MontaVista is launching an initiative to help hardware vendors create and “self-certify” their own board support packages (BSPs) for MontaVista's embedded Linux distributions. The initiative revolves around a tool, expected within 90 days, that can test, verify, package, and certify BSPs that MontaVista will support according to the same terms it offers on internally created BSPs — or “LSPs” (Linux… Support Packages), in MontaVista lingo.
MontaVista hopes its Board Support Tool (BST) and LSP Certification Program — the first of its kind in the embedded Linux industry, it says — will enable hardware vendors to better meet high demand for boards that support embedded Linux well, while leveraging the “strong MontaVista brand,” the company's commercial support services, and third-party software for MontaVista Linux.
According to MontaVista product manager Jacob Lehrbaum, BST is not meant to be a porting or driver development tool; those functions are already provided by the company's embedded Linux distributions such as MontaVista Linux Professional Edition and its associated toolkits. Instead, BST provides stress testing, system performance verification, and a graphical packaging tool (screenshot).
BST provides a means of packaging a hardware-specific Linux implementation in a format compatible with the MontaVista build environment, according to Lehrbaum, and the resulting LSPs are not meant to be used except with a complete MontaVista Linux distribution and toolkit.
In addition to creating LSPs, BST can be used to generate “Preview Kits,” comprising kernel, drivers, libraries, and a basic tool-chain, that “IHVs” (independent hardware vendors) can distribute direct to their customers. “Preview Kits are designed to be used by 'potential' customers that haven't purchased anything — no full distribution required,” Lehrbaum says. “It's important for IHVs to ship Linux in the box,” he adds.
Steve Balacco, research analyst at Venture Development Corporation, said, “MontaVista's certification program solves a very real problem faced by independent hardware vendors, by allowing them to secure commercial Linux support for their platforms. Given MontaVista Software's position as the leading global provider of embedded Linux, hardware vendors will view MontaVista Linux certification as a competitive advantage.”
Not just for IHVs
MontaVista conceived its LSP Certification program primarily for independent hardware vendors, according to Lehrbaum, but MontaVista also hopes BST can help developers debug and assure software quality on custom hardware. Lehrbaum estimates that 80 percent of MontaVista's customers use custom boards.
While not specifically designed to test hardware, BST can effectively stress-test an entire system, including applications, filesystems, and kernel features, Lehrbaum notes. “It's a pretty intensive barrage of tests,” he says.
“Developers are faced with a large number of quality boards for which they would like to obtain commercial Linux distribution support,” added MontaVista director of marketing Glenn Seiler. “The MontaVista LSP Certification Program enables hardware providers to meet this growing need in a self-sufficient manner. Through the program, the Board Support Toolkit enables the proliferation of MontaVista Linux for a huge number of hardware platforms, expanding our ecosystem and market reach. We are obviously delighted to add this product to our existing tools portfolio.”
More information on the Board Support Toolkit and LSP Certification Program is available online.
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