historically paving the way for transformation in these far reaching areas.

ELC is also always a good time.

For 20 years, Embedded World has combined

  • an exhibition for engineers and technical management, and
  • a world-leading conference at the intersection of applied research and industrial applications.

The trade show is massive, filling several halls, with many of Konsulko’s friends and partners exhibiting year after year. (If you go, be sure to stop by the Automotive Grade Linux stand in Hall 4.)

We hope to see you at one of these important events in June.

Konsulko Group: The Year in Review 2021

Thanks to our customers, our partners and our dedicated team of engineers, 2021 was a very successful year for Konsulko Group. 

We’ve been chosen to work on important projects in consumer electronics, automotive, medical devices, agriculture, mining, finance, and autonomous vehicles. Our engineers helped our clients, new and old, build outstanding commercial products with Embedded Linux, Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded, as well as deploying Over-the-Air (OTA) software updating.

Partnerships

“Konsulko is a recommended and trusted partner for helping Mender customers and prospects succeed in the Embedded Linux space. They have an excellent team of professionals who will deliver on time and as agreed.”

Thomas Ryd, CEO, mender.io

We continued our strong relationships with mender.io, and with the Linux Foundation and Automotive Grade Linux (AGL). 

We also launched a new partnership with PHYTEC at the Embedded Linux Conference (ELC) in Seattle. Konsulko is providing support and development for PHYTEC customers using their Systems on Modules (SOMs) and Yocto Project Linux distribution.

Conferences

As in previous years, Konsulko engineers were active participants (often virtually) in conferences and developer gatherings, making presentations at ELC and Yocto Project Summits, and writing technical papers on Yocto Project, security, and OTA. We hope for a time in the not-too-distant future when it makes sense for developers from all over the world to gather again face-to-face to share ideas. 

Contributions

As many of our engineers have been working (and playing) with Open Source Software (OSS) for over 20 years, Konsulko Group is proud of our continuing commitment to contribute to the community. Last month we were happy to hear that Konsulko is #3 in contributions to Yocto Project “Non Core,” just behind industry giants ARM and Fujitsu, and ahead of every other software or hardware company.

This was even before we welcomed OSS veteran Tim Orling to the team in December. Tim was recently Core OS Architect and Yocto Project Architect for Intel Corporation, and serves as a maintainer of meta-python and many recipes in openembedded-core. He has authored hundreds of applied patches for openembedded-core and meta-openembedded. 

Doing business with Konsulko Group

As a team we have found that the best way to work with our customers and prospective customers is to provide a high level of transparency about our business processes. This year, we’ve published blogs on scoping the effort required to successfully complete a customer project, and another describing our two models of engagement

  • Konsulko Continuous Time Engagement™ for dedicated engineering resources
  • Konsulko OnDemand Time Engagement™ for high level consulting, on-demand support, and specific tasks within a larger project.

We hope you have found these useful, and we look forward to working with you in 2022.

At Yocto Project Summit: A/B Linux updates with RAUC

Konsulko Group Senior Software Engineer Leon Anavi will be speaking about A/B Linux updates with RAUC and meta-rauc-community: now and in the future at the Yocto Project Virtual Summit on December 1, 2021 at 12:20 (UTC).

About the presentation

RAUC is a safe and secure open source software solution for A/B updates of embedded Linux devices. It supports the Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded, Buildroot and PTXdist. Upgrades are performed through RAUC bundles which can be installed either through the network or the old-fashioned way with a USB stick.

In 2020, the layer meta-rauc-community was created to provide examples of how to integrate the lightweight update client RAUC on various machines. Leon will talk about the evolution of meta-rauc-community and provide guidelines for porting to new machines using Yocto and OpenEmbedded BSP layers.

About the Summit

The Yocto Project Summit is a 3-day virtual technical conference for engineers, open source technologists, students and academia in the OSS space. The classes will be presented in Zoom. It will be highly interactive, with chat sessions, side rooms, teaching assistants, and hands-on exercises with live class accounts. Registration is $40 for the entire conference.

We hope you will be able to join us at this always important event.

Embedded Linux support and development for PHYTEC customers

PHYTEC provides off-the-shelf System on Modules (SOMs) in support of advanced Arm Cortex devices. PHYTEC SOMs are a rapid, agile and long-term solution that enables product developers to simplify processes, streamline development, reduce timelines and minimize risk.

Konsulko Group is partnering with PHYTEC to offer Embedded Linux support and development to PHYTEC customers, integrating up-to-date drivers and other community releases on PHYTEC SOMs using PHYTEC’s reference Yocto Project Linux distribution.

We hope to see you at the Embedded Linux Conference in Seattle (and virtually), September 27-30, 2021. Konsulko will be in and around PHYTEC’s booth during the conference. We are also making two presentations at ELC. If you can’t make it to the conference this year, please contact us for more information, and talk with us about how Konsulko Group can help with your next project.

The black magic of scoping the effort in software projects

The software industry is notorious for missed schedules and project budgets that end up being double, triple or even higher than original estimates. One of the first managers I worked for, early in my career, joked that when an engineer gives you an estimate, you should double it and then move to the next unit of measure. In his mind, a two weeks estimate thus became four months. This was obviously an exaggeration, but it does point to the magnitude of the problem.

Three reasons for missing an estimate

There are multiple sources for missed estimates. First, there’s the shear complexity of scoping the effort of large projects. 

Second, engineers often think “dev done / it sort of works” as the end point when estimating the time it will take them. 

Lastly, there is the explicit or implicit pressure most engineers feel to come up with an estimate that will be palatable to upper management. The problem is even greater, I believe, if you consider the long hours engineers put in every day, plus many weekends and sometimes even holidays, in order to attempt to make the impossible schedules they’ve signed up for.

Missing schedules and blowing up budgets is not a luxury a professional services company has. Roughly 85%-90% of our projects end up under budget, and even the few that end up over budget are for reasons outside of our control. While there is no precise formula to use to properly scope the effort, I’ll share just a few notes that developers in our space may find useful.

Make sure you make the right assumptions

Your estimates are based on assumptions: 

  • working hardware (no glitches with the components or the PCB itself), 
  • deliverables owed to you by the customer, 
  • documentation that you might not be able to obtain easily and the customer will have to get it for you (due to strict NDAs, for example), 
  • any possible software deliverables by the customer to you, and so on. 

Start by listing your assumptions and make it known that if any of them prove wrong, additional time and budget will likely be required.

Look at specific tasks in the project and lean on past experience when you can

Break down the project into manageable tasks that you think you can estimate but lean back on past experiences with similar projects. One example that developers in the embedded Linux space will recognize is uplifting a BSP from a certain kernel version to the latest stable (same hardware, no new board spins to deal with). It’s easy to look at the list of, say, 10 device drivers that “should just work” and estimate that each one will take a day or two only, and 90% of the time you’ll probably be wrong. 

What we know from experience is that when doing similar work, it took on average, for example, one week per driver. Some may take a few hours; but others will take two weeks, and you don’t know which ones ahead of time. Don’t let the customer pick your estimates apart. Group this effort into a single task, “Uplifting the following device drivers:” and provide only a single estimate for the task.

Take a high level view

If you can’t break down the project into small tasks or perhaps it’s hard or impossible to estimate them, then step back and take a very high level view, or use a mix of approaches. 

We recently completed a project that included, among other tasks, bring-up of brand new hardware and writing some new, rather complex, Linux device drivers from scratch. The drivers we estimated separately, based on prior experience with these types of drivers and the corresponding Linux subsystem. As always, we listed our assumptions. 

The hardware bring-up, on the other hand, is impossible to estimate with precision. Instead, we used completely different high level heuristics once again based on 20+ years of industry experience: looking at past projects of similar complexity, how much time the customer took to go from first board spin to production, how much time we needed to get our work done, how much time the customer required for support and so on. 

Using such heuristics, we came up with an estimate for bringing up the hardware through the first spin (there is always a respin of new boards) and the writing the new drivers. We beat that estimate by a couple of weeks. 

Consider making the estimate Phase 0 of the project

Sometimes you just don’t know until you start working on the project and you’re two or four or more weeks into it. If that’s the case, make that a Phase 0 with the deliverable being a well defined and fleshed out effort estimate and project schedule, one that you can sign up for with a higher degree of confidence. 

These are a few of the ways we look at estimating a software project. As you can see, it’s not “black magic” after all but a multi-faceted approach to accurately scoping the effort. Contact us to learn more and prepare an estimate for your project.

Tag Archive for: embedded linux