This guide is about the design an internals of Mongoose OS, an firmware development framework for connected products on low power microcontrollers. If you are an embedded engineer who develop device firmware for IoT devices, Mongoose OS is for you.
Here we share our vision and underlying rationale for the design decisions we made. The vast majority of these decisions were driven by our work for our customers, when we developed device firmware to bring their IoT products to the market.
We noticed the following:
We refactored those generic pieces that take up to 90% of firmware development time, into a reusable set of components. We made it platform-independent - for example, toggling a GPIO code on Mongoose OS looks the same on all hardware platforms.
The result we called Mongoose OS.
Where does the name Mongoose come from?
We are targeting IoT products, where networking is crucial. We use
a mature and trusted
Mongoose Networking Library as
the networking core - that is the origin of the name. The networking library
mg_ prefix for all API functions, and similarly Mongoose OS uses
Our goal is to share our experience in the hope that it'll help other developers to save a great deal of time and effort, reusing a solid and reliable basis for their products.
Mongoose OS is a framework for building apps (firmwares) for low-power microcontrollers (uC), and consists of the following main components:
mostool. Provides device management and firmware building capabilities
mos buildcommand builds a firmware (we call it an "app") by taking
mos.ymlfile in the current directory and invoking a build docker image either remotely (
mos build) or locally (
mos build --local).
Mongoose OS is based on the vendor's SDK, it extends the capabilities of the native SDK. For example, on ESP32 uC, Mongoose OS uses an ESP-IDF SDK, therefore it provides all capabilities that ESP-IDF provides, plus extra that come with Mongoose OS. If user code uses crossplatform API only, it can be built on all supported hardware platforms with no code changes:
If we zoom in the yellow "Mongoose OS" block, it is fragmented into several components as well. Some of them, like configuration, RPC, timers, networking API, etc, will be covered further down.
The main Mongoose OS lives at cesanta/mongoose-os on GitHub:
The boot process is driven by a cross-platform mgos_init.c. In short, the subsystems are initialised in the following order:
Native SDK init, GPIO, configuration, WiFi, platform-specific init,
libraries (they can define their initialisation order),
user app init function
and at the end - all registered
MGOS_HOOK_INIT_DONE hooks are invoked.
The initialisation function has the following prototype:
enum mgos_init_result mgos_XXX_init(void);
MGOS_INIT_OK on success, or any other specific numeric code
If any of those init functions returns an error, the firmware reboots immediately. This is done intentionally, in order to revert back to the previous firmware in case of failed OTA update.
Mongoose OS implements Virtual File System layer, VFS. That means it can attach (mount) different storage types into a single file system tree. For example, a device can have an SPI flash storage and an SD card storage. For each storage type, a filesystem driver must be implemented. For example, it is possible to write a driver that implements a Dropbox or Google Drive storage type, and a device (e.g. ESP8266 module) can mount a Dropbox folder.
Mongoose OS provides a Filesystem RPC service that allows remote filesystem management - for example, you can edit files remotely.
The contents of the filesystem depends on the app and specific libraries
that are used. For example, an mjs
api_*.js files to the filesystem. Here is a typical layout:
Mongoose OS contains
Mongoose Networking Library as one
of the core components. The networking library provides network protocol
support, such as UDP, MQTT, etc. It consitutes the low level of Mongoose OS;
it is non-blocking and event based, uses
mg_ API prefix and
expects the following usage pattern:
struct mg_mgrstructure, which is an event manager
Mongoose OS does exactly that. It defines a "system" event manager instance,
and runs a main event loop in a single task. That event loop dispatches
events by calling event handlers. For example,
function sets up a button press event handler. When a hardware interrupt
occurs, its handler queues the event, and the Mongoose OS task calls the
user-defined button handler in its context.
For network connections, Mongoose OS defines wrappers for low-level
functions. These wrappers use "system" event manager and provide
the reconnection functionality for the outgoing connection.
For example, low-level
mg_ API for MQTT protocol allows to create an MQTT
client. If it disconnects for any reason, e.g. temporary WiFi connectivity loss,
the connection closes. The
mgos_ wrapper, however, would setup a reconnection
timer with exponential backoff and re-establish the connection automatically.
This is a valuable addon to the low-level
mg_ API, therefore using
mgos_ API is a good idea. Of course the low level
mg_ API is also available.
You can get main event manager instance by calling
function defined in
mgos_ API, as well as
mg_ API, is cross-platform. A firmware
written with that API only, is portable between supported architectures,
as demonstrated by many example apps.
However, the native SDK API is not in any way hidden and is fully available.
For example, one could fire extra FreeRTOS tasks on platforms whose SDK
use FreeRTOS. The price to pay is loss of portability.
Mongoose OS is highly modular - it is possible to include or exclude functionality depending on specific needs. That is implemented by the library mechanism, described later. In order to get a feeling about the resulting footprint, the table below shows measuremens done on TI CC3220SF platform for Mongoose OS 1.18 release, built with different options. RAM figures are measured after Mongoose OS is initialised, i.e. those numbers are what is available for the application code.
|Name||Code Size||Free RAM||Notes|
|minimal||113k||230k||An example-no-libs-c app. Includes RTOS, TCP/UDP networking core, file system, configuration infrastructure, SNTP|
|minimal+aws||133k||230k||Minimal + AWS IoT support|
|minimal+gcp||159k||230k||Minimal + Google IoT Core support|