What is Embedded Linux?

Embedded Linux is a specialized version of Linux OS designed for gadgets we use daily. Devices like smart watches, fitness trackers, and smart home applications pose some restrictions during development.

The demand to create a flexible operating system that will help address a device’s peculiarities resulted in the launch of a new version of Linux OS called embedded Linux.

This article sheds light on what is the purpose of embedded Linux and what is the difference between Linux and embedded Linux. Besides, you will learn the most popular example of embedded Linux and discover which programming languages are used to bring an embedded Linux-running project to life.

What Does Embedded Linux Do?

What is embedded Linux? Simply put, Linux for embedded systems is a specialized version of the Linux OS, designed to run on different gadgets we use in day-to-day life.

Embedded Linux uses the core of Linux to power these devices by providing memory control services, securing interaction between gadgets, and ensuring process scheduling.

More precisely, this operating system is used to:

  • Power IoT devices like fitness trackers, smart speakers, smart watches, and patient monitoring systems in healthcare.
  • Control smart home applications like refrigerators, stoves, and microwaves.
  • Introduce new features to smart TV’s functionality.
  • Power infotainment systems in the automotive industry.
  • Power tablets and smartphones, as many Android-based devices use embedded Linux systems as their primary OS.

Additionally, embedded Linux is very flexible, and its open-source nature allows developers to customize it to meet project requirements.

The great thing is Linux for embedded devices can be adjusted to handle different hardware and software types, which means that a lot of cool gadgets can be created with Embedded Linux Services without starting from scratch.

What is the Difference Between Linux and Embedded Linux?

Despite sounding similar and using the same kernel, the main difference between embedded Linux and Linux is that these two operating systems serve different missions.

While Linux is a full-fledged operating system running on desktops, Linux for embedded devices is a customized version of Linux OS designed to run on compact gadgets with specific purposes and limited resources. Let’s take a closer look at more differences these two operating systems have:

  • Memory constraints. Due to their compact size, embedded devices cannot fit memory chips with high capacity. As a result, developers face the challenge of optimizing RAM memory usage to ensure proper device performance. Linux OS doesn’t have such constraints.
  • Less power consumption. Compared to a regular Linux OS, embedded Linux is designed to consume less power. The reason for this is the embedded devices’ small size. Such devices are designed to run on low-powered processors and limited memory to prolong battery life, whereas Linux doesn’t require such limitations to work smoothly.
  • Law latency. The small size of Linux-embedded systems has also influenced the time a device needs to process data over the network. Embedded devices are built to serve a specific function. Thus they have a more streamlined kernel configuration compared to Linux-build systems.

Serving different functions from Linux, Linux for embedded systems is low-cost and flexible. However, what is an embedded Linux real-life example? Let’s dwell on it below.

What is an Example of Embedded Linux?

One of the most prominent examples of Embedded Linux is a solution produced in 2012 by the British Raspberry Pi Foundation. This solution comes with its own operating system and is called Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi is a small-sized computer used as a foundation platform for various embedded devices like smart home appliances, wearable gadgets, and IoT devices.

Thanks to its powerful ARM-based processors, Raspberry Pi keeps a good balance between performance and power efficiency. This results in sufficient computing power at the expense of minimal energy, extending battery life.

What makes Raspberry Pi so popular? It’s the device’s affordability and openness. Raspberry Pi is a budget-friendly option for learning, DIY projects, and more complex solutions like home application devices or IoT projects.

The solution’s ease of use has engendered a community of developers who created a wide range of sensors and modules that are free to use to enhance the device’s functionality.

This innovative solution has revolutionized embedded computing. With the help of Raspberry Pi’s ability to connect with sensors, IoT applications can transfer data a lot faster.

Additionally, Raspberry Pi has made an impact on the education industry. Due to its affordability, this solution has given a chance to many schools and universities with limited resources to teach electronics, programming, and computer science with a real device.

What is the Embedded Linux Language?

It’s worth noting that embedded Linux is not a programming language itself. It is an operating system running on embedded devices. However, the software needs a specialized app to operate, and the programming language for app development can vary depending on the project’s needs.

  • C/C++ is a low-level programming language common for security and automotive application development.
  • Python comes in handy when you need rapid prototyping.
  • Java is a popular choice for IoT application development.
  • JavaScript is used to make any embedded application visually attractive.
  • Assembly language is used for code optimization.

It’s important to note that the choice of programming language for developing embedded Linux solutions depends on various factors. Project complexity, hardware constraints, and development team expertise are just among a few of them.

On the whole, running Linux on embedded systems serves as a reliable foundation for building embedded apps. Software developers can use extensive libraries, drivers, and modules available across the community. Such benefits help them create a robust embedded system tailored to the functionality needs.

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