Thursday, January 3, 2008

Long way to go: MCU Development without Windows

ICD2 debugging is one of the things which does not work well under Linux yet. Piklab project is the trying to bridge the gap but it will take some time for it to be good enough. So right now people have to run Windows (natively or under VMware or similar virtulization technology).
I am not so sure if petition like this is really useful or not. Main MCU vendors only offer software based on Windows and this will not change anytime soon.

Still Atmel is offering free GNU toolchains (GCC based) and IDEs (Eclipse based, support debugging) for AVR32, under Windows and Linux.

So I am hoping Microchip could learn a bit from Atmel and try to do the same for PIC32. Take note Microchip C30 and C32 compiler are both based on GCC.

There are some third party tools under Linux for PIC development. For example, HiTech offers PICC/PICC18/dsPICC under Linux and it now adding support for ICD2 debugging. HiTech tools are not cheap though compared to Microchip provided tools.

There are quite some good ARM MCU tools under Linux. So that is one direction to go. Still the most popular tools (from Keil and IAR, etc) are still Windows only.

It seems there is still a long way to go for Linux to be the productive environment for many electronics engineer (hardware and firmware).

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