Answers from the Embox stand to popular questions from the IT-festival TechTrain

    Good day!

    Embox recently participated in the TechTrain IT festival .

    The flow of visitors at our stand was very large! And we, unfortunately, did not make handouts describing our project. And some have left, not having time to understand what is going on here. We were asked many of the same type of questions, and we decided to publish a short article in order to answer them.

    Are you a hardware manufacturer?

    In the photo you can see that we have quite a lot of hardware on the stand, some blinked, some moved, some drew something. Perhaps that is why very frequent questions were: “Do you produce pieces of iron?” Or “What are you selling?” And so on. The answer is simple: "No, we do not produce glands, and no, we do not sell, at least, the glands themselves." We are developing an open source operating system for embedded systems! All the glands that were on the stand were running Embox. All the models could be reproduced, since they were bought in ordinary microelectronics stores (with the exception of Elbrus), and the code for creating the firmware is in our repository (including for Elbrus).

    Stand composition

    In brief, I will describe what we had on the stand.
    There were two cars. One is a standalone robot based on STM32F3-Discovery, which detects a bad surface. We told about it in the article . The other is a robot based on stm32f4discovery, controlled via a radio channel. This robot is equipped with a light sensor and a range finder based on an infrared sensor.

    There was a mockup for demonstrating multi-agent robots based on five STM32F3-Discovery interconnected via serial interfaces. They jointly solved the task of smoothing the function (a more detailed description is beyond the scope of this article).

    There was a layout based on the STM32F7-Discovery. It demonstrated an example with a small graphical framework Nuklear , described in the article .
    There was a mockup of a SIP phone based on stm32f4discovery. This was in the article .
    There was a mockup based on the sk-imx6q board with an LCD display, and a demo scene from Mesa3D was spinning on it .
    Well, yes, there was a system block called “monocube” based on Elbrus processor, this was in the article .

    Is it something like Arduino?

    As you can probably guess from the above list of layouts, to another popular question “Is it arduino?”, The answer is also negative. It’s not even about hardware (I don’t know if it makes sense to make an arduino imx6q powerful processor), but I’m sure that you can’t make a SIP phone or run OpenGL on Arduino. No, do not misunderstand me, I do not in any way want to offend those who develop under arduino. But the fee for ease of use are significant limitations for this platform.

    Are you making robots?

    Since we had several robots, we were often asked this question. Answer: “No, we deal with system software. The control algorithms and the robots themselves are rather our hobby. ”

    OS for robots?

    No, Embox is an OS for embedded systems. This is a much broader concept. Robots are a very clear example of application, because they need to do both things characteristic of small RTOS (collecting evidence from sensors, controlling motors), and what is much more convenient to do on large operating systems (testing control algorithms, remote control). And consequently, in such tasks Embox well demonstrates its advantages.

    Is it Linux? What is Embox based on?

    No, this is not a Linux distribution. We wrote the core and main system services from scratch, naturally, looking into other open projects and, of course, studied the same Tanenbaum.
    Over time, we added the ability to use third-party applications from the Linux world, the same PJSIP project or the Mesa3D library. Since there is no desire to do the same, but yours.
    From the characteristics of Linux, we have differences. For example, visitors found out that the layout with OpenGL loads in just 7 seconds, and this despite the fact that the U-boot, which is used as a bootloader, eats away for a couple of seconds. Well, or cram Linux with a SIP stack in STM32F4-Discovery, which has only 192 kB of RAM, is unlikely to work. Although one visitor claimed to be weak (probably the slackware distribution), breaks in 40 KB. But he, most likely, simply confused kilobytes with megabytes.

    What is this your Embox?

    Personally, I explained at the festival allegorically: “Linux without Linux”.
    I will open the topic a bit. Embox has a port of the open Qt library (also demonstrated on the stand), we showed OpenGL based on the open Mesa 3D project , or, take the same SIP phone, it is based on the open PJSIP project. All of these projects work fine on Linux. But if you need to push the SIP phone on a small board, then there is no way to use Linux. Well, or some equipment that requires 3D rendering. For example, a terrain map with a relief implies rather large hardware resources, which means that LInux could be used. But on the other hand, along with Linux comes a lot of software, and these are potential bugs and security holes. In Embox, you can only assemble the parts necessary for the application to work. And this allows you to significantly simplify the passage of various kinds of certifications, both for correct operation and for safety, for example, the absence of NDV (bookmarks).

    Can I take an internship at Embox, take part in the project and where to find you?

    Embox open project and of course you can participate in it. We are happy to help in this endeavor.

    We remember our roots and work closely enough with students. The project has a decent amount of coursework and diplomas. The bulk of the course at Matmex St. Petersburg State University. But there were precedents of work from other universities. In addition, the project involves students and gain experience from other cities and countries.

    The project repository is on github.

    The main (English-language) distribution group for the project: embox-devel [at]

    In addition, we created a Russian-language distribution group: embox-ru [at]

    You can also write to me personally: anton.bondarev2310 [at]

    PS pictures from the group TechTrain VKontakte

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