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Embedded Linux Distributions , RealTime Linux , Embedded Tools , Tiny - small distributions , Tuning , Misc.

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  Embedded Linux Distributions


Lynx Real-Time Systems Inc is a leading supplier of real-time and embedded operating systems. Lynx develops and markets software products and services for use in a wide range of intelligent (microprocessor-based) products. Lynx has been delivering solutions to Fortune 500 corporations and OEMs for more than 10 years. Now lynx offers BlueCat a small embedded linux distribution.


Lineo develops, markets and sells embedded software components and solutions targeted at providing consumers with simple, low-cost browsing and interaction with the Internet via embedded devices. Lineo owns Embedix (embedded Linux OS), Embrowser (embedded web browser), DR DOS (component-based embedded OS), Lineo TCP/IP and other technologies.


Emj-Linux was compiled to make development with JUMPtec's DIMM-PC easier. This small distribution of Linux consists of a 1.44MB bootdisk. This bootdisk contains everything needed to do a network install of EMJ-linux. Currently v0.91 is a 5.7MB compressed file (10MB uncompressed), designed to download directly to the DIMM-PC's 16MB Flash Drive, or to an IDE Drive. Once loaded, the DIMM-PC with Linux will support Ethernet, TCP/ip, Telnet, FTP, WWW (Apache 1.3.9) and IDE.


ET-Linux is designed in order to fit a very light embedded PC. The minimum requirements are 386SX processor 2MB DRAM end 2MB Solid State Disk. EtLinux supports all the Eurotech PC/104 CPU module. A RT version will be released very soon. The Et-Linux includes Corba for distributed Communication.

Hard Hat

Hard Hat Linux is a commercial Linux distribution targeted at embedded systems made by Monta Vista.

  Linux as Real Time operating system


QLinux is a Linux kernel that can provide quality of service guarantees. QLinux, based on the Linux 2.2.x kernel, combines some of the latest innovations in operating systems research. It includes the following features: Hierarchical Start Time Fair Queuing (H-SFQ) CPU scheduler. Hierarchical Start Time Fair Queuing (H-SFQ) network packet scheduler. Lazy receiver processing (LRP) network subsystem. Cello disk scheduling algorithm [not stable yet]

Realtime Linux.org

RealTime Linux is an extension of the standard Linux operating system. It provides a simple and streamlined real-time executive which runs the standard Linux kernel as its lowest-priority task, while allowing the insertion of user-defined, higher-priority (i.e. real- time) tasks. Thus, the standard kernel is made fully preemptible. This architecture enables real-time functions to operate in a predictable and low-latency environment, while still allowing full access to the sophisticated services and features of standard Linux.

RED-Linux provides a powerful real-time scheduling support for Linux, by integrating priority-driven, time-driven and deadline-driven schedulers. Linux kernel preemption delay is shortened by introducing preemption points inside the kernel so that Linux may better respond to real-time events.


RTAI is a set of modules based on a minimal LINUX kernel change (about 70 lines added/modified) that implements a Real Time Hardware Abstraction Layer (RTHAL) onto which a Real Time Application Interface (RTAI) is built. RTAI services provide hard real time at kernel module level and firm real time at user space level. Services available through the various modules are: support for direct interrupts and traps management, a variety of schedulers (UP, SMP, MUP (MultiUniProcessor), all with full FPU support, POSIX support, shared memory, periodic and oneshot timers, timing and task management functions, semaphores, conditional variables, inter task messages (QNX and non QNX style), mailboxes, enhanced fifos. All the previous items usable inter-intra RTAI and LINUX. Full internals presentation.

RT-Linux vs standard Linux

In order to characterize the ability of Linux in handling real time tasks, they have tested the performance of a 120 MHz Pentium with Linux kernel 2.0.x (standard or Non Real-Time Linux), versus the same kernel with the real time patch from New Mexico Tech (RT-Linux).


Linux-SRT is an extension to the Linux kernel which improves the way Real Time (RT) applications are run. Standard Linux isn't designed to be a "Media OS" and cannot guarantee that audio, visual or other critical processes run at a fixed rate. This package helps solve that problem by letting you specify a desired Quality of Service (QOS) for real time applications. You can assign a certain percentage of the CPU to each task.


Zentropix is focused on real-time Linux and provides development tools, support, training courses, and a tested and configuration managed RealTime Linux installation CD. This level of corporate and product support is provided to expedite the acceptance of real-time Linux into the mainstream industrial markets.

  Embedded Linux Tools

Small windowing environments


DinX (is not X!) is designed to be simple, lightweight, and fast Windowing system working over framebuffer. It should be suitable for running multiple windowed programs on a small system, like a Linux handheld


The Fast Light Tool Kit ("FLTK", pronounced "fulltick") is a LGPL'd C++ graphical user interface toolkit for X (UNIX), OpenGL, and Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, 95, or 98. FLTK also includes FLUID, the Fast Light User Interface Designer, which allows you to graphically design applications, widgets, or classes for your GUI.


Microwindows is an Open Source project aimed at bringing the features of modern graphical windowing environments to smaller devices. Microwindows' genesis was with the NanoGUI project, and is now the primary distribution for both the Microwindows and Nano-X codebase.


Minigui is a GUI support system based on svgalib and LinuxThreads. MiniGUI defines some Win32-like APIs for the applications. Why using the MiniGUI, one application can create multiple windows, and can draw n these windows without interfering each other. This GUI support mouse cursors, icons, bitmaps and other resources used in Windows.


An old but small alternative to X

Thanks to Eric Andersen for his work and submissions


ae is a tiny full-screen text editor with both modal (vi-like) and modeless (emacs-like) modes, determined by an ae.rc config file. It makes a nice editor if people that don't know "vi" will need to work on your embedded system.


ash is a very small Bourne shell. If you need a shell for your embedded systems, this is it.


Busybox is a multicall binary used to provide a minimal subset of POSIX style commands and specialized functions.It is geared toward the very small, i.e. boot floppies, embedded-systems, etc. Specifically it is used in the Debian Rescue/Install system (which caused the original busybox to be made), the Linux Router Project, LEM, Lineo and others. Busybox is being maintained by Erik Andersen, and its ongoing development is being sponsored by Lineo.


Bzip2 your applications and let them executable


Elvis-tiny is based on a 1991 Minix version of the elvis "vi" clone. It behaves as one would expect a minamalist vi to behave, and is very small.


Much more flexible replacement for ifconfig, route, etc. It is quite small, and for most networking application is all you need. It also provides support for extremely advanced networking (the tc util), but most people will just need to use the "ip" command.


This is the DHCP/BOOTP client written by RedHat. When compiled properly, it gives you dhcp client support for about 35k.


TinyLogin is a suite of tiny Unix utilities for handling logging into, being authenticated by, changing one's password for, and otherwise maintaining users and groups on an embedded system. It also provides shadow password support to enhance system security. TinyLogin is, as the name implies, very small, and makes an excellent complement to BusyBox on an embedded System. TinyLogin is being maintained by Erik Andersen, and its ongoing development is being sponsored by Lineo.


UPX is a portable, extendable, high-performance executable packer for several different executable formats. It achieves an excellent compression ratio and offers very fast decompression. Your executables suffer no memory overhead or other drawbacks. UPX supports linux/i386, win32/pe, dos/exe, djgpp2/coff, and many more.



Icon Labs offers Envoy, a complete SNMP development environment for Linux. Each package includes SNMP libraries and header files for C development, a MIB compiler and source code to a sample agent. The design of Envoy stresses memory efficiency to fit the limited resources available to most embedded systems. Envoy was designed for OEMs and system integrators requiring a fast, small SNMP agent or the basis for a management station product. Envoy provides support for SNMP v1, v2 and v3 as well as multi-mode SNMP v1/v2/v3 implementations for agents from the same source code set, providing a single solution for all SNMP requirements.


Etherboot is a free software package for booting x86 PCs over a network. In principle this could be any network technology that TCP/IP runs on that supports broadcasting. In practice, the bandwidth required means it's only practical over LANs and some WANs. Etherboot is useful for booting PCs diskless.


Much more flexible replacement for ifconfig, route, etc. It is quite small, and for most networking application is all you need. It also provides support for extremely advanced networking (the tc util), but most people will just need to use the "ip" command.


With the Netboot package you can boot a computer with an Intel processor via an IP network without accessing a harddisk or diskette. More on this topic...


NILO is the Network Interface Loader. NILO will boot Linux, FreeBSD, Windows 95/98/NT4 and support the Intel PXE standard, and is suitable for burning into ROM. It is an evolution of the previous Etherboot and Netboot projects More on this topic...



Opera is a small weight web browser running over X and Microwindows


SYSLINUX is a boot loader for the Linux operating system which operates off MS-DOS floppies. It is intended to simplify first-time installation of Linux, rescue disks, and other uses for boot floppies. A SYSLINUX floppy can be manipulated using standard MS-DOS (or any other OS that can access an MS-DOS filesystem) tools once it has been created; and requires only a ~ 7K DOS program or ~ 13K Linux program to create in the first place. Starting with version 1.46 it also includes PXELINUX, a program to boot off a network server using a boot PROM compatible with the Intel PXE (Pre-Execution Environment) specification.


is a suite of Perl cripts for creating rescue disks for Linux. A rescue disk is a self-contained linux kernel and filesystem on a floppy, usually used when you can't boot off your hard disk. A rescue disk usually contains utilities for diagnosing and manipulating hard disks and filesystems.

  Tiny - small linux distributions


Slackware Linux on two floppy disks


Yet another single floppy router, dialup<->ethernet+IP masq+dhcpd+diald


Build Your Linux Disk: A package that helps you to build a Linux distribution on a single floppy.


Single floppy linux based on 2.2.x kernels with GNU tools


A single-floppy distribution for sharing an Internet connection.


a small Linux operating system that can be installed on An existing Dos system i.e. msdos, pcdos, drdos, and win95/98 in dos mode. It's not a umsdos system, it's a loop system that uses the standard linux ext2 filesystem

Dialup Routeur Mini

Easily connect an entire LAN to a dial-up Internet connection


A linux system running on Intel PC's. DLX comes on only one 3,5" floppydisk. DLX boots with a kernel >= 1.3.89 and starts a ramdisk image. DLX also has a writeable ext2 filesystem of about 130 kb on the floppy to store configuration scripts. DLX supports paralell-port ZIP-Drive.


Linux can co-exist with Windows 95 on the same partition and take up less space than your word processor! DragonLinux: IronWing is a tiny Internet-ready distribution of Linux. Weighting in at only 25MB installed, it sports a functional Linux UMSDOS installation complete with various TCP/IP tools and man pages.


Emblin (EMbedded Linux) Design goals are: Minimum Linux OS for embedded systems (or other mini systems),Modular build, easy to strip down, build up, Easy to configure , All fits one 1 bootable Floppy, Contains HTTP + CGI, FTP, TELNET, TFTP server, Include inet clients, lynx, snarf


A simple linux distribution



A static router with the firewall-capabilities in Linux. It is based on HAL 91 by Øvind Kolsås.

Green Frog

A small fully featured 2.2.x+devfs/glibc 2.1 based Linux distro.


A minimalistic linux on one 1.44Mb floppy disk. Intended for use as a rescue disk and a portable linux system.

Iron Wing

Tiny internet ready linux distribution

Latrell Sprewell

Linux Mini-distribution based on Slackware v3.6. Can be installed to DOS system


LEM for Linux EMbedded is a small i386 linux distributions < 8Mo with X11R6 server.
Netscape 4 LEM Ga´┐Żl Martin desccribes how to add a netscape browser and the boa web server to the LEM distro.

Linux Router Project

A networking centric mini-distribution of Linux. LRP is small enough to fit on a single 1.44MB floppy disk, and makes building and maintaining routers, terminal servers, and typically embedded networking systems next to trivial.

Live CD

Scripts to create Debian Linux System on Live CD - runs w/out HD.


is meant to be used as a client for various network protocols. This includes lynx (a web browser), ftp (for transferring files), telnet (for accessing remote computers), and ssh (for securely accessing remote computers)


Small linux distribution that can be installed on a existing Dos/Win95/98 system


LxA is a collection of documentation, tools, and sample components put together to assist in assembling useful Linux-based 'appliances' which boot from and are entirely contained on one floppy disk. The packages include working root filesystems, sample kernels, and kernel config files.


System Recovery


(micro-Linux) floppy, a tiny distribution of Linux (kernel 2.0.34). Connect to Internet, fetch, read and send mail, NFS, ftp, finger, telnet, news and web browsing. Specially 1722K formatted floppy contains tools for: access via modem line, mounting DOS/Windows & Linux partitions, print, play CDs & record sounds.
TCL Add-on An add-on disk for the muLinux system, containing a mix of application programs, all written in Tool Command Language, aka, Tcl.


PeeWeeLinux is a small Linux distribution for embedded applications. It is currently developed on a RedHat 6.1 platform. Key features are binaries optimized for minimal size, packages that satisfy dependencies and a graphical configuration utility.

Pocket Linux


UMSDOS based, internet ready mini linux

Small Linux

Web page for small kernel projects that run in 2, 4, or 8 Mb of RAM. Also home site of Small Linux distribution.


Dexdyne has developed it for use on its SC410 based embeddable systems and is now releasing it for general use. Subliminal comprises an SC4xx-compatible Linux kernel, an NE2000 compatible Ethernet driver, the Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP), a low-overhead Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) daemon, a VNC client, thesvgalib Super VGA driver library, telnetd remote terminal protocol, an ftpd remote upload protocol, the thttpd and the netpipes package, the bash and ash shells, a System V compatible INIT script system, the 'chat' program and serial port drivers.


Thinlinux is a small and configurable linux distribution suitable for embedded applications. The edge router is a free demonstration firewall product utilizing thinlinux.


TINY is a small Linux distribution designed especially for reusing old computers. It has very low demands in terms of hardware capacity, and even a Linux beginner can install it easily. No CD driver is required for installation, even for standalone machines. TINY is GUI capable . As long as your machine can bear it, you can run all available Linux applications on it.


Boot/root rescue/emergency floppy image with more stuff than can fit. Bzip2, 1722Mb formatting, and tight compilation options helped jam a lot on. It is useful for "learn unix on a floppy" as it runs from ramdisk, includes the man-pages for everything, and behaves in a generally predictable way.


Minimal floppy linux distribution


is a Linux distribution that boots from two floppies (right now) and runs solely from two ramdisks-one for the root partition and the other for /usr partition.


Small Linux distribution kit. he guiding principles have been the ease of use, the ease of installation and small size. Main goal has been to compile an X terminal environment to Helsinki University of Technology campus area.


is a suite of Perl cripts for creating rescue disks for Linux. A rescue disk is a self-contained linux kernel and filesystem on a floppy, usually used when you can't boot off your hard disk. A rescue disk usually contains utilities for diagnosing and manipulating hard disks and filesystems.







EMC is a software which implements real-time control of equipment such as machine tools, robots, and coordinate measuring machines. The goal of this software development is to provide & complete software implementations of all OMAC modules for the purpose of validating application programming interfaces; and to provide a vehicle for the transfer of control technology to small- and medium-sized manufacturers via the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

Memory Technology Device

Memory Technology Device (MTD) Subsystem for Linux, David Woodhouse is working on a generic Linux subsystem for memory devices, especially Flash devices. The aim of the system is to make it simple to provide a driver for new hardware, by providing a generic interface between the hardware drivers and the upper layers of the system.

Linux Web Browsers

Want a browser that runs Python applets? A browser for your VT-100 terminal? A browser inside your text editor that you can extend with LISP? Or perhaps a simple, stable, no-frills browser that just does the job? Take a look at Graeme Cross survey.


"NetFront 2.5 for Linux/GTK" is a free demonstration/evaluation version of Access' Internet browser specifically designed for Linux-based embedded applications. It is the first Linux version of NetFront 2.5, the most popular embedded browsers in Japan. Basic features supported in "NetFront 2.5 for Linux/GTK" are HTML 3.2, portion of HTML 4.0, frames, cookies, JavaScript, JV-Lite 1.3.1 (plug-in), and SSL 2.0/3.0

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