What are the Advantages of Using Yocto Embedded Linux and Qt on Panel PCs and HMIs?

The Yocto Project (YP) is an open source initiative that offers tools and templates for crafting custom Linux-based systems for embedded devices, servers, or virtual environments, regardless of hardware. It allows you to customize every aspect of the Linux distribution, from the kernel configuration to the packages included in the root file system. This level of customization is essential for panel PCs, which often have unique hardware features and are often used in industrial automation, human-machine interface (HMI), and other applications. Yocto Project can help you create a tailored Linux distribution that meets the specific requirements of your Panel PCs. It is supported by key platform providers like Intel, ARM, NXP and more.  

While Yocto is a tool for building custom Linux-based operating systems from the ground up, Qt is a framework for developing graphical interfaces (GUIs) and applications. They can work harmoniously in embedded systems built for Panel PCs and Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs).

As the demand for more functionality and touch panel interfaces efficiency in HMIs grows, the configuration of these systems becomes increasingly complex. The Qt framework is highlighted as the optimal solution for creating panel PCs and HMIs of varying sizes and complexities. Many industries, like Automotive, Automation and Medical are adopting Qt for embedded user interface software development. Its key advantages include open-source and commercial licensing options, robust cross-platform support, rapid prototyping capabilities, a thriving community, and continuous improvement based on developer feedback. 

yocto project linux

Yocto and Qt Usage for Touch Panels and HMIs

Using Yocto Project with Qt for embedded systems like Panels PCs and HMIs offers several advantages, including:

Customization: Yocto Project allows you to create highly customized Linux distributions tailored to your specific embedded device. This means you can strip down unnecessary components, optimize your hardware, and include only what is required for your panel PC or HMI application. This level of customization can lead to improved performance and resource utilization.

Cross-Platform Compatibility: Qt is a cross-platform framework, which means your touch panel or HMI application can be developed and tested on your development machine (e.g., a desktop) and then deployed on your embedded target. This cross-platform compatibility simplifies development and debugging.

Rich UI Capabilities: Qt provides a wide range of tools and libraries for creating visually appealing and feature-rich user interfaces for touch panel applications. Whether you need traditional desktop-style interfaces (Qt Widgets),modern, touch-friendly designs (Qt Quick), or web interfaces (QtWebEngine), Qt has you covered.

Performance Optimization: You can optimize the performance of your HMI application by fine-tuning the Yocto-built Linux distribution to include only necessary components. Additionally, Qt allows for hardware acceleration, ensuring efficient use of the embedded device’s resources.

Scalability: Yocto and Qt are scalable, meaning you can use them for a wide range of embedded systems, from lower power ARM processor computers to more powerful Intel processor systems with full graphic support. This flexibility is essential if you plan to use the same HMI software across multiple devices.

Security: Yocto allows you to incorporate security features into your Linux distribution, such as package signing, encryption, and access control. Qt also provides tools for developing secure applications. This is critical for panel PCs and HMIs, especially those used in sensitive industries like healthcare or industrial automation.

Overall, Yocto Embedded Linux paired with Qt, is a versatile and powerful framework for developing efficient, user-friendly HMIs or panel PCs across diverse applications. Its cross-platform capabilities, touchscreen support, rich UI features, customization options, and scalability streamline development, making it ideal for a wide range of panel PC-based systems.

Real Life Applications Using Yocto and Qt

NXP Semiconductors: NXP has leveraged Yocto Project to create custom Linux distributions tailored to their Applications Processors products. These custom Linux distributions are optimized for NXP’s hardware and often include specialized drivers and features, such as machine learning, Qt framework and secure services.  Estone’s PPC-4310 is one of the panel PC systems based on NXP’s i.MX product family.

Medical Devices: According to Qt Group, “90% of the top Global MedTech companies build their products with Qt.” The Qt framework is complied with FDA, CEN, ISO, and IEC standards and is applicable for developing FDA or EU Class II or Class III products such as surgical robots, infusion pumps, patient monitoring systems or medical imaging applications.

Estone Tech is Your Embedded Computing Partner

Our embedded boards are a solid starting point for building industrial Panel PCs and HMIs, with OS support for Yocto Embedded Linux, Android, Debian and more. See all our boards here.