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Chapter 14: bugs and clarifications

1/29/2022

 

The issues described here are minor.  The more interesting ones are bold and underlined, e.g., Clarification.

 

 

Chapter 14: Choosing an RTOS API (pg 363)

 

 

      Typo (pg 370)

o      osKernelGetSysTimerCount is stated twice:

The kernel interfaces are similar, although some timer implementations that STM has provided aren't all that intuitive, specifically osKernelGetSysTimerCount and osKernelGetSysTimerCount.

 

 

      Clarification, threads vs tasks (pg 375)

o      It appears that CMSIS-RTOS's threads are the same as FreeRTOS's tasks.

o      What threads and tasks are varies among operating systems.

o      From Mastering the FreeRTOS Real Time Kernel,

In FreeRTOS, each thread of execution is called a ‘task’.  There is no consensus on terminology within the embedded community, but I prefer ‘task’ to ‘thread,’ as thread can have a more specific meaning in some fields of application. 

o      Linux threads are different than CMSIS-RTOS's threads:

      https://www.thegeekstuff.com/2013/11/linux-process-and-threads/

o      In the IBM mainframe's OS, its tasks are different than FreeRTOS's tasks

      https://www.ibm.com/docs/en/zos/2.2.0?topic=subtask-attach-attachx-description

 

 

      Typo (pg 379)

o      The step "5. Start the scheduler:" should be after Step 10.  Steps 2-4 are concerned with setting-up the GreenTask, and Steps 6-10 are concerned with setting-up the RedTask.

o      Also, the paragraph shown below is after Step 5.  It's not part of Step 5, but the indentation incorrectly implies it is part of Step 5:

"main_taskCreation_CMSIS_RTOSV2.c also contains an example of starting a task with statically allocated memory...". 

o      That paragraph is concerned with Step 6.  The same applies to the two paragraphs following that paragraph.  It seems those three paragraphs should be aligned on the left margin to indicate they are not part of Step 5, or they should be made Step 6.

 

 

      Clarification, CMSIS-RTOS and the underlying RTOS  (pg 379)

o      Problem:

      The following two paragraphs are under Step 5 (though, they should not be, as just described).  The paragraphs describe how the TCB is configured, however, some rewording and additional info would help clarify.

main_taskCreation_CMSIS_RTOSV2.c also contains an example of starting a task with statically allocated memory for the task control block and task stack.

 

Static allocation requires computing the sizes of RTOS control blocks (such as StaticTask_t) that are specific to the underlying RTOS. To reduce the coupling of code to the underlying RTOS, an additional header file should be used to encapsulate all RTOS-specific sizes. In this example, this file is named RTOS_Dependencies.h.

 

o      Attempted clarification:

 

RedTask is configured next.  It shows how a task can use statically-allocated memory for the task control block (TCB) and the task stack.  It also shows an example of a dependency between CMSIS-RTOS and the underlying RTOS, and how to manage such dependencies.


For the TCB, the underlying RTOS's TCB will be stored in statically-allocated memory.  So, the static allocation must specify the size of the underlying RTOS's TCB.  In main_taskCreation_CMSIS_RTOSV2.c, the declaration for the TCB storage is:

uint8_t RedTask_TCB[TCB_SIZE];

 

(In the code, that declaration's comments are incorrect, as described below.)

The storage size is specified by the macro TCB_SIZE.  By using a macro, the program does not have a direct dependency on FreeRTOS.

 

The definition of TCB_SIZE is shown below.  StaticTask_t is the FreeRTOS TCB, and it's defined in FreeRTOS.h.

 
#define TCB_SIZE (sizeof(StaticTask_t))

TCB_SIZE is defined in RTOS_Dependencies.h.  That header-file was created by the book's author, along with the other code he developed for Chapter 14.

 

RTOS_Dependencies.h is used for the CMSIS-RTOS dependencies on the underlying RTOS (here, it's FreeRTOS).  A header-file like this is useful when porting the application program to another RTOS.  The header-file can be copied, and updated with the specific values for the other RTOS.

 

 

      Bug in the code comments (main_taskCreation_CMSIS_RTOSV2.c)

o      Part of this code-comment is incorrect:

/**

 * since we don't want this code to have direct dependencies on FreeRTOS.h,

 * we can't use sizeof(StaticTask_t) directly - instead TCB_SIZE is declared in

 * Nucleo_F767ZI_Init.h and defined in Nucleo_F767ZI_Init.c

**/

uint8_t RedTask_TCB[TCB_SIZE];

 

o      The code-comment should say:

/**

 * The FreeRTOS TCB is StaticTask_t.

 * Since we don't want the present program to have direct dependencies on

   FreeRTOS.h, we can't use sizeof(StaticTask_t) directly - instead TCB_SIZE is

   used. TCB_SIZE is a macro, and it is defined in RTOS_Dependencies.h

**/

 

 

      Clarification, POSIX installation (pg 381)

o      The steps shown describe how to install POSIX with the example program.  The text incorrectly implies that these steps will need to be performed by the reader.  The example program comes with POSIX already installed.

 

 

      Clarification, "least common denominator" (pg 388)

o      The sentence below seems to be misworded:

When writing code that is intended to be run across multiple targets, a least common denominator approach will need to be taken – be sure to only use the smallest number of features commonly available across all target platforms.

o      This clause appears to be misworded, "use the smallest number of features commonly available across all target platforms".  It is intended to say, "use features commonly available across all target platforms ".

o      In general, I think the phrase "least common denominator" is often a misnomer, as a metaphor.  The metaphor is based on a mathematical concept, but the correlation to it is often unclear.  Here, it seems that "greatest common denominator" is intended, i.e., the largest set of features that are available on all of the targets.