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Date: Tue, 16 Jul 2013 07:50:29 -0400
From: LM <>
Subject: Re: embedded newbies site.

On Mon, Jul 15, 2013 at 10:03 PM, Rob Landley <> wrote:

> I'd like an explicit a place to collect and preserve information about
> this sort of thing, and a place we can send newbies to ask all the stupid
> questions. The main page should teach somebody what embedded development
> _is_ and how to do it, starting with how to build and install the simplest
> Linux system that boots to a shell prompt (three packages: linux, musl, and
> toybox).

Sounds like a great idea.  Would be interested in reading articles on some
of the topics mentioned.  Sites like state what they consider
are better and worse software choices.  Would be nice to see some actual
statistics and rationale backing up what is considered better or worse
design.  For instance, there are some negative mentions about the PCRE
library, but when I tried to track down the cons for using it, I only found
dated performance comparisons showing how poorly it worked if you don't use
the newer JIT implementation.  What might be a positive for a system that's
optimized for a particular processor might be a negative if you're
interested in software that ports to multiple processors and vice versa.
Musl's useful not just for embedded systems but for older machines that
want to run efficient desktop environments.  However, what works for a
desktop environment might not work well for an embedded system and so on.
Would like to see actual lists of pros and cons, less opinions and let the
user decide if the software is really a bad fit with his/her needs or not.

Would also love to see a forum where one could discuss pros and cons of
various software and library choices, alternatives already out there and if
the user wants to rewrite some of these himself or herself for specific
needs, a place to discuss design issues.

There is an lfs-chat list.  Think it would probably be a good idea to post
something about the idea of an LFS for embedded systems there and see if
any of the regular LFS users would be interested in getting involved.  A
start might be to take the outline of possible topics Rob Landley supplied,
put it up on a wiki and see if people will volunteer to fill in some of the
blanks.  Might also be useful to get together a list of what tasks need to
be done to get something started and ask for actual volunteers for each
task to help get things rolling.  I do think a mailing list or forum would
be useful as well.  That way, one can get discussions going and brainstorm
ideas about how best to program something or find information on a topic.
I tend to prefer mailing lists and forums to IRC.  It's easier to read
through past information.

I've been talking with another developer about the possibility of building
(yet another) lightweight Linux distribution for older machines.  I really
haven't been happy with what's currently out there.  The average definition
of a lightweight Linux desktop for older machines is to use a lot of GTK+
programs (with a lightweight desktop like XFCE (not my definition of
lightweight), LXDE or razorQT) and even interpreted programs (as long as
they look like they're in console mode or like they might somehow be
lighter or more useful than their compiled equivalents).  They typically
use the KISS principle which means (according to their take on it) I'm
stuck with the one graphics editor, the one music player, etc. that the
distribution creator happens to like.  A Gimp or a Photoshop style program
has a lot of functionality.  So does an Office Suite like LibreOffice.  If
you're going to replace heavyweights with a program that does one thing
well, you're typically going to need more than one application with each
application designed to perform a specific piece of the functionality
well.  You need more than one type of graphics program if you're doing
serious graphics editing, more than one type of music program if you're
doing serious music creation, etc.  A lot of the topics such as how to put
together a system from scratch, what boot and init programs to go with,
which userspace utilities to use, which package manager to use, which
libraries are efficient would be of great interest for the project.
Another concern to me is which projects are open to accepting patches and
which aren't so open, making it prudent to look into more friendly
alternatives.  I'd also been interested in discussing when it pays to
rewrite something from scratch and when it's better to reuse what's already
been done.  I've been picking up ideas by looking at the code embedded
systems use.  However, the end goal for this particular project is not an
embedded system but a GUI desktop that an average end user will be
comfortable working with.  There's a lot of overlap, but definitely
different goals with different design tradeoffs.

Hope the idea to document and share many of the topics mentioned takes
off.  Think it would make a very nice resource for certain types of


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