Click here to close now.


Linux Containers Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, AppDynamics Blog, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

The Expanding World of Embedded Linux with Java

Greater flexibility for project development and deployment

Today we are participants in the new age of information access and consumption for personal and business use. New types of information and new ways of using it are driving up demand for anytime and anywhere access, feeding a need for always-on and always-connected devices. Connectivity changes everything!

This is nowhere more evident than in systems that combine the new generation of smart embedded devices with powerful end-to-end services that integrate smart things to better serve and simplify the user’s environment. Deployment of these services involves a level of complexity that many embedded developers may not have dealt with before. These devices are found everywhere – in the pocket or purse, in the car, in the home, and of course in the office. They are symbols of the next generation of Net-centric computing and communications convergence.

They must be small, powerful, flexible, easy to use, secure, and affordable. They must integrate well with the existing infrastructure, work well with legacy devices, and support an easy and painless forward migration. They will have a short life span, followed closely by the next product, and therefore must be brought to market quickly, on time, and on budget.

Why Embedded Linux?
Embedded Linux delivers the reliability, openness, and performance required by the new generation of smart devices. This helps the development team quickly embrace embedded platform technology, allowing them to start by focusing on the unique requirements of deploying applications on compact connected things. Embedded Linux also provides access to the widest number of processor architectures and board implementations, allowing more flexibility in the choice of a deployment platform. When properly adapted for embedded applications, Linux offers the project manager and developer the best option on which to build embedded solutions. As the core Linux technology evolves to address new requirements, the infrastructure continues to grow, providing support for numerous new devices, technologies, protocols, and services. This work addresses the driver development and integration necessary to fully support the features and functions of a board. Most deployment platforms are custom made, based on a standard architecture and reference board. With access to the source code, Linux facilitates this approach, making it possible to develop several generations of a product family taking advantage of the evolution of the hardware technology over time.

With modern embedded Linux distributions, using a standard PC-based host for application development and testing is powerful and efficient. Cross development support allows programmers to build and test code running on the target platform while connected to the host platform. This facilitates rapid test and debug cycles resulting in much shorter time-to-market projects.

Why Embedded Java?
With all of the facilities and flexibility available from embedded Linux today, it might seem that using embedded Java for the applications is not necessary.

Java technology offers embedded systems developers some clear advantages over current alternatives such as C and C++ or assembler. The most significant are ease of development and maintenance, the facility to reuse code, easy integration with the native system when necessary, and availability of a large number of developers.

Java has been very successful over the past few years in the world of client-server applications, and more recently in the burgeoning e-commerce application server market. The focus in this space has led to many innovations that have benefited Java as an application environment – many that apply equally well to embedded applications as to server applications.

Development and Maintenance
Over the entire life of a project, the Java environment enhances ease of development and maintenance. When the target system is based on a virtual machine, code is easier to instrument, debug, analyze, hot-replace, and maintain. Network-enabled connected devices can be far more complex than previous kinds of embedded systems. Manual techniques for upgrading may no longer be effective over the project life cycle. Instead, the connectivity of devices provides the ability to manage components remotely, allowing development teams to add product features, resolve problems, and maintain and upgrade the software in the device after the product ships.

Java is a network-centric technology, designed and developed to support the notion that "the network is the system." Therefore it readily supports multiple network topology models, facilitates interoperability through its API standardization, and enables the delivery of features and services locally or via remote network services.

Java technology makes true cross development possible. Program function is developed on workstations, unit tested, and prepared for integration. Thus, even without access to prototype hardware, developers can proceed with function development. After prototype hardware is available, developers can share it through network attachments, creating a virtual lab accessible to team members within a company or among partner companies.

The Java program execution environment also reduces issues relating to memory management, allowing automated "garbage collection" techniques to be used to clean up after released memory segments.

Java Development Tools
Many developers and engineers have discovered that a critical advantage is gained when a complete toolkit is available to embedded Java application developers. Many of these developers have come to embedded projects from past experience deploying enterprise-class projects, and will focus on the logical extension of existing online services directly to pervasive connected embedded devices. These developers expect to find efficient development tools. They regularly use integrated development environments, sophisticated debuggers, ahead-of-time Java language compilation techniques, and program analysis profile tools. Most also have experience with integrated version control and release management facilities. There are many popular examples of Java development environments available today, including JBuilder from Borland and Forte from Sun. A completely integrated, cross-development environment, designed to support the developer working on the host and the target, is often the critical factor in helping a project stay on time. VisualAge Micro Edition from IBM/OTI is the leading example today.

Many developers working to create embedded Java applications using an embedded Linux operating system will also want to use Linux as their development workstation. This helps create a uniform and efficient development experience and avoids the necessity of switching between Linux and Windows workstation conventions for commands and user interface interaction. IBM has provided the VisualAge Micro Edition IDE and tools for use on Red Hat Linux–based developer workstations. This supports a complete cross-development embedded experience for engineers and developers.

It’s often an advantage to develop applications on a personal computer workstation and then deploy them remotely to connected devices in a shared laboratory. The VisualAge Micro Edition tools provide this through remote debugger and program analysis tools and the use of shared file techniques between the developer workstation and the target platform. NFS- or LAN-based sharing techniques permit a Java program object to be immediately loaded on a remote device.

With the hot-code replacement facilities of the virtual machine, program changes can be immediately and seamlessly activated from the debugger interface on the developer workstation. This tight integration leads to a new level of efficiency for embedded developers. Since Java technology is based upon virtual machine technology, hot-code replacement is available to connected embedded devices. This offers a new degree of flexibility and convenience to the designers of embedded projects. In particular, it’s possible to design future enhancements and feature activation based upon these techniques using OSGi Bundle Management.

This article is part of Michael Mathews' feature in the next issue of LinuxWorld Magazine. To read more about embedded Linux with Java, be sure to pick up the November/December issue of LWM!

More Stories By Michael Mathews

Mike Mathews delivers advanced graphics and Java development products to MontaVista Linux customers who rely on these technologies to enable their embedded applications. Mike is able to leverage more than 30 years of middleware experience in systems and embedded applications. His focus is on those middleware technologies on which the new generation of consumer devices will depend. Prior to joining MontaVista Software, Mike worked for Hewlett-Packard in a variety of marketing, sales, and technical roles, spanning a career of 34 years.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context w...
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, will discuss the impact of technology on identity. Should we federate, or not? How should identity be secured? Who owns the identity? How is identity ...
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Electric power utilities face relentless pressure on their financial performance, and reducing distribution grid losses is one of the last untapped opportunities to meet their business goals. Combining IoT-enabled sensors and cloud-based data analytics, utilities now are able to find, quantify and reduce losses faster – and with a smaller IT footprint. Solutions exist using Internet-enabled sensors deployed temporarily at strategic locations within the distribution grid to measure actual line loads.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, will explore the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, along with new ways to engage with users.
The IoT is upon us, but today’s databases, built on 30-year-old math, require multiple platforms to create a single solution. Data demands of the IoT require Big Data systems that can handle ingest, transactions and analytics concurrently adapting to varied situations as they occur, with speed at scale. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, chief strategy officer at Deep Information Sciences, will look differently at IoT data so enterprises can fully leverage their IoT potential. He’ll share tips on how to speed up business initiatives, harness Big Data and remain one step ahead by apply...
There will be 20 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet soon. What if we could control these devices with our voice, mind, or gestures? What if we could teach these devices how to talk to each other? What if these devices could learn how to interact with us (and each other) to make our lives better? What if Jarvis was real? How can I gain these super powers? In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, will show you!
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, will keynote at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target - this makes the integration of these separate pipelines and the coordination of software upd...
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.