ELC + OpenIoT: From Cloud Computing to Robot Apocalypse


It’s time once again for that grand gathering of embedded Linux geeks known as the Embedded Linux Conference (ELC), as well as the co-located, non-Linux specific OpenIoT Summit. In this article, we take a closer look at the conference schedule, with keynotes and sessions you won’t want to miss.

ELC + OpenIoT is happening Mar. 12-14 in Portland, Oregon, the home of Linus Torvalds, who created Linux as a desktop OS and has watched it spread throughout the server world. Over the past decade, Linux has found similar success in embedded gear ranging from mobile devices to Internet of Things hubs to industrial equipment to drones.

Torvalds is not a scheduled speaker at the event, but the keynote speakers include the co-founder of another major open source embedded platform. Massimo Banzi is now the clear leader of the Arduino community after Federico Musto, the head of the formerly forked and then reunited Arduino Srl, departed last summer. There are no details as yet on the topic of Banzi’s Tuesday, 10 a.m. keynote, but it will likely be more about OpenIoT than Linux. Arduino appears to have backed away from its experiment in Linux/Arduino hybrid boards, such as the Yun, but it has a renewed emphasis on open source, community, and educational projects. Arduino is now focusing on its Raspberry Pi Zero sized MKR line of wireless, MCU-based Arduino boards.

Keynote lineup: From Google Cloud IoT to the robot apocalypse

Monday’s keynote lineup starts with a welcome from Sony’s Tim Bird, Chair of the Architecture Group of The Linux Foundation’s CE Working Group, and Philip DesAutel, the LF’s IoT Co-Chair. This talk will be followed by Antony Passemard, the Product Management Lead for Google Cloud IoT, who will discuss Google’s growing body of cloud-related IoT and analytics services. A hardware perspective on Linux will be provided by Patricia Florissi, VP and global CTO for Sales at Dell EMC.

Monday’s keynotes will be concluded with an address by Daniel Wilson titled “Sci-Fi Destroys the World, Science Builds It.” You can amp yourself up by reading Wilson’s bestsellers: Robopocalypse, Robogenesis, and How to Survive a Robot Uprising. (Maybe it’s time to keep that TurtleBot under lock and key.)

Tuesday’s lineup includes Banzi’s address, along with a keynote from DesAutels and Kate Stewart, Sr. Director of Strategic Programs at The Linux Foundation. Wednesday’s speakers include Amber Case of the Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center, as well as two longtime Linux leaders: Imad Sousou, VP and GM at Intel’s Open Source Technology Center, and Jonathan Corbet, Executive Editor of LWN.net.

Sign up for ELC/OpenIoT Summit updates to get the latest information:

Sessions: Real-Time Linux, Yocto, Zephyr, and much more

This year’s diverse selection of topics lacks a clearly dominant theme. There are, however, more than the usual sessions on Real-Time Linux. A half dozen ELC presentations include sessions on both the dominant Preempt-RT and its main rival Xenomai, and there’s a report from Ambient Sensors’ Sandra Capri on implementing a pseudo-real-time stack that uses neither of these technologies, with examples detailed for the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone.

The ELC lineup also includes five sessions on the Yocto Project, which is quietly extending its reach in embedded Linux development on both x86 and ARM platforms, especially when a high degree of customization is required. There’s even a session on porting OpenEmbedded/Yocto to the open source RISC-V architecture (see farther below).

The OpenIoT track, meanwhile, has seven presentations on the lightweight Zephyr OS. This quickly maturing open source distribution for MCUs will also be showcased at Embedded World in Nuremberg, Germany, taking place Feb. 27 to Mar. 1.

The following list is a rather arbitrary selection of sessions that stand out from the pack, along with a few side notes. Other sessions not listed here cover topics such as ROS, GPUs, asymmetric multiprocessing, boot strategies, testing, security, RTS kernel, EAS, SiP, Eclipse, JavaScript, quality assurance, FPGAs, Bluetooth Mesh, NuttX, MQTT, EdgeX Foundry, Android Common Kernel, I3C, Tock, power management, virtualization on the edge, wireless debug, and Azure IoT Edge, among others.

10 sessions to consider for ELC + OpenIoT 2018:

Mozilla’s Iot Framework: Putting People First (Mon. 10:50) — Kathy Giori, Mozilla Corp. Last July, Mozilla unveiled an open source IoT project called Web of Things in collaboration with the W3C. The project has a Things gateway prototype that runs on a Raspberry Pi, and which builds on linkable and discoverable APIs based on standard web technologies.

Zephyr LTS Release, What to Expect and Why are We Doing This (Mon. 11:50) — Anas Nashif, Intel. In its first two years, the Zephyr RTOS has had 11 development releases. This year, we’ll see a major Zephyr LTS release with new features, stable APIs, and a subset of certifications.

Introduction to SoundWire (Mon 2:00) — Vinod Koul, Intel. The MIPI Alliance’s SoundWire audio bus spec, which was recently merged into Linux 4.16, should eventually replace HDA and I2C for low-cost, low-latency audio streaming in embedded devices and PCs.

OpenEmbedded Yocto on RISC-V — New Kid on the Block (Mon. 4:10) — Khem Raj, Comcast. This year we’ll see the first Linux-ready implementation of the open source RISC-V ISA architecture. OpenEmbedded/Yocto is one of first embedded Linux distribution frameworks to support RISC-V, but challenges remain.

Preempt-RT Raspberry Pi Linux (Tue. 2:00) — Tiejun Chen, VMware. Real-time Preempt-RT patches are increasingly being integrated in the Linux kernel, but not the kernel maintained specifically for the Raspberry Pi. Chen explores the potential and challenges of integration.

Secure Containers in Embedded Deployments (Tue. 4:20) — Stefano Stabellini, Xen Project. Stabellini discusses a new approach for enabling embedded hypervisors to run container apps such as minimalist Docker implementations on small embedded Linux devices without sacrificing real-time or safety.

The Salmon Diet: Up-Streaming Drivers as a Form of Optimization (Wed. 11:05) — Gilad Ben-Yossef, Arm. Ben-Yossef describes his experience in up-streaming the previously out-of-tree CryptoCell REE device driver, how the process helped reduce the line count by 30 percent while also decreasing bugs.

Sensor Types and their Uses (Wed. 2:30) — Mike Anderson, The PTR Group. With the increase of IoT and robotics applications, sensors such as gyroscopes, stress gauges, thermocouples, and more are increasingly part of the embedded developer’s toolkit. But what do they do exactly, and how do you integrate them?

Civil Infrastructure Platform: Industrial Grade Open Source Base-Layer (Wed. 3:30) — Yoshitake Kobayashi, Toshiba, and Urs Gleim, Siemens AG. Catch up on one of the Linux Foundation’s latest projects. The CIP project is producing a super long-term supported (SLTS) industrial software layer for civil infrastructure to encourage improved reusability.

3D Printing with Linux and Xenomai (Wed. 3:30) — Kendall Auel, 3D Systems Corp. Auel describes how a dual-kernel architecture using Linux and Xenomai can maintain low and predictable latencies for real time control of a 3D printer, while enabling a complex and resource intensive slicing application to run in parallel.


Registration is now open for the Embedded Linux Conference and OpenIoT Summit, to be held Mar. 12-14 at the Hilton Portland in Portland, OR. Packages start at $700, rising to $850 on Feb. 18. Academic and hobbyist discounts are available. Linux.com readers can register now with discount code, LINUXRD5, for 5% off the attendee registration.