Etiquette - Linux Embedded systems

When groups of people regularly get together, rules form to make interaction pleasant for all those involved; this is the notion of etiquette. Etiquette involves thinking about others before yourself and making life easier for them. Now, stop slouching and start using the proper fork for your salad.

If you’re new to using mailing lists or newsgroups, here are some basic rules:

  • No spam: If it’s not related to the mailing list, don’t post it. If you’re asking about C++ syntax corner cases on a C mailing list, somebody will likely tell you nicely that your question is off topic. Posting about your latest medical procedure or trying to sell something is verboten.
  • Keep it short and to the point, and use simple English. This makes your message easy to download and easy to read for non–English speakers who may be participating. Don’t include large attachments with your message (where large is more than a few kilobytes).
  • Post in plain text. Many people reading the mailing list don’t have a mail client that renders the message with fancy formatting.
  • Don’t post in ALL CAPS. It’s the computer equivalent of shouting.
  • When replying, don’t include all the text from the prior poster. Clip out what you need to reference, and include that in the message.
  • Don’t post “questions” that are thinly veiled invitations for somebody else to do your work. Likewise, don’t set deadlines or make demands of your fellow readers.

Open source somehow has attracted some of the smartest people and also some of the nicest. Fear not when posting a message; be reasonable and respectful, and your treatment will be the same.

Vendor-Sponsored Resources

Because having Linux running on a board is an important part of a vendor’s release strategy, many vendors also offer support in varying degrees for the Linux distributed with the board. For some vendors, the only way to get Linux is to download it from their site.

The advantage of using one of these sites is that you have access to the Linux kernel and root file system that have been tested with the board and at the same time have access to a group of engineers who are working with the same hardware and software platform, because most vendor sites include a mailing list or web-based forum for support. Depending on the enlightenment of the hardware vendor and the dedication of its Linux-using customer base, the site may also contain technical articles or technical support offered directly by the company.

The trend among hardware vendors is to ensure that the changes to the Linux kernel that are required for it to run on a board make it into the mainline Linux kernel project. Due to the coordination efforts involved in the main kernel release process, processor and board vendors are always a little unsynchronized with the main kernel release, but not to the extent they were a few years back.

Trade Group and Community Interest Sites

Creating embedded Linux distributions is a much more pedestrian activity than it was a few years back, when creating a Linux distribution from scratch was a mysterious process. Several projects grew out of the need to create an embedded distribution; they built an infrastructure to help users configure and build an embedded Linux distribution. Frequently, the distributions created by these sites target a family of processors for a particular type of distribution, like a mobile phone.

These sites have great starting points for application development, if you’re working on a project similar to that of the distribution. If you’re doing something different, you need to learn the underlying build system for the project in order to build a distribution for your project. The build systems are great pieces of software that commendably do a difficult job and can be helpful for your project. You must evaluate the project and see if it can be helpful for your efforts.

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