[Arm-dev] Enterprise distros and the two faces of 'reliability'

Gordan Bobic gordan at redsleeve.org
Fri Oct 26 17:08:58 UTC 2018

On Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 5:58 PM Robert Moskowitz <rgm at htt-consult.com>

> On 10/26/18 12:19 PM, Fred Gleason wrote:
> > Howdy Folks:
> >
> >
> > All of this to pose the question: is an ‘enterprise’ distro (in the
> > specific sense meant here) an appropriate long-term choice for an
> > ‘embedded’ project? Given the stated intention of the Upstream
> > Provider to support only ARM systems that integrate APCI and comply
> > with SBSA  [Server Base System Architecture] standards in future major
> > releases (see
> > https://lists.centos.org/pipermail/arm-dev/2017-October/003120.html),
> > is such a distro an appropriate long-term choice for an ‘embedded’
> > project?
> There are a number of issues around embedded systems.
> They have to work for 10 - 20 years.
> They have to be 'safe' for as long as they are working.

> At development time, often the most current components are needed (e.g.
> openSSL 1.1.1, TLS 1.3)
>      This is because, often only patches are done and things still need
> to work in 10 years.

Most embedded devices don't get firmware update after a couple of years if
they ever get any in the first place. It's a tragic state of affairs, but
that's my experience at least.
Unless there is a major issue that is likely to get somebody outright
killed, your chances of getting a firmware update after a few years,
expecially after the appliance is no longer manufactured, is very close to

> I still deal with embedded systems that are 8bit processors with 32KB
> memory/storage.  Those need not apply to this discussion.

I work with guys who write firmware for new devices with such

> I have dealt with vendors that say they now charge extra for only 1GB
> memory, as their current design is 2GB.  And they call this an IoT
> board....
> There are many classes of embedded systems.  You look at what is being
> embedded in home control gateways, they either are cloud service based
> (great for captive customers and monetizing) or self-sufficient for lots
> of reasons (privacy for one).
> So I am here, because I believe in enterprise code for these systems.

What constitutes "embedded" varies depending on who you ask.
15 yers ago I laughed at a MS developer who programmed "embedded" systems
based on XP, which back then to him meant "a device with 'only' 128MB of
My modified ancient WRT56GS WiFi router has 64MB of RAM and a 32-bit MIPS
processor - a spec for which I would have had to sell most of my vital
organs 20 years go to get it in a monster workstation on my desk.

Unfortunately, as you increase the size and complexity, the probability of
problems increases exponentially.
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