Developing Embedded Linux Device Drivers (LFD435)

This course is designed to show experienced programmers how to develop device drivers for embedded Linux systems, and give them a basic understanding and familiarity with the Linux kernel.

Course Overview

Developing Embedded Linux Device Drivers is designed to show experienced programmers how to develop device drivers for Linux systems, and give them a basic understanding and familiarity with the Linux kernel.

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Upon mastering this material, you will be familiar with the different kinds of device drivers used under Linux, and have an introduction to many of the appropriate APIs to be used when writing a device driver. The labs for illustrating these concepts will all be performed on ARM hardware in order to get developers familiar with cross-compiling and developing drivers for an embedded target. The included development kit (yours to keep) will be used to illustrate testing kernel drivers using TFTP and NFSroot techniques.

While we will discuss kernel internals and algorithms we will examine deeply only the functions which are normally used in device drivers. More details on things such as scheduling, memory management, etc., belong more properly in a different, kernel-focused course.


7/20/2020 - 7/23/2020
9:00am - 5:00pm US/Eastern
$3250 Add to cart Get A Quote >
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Course Outline

  1. Introduction
    • Objectives
    • Who You Are
    • The Linux Foundation
    • Linux Foundation Training
    • Certification Programs and Digital Badging
    • Linux Distributions
    • Preparing Your System
    • Things change in Linux
    • Documentation and Links
    • Course Registration
  2. Preliminaries
    • Procedures
    • Kernel Versions
    • Kernel Sources and Use of git
    • Hardware
    • Staging Tree
  3. How to Work in OSS Projects **
    • Overview on How to Contribute Properly
    • Stay Close to Mainline for Security and Quality
    • Study and Understand the Project DNA
    • Figure Out What Itch You Want to Scratch
    • Identify Maintainers and Their Work Flows and Methods
    • Get Early Input and Work in the Open
    • Contribute Incremental Bits, Not Large Code Dumps
    • Leave Your Ego at the Door: Don’t Be Thin-Skinned
    • Be Patient, Develop Long Term Relationships, Be Helpful
  4. Cross-Development Toolchain
    • The Compiler Triplet
    • Built-in Linux Distribution Cross Compiler
    • Linaro
    • CodeSourcery
    • crosstool-ng
    • Buildroot
    • OpenEmbedded
    • Yocto Project
    • Labs
  5. Basic Target Development Board Setup
    • Objectives of the Lab
    • Labs
  6. Booting a Target Development Board over Ethernet
    • An easier way to develop
    • Objectives of the Lab
    • Labs
  7. Kernel Configuration, Compilation, Booting
    • Configuring the Kernel for the Development Board
    • Labs
  8. Device Drivers
    • Types of Devices
    • Mechanism vs. Policy
    • Avoiding Binary Blobs
    • Power Management
    • How Applications Use Device Drivers
    • Walking Through a System Call Accessing a Device
    • Error Numbers
    • printk()
    • devres: Managed Device Resources
    • Labs
  9. Modules and Device Drivers
    • The module_driver() Macros
    • Modules and Hot Plug
    • Labs
  10. Memory Management and Allocation
    • Virtual and Physical Memory
    • Memory Zones
    • Page Tables
    • kmalloc()
    • __get_free_pages()
    • vmalloc()
    • Slabs and Cache Allocations
    • Labs
  11. Character Devices
    • Device Nodes
    • Major and Minor Numbers
    • Reserving Major/Minor Numbers
    • Accessing the Device Node
    • Registering the Device
    • udev
    • dev_printk() and Associates
    • file_operations Structure
    • Driver Entry Points
    • The file and inode Structures
    • Miscellaneous Character Drivers
    • Labs
  12. Kernel Features
    • Components of the Kernel
    • User-Space vs. Kernel-Space
    • What are System Calls?
    • Available System Calls
    • Scheduling Algorithms and Task Structures
    • Process Context
    • Labs
  13. Transferring Between User and Kernel Space
    • Transferring Between Spaces
    • put(get)_user() and copy_to(from)_user()
    • Direct Transfer: Kernel I/O and Memory Mapping
    • Kernel I/O
    • Mapping User Pages
    • Memory Mapping
    • User-Space Functions for mmap()
    • Driver Entry Point for mmap()
    • Accessing Files from the Kernel
    • Labs
  14. Platform Drivers
    • What are Platform Drivers?
    • Main Data Structures
    • Registering Platform Devices
    • An Example
    • Hardcoded Platform Data
    • The New Way: Device Trees
    • Labs
  15. Device Trees
    • What are Device Trees?
    • What Device Trees Do and What They Do Not Do
    • Device Tree Syntax
    • Device Tree Walk Through
    • Device Tree Bindings
    • Device Tree support in Boot Loaders
    • Using Device Tree Data in Drivers
    • Coexistence and Conversion of Old Drivers
    • Labs
  16. Interrupts and Exceptions
    • What are Interrupts and Exceptions?
    • Exceptions
    • Asynchronous Interrupts
    • MSI
    • Enabling/Disabling Interrupts
    • What You Cannot Do at Interrupt Time
    • IRQ Data Structures
    • Installing an Interrupt Handler
    • Labs
  17. Timing Measurements
    • Kinds of Timing Measurements
    • Jiffies
    • Getting the Current Time
    • Clock Sources
    • Real Time Clock
    • Programmable Interval Timer
    • Time Stamp Counter
    • HPET
    • Going Tickless
  18. Kernel Timers
    • Inserting Delays
    • What are Kernel Timers?
    • Low Resolution Timer Functions
    • Low Resolution Timer Implementation
    • High Resolution Timers
    • Using High Resolution Timers
    • Labs
  19. ioctls
    • What are ioctls?
    • Driver Entry point for ioctls
    • Defining ioctls
    • Labs
  20. Unified Device Model and sysfs
    • Unified Device Model
    • Basic Structures
    • Real Devices
    • sysfs
    • kset and kobject examples
    • Labs
  21. Firmware
    • What is Firmware?
    • Loading Firmware
    • Labs
  22. Sleeping and Wait Queues
    • What are Wait Queues?
    • Going to Sleep and Waking Up
    • Going to Sleep Details
    • Exclusive Sleeping
    • Waking Up Details
    • Polling
    • Labs
  23. Interrupt Handling: Deferrable Functions and User Drivers
    • Top and Bottom Halves
    • Softirqs
    • Tasklets
    • Work Queues
    • New Work Queue API
    • Creating Kernel Threads
    • Threaded Interrupt Handlers
    • Interrupt Handling in User-Space
    • Labs
  24. Hardware I/O
    • Memory Barriers
    • Allocating and Mapping I/O Memory
    • Accessing I/O Memory
  25. Direct Memory Access (DMA)**
    • What is DMA?
    • DMA Directly to User
    • DMA and Interrupts
    • DMA Memory Constraints
    • DMA Masks
    • DMA API
    • DMA Pools
    • Scatter/Gather Mappings
    • Labs
  26. Memory Technology Devices (Flash Memory Filesystems)
    • What are MTD Devices?
    • NAND vs. NOR vs. eMMC
    • Driver and User Modules
    • Flash Filesystems
    • Labs
  27. USB Drivers
    • What is USB?
    • USB Topology
    • Terminology
    • Endpoints
    • Descriptors
    • USB Device Classes
    • USB Support in Linux
    • Registering USB Device Drivers
    • Moving Data
    • Example of a USB Driver
    • Labs
  28. Closing and Evaluation Survey
    • Evaluation Survey


  1. Booting the Target Development Board from uSD
    • Objectives of the Lab
    • Labs
  2. Kernel Architecture I
    • UNIX and Linux **
    • Monolithic and Micro Kernels
    • Object-Oriented Methods
    • Main Kernel Tasks
    • User-Space and Kernel-Space
  3. Kernel Programming Preview
    • Task Structure
    • Memory Allocation
    • Transferring Data between User and Kernel Spaces
    • Linked Lists
    • Jiffies
    • Labs
  4. Modules
    • What are Modules?
    • A Trivial Example
    • Compiling Modules
    • Modules vs Built-in
    • Module Utilities
    • Automatic Loading/Unloading of Modules
    • Module Usage Count
    • Module Licensing
    • Exporting Symbols
    • Resolving Symbols **
    • {D.11Labs
  5. Kernel Architecture II
    • Processes, Threads, and Tasks
    • Kernel Preemption
    • Real Time Preemption Patch
    • Labs
  6. Kernel Configuration and Compilation
    • Installation and Layout of the Kernel Source
    • Kernel Browsers
    • Kernel Configuration Files
    • Kernel Building and Makefiles
    • initrd and initramfs
    • Labs
  7. Kernel Style and General Considerations
    • Coding Style
    • Using Generic Kernel Routines and Methods
    • Making a Kernel Patch
    • sparse
    • Using likely() and unlikely()
    • Writing Portable Code, CPU, 32/64-bit, Endianness
    • Writing for SMP
    • Writing for High Memory Systems
    • Power Management
    • Keeping Security in Mind
    • {G.11Labs
  8. Race Conditions and Synchronization Methods
    • Concurrency and Synchronization Methods
    • Atomic Operations
    • Bit Operations
    • Spinlocks
    • Seqlocks
    • Disabling Preemption
    • Mutexes
    • Semaphores
    • Completion Functions
    • Read-Copy-Update (RCU)
    • {H.11Reference Counts
    • {H.12Labs
  9. Memory Addressing
    • Virtual Memory Management
    • Systems With and Without MMU and the TLB
    • Memory Addresses
    • High and Low Memory
    • Memory Zones
    • Special Device Nodes
    • NUMA
    • Paging
    • Page Tables
    • page structure
    • {I.11Labs
  10. Memory Allocation
    • Requesting and Releasing Pages
    • Buddy System
    • Slabs and Cache Allocations
    • Memory Pools
    • kmalloc()
    • vmalloc()
    • Early Allocations and bootmem()
    • Memory Defragmentation
    • Labs

** These sections may be considered in part or in whole as optional. They contain either background reference material, specialized topics, or advanced subjects. The instructor may choose to cover or not cover them depending on classroom experience and time constraints.


Knowledge of basic kernel interfaces and methods such as how to write, compile, load and unload modules, use synchronization primitives, and the basics of memory allocation and management, such as is provided by LFD420 (Kernel Internals and Development). Pre-class preparation material will be provided before class.


The way the instructor answers student questions. He is very knowledgeable and helpful.”  Mar 2020


The material, though very difficult was exactly what I needed.”  Mar 2020


The instructor has expert knowledge.”  Mar 2020


The instructor is a great communicator.”  Mar 2020


The content is very well written and difficult to find anywhere else.”  Mar 2020


A lot of gaps in my Linux understanding were filled. I have a much better appreciation of device drivers and how to build them. Instructor was exceptionally knowledgeable and a real expert.”  Mar 2020

At a Glance

Delivery Method

Live (Classroom)


  • 4 days of Instructor-led class time
  • Hands-on Labs & Assignments
  • Resources & Course Manual
  • Certificate of Completion
  • Digital Badge
  • Free Chromebook

Experience Level


Course Rating



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