Quite often people ask me: “Why should I use the OpenBLT bootloader, instead of another bootloader”? For example: a closed source commercial bootloader or a bootloader that is sometimes present in a micrcontroller’s boot ROM. The goal of this article is to address this question and to answer it convincingly enough for you to consider the OpenBLT bootloader for your current and future projects.
Honestly, I have no idea if the OpenBLT bootloader is the best one out there, but I will claim that the ecosystem around the OpenBLT bootloader project offers something unique that currently cannot be matched by any other bootloader: The actively developed OpenBLT bootloader combines a quality product, with all the freedom that open source offers, backed by a company offering professional engineering services.
The project has been active for almost seven years now and it is consistently growing in popularity. Thousands of users have scrutinized the code and provided their feedback. Internally, Feaser applies industry accepted quality procedures, including: coding standards, static code checking, configuration management, and issue tracking. Extra effort is given to code comments and documentation, making sure that everyone can understand and work with the source code.
Open Hub is an independent website that analyzes open source projects. Here’s what they concluded: “The OpenBLT bootloader is mostly written in C with a very well-commented source code and it has a well established, mature codebase”.
One of the benefits of open source is that, well…it is open source. You are free to evaluate and test the bootloader to your heart’s content, before making the decision of integrating the OpenBLT bootloader into your product. Thanks to the dual licensing model, you can even use the OpenBLT bootloader in your proprietary closed source product, after you purchased a commercial license. Income generated from commercial licenses further support the OpenBLT project, as it allows Feaser to dedicate more resources to the development and maintenance of the OpenBLT project.
You are free to tinker and customize the bootloader to make it fit your specific needs. This does not only apply to the bootloader, but also the accompanying PC tools, such as MicroBoot and BootCommander. Thanks to the OpenBLT Host Library (LibOpenBLT), these PC tools are cross-platform. It doesn’t matter if you prefer Windows or Linux, it just works. Don’t like the PC tools? Then take LibOpenBLT and quickly develop your own tool in the programming language of your choice.
Switching to a different microcontroller family or manufacturer? Not a problem. The bootloader can be ported to any micocontroller and chances are that your new microcontroller is already supported.
Critics of open source software argue that it can be risky. Who is there to contact in case something doesn’t work or goes wrong? Not a problem for the OpenBLT project. The OpenBLT project is backed by Feaser. Feaser is a 100% committed to the OpenBLT project and assisting its users. Services are offered for: getting the bootloader running on your custom hardware, training your engineering team, answering support questions, all the way to customizing the bootloader to your needs. Commonly requested customizations are developed and offered as add-on modules, resulting in time savings and consequently costs.
Hopefully this article was able to convince you that the OpenBLT bootloader is not just another bootloader, but something quite unique. Feel free to download the latest stable release and take it for a spin. What it is that made you decide to go for the OpenBLT bootloader?