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Selecting Linux Distros for FPGA Design

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Linux are powerful and Open Source O.S. Most of FPGA Design Tools as VIVADO (from Xilinx) or Quartus (from Intel Altera) offers strong FPGA Design Support's. Many project which need embedded processing (Image/Video processing with Processor and FPGA) need to build at Linux Distro's. Mostly prefered Linux Distro's for FPGA Design are RedHat, Ubuntu and Centos.
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Selecting Linux Distros for FPGA Design

  1. 1. Selecting Linux Distro’s for FPGA Design Presentation by Digitronix Nepal Web: www.digitronixnepal.com E-Mail: digitronixnepali@gmail.com Selecting Linux Distro’s for FPGA Design by Digitronix Nepal 1
  2. 2. Best suited Linux distro for hardware/software development Main Field of interest would be - HDL (VHDL mainly) - FPGA/CPLD (synthesis, simulation etc) - CSystemC - Tcl scripting - network hardware applications development (FPGA-based network processors i.e.) Key (or nice to have at least) system features would be: - large, stable and willing to help community (especially the large developer part of which would be welcomed) - support for wide spectrum of development tools (proprietary and open source) - bunch of docs, tutorials, guides, hints for devel's As far as my online research went, I've manage to shorten it down to 3 favorites: - Debian - Fedora/CentOS - Gentoo Selecting Linux Distro’s for FPGA Design by Digitronix Nepal 2
  3. 3. Debian • Best for using s/w for other distros • Oldest and popular linux distro • Have large community: http://forums.fedoraforum.org Selecting Linux Distro’s for FPGA Design by Digitronix Nepal 3
  4. 4. Fedora • Bleeding edge stuff • Have large community: http://forums.debian.net Selecting Linux Distro’s for FPGA Design by Digitronix Nepal 4
  5. 5. Gentoo • Takes more time to install and set up Selecting Linux Distro’s for FPGA Design by Digitronix Nepal 5
  6. 6. CentOS • Highly preferred on scientific and research projects CentOS, which is leveraged from Fedora, which, in turn, is a modified Red Hat Mint interface is more tailored to the common user (eventually an EE) than CentOS, but CentOS is very well regarded by system administrators running servers, because CentOS strenght is security (so they claim...). So if the goal is deploying servers, perhaps the choice shoud be CentOS. Selecting Linux Distro’s for FPGA Design by Digitronix Nepal 6
  7. 7. What are the pros and cons in using the CentOS Linux distribution? The pros are that it is compatible with Red Hat Enterprise so anything that works on one will work on the other and the administration techniques are the same, and that it inherits the same long term support with bug and security fixes backported so they don't change behavior. If you get something working, you can expect it to keep working for many years with no more effort than an occasional 'yum update' to the system. The cons are that like RHEL it is more server than desktop oriented and as the system ages it does not get many new features. If you are starting soon, it might be worth waiting for version 6.0 which isn't released yet but will be a new cycle starting with fairly current packages. In the way of pros, not much. It is free and it is broken Just recently, I needed to install "Asterisk" and "Vicidial". CentOS is still on Perl 5.8 and cpan is seriously unusable. Ended up using Debian. RedHat is also making the use of RHEL more difficult. More to put the screws to Oracle and Novell rather than CentOS but in the future, RHEL6, there probably will be significant delays in CentOS releases as the reverse engineering will be a lot more complex.. Selecting Linux Distro’s for FPGA Design by Digitronix Nepal 7
  8. 8. RedHat Entreprise Linux • FPGA Design tools supported SUSE Linux • FPGA design tools supported A note for EEs (which is the core of the question). Several tools very important for EE are supported by the vendors only for some Linux distros. For instance, the Xilinx tools for programming FPGAs are supported only for "Red Hat Enterprise Linux" (RHEL) and for "SUSE Linux Enterprise" (SLES). The exact same distros are supported by Synopsys and by Cadence, the most important and popular CAD vendors of EE tools for IC design, simulation, verification, etc. Altera, another important FPGA vendor, supports RHEL. Xilinx and Altera have free tools targeting students and instructors, and sometimes these can be installed in Fedora because this distro is a modified RHEL (consult user forums to check). But RHEL and SLES are paid Linux distros, which have support from their companies, and so if the goal is to install a professional workstation for electronic circuit design (BTW, the software from the CAD companies can cost tens of thousands of USD per year...) obviously RHEL or SLES should be the winning choices (and beware of which versions of the OS are supported...). Selecting Linux Distro’s for FPGA Design by Digitronix Nepal 8
  9. 9. Selecting Linux Distro’s for FPGA Design by Digitronix Nepal 9
  10. 10. PetaLinux from Xilinx The PetaLinux Tools offers everything necessary to customize, build and deploy Embedded Linux solutions on Xilinx processing systems. Tailored to accelerate design productivity, the solution works with the Xilinx hardware design tools to ease the development of Linux systems for Zynq® UltraScale+™ MPSoC, Zynq®-7000 All Programmable SoCs, and MicroBlaze™. PetaLinux Tools (host) PetaLinux tools eases the development of Linux-based products; all the way from system boot to execution with the following tools: •Command-line interfaces •Application, Device Driver & Library generators and development templates •Bootable system Image builder •Debug agents •GCC tools •Integrated QEMU Full System Simulator •Automated tools •Support for Xilinx System Debugger With these tools developers can customize the boot loader, Linux kernel, or Linux applications. They can add new kernels, device drivers, applications, libraries, and boot and test software stacks on the included full system simulator (QEMU) or on physical hardware via network or JTAG. Selecting Linux Distro’s for FPGA Design by Digitronix Nepal 10
  11. 11. PetaLinux from Xilinx Reference Linux Distribution PetaLinux provides a complete, reference Linux distribution that has been integrated and tested for Xilinx devices. The reference Linux distribution includes both binary and source Linux packages including: •Boot loader •CPU-optimized kernel •Linux applications & libraries •C & C++ application development •Debug •Thread and FPU support •Integrated web server for easy remote management of network and firmware configurations Selecting Linux Distro’s for FPGA Design by Digitronix Nepal 11

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