Why you need to reboot your fridge...

Inspired by this thread.

I design “embedded controllers.”
These are the small computer systems which are now ubiquitous. Typically, I write my code as “bare metal” - there is no operating system, and I try to even avoid using third-party libraries, so that I am in 100% (or as close as possible) control of the operation of the computer. The goal is NO REBOOTS.
Recently, I have ported one of my bare-metal systems to a Linux platform. This brings a lot of useful improvements, but it also is now just a program running inside a complete operating system, with all the attendant problems. I got a shock the other day when I was trying to reduce the footprint of the disc image, and I made this graphical representation of the files on the disc. The little highlighted area in the center is my software - everything else is part of the OS. Granted, there’s probably 20% useless files that could be deleted, but, still - that’s a lot of crap! And, things that can go wrong, and require a re-boot.

The graphic.

I don’t have any desire to put anybody out of a job, but aren’t there better places than a fridge to even HAVE an embedded controller?

Regarding no reboots, my father had a small fridge that was in continuous use for more than 50 years, probably nearly 60. I guess such a design has long since been rejected by manufacturers - obsolete, right? :slight_smile:

People expect their refrigerator to remind them when to change the water filter.

My fridge shuts off the circulator fan when I open the door. I guess one could just add a pole to the switch that turns on the light…

I have no idea what it monitors, but mine also has some built-in-testing that it can report to the manufacturer when I hold a phone up to its little speaker.

Not really. If there is a button or LED of any kind on a device, there is a microcontroller. Microcontrollers are cheap and reliable, and much easier to work with than old-school discrete logic systems.

Running Linux on your fridge is an abomination. Though I doubt we’ll have a choice in the long run. Tiny ARM systems that can run a full OS are almost as cheap as microcontrollers these days. Development is easier on full platforms, especially if you need networking and the like. It won’t be long before every appliance in your kitchen runs some sort of real OS.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m having a Where’s Waldo in trying to find the highlighted portion.

@ pdhenry: I’d trade all those features for a fridge that’s advanced so far beyond the 1930s that it will consistently and reliably keep the food cold for 100 years with zero attention and zero maintenance. I’d be happy to pay what you paid for the fancy functions, some of which I note you still can’t quite identify. :slight_smile:

A few of the squares in the middle of the image have white outlines. That’s the highlighted area.