Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
The Media

Embedded Linux Journal Ceases Print Publication 94

Anonymous Coward writes "SSC Publications (the publisher of Linux Journal) today announced that the May/June 2002 issue will be the final stand-alone print edition of Embedded Linux Journal (ELJ). Future ELJ content will now be "embedded" into Linux Journal, as a monthly feature section. ELJ's website, ELJonline, will continue to regularly feature new embedded Linux articles, reviews, news, and contests."
Former roommate Don Marti (also the former Editor for ELJ) told me that "Desktop Linux has learned a lot from Embedded Linux and Vice-Versa, you can expect Linux Journal to pick up where ELJ left off, and continue pushing linux on embedded platforms. Picking Linux as your embedded OS means you don't have to compromise in functionality, tools or community support, which means Linux on embedded will always be your best choice. If you are doing any embedded development at all, read linux journal and rejoice! as the pain of developing on proprietary embedded OSes has passed."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Embedded Linux Journal Ceases Print Publication

Comments Filter:
  • by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @01:29AM (#3563848) Homepage Journal
    You don't need to be Kreskin to see that Embedded Linux is not dying.

    Hell, just about all the C/C++ magazines went out of business as well. It basically means that readers are eschewing print magazines for online magazines.

    Although I'd be quite upset if DDJ went out of business. It makes some of the best toilet reading material, not to mention the ads that are great for wiping in a pinch.
    • You don't need to be Kreskin to see that Embedded Linux is not dying.

      No, it's not. But it's not the next big thing either.

      There's just too much bloat - the kernel itself is probably bigger than most embedded applications.

      But it will have its uses and if anyone wants to experiment with embedded Linux, they could do worse than use a Dreamcast [sourceforge.net].
    • not to mention the ads that are great for wiping in a pinch.
      Online newspapers, magazines and journals have a long way to develop before they are as useful and pleasant to use as their traditional counterparts. For all the nice features of the electronic media, it's just not the same as real paper. ;)
  • Sad...really (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It was a really good journal, and you couldn't beat the price (my company got in for the free issues).

    We knew it was going away some time ago, so I've been braced, and while Linux Journal is a fairly good journal, it was nice to pick up something that was made by those in the same field as me and have an entire journal that talked about things that were very relevant to what i was professionally doing. Every month they had something that was interesting, up to date, and explained alot of what was going on in the Embedded Linux world.

    We'll miss you!
  • As I was going to purchase my subscription to ELJ, I saw that they were no longer taking any orders. Confused, I decided to visit /. for a while... if only I could have registered more quickly... then there would still be an ELJ! Damn you slow typing! Damn you to Hell!
    • I've been getting this free since the second issue. I don't believe it was worth paying for. Sure, it had some semi-interesting articles but all in all I think you'd be better off getting your info from other sources.
  • by GGardner ( 97375 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @01:36AM (#3563872)
    A couple of weeks ago, I went to Networld + Interop. At the vendor pavillion, I chatted with lots of engineers and designers of networking equipment of all kinds. 80% of the companies I talked to used Linux or *BSD. None of them were using any of the commercial embedded linux distributions, they all rolled their own, or started by hacking up a desktop distro.

    Relatively few people are buying commercial embedded Linux distros, so these companies are going under (e.g Lineo). There's a lot of press, picking up on this trend, implying that embedded Linux is dead.

    However, the fact that engineers don't need to buy expensive support to get their embedded open source OSes to run is really a positive sign for embedded Linux, despite the cries that it may be dead.

    • Embedded Linux not only makes great headless devices (like the ones you encountered) but also great user-land devices.

      Kiosks running custom shells in X
      Handheld computers (Zaurus, LiPaq)
      Digital cameras

      The list of possibilities is endless. The size of the companies who are doing this type of thing is small, though. Reason being that a device maker like Sony does not want to have to be required to offer up the source to every Tim, Mike, and Taco who comes along and reminds them of their GPL responsibilities. That's why larger companies may flirt with Linux, but they choose either a home-grown OS, VxWorks, or WinCE in the final tally.
      • An application running under the Linux operating system isn't considered a "derivative work" under the GPL. So you can still make a custom kernel for your device and force the Linux kernel boot your custom application (by passing init=/bin/myapp or similar). The only thing you need release is the kernel changes.

        It is interesting that you mention Sony. Sony is actually releasing a hardware and software kit for running Linux on the Playstation 2.
        Sony's development kit licenced to official Playstation 2 developers also is reported to have been a Linux-based system. If I recall correctly, it was an x86 based Linux system with a cross-compiler and a modified PS2 hardware to run applications.

        http://playstation2-linux.com/

        • Exactly. In this case Sony is releasing full developer tools for the PS2-Linux. They want you to develop for it. I don't see anyone doing that with camcorders or scanners or telephones.

          Yes, Linux makes sense in certain cases, but certainly not all cases. In those cases that embedded Linux is preferable, you'll find that the device is designed to be hacked on, not a black box.
          • by Cryptnotic ( 154382 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @03:16AM (#3564116) Homepage
            How about TiVo. TiVo is a great example of a "black box" application for Linux. They release their kernel changes. Their application(s) stay proprietary. TiVo gets to use Linux. The Linux community gets the changes/bug fixes. The world gets a cool innovative product.

            The licencing fees are a big selling point. You have a $400 (retail) product. It can't cost you more than $150 to build (in large quantities). A $10 per unit WinCE or VxWorks licence (plus development costs) is a considerable amount to spend on a product at that price point.

            Practically every one of those "internet DSL/cable modem router gateway" boxes is running some version of BSD. They wouldn't be able to sell those things for $100 if they had to pay $10 per box for VxWorks or WinCE. And BSD doesn't force you to give out the source code to your changes like the GPL does, so it's an even easier sell.

            Developers also love Linux since all the operating system interfaces are the same whether you're running on a dual-1GHz desktop workstation with 512MB of ram or a 70 MHz embedded processor with 8MB ram, some boot rom and no disk. The point is that you can develop all your applications on a desktop machine. Then with a minimum amount of work (ideally), you can cross-compile them and get them running on another device.

            Why am I bothering to type all of this?
            • by Anonymous Coward
              >Practically every one of those "internet DSL/cable modem router gateway" boxes is running some version of BSD

              Actually, If I remember, the Linksys is Linux and d-link is BSD. I would guess that most probably run some bsd.
            • They release their kernel changes. Their application(s) stay proprietary.

              To hear Msft's interpretation of the 'viral' GPL you'd think that if anyone in a company used the least little line of GPL code they'd have to cough up everything. Of course, this isn't so.

            • The licencing fees are a big selling point. You have a $400 (retail) product. It can't cost you more than $150 to build (in large quantities). A $10 per unit WinCE or VxWorks licence (plus development costs) is a considerable amount to spend on a product at that price point.


              I agree with the rest of your post but I can guarantee that a Tivo does not cost $150 to build. In fact, I'd bet they are just breaking-even or losing money on each sale and are deriving their revenue from monthly subscription fees.

              Jason.
        • The only thing you need release is the kernel changes.

          This is a GPL fallacy. You don't have to "release" anything. You simply have to supply the code to (or more accurately make it available to) anyone you distribute the application to.

          For a consumer device that is obviously as nearly identical to "releasing" as it is possible to get, but it does not mean that for smaller scale more specialised operations of the sort you might encounter in some areas of embedded development.

          I think Stallman would expect you to release the code to anyone who asked - after all he is supposed to have become obsessed by software freedom because of an incident where someone woiuldn't let him have some code they were using (as opposed to distributing) - but that isn't what the GPL mandates you to do.

          And quite right too - otherwise it would be a code snoopers' charter.
    • This is very true...

      it takes almost ZERO brains and effort to roll together an embedded distro by hand. I have rolled my own in an afternoon, that fit in a 4 meg flash, with a GUI,TCP/IP, usb support, framebuffer, and my test apps. i learned how to do all this quickly by reading the first 3 issues of ELJ...

      the loss of ELJ will be felt across the embedded world.
  • i can't say that i was surprised when i got the email saying that ELJ was going out of print. I never asked for, or paid for a subscription to ELJ. My job has never involved working with embedded linux. Yet for no apparent reason, they felt the need to send me a glossy magazine every month.
    • I don't know what your business was, but when I was at the ISP we would get free subscriptions to all kinds of magazines, including ones that nothing to do computer tech, like Road & Track and Sports Illustrated. I had just assumed the magazine business was mysterious...

      I kind of miss the Road & Track one, actually. In fact, come to think of it, the noncomputer ones were the most-read... we had online sources we used for the computer news and info.

    • I was kinda curious about that myself. I signed up for ELJ when it was first announced and was promised a couple of free issues, but they were still coming a year later. I guess giving away software for free and physical objects are a bit different. ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have now found the one topic that I care the least about, in the entire history of my life.
  • Poor ELJ. They got "Perl Journal"-ed! :-(

    (note what happens when you visit tpj.com [tpj.com]...)

  • Ahem... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Nailer ( 69468 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @02:30AM (#3564017)
    Don Marti .... the former Editor for ELJ told me that..."If you are doing any embedded development at all, read linux journal and rejoice! as the pain of developing on proprietary embedded OSes has past."

    passed. No wonder he's the former editor...
  • I've seen inside LJ. ELJ was being done by the same (already busy) staff as LJ without any extra help. The magazine business is tough, and between that and some management issues I'm surprised ELJ lasted as long as it did. It's too bad but hey, live to fight another day.
  • I was reading an article last week in EE Times about an apparent attitude shift in the embedded linux area. The article claimed that enthusiasm is dying.

    EE Times interviewed Lineo's CEO who said: "We assumed in 1999 that the market would pay for embedded Linux the same way it pays for VxWorks. But we've learned that a model built on extracting revenue from nothing more than Linux is doomed to failure," Harris told EE Times."

    I know there are people out there still using/planing to use embedded Linux but I can't help but wonder what the future really holds. Most Linux development is after all in the desktop/server markets.

    Another interesting quote:

    At the recent Embedded Systems Conference, Wind River chairman of the board and co-founder Jerry Fiddler told EE Times that the company no longer considers Linux to be a strong presence in the embedded market. "Linux is a phantasm," he said. "Software isn't free, and companies are beginning to realize that."

    If anyone knows the embedded arena, it's Wind River.

    • If there's anything Microsoft has taught us, it's that badmouthing the next strongest competitor is good business.
    • I may be mistaken, but i think that most whines are being heard from companies that do nothing on their own. Just relying on available software and trying to sell it in embeded market is bad aproach anyway. I see it as those companies take open source soft, compile it for choosen arch and ship it for money.

      Then these peoples complain about their poor sells or small income. They just selling other's work doing nothing themselves.

      That's the cause that there are so few good embeded linux applications.

    • by macshit ( 157376 ) <snogglethorpe.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @04:30AM (#3564245) Homepage
      Wind River chairman of the board and co-founder Jerry Fiddler told EE Times that the company no longer considers Linux to be a strong presence in the embedded market. "Linux is a phantasm," he said. "Software isn't free, and companies are beginning to realize that."

      If anyone knows the embedded arena, it's Wind River.


      Yeah, but if anyone has a vested interest in casting doubt upon embedded Linux, it's also Wind River...

      Note, I'm not saying they're intentionally spreading FUD, just to take what they say with a grain of salt -- they're hardly an impartial observer!

      [for anyone who doesn't know, W.R. is one of the biggest (the biggest?) vendors of proprietary embedded OSs]

    • "Software isn't free, and companies are beginning to realize that."

      Jeeze, if I read this kind of thing one more time I think I'll go nuts. GPL software is free! It's fucking free, ok! As in, you don't have to pay for it! Gratis! No payment necessary!

      If I create a product and need an embedded OS, and I have the capabilities in-house to do whatever configuration and programming is necessary, then embedded Linux can cost $0.00 per unit (hey kids - that's means it's free!), compaired to $x for a commercial OS.

      So can we cut this "it's not free" bullshit? It is free. If you don't have capabilities in-house to do what needs to be done then of course that's going to cost you, whether you use embedded Linux or another OS. That's a given. But it doesn't mean the OS itself is not free.

      I believe someone from Microsoft recently said "there's very little value in free." What?? Are they fucking nuts? Go ahead and reply to this with your "what about support? what about training? what about TCO?" posts. Nobody ever said that stuff was free. But that doesn't mean that free software doesn't exist. It does. And it's gratis! Great, isn't it?! (Unless you're a software vendor of course)
      • If I create a product and need an embedded OS, and I have the capabilities in-house to do whatever configuration and programming is necessary, then embedded Linux can cost $0.00 per unit (hey kids - that's means it's free!), compaired to $x for a commercial OS

        Yes, and if you don't have the in-house expertise to write the missing drivers, fix the bugs and handle the many and varied forked kernels for embedded apps (like, practically one for each major architecture), it's going to cost you an arm and a leg.

        The software may be free, but sinec it won't run on your platform without considerable effort, it costs you more in the end. I've consulted on embedded linux projects and in every case the extra hassle and design constraints were just not worth it.

        For example, the embedded PowerPC kernel is effectively forked - patches don't get fed back into the main kernel tree so you have to go and get development sources with BitKeeper for PPC-specific fixes. These include things like an endian-specific bug in the serial UART driver for the 2.2 kernel that was trivial but didn't get fixed until 2.4.

        Scratch another 2 days at $God-only-knows-how-much / day while we figure out that you also don't get full RS-232 handshake in 2.2, and in fact the early UART code is useless. Pity our framebuffer display driver code (from Epson) is specific to 2.2. Scratch another week while we port it to 2.4 because someone thought it'd be cool to change all the function signatures in the framebuffer code...

        You see what I mean? All the while the project is getting later and later, the bills are mounting up and the boss is starting to think "I wish I'd chosen a supported, validated embedded OS and just paid for it up front". It's death by a thousand cuts, if you've got to ship a product.

        Jon

        • I've consulted on embedded linux projects and in every case the extra hassle and design constraints were just not worth it.

          So, basically you've been employed as an external consultant on projects where it's cost your client an arm and a leg to come to the conclusion that embedded linux isn't worth it.

          So, your client didn't have the in-house skills to use embedded Linux, did they? They didn't even have the knowledge to know whether or not it was a good idea to attempt, did they?

          One of my clients has ten Linux specialists in-house, and various programmers. This means they can configure the Linux embedded in their system to do whatever they want. That means that they have a $0 licence fee to pay per unit they ship, and because they ship a lot of them, that makes a big difference. But more importantly, they don't have to rely on a third party to implement the changes they want, and they can do stuff that their competitors can't because their competitors rely on third party software.

          So, as I said in my original email...

          If I create a product and need an embedded OS, and I have the capabilities in-house to do whatever configuration and programming is necessary, then embedded Linux can cost $0.00 per unit
    • by Prop ( 4645 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @08:35AM (#3564655) Homepage

      If anyone knows the embedded arena, it's Wind River.

      And one thing Wind River DOESN'T know is SUPPORT, the strong suit of Linux, be it on the desktop, server or embedded.

      They're missing the point. The reason we left WRS behind where I work is for the lack of support they (don't) give their small customers.

      With Linux, there's plenty, and our hands aren't tied when we find a problem.

      If anything is "doomed", it's vendors like WRS, and those who tried to emulate WRS using Linux

  • The only ELJ I ever got was bundled in a plastic bag "promotion" with a Linux Journal. I liked it, alot, and have always been on the lookout for it on the newstand at Barnes & Nobles. I've never, ever seen it. I guess that that issue was a "test" run to see if there was a market. I certainly would have bought it regularly (like I do LJ and LM) had it been available. I know that's not ELJ's fault (I probably could've requested it), but I certainly never saw any advertising for the magazine, either.

    Oh well.

    On another note, is The Perl Journal back in publication?

  • by OneFix ( 18661 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @04:15AM (#3564219)
    How? Well, like it or not, Embeded Linux is kind of a specific market...

    Think about who their major customers would be...Embeded Systems developers. And that's the problem, if it's anything worthwhile, it won't be of any help for your specific project. And if you're doing development, you're more likely to find more helpful information online or in a good book.

    Oh, yes...they can do a cute writeup on the Tivo or Netpliance hack, but once it's all said an done, it's a niche that doesn't really need its own publication.

    One group that this happened with is the Amiga community. At one point in time, there were Amiga Video, Amiga 3D, Amiga Sound, Amiga Power User, Amiga Games, and General Amiga mags.

    At some point someone in all of the smaller (niche) magazines decided to merge their content with the much larger, higher circulation General Amiga mags. What you got in the end was a little bit of everything and what tended to be the best of the best...

    So, maybe this will just make all of the Linux mags converge into a much better publication that all users can find useful all of the time, instead of a few users finding it useful some of the time.
  • I have never bought ELJ but it is a pity its is going - not least because it means the quality of material online will suffer too (as there will be .

    It's great being in a community and all, but the lack of commercial discipline does mean some online documentation is a little on the ropey side.

    If you print rubbish in a magazine then nobody buys it. If you put it in an online site i's just a mistake.
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Wednesday May 22, 2002 @08:31AM (#3564633) Homepage Journal
    First, my C.V.:

    I've been a professional embedded software designer since 1987. My current project [p25.com] has 4 DSPs and one main processor. I have several [google.com] projects [google.com] out on the market (I have several more, but I got tired of pasting Google links). I run the gaumit from DSP algorithms to systems design to UI design to OS work.

    OK, on to my point:

    There's two ways to look at Embedded Linux. The first is to look at how much money is being made by companies selling Embedded Linux services - comparing Lineo with Wind River. By this standard, Embedded Linux isn't doing very well, because few companies are making a killing selling Embedded Linux tools. The second way is to look at design wins - how many projects are having Linux built into them. This gets tricker: how do you build up a list of design wins? For a commercial product like VxWorks, you just ask Wind River "How many new licensees of VxWorks were there this year?" But you cannot do that with Linux - as has been noted elsewhere most folks going to Embedded Linux just pull down RedHat, Debian or some other distro and run from there.

    Now, let me shed some perspective on this. Embedded systems come in all sizes, from your smart themostat to telecom systems. If you are design a small device, with no display (or a very simple display), no network connectivity, and very small amounts of RAM and ROM, you don't want to use Linux - it's overkill. But, if you do the kind of stuff I do, where you have GUIs, gigabytes of disc storage, network stacks, printer support, scripting, and so on, you DON'T want to use something like VxWorks - they didn't have a DHCP client in their earlier version, they didn't have DNS, they don't have very good printer support, forget SMB (save if you wish to pretend to BE a printer), the only GUI they really support is Java on a frame buffer. Also, their hardware support is pretty lame - if you deviate just a little bit from the supported boards they have, you can kiss good support goodbye (their X-Scale ports don't activate the on-chip cache - farewell to half your CPU speed).

    But would I go to Lineo for their package? No, not because of any intrisic failing of Lineo, but because I don't NEED to, and by the time I clear the crap with our Contracts person, I'm slipping schedule.

    Believe me - I see the FUD in all my trade journals. The problem it they are geared to deal with the likes of Wind River, and they don't know how to measure something that can be downloaded free. Furthurmore, Debian doesn't buy ad space in EE Times, so it's hard for EE Times to get excited about them.
    • This posting is one of those insightful jewels that bring me back to Slashdot. It cuts to the heart of why Linux is so difficult to measure on almost any basis. How many servers can we sell with the single copy of SuSE 8.0? How many desktops do I install for friends? Why should I buy a NAT box from Lineo when I can configure one easier myself (and make more money from it).

      I think that your real insight revolves around the issue of knowlege. Rather than simply buying off-the-shelf boxen to do specific jobs (and paying through the nose for them), many in the Linux community are skillful enough to do all this on their own on an ad hoc basis. It seems that no one in the mainstream media has noticed this; and if they have, it must scare the living shit out of them. Where would their ad revenue go if there were no "products" but just tools?

      I find companies selling Linux-based "firewall software" which are restricted to 20 users for $995 (software only). Now for that price I can buy a box, load SuSE onto it, configure the firewall, install the system and make $400 for about 2 hours of work. AND have unlimited users, multiple subnets, snort, tripwire, and on and on.

      Our company supports Linux to a larger extent than most but we cannot justify spending money on products that we can simply do ourselves for less... while gaining functionality. This does not bode well for magazines that depend upon niche markets in Linux because as the numbers of Linux techies grow the smaller the market for these "enhanced" Linux products will become. Most of us will just do it ourselves.

      The market for devices which can accept Linux and be configurable (like tiny PCs, for instance) will grow. Something that has the potential of becoming a ubiquitous appliance but not specific to a niche will have the potential for attractiing partners as long as it's at the right price. And that price has to be inside a window which makes it cheaper than just buying a cheap PC and doing it ourselves.
      • Thank you for your support ;) I do try to be part of the signal, rather than the noise.

        Your point about buying pre-rolled vs. rolling your own has merit, as well. My biggest problem with WRS is that they haven't done their job, which is to make my life as a developer easier. They didn't support my system's video card, they didn't support the network card, they don't support partitions on the hard drive, they don't support DMA on IDE. I have to do all of that. When I've had problems with their stuff, they have only ONCE been able to solve the problem for me (turning off boot from network turned off NETWORKING by default!!! you have to turn it back on with a less-than-documented define) - every other problem I've solved for myself. So what is the DOWNSIDE to using Linux? Absence of support? Bah!

        The problem is that most embedded developers ARE, by job requirements, able to handle roll-your-own. WRS et. al. don't see that.

        Makes me wish I owned WRS stock, so that I could sell it....
  • First, since they only seem to have given it away, how on earth were they planning to stay in business long-term? The other major problem was that their content was never terribly impressive. A large percentage of articles was devoted to product roundups and descriptions, and showcasing embedded Linux projects of various companies. Unfortunately these showcases were more of the look-what-cool-stuff-we-did-aren't-we-great variety, rather that providing lots of truly helpful information and how-tos for someone wanting to do the same. Frankly, I've gotten MUCH more useful articles on Linux embedding and programming from Circuit Cellar (Ingo Cyliax is bloody amazing) that from ELJ.
  • Embedded Linux Journal was one of the absolute best Mag's out there, coupled with Circuit Cellar the two made what technical magazines are supposed to be. I stopped my LJ subscription years ago when I exceeded what it's content could give me, ELJ was awesome with articles like "creating an embedded linux system from scratch" that covered topics like keeping everything small including your libs.

    That publication is going to be missed... i would have paid twice the Linux Journal price for it, same as i would have paid dearly for the Perl Journal if it wasnt bastardized by the companies that bought it. It seems that the truely technical publications are dying, and only the newbie,gooey,fluffy publications are all that's left.
  • I've seen a number of books on the kernel internals for Linux 2.2 but I was wondering if anyone's seen any specifically dealing with kernel 2.4. I don't mean "what's coming in 2.4" at the end of the chapter, but 2.4 as a core study.

    I want to start some embedded Linux/uClinux hacking but I don't want to spend a lot of time learning the internals of 2.2 only to relearn core parts (vm, networking, vfs, etc.) for 2.4.

"Trust me. I know what I'm doing." -- Sledge Hammer

Working...