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Old 10-24-2009, 03:21 PM   #1
TobsterUK
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Linux newbie (somewhat) setting up an OS for custom in car PC.


Hi everyone.

I'm planning on doing an in-car computer project and need a suitably configured OS.

Basically the computer will have to do nothing other than run some custom software that interfaces with the vehicle's systems via a USB FDTI board and render to an 8" touch screen via OpenGL. User input will be via the said touchscreen, and audio output will eventually come into the equation.

The target vehicle(s) will be extensively modified for the project, and I'm hoping the software will eventually override features such as the immobiliser, so an extremely fast boot time will be essential.

I have one of those Via C7 fully integrated mini ITX motherboards, much of the onboard hardware will be useless besides two USB ports and a SATA port, so could be completely removed from the kernel if necessary to achieve a fast boot. If some BIOS hacking is required I'd happily look at that too.

I'm a recently graduated software engineer, and can comfortably use Linux (I'm using openSUSE for developing the software) but don't have a clue where to start with the OS; if I should be downloading and modifying an existing distro or trying to build one from scratch somehow?

Thanks in advance for anyone's advice.
 
Old 10-24-2009, 03:32 PM   #2
chackercon
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I would get any distro that you are good with. you can modify it to do whatever you want. That is the nice part about Linux. also you should look into a book called Car PC Hacks Tips & Tools for Geeking Your Ride. It could be a good point to start looking.
 
Old 10-24-2009, 03:56 PM   #3
TobsterUK
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Book looks good and has been ordered, thanks for the tip!

Where do I start with low level customisation of Linux & it's kernel?
 
Old 10-25-2009, 05:26 AM   #4
salasi
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Some things to consider:


Quote:
Originally Posted by TobsterUK View Post
Hi everyone.

The target vehicle(s) will be extensively modified for the project, and I'm hoping the software will eventually override features such as the immobiliser, so an extremely fast boot time will be essential.
If you override the imobiliser you have provided one or potentially two ways for a miscreant to steal the vehicle. this may or may not be a concern right now, but you should think about it.

For fast boot times, tghere are a number of interesting projects going on (moblin? or is that Intel-specific?). If all else fails, consider booting from flash. there may also be mechanical reasons for considering flash to be a better option than a traditional hard drive, but they don't come in mega sizes, which, again, may or may not be an issue.

Quote:
but don't have a clue where to start with the OS; if I should be downloading and modifying an existing distro or trying to build one from scratch somehow?
Your first question should be "how little do I have to do?" Ie, what is necessary to meet the requirements?

You should also look at things like emdebian (and any other embedded distros) to see whether, for what you want, it would be beter to start with a minimal, non-desktop, distro and add on, eg, the display driver, or whther you want to start with an orthodox desktop and cut things out.

The other question you should be asking yourself is what you intend to do about power consumption and powering on and off your device. If this is intended for a practical vehicle, you can't just go leaving a device consuming, eg, an amp in a low-ish power mode or the battery will go quickly (maybe you have an extra battery...) and you can't just switch power on and off with the ignition, or you will corrupt the hard disk (/other permanent memory). So what is acceptable in your application that won't kill the battery?
 
Old 10-25-2009, 12:14 PM   #5
TobsterUK
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I wasn't very clear about the immobiliser; what I meant was the software would provide an (or compliment an existing) immobiliser via a PIN entry interface or similar.

That's pretty far off from now, and would also be the most significant factor for the vehicle's power considerations since the system would have to boot by itself (plipped doorlocks?). Initially, the system will play music and display some vehicle telemetry; so a conventional on/off will suffice.

It looks like a window managerless OS of some form would be appropriate; can anyone recommend an OpenGL (or other API) implementation that doesn't need a window instance handle?
 
  


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