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Re: Roadblocks to further widespread adoption of NetBSD in embedded systems (at least in my neck of the woods)
On Mar 26, 2010, at 12:49 PM, Jack Atkinson wrote:
This is my first time posting here, so go easy on me. The past few
years, my former employer and now client, has been going through a
struggle of how best to move from their proprietary OS/RTOS to a
commercial OS. I've helped with a lot of research in this issue.
The two biggest contenders at the moment are Linux and QNX. QNX is
the strong favorite, but negotiations are not going well of late. A
lot people dread the Linux GPL, but love the plentiful driver
support out there for most of our processors (mainly PowerQuic I &
PowerQuicc Pro with some MIPS) and other peripherals currently on
Having done a couple of years of QNX, a number of years of Linux and a
bunch of years of NetBSD, all embedded; I predict that you will
quickly come to hate QNX and regret your decision. But that's not
what we're here for ...
I personally like what I see of the overall design of the NetBSD
kernel and the build system. The few times I've dipped into the
source, I have been impressed with the layout and organization of
it. I prefer the BSD license over GPL, because BSD really is a free
license in every meaning of the word free. However, I cannot
recommend NetBSD to them at this time, because of these areas that
(listed by highest priority)
1. Official PowerQuicc support in the NetBSD tree along with drivers
for CPM module. (PowerPC is not quite the same, but a good starting
2. No flash support for NOR flash (NAND lacking is well, but NOR is
more important for this company based on current deployed hardware)
3. Better remote debugging over ethernet (kernel included). I may
be wrong on this, but I haven't seen a lot of info on how to do this
There's not a lot of info either. I use a BDI2k on MPC5200 and PPC405
with NetBSD. I run GDB on my build host, connected to my bdi which is
plugged into my virtex2 board and I can debug the kernel. Sure, it's
hardware debugging, but it's relatively painless..
4. Ability to build a small kernel with small subset of userland
utilities much like BusyBox on Linux, but not GPL.
We used to have a thing called 'crunchgen' but it's been a bunch of
years since I touched that. My current NetBSD embedded platform boots
off compact flash and we just use normal userland binaries but we hand-
pick the ones we want.
Obviously you know that NetBSD is not a commercial product... So
things like PowerQuicc support would be added only if someone wrote it
who needed it... That would be you. Unless someone needs it, it's
not going to suddenly appear...
At my current gig, there's another platform that is Linux on MPC5200
and Linux on Virtex5... The biggest angst they have currently is the
increasing number of packages that are switching to GPLv3. That
license has become 'verboten' in that organization so there is
consideration to moving to a BSD licensed OS.
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