A live-DVD can be placed in your computer,  and on restart will boot an operating system that just uses RAM and the DVD drive.  The hard disk remains untouched.

This live-DVD will enable you to develop software for Atmel microprocessors, PIC microprocessors,  Linux,  and almost any computer including Microsoft operating systems.  It contains a large number of GPL tools,  including very useful but difficult to configure tools all setup and ready to go.  There are a number of example projects which can act as the basis of your own projects.

The live-DVD is perfect for developing on the Open-USB-IO development board which hooks up to a USB port on any PC and provides digital IO,  analogue IO,  motor drivers,  and a standalone ATMEGA32 microprocessor development board.  See  www.pjradcliffe.wordpress.com for details and see here how to purchase it.

The disk is based on Ubuntu 10.4,  a Linux distribution which is remarkable easy to use  even for Windows users who have not used Linux before.  It will not use your hard drive just your DVD drive and RAM but if you chose then the whole thing can be installed to your hard drive for faster operation.

Key features of the live-DVD include-

  • Atmel development tool chain with sample projects that can serve as the basis of your own projects.
    This includes the new USB bootloader,  and code and examples for Co-USB which makes it very simple for you to add your code to the existing USB interface code so both run at the same time.  This allows you to debug your own code with a powerful symbolic debugger and communicate with the PC.
  • VMLAB for simulating Atmel microprocessors and simple hardware attachments such as switches,  resistors, capacitors, LEDs, OPAMPs,  and serial data connections.
  • MPLAB + Hitech C-lite for PIC development.
  • C and C++ compilation and debugging for Linux with gcc/g++.
  • Cross platform development for python, perl, php, java and more.
  • Eclipse IDE set up for Qt Designer 4, C,C++, Perl, Python, & Atmel microprocessor cross compilation.
    See the KDE menu options More Applications->Development and check the various submenus.
  • Example programs that can directly access parallel and serial ports for general IO control.  Yes Windows XP onward blocks IO access but you can get to these ports quite easily using Linux.  Many very interesting projects can be made this way,  for example see http://linuxgazette.net/118/chong.html
  • Various electronics programs including gEDA and kicad (complete schematic to PCB tool), and oregano (a schematic SPICE simulator). Octave, a competitor to Matlab, is also installed.
  • Look in the menu under More Applications->Development for such tools as Mono C# IDE, and ArgoUML to draw UML and generate code.
  • There are lots of web applications such as Apache web server and MySQL to give a LAMP combination, Kompozer and Quanta for web editing. Open Office is installed and is also very good at editing html.
  • A large range of networking tools and servers.
  • Huge amounts of sample code,  help information,  and useful documents.
  • To see everything installed start the Synaptics package manager (the black and red S in the menu bar). It will inform you there are some 2094 packages installed from some 31169 available. You can list these, see by category, or search by name.

Known Issues

No operating system is perfect!  Known issues include-

  • A very few laptops will not boot unless ACPI is turned off,  see https://help.ubuntu.com/community/BootOptions.
  • One user has reported that the live-DVD boots to a text login screen.  In this case login is user “user” with password “password”, omitting the quotes of course.  You may also login as “root” and “password”.
    To start the GUI type “startx”.