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Enea Linux turns 3.0, offers real-time and QoS features

May 30, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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Enea announced a new version of its embedded Linux distribution compatible with Yocto Project 1.4 code, and available with extensive service and customization options. The Enea Linux 3.0 cross-development tool chain and runtime environment also features varying levels of real-time Linux support for guaranteed performance and quality of service (QoS).

Enea is a Swedish software and middleware vendor, known for its telecom-oriented OSE RTOS (real-time operating system) platform. Yet, the company has also been flirting with Linux for almost a decade now, with its efforts finally coming to fruition last year with Enea Linux.

The company’s Enea Accelerator Platform middleware has long supported Linux using MontaVista or Wind River Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) distributions. In recent years, Enea launched a homegrown Eclipse-based Enea Linux Project Framework (ELPH), which it then combined with Timesys’s LinuxLink to form the short-lived Enea Linux PlatformBuilder. The distribution was targeted at MIPS XLP processors from NetLogic Microsystems, now owned by Broadcom.

In September of 2012, ELPH was detached from LinuxLink and combined with Yocto Project code, as well as a new real-time hardened runtime to form Enea Linux. The development suite competes head on with Wind River Linux, MontaVista, Mentor Embedded Graphics, and other comprehensive commercial embedded Linux distributions.



Enea Linux overview
(click image to enlarge)

 

Enea Linux 3.0 arrives with Yocto Project certification but not yet with the CGL certification Enea last year suggested would come in 2013. Version 3.0 moves up to Yocto Project v1.4 (“Dylan”), offering improvements including support for Linux kernel 3.8, decreased build-times, and Enea’s automated test framework, called Ptest. The latter integrates test suites from all open source projects whose applications are used in Yocto Project, enabling it to vastly increase the amount of tests that are performed on Yocto Project Linux packages, says Enea.

Enea Linux 3.0 provides a variety of Eclipse plugins for tasks such as cross-compiling and application development, debugging and profiling target applications, rebuilding file systems images, and running QEMU simulations. Version 3.0 features that Enea says are unavailable when working exclusively from native Yocto Project code include commercial grade and long-term support, custom hardware support, frequent security updates, and license compliance and IP protection. In addition, Enea Linux adds real-time, high availability (HA), and node and cluster management extensions.

The distribution provides a choice of Linux kernels with increasing levels of real-time hardening. These are said to include:

  • Vanilla — unmodified kernel from kernel.org or derivate without behavior-altering patches or configurations applied
  • PREEMPT_RT — established real-time patch series that lowers latencies by slightly altering behavior of a set of core functions in the kernel
  • Core isolation and dynamic tick — highly determinist method for isolating one or more cores to do low latency and high throughput tasks by partitioning CPU cores in a multicore system

Several run-times can co-exist simultaneously, including “several different alternatives depending on the use-case, which may or may not run in core isolation,” says Enea. For example, Enea’s LightWeight RunTime offers user-space threading using an Enea OSEck API for fast context switching. The runtime is designed for programs written in a standard RTOS-like paradigm with threads and message passing.
 

Reference boards and customization

Enea provides Enea Linux reference boards for ARM, MIPS, PowerPC, and x86 architectures. For ARM, it furnishes both Cortex-A9 and -A15 ARM board options from Texas Instruments, Xilinx, and LSI. The distribution would appear to offer Linaro ARM code, as the company notes it is one of the few embedded Linux vendors sitting on the Linaro Networking Group (LNG). Key contributions to LNG include virtualization, real-time Linux, and packet processing optimization technology, as well as experience with networking-related legacy and mixed-endian issues.

The PowerPC reference boards include P, B, and T series processors from Freescale, providing e500, e5500, and the new e6500 Power cores, says Enea. The MIPS boards are based on Broadcom’s XLP, and no details were offered on the x86 boards.

Enea also offers services including turn-key customized software development, board engineering, and development and porting of drivers. All service options are said to come with on-site, bridge, or off-shore delivery options.

Enea touts its customization abilities for customers with specific demands, including altering how the kernel or specific packages are configured or changing the entire distribution configuration. In addition, the company can streamline the distribution, kernel, or specific packages for specific needs such as speed, size, or other metrics. Third-party commercial or open source applications can be added, and Enea can alter or extend selected Enea packages.

Enea Linux 3.0 appears to be available now. More information, including a detailed datasheet may be found at the Enea Linux page.
 

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