[linux-elitists] Ethicc v. Pragmatics (was: Why haven't you switched to MacOS X yet?)

Alan DuBoff aland@SoftOrchestra.com
Thu Jan 16 00:16:28 PST 2003

On Wednesday 15 January 2003 09:32, Joakim Ziegler wrote:
> I've never quite understood why people want to use the Linux kernel,
> which seems to me to be very geared to normal sized computers, for
> handhelds, myself. What are the advantages, exactly? There are hardly
> any hardware drivers you can reuse, the processor architecture is
> completely different, etc.

The advantages are many. For one you have the same tools that you use on 
Linux for the most part (good and bad;-) and there are a lot of devices that 
are supported in the Linux kernel, a big plus.

Most all embedded uses the GNU cross compiler and the Linux kernel can be 
cross compiled for more hardware architectures than *probably* any other 

> Sure, having the same API for applications to use makes it easy to port
> stuff. But aren't there better and more efficient kernels that can do
> the same job, and are free? Like eCos, for instance?

I've not used eCos and can't speak for it, but the Linux kernel has been a 
blessing and a curse for me when using it in embedded devices. I've had some 
problems that were tough to debug, like shared memory, but since the source 
is available I was able to go in and find the problem and fix it.

> Note that I'm not really into this stuff, so I might be missing
> important points. It'd be nice to be corrected on this, really.

One of my clients was using the GNU cross compiler/toolchain to compile their 
proprietary OS and kernel, and in their case they required their customers to 
use ms-dos running cygwin to be able to debug. We're talking about customers 
like Time Warner, ATT, people like that with set-tops. Linux was a way better 
solution for that type of problem, IMO, although they have 6-8 million 
set-tops in the market so they must be doing something right.


Alan DuBoff
Software Orchestration, Inc.
GPG: 1024D/B7A9EBEE 5E00 57CD 5336 5E0B 288B 4126 0D49 0D99 B7A9 EBEE

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