Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows Gets Continuous Release Update Branch

Microsoft this week announced a preview of a "continuous release" software update branch for its Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows solution.

Azure IoT Edge for Linux on Windows, dubbed "EFLOW" by Microsoft, is a way to use Linux virtual machine processes with Windows- and Azure-based processes for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. EFLOW was previewed in January of last year and reached the "general availability" (GA) commercial-release stage in June.

The new continuous release software update branch, currently at preview, is a new "stable" update model for EFLOW. It delivers "new features and capabilities that are in the latest stable release," based on IoT Edge version 1.2, Microsoft explained. It installs the latest Azure IoT Edge version and updates Microsoft's CBL-Mariner Linux implementation that's used with it. The continuous release software branch also adds "Microsoft Defender for IoT integration."

Microsoft also has an existing long-term support "stable" software update branch that's based on IoT Edge version 1.1. The long-term support branch doesn't get new feature updates and is "supported until December 3, 2022 to match the .NET Core 3.1 release lifecycle," Microsoft explained in this "Release Notes" document.

Microsoft created EFLOW for organizations having Windows expertise, but needing to use Linux processes for IoT operations even while lacking Linux expertise. EFLOW lets such organizations run a Linux virtual machine in Azure IoT Edge without having to set up a separate Linux server.

EFLOW works with Azure IoT Edge, which is Microsoft's solution that connects devices running the Windows IoT operating systems to Azure services for things like data analytics or anomaly detection for external devices in the field. Azure IoT Edge is part of Microsoft's Azure IoT Hub services.

Microsoft had described EFLOW back when it reached the GA stage as being "a lightweight Linux VM [virtual machine]" based on CBL-Mariner, which is Microsoft's own Linux distro that's used internally. EFLOW was said to include "Azure IoT Edge to facilitate easy integration with the cloud and deployment of workloads from Azure IoT Hub to Windows devices on the edge."

At GA, Microsoft added support in EFLOW for embedded hardware elements such as "TPM [Trusted Platform Module], serial, and Nvidia T4 and GeForce/QuadroGPUs for AI/ML acceleration." It also described plans back then to add support for "Intel iGPUs for AI/ML use cases by the end of the year [2021]."

A requirement for EFLOW is to use an operating system that's "Hyper-V capable" and based on "Windows 10[, Windows Server] 2019 or newer operating systems (build 17763+), including [Windows] IoT Enterprise, Pro, Server, and Enterprise," Microsoft indicated.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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