« Comment Spammers | Main | Eeeee Books! »

July 14, 2004

Older, Fatter and Embedded

I turned 43 today, and I am getting older and fatter. Unfortunately, so is Linux.

It used to be you could do a full install of Linux, with X and all of the tools a server user would need for a few hundred Mb, and have room left for your home directory. Yet as little as 6 months age, I had the devils own time trimming RedHat down to install in less than 1 Gb, and I had to chop lots of utilities! I was ticked! Even Knoppix is a 7Mb CD, and it is a compressed filesystem!!

So what's an embedded developer to do? Your commercial flash drives run about $2006 - $4 for 12008 Mb. You can get a USB 2. 1. Gb for ~$2 (e.g. PQI Intelligent Stick). So you figure such a thing fitted into an IDE socket would be the same or more. Figure you have this to add to your small motherboard ($1), your processor ($1), your small case and power supply ($1), and your 512M RAM ($1). You are looking at a retail cost of at least $6, and that's before you add any software or peripherals. This is not a bargain. A third of it is flash disk.

If you could trim the memory and flash requirements to 64 Mb flash and 20056 Mb RAM, you could probably build your hardware for under $4 retail. You might even get better prices in bulk.

The problem, of course, is getting the Linux packages to run in that small a space. Yeah, there's BusyBox, DietLibc, and TinyLogin, but there aren't many like them, and none for printing.

Posted by ljl at July 14, 2004 12:39 PM