This is a serious enquiry, sorry if it comes across as a bit of a rant.
I?ve done two projects over the last 6 months, both with a similar target end result, a real time device for processing MIDI messages from musical equipment. The first implementation used an HCS12, it took just over a month to stage the hardware, and to prototype and complete the software from the ground up. That included a basic RTOS with multilevel IRQ processing, a rudimentary file system and transfer through a serial connection, and interfacing with a couple of on-bus and SPI devices. The final system came together with only the usual minor bugs, rapidly stabilised and has been performing faultlessly.
For the second implementation I decided to use an embedded Linux device with a file system on flash, because it provided proper file support and a heap more RAM for holding large sequencing arrays. In 3 months, all I have is a bricked platform, high blood pressure and snippets of trial software that don?t work. The huge masses of system documentation, much of it cryptic to my eyes, have made gaining any sort of understanding a real struggle. Simple test snippets behaved in unexpected ways due to obscure complexities within the SBC. Even the system vendor support was unable to give clear answers on some aspects of the I/O that were important to me. There were questions on latency that were never clarified, that could have torpedoed the entire exercise if they?d emerged as issues.
Aside from the obvious observation, which I can?t disagree with, that I?m a boy taking on a mans job, I?d be interested in any observations on the following:
What are the determining factors that people use in deciding whether to use a naked (in a software sense) SBC or one with a sophisticated OS onboard?
Do people get to a point where it?s easier to do any embedded job with a platform with a sophisticated OS? Or does the overhead always need to be factored into choice of platform?
Are todays high-end SBCs maybe just a transitional stage on the way to something that?s more ?plugnplay??