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Which distro for embedded systems?

I'm looking at a couple projects coming up here (most likely around summer time), and they both involve fairly powerful microprocessors. I'd love to run Linux (or an alternative open-source OS) on at least one of them. I've got some fairly tight specifications to work with however, so I've come to the experts (aka you guys :D ).

The system I [need ;)] want to run Linux, etc. can be found here: http://www.mini-box.com/mini-2440-Samsung-S3C2240-ARM9-Board-7-TFT

The specs are as follows:

CPU: Samsung S3C2440A 400MHz, Max freq. 533Mhz (ARM9 architecture)
RAM: 64MB SDRAM
Flash Memory: 128MB Nand Flash
OS Support: Linux 2.6.29, Windows CE.Net 5.0

Now, it says it comes pre-loaded with Linux QT, but I would like to have a few alternatives if this isn't up to my expectations. What distro(s) would you guys recommend for this? I can foresee the touch screen being problematic, but I'm sure we can make something work :) Storage space can be pretty much unlimited, as I'll be adding either an SD card, USB drive, or something similar on for OS storage.


Thanks in advance,


- Jesse
10 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    Try debian for arm. It is pretty small.

    Good luck :)
  2. linux_0 said:
    Try debian for arm. It is pretty small.

    Good luck :)


    Awesome, thank you :)
  3. Also, is there any way to 'slim down' this distro further? Such as editting the .iso before installing it, deleting things I don't need, changing GUI, etc.? I've never done anything like this, so I just don't know how to do it, if I can at all. Thanks :)
  4. You'll have to either manually slim down your debian, since you only have 128MB Nand Flash to work with, or use a large SD card or usb storage.

    The specs don't mention if it's SDHC or plain SD which is limited to 2GB.

    The best way to slim down debian is to use the network install CD and install a very minimal system, essentially install nothing and apt-get what you need after the install.

    If the USB port is not USB 2.0 you'll have trouble.

    Make sure you have a good backup of the pre-installed system and a good way to put it back on the device if something goes wrong.

    64MB of RAM is not a lot so you can't use a regular graphical interface.

    You ought to look for a version of the board that has more RAM or find another board with at least 256MB or better yet 512MB of RAM or even more.

    Good luck :)
  5. Quote:
    64MB of RAM is not a lot so you can't use a regular graphical interface.
    I'd certainly agree with that. I run Debian on a Buffalo LinkStation (ARM processor) with 128K of RAM and memory usage is the main problem (that's without any GUI); of course it all depends upon what you want to do. Also it can be quite tricky installing Linux on one of these systems, although if you have a console it will be much easier.

    Personally, if I wanted to go for a low-power system, I think I'd get one of the Atom-based boards.
  6. Geode, Atom and other x86 boards will be easier to work with, especially if you have 512MB of ram or more.

    ARM will require some extra work.

    If you're stuck with 64MB of ram you might have to use uClinux instead.

    Good luck :)
  7. Of course, some people like working with a different processor (that's why I've got the Linkstation and a PPC Mac Mini) but, apart from that, it's easier to stick with an x86 compatible.
  8. Alright, well I'll have to do a bit more looking around. The place I was looking at buying this from is supposed to be releasing a new board in Q1 with 256 MB that looks pretty good. There's also a couple other companies with more powerful boards that I'm considering, I just need to e-mail them and discuss pricing.

    Thanks for the help everyone :)
  9. There's nothing wrong with ARM or PPC they have some very interesting and desirable features, but they tend to be more expensive and ARM tends to have lower specs.

    Mass produced x86 hardware is cheaper and easier to find since it's all commodity hardware.

    You can also replace individual parts in most x86 systems, whereas on most embedded systems where everything's soldered you can't easily replace any parts when they go bad.

    Good luck :)
  10. Best answer selected by Pyroflea.
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