Something about embedded system development kit

by Forrest Sheng Bao http://fsbao.net

This morning I met a new friend from California. He told me that he just purchased a new S3C2440 development kit. And the most important is, he told me that the company gave him the uboot, my preferred bootloader for embedded system.

He showed me the webpage of that company and the development kit. It looked so familiar to me. Why? Because I know it is from a company in China. Like him, I have surfed a lot of webpages to search an ARM development kit after my previous one was down last fall. And since the price is at least $100 cheaper than ones made by other USA-based companies, I think it is definitely "Made in China".

Then I read their documentations - pretty nice. I am always looking for a kit whose development environment is not on Red Hat Linux 9, but some "fashionable" Linux, like Ubuntu or openSuSE. Oh, I got it. And the English is so fluent, the structure is so clear. Oh, it's awesome, not only has it Qtopia, but also the NanoX. The company said the Linux running on their kit is called utu-Linux.

But just when I was praising the good quality and the low price of this kit, I found some snapshots in the manual are in Chinese, such as Google China's logo. Later I found their Chinese webpage. The company is in Beijing, China. Then I was surprised, coz I have checked many companies doing this business, they sucked - lack of docs, lack of source code, lack of technical details. The reason is, everything in Linux world are generally open-sourced. So they just copy and re-sell. Of cource they know nothing about what they are doing. None of those companies I have checked can do so well as this company.

For example, there are many SAMSUNG S3C2410/2440 development kits selling in China. Most of them, totally copied the demo board of SAMSUNG, from the circuit, the PCB, the bootloader, the Linux kernel to the desktop environment. It only takes your one second to know that they are totally the same.

And that's why they can't "invade" into USA or Europe market. Here, we need totally transparent technical details and source code. Because embedded systems are generally designed for highly-specified applications, such as GPS navigator or Internet tablet, we need those details and source code to optimize our design. They are different from general-purpose PCs.

I think this company really did some developments and guys in the company really loves Linux. Otherwise they won't try to build cross-compiling environment on openSuSE and Ubuntu, having quite appealing interface and greatly threatening to Windows.

The default development environment of SAMSUNG's demo boards, the SMDK2440 and SMDK2410, is Red Hat Linux 9. I have seen many friends, struggling for this out-of-date system coz they can't run many tools on modern Linux distributions.

The default bootloader for SAMSUNG's demo boards is vivi, developed by a company called Meritech in Korea. I really hate it coz it's no longer developed. This kit, comes with uBoot, a very vigorous open source project.

And their English is very good. English docs or webpages of its Chinese competitors are too musing. And I don't wanna read Chinese technical docs coz I can't read them very fast and sometimes I can't understand some terms.

These three features made it advance those Chinese companies just copying SAMSUNG's technologies.

So, you can see, a China company can do as well as US-based companies. It can do much better than other hundreds of its Chinese competitors. They just need the passion to do things better and to create something new rather than just to copy. This company made it. It is the only such Chinese company I have found in North America. And I will recommend all my "electronic and computer friends", to use their boards to build our dreams. Hmm, less than $300 to build a robotics dream or a PDA dream, neat!

Oh yeah, in North America, they provide 30-day money back guarantee.

You may ask me where to find this company. In United States and Canada, this way: http://youtiyou.com/default.aspx In China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, this way: http://www.yctek.com/

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