Embedded Linux/Microcontroller Project


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EMAIL - gerg@snapgear.com

Q. Why?

To build powerful, networked, embedded systems using the Motorola ColdFire processor. Linux is the perfect platform to build advanced networking products, with its excellent networking and huge range of available software.

Q. What is ColdFire?

ColdFire is the newest family of microprocessors from Motorola. First released in 1994, ColdFire embodies a revolutionary variable-length RISC architecture that is designed to meet the requirements of the embedded consumer market. Its is a derivitive of the good old 68k architecture, removing instructions and addressing modes that are slow or not often used. For more information visit the Motorola ColdFire web site.

Q. What version of Linux is this using?

A stable, well tested code base exists around 2.0.39. There is also a very stable version of uClinux based on 2.4.20 Linux kernels. See the home uClinux web site for general and specific details of uClinux.

Q. What does it currently run on?

Currently supported platforms are:

Q. Is it free?

All the srouce code is free. Most is licensed under the GNU GPL, some under the GNU Lesser GPL (LPGL) and some under a BSD style license. Essentially you can take the code and modify it in any way you like, build products based on it, and re-distribute the source as you like. Do read the license files within the source, particularly with respect to modifications you make to the code.

Q. Is it supported in any way?

There is a very active development community working on uClinux in gerneal. So the source code is actively being developed. There is a mailing list at www.uclinux.org that is very usefull too.

The source code is available as is. Unless you are prepared to pay money don't expect that you will be able to get support if you use this code. There are companies that sell products and services based on this code (For example SnapGear).

Q. What ROM/RAM resources does it require?

The current (small) configuration can run totally from the 1Mb of DRAM on some evaluation boards. When loaded and running on these boards there is about 300 Kbytes free memory. There is anywhere from 64 Kbytes to 128 Kbytes lost due to the default load address on most boards too. The uClinux kernel will size the available DRAM on startup, on boards that allow this.

To get a reasonable tool set you really need more than 1Mb DRAM though. Anything more than 1Mb is good, 4Mb and up would be plenty of room.

No ROM is required. Some Coldfire based boards can operate totally from ROM or FLASH (such as the SnapGear, NETtel and eLIA boards). Many of the ColdFire evaluation boards can also be setup to boot and run totally from onboard FLASH.

As an example the SnapGear NETtel platform has 1Mb FLASH and 4Mb SDRAM. uClinux/ColdFire runs very comfortably from this, in fact there is plenty of room to add lots more to it. uClinux boots from the FLASH, so it is a totally stand alone unit.

Q. Technical details on using uClinux/ColdFire?

If you are looking for technical details on using uClinux/ColdFire, or some aspect of development then have a look at the development notes pages.

Q. What's next?

Things high on the todo list are:

  • USB device support
  • Keep up with 2.5 Linux source base
  • Specific vendor board support

Many more applications to port too...

Q. Where can I find more information on uClinux and/or Coldfire?

Here are some good sites for finding more information or links to information:

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Last Updated: 24-SEP-2002