Automated Reduction of the Memory Footprint of the Linux Kernel
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26-12-2010, 10:54 PM

The limited built-in configurability of Linux can lead to expensive code size overhead when it is used in the embedded systems application. This problems can be overcome by the use of the link-time compaction that exploit the previously well known fixed runtime environment of many embedded systems. The ARM XScale and i386 platforms are used as the test platforms and with the proposed method, upto 16% reduction in the kernel memory footprint can be achieved. The proposed techniques can be implemented easily with simple additions to existing binary rewriters. The code-compression techniques are used to reduce the seemingly unnecessary code that remains in the kernel. Combining both these techniques, upto 23% reduction in the memory footprint can be achieved for the for the i386 platform and upto 28% in the case of the ARM platform.When we combine the compaction and compression techniques , there arises a code size growth problem in the case of the ARM platform. This problem has also been addressed in the article.

Until recently, embedded system developers had to write the operating system from the scratch or a proprietary kernel had to be purchased. The former method causes a long time-to-market but it provides a complete control over the system. Obtaining a proprietary kernel license for the purpose may have less control over the kernel but the time to market is reduced considerably.
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