Wilderness Labs brings the Meadow.IoT platform to Embedded Linux

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Wilderness Labs releases Meadow.Linux, enabling 10MM+ .NET developers to rapidly build secure, enterprise-grade IoT solutions on millions of in-market Embedded-Linux hardware devices using Meadow.Foundation and .NET languages such as C#.

With Meadow, we really asked ourselves at every step of the way if a particular hardware API behaved a certain way because it should, or if a hardware engineer back in 1972 coded it that way because at the time it was the easiest way to expose some silicon feature.

Wilderness Labs, the creator of Meadow, a secure, production-IoT platform for mainstream developers which runs full .NET Core applications on embedded devices, recently took the lid off their latest offering, Meadow.Linux. Meadow Linux enables developers to use the streamlined Meadow hardware platform APIs, Visual Studio and VS Code tooling, and massive Meadow.Foundation driver library on embedded-Linux systems such as Raspberry Pi and Nvidia’s Jetson series of boards, to build sophisticated IoT solution in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional technologies, and securely maintain those devices in the field.

Meadow.Linux builds on previous Wilderness Labs work that brought the open-source, .NET development platform to embedded devices, by enabling full .NET applications to run on microcontrollers, and subsequently launched the Meadow F7 companion hardware modules based on STMicroelectronics’ flagship low-energy STM32F7 microcontroller.

The .NET development platform enables developers to write applications using memory-safe languages such as C#, F#, and VB.NET and run them on nearly any platform, including: Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, macOS, and now tiny, energy-efficient microcontrollers. With an ecosystem of over 10MM developers, .NET powers much of the critical infrastructure in the world and is a top choice for mission critical applications where security and productivity are key drivers in platform choice. Because of .NET’s inherent managed memory-safety, it eliminates the majority of security bugs found in unmanaged platforms, where 2/3rds of security bugs are attributed to unsafe memory management. Additionally, by bringing a modern, managed language to the embedded space, Wilderness Labs solves an additional problem; the acute shortage of embedded developers; by enabling mainstream .NET developers to create hardware solutions.

After working in stealth for nearly two years, Wilderness Labs unwrapped Meadow in 2019 and ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, which was funded in mere hours and went on to beat their goal by 500%, and then immediately launched the Meadow platform public beta. Since then, a constant succession of releases has now put it close to v1.0 and being production ready in ‘22Q2. There are a slew of commercial customers marching alongside them, waiting for the opportunity to ship Meadow-powered products to production.

Bringing .NET to IoT and embedded hardware is a move reminiscent of Xamarin bringing .NET to mobile, which is unsurprising given that Wilderness Labs' CEO, Bryan Costanich, was an executive at Xamarin, and brought a number of Xamarin team members to Wilderness Labs after Xamarin was acquired by Microsoft in 2016.

With this latest foray, they’ve expanded up the computing stack into the embedded-Linux ecosystem where use-cases such as realtime machine-vision require the heavy-duty processing power found in devices such as the Nvidia Jetson AGX Xavier board which has 512 GPU cores and full hardware-accelerated video pipelines.

By bringing Meadow to these boards, developers get best-in-class hardware APIs, as well as full support for Meadow.Foundation, which has over a hundred drivers and several industrial control libraries making hardware development plug-and-play, and drastically reducing product development time.

When these solutions are ready to go to production, they will be fully supported by Meadow.Cloud alongside their microcontroller-based siblings, enabling secure application deployment out of the factory, secure Over-the-Air (OtA) updates, crash-reporting, and more, which will not only reduce go-to-market complexity, but provide touchless maintenance of devices in the field.

Meadow.Linux is 100% free and open source, released under the Apache 2.0 license, and offers a huge benefit to developers as a highly consistent experience, providing ease-of-use across hardware computing form-factors, and providing a seamless path to production deployment.

According to Wilderness Labs’ blog post The Inside Story of Meadow.Linux, it began as an experiment while Chris Tacke, the creator and lead of Meadow.Linux, was working on a vehicle sustainment architecture for the DoD. “The choice for me became, do I port the Meadow APIs to Linux, or try to use the hodge-podge and/or nonexistent drivers for the peripherals I was trying to use from .NET IoT Core?” remarked Chris. “In the end, it was easier to get the Meadow APIs running on Linux and use the high quality drivers available in Meadow.Foundation than it was to try and fix the IoT Core story. This also meant that I get to share my .NET code across all platforms, as well, since Meadow is the only way to run full .NET code on embedded devices,” he said. “And now, getting access to the Meadow APIs on these devices is just as easy; simply add the Nuget package,” referring to the de facto package publishing platform for .NET, Nuget.org

“DotNET IoT Core owes its roots to the Windows IoT platforms and it never really felt like it fit well on embedded systems,” remarked Wilderness Labs’ CEO, Bryan Costanich. “With Meadow, we really asked ourselves at every step of the way if a particular hardware API behaved a certain way because it should, or if a hardware engineer back in 1972 coded it that way because at the time it was the easiest way to expose some silicon feature. In the end, what we came away with was fundamentally simpler and easier to use than existing frameworks. In particular, we were able to utilize a lot of the modern .NET runtime features, not available to other efforts” he remarked. “And with Meadow, because you’re using full .NET, you get to use all the modern Nuget packages you know and love,” he concluded.

While Meadow.Linux is still in alpha, it’s progressing very quickly, and includes support for the most common hardware platforms and the most common IOs such as GPIO, I2C and SPI.

“The future direction and velocity of Meadow.Linux is dependent on customer and project needs, so if you are considering a Linux-based SBC for your next project, and have .NET developer resources, we encourage you to try it out, provide feedback, and even contribute,” posited Tacke.

Founded in 2016, by former Xamarin executives and engineers, with a mission to make hardware development as fast and easy as web or mobile, Wilderness Labs is the creator of Meadow; Secure, Production-IoT for Every Developer. Meadow enables mainstream developers to create sophisticated embedded-IoT solutions in a fraction of the time and cost as traditional approaches, and provides organizations with the ability to securely manage those devices in the field at scale with Meadow.Cloud. For more information see http://www.wildernesslabs.co, for inquiries, please contact press@wildernesslabs.co.

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