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Is it acceptable to ask hardware (mostly embedded systems) questions on Stack Overflow? And, if not, is there another site out there with a quality reader base for such questions where answers will likely be forthcoming?

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  • This probably belongs on meta.
    – Dereleased
    Feb 11, 2010 at 22:05
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    This is pretty vague. Not sure any of the SOFU sites are appropriate for general hardware questions.
    – Shog9
    Feb 11, 2010 at 22:14
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    @Gumbo, You can try throwing embedded systems onto ServerFault, but they'll just end up being closed. ServerFault is for servers, not just anything with a CPU. Feb 12, 2010 at 4:14

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Try electronics.stackexchange.com (formerly chiphacker.com) for hardware and interfacing. Embedded software questions are perfectly acceptable on Stack Overflow I believe.

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    Not always ... I've had problems askign some types of questions. We're developing an embedded Linux system. Where do I ask questions about OS related stuff? SO says "not programming related", serverfault says "not a server". Electronics isn't quite appropriate for OS questions. I resort to superuser.com - but that site is so broad I'm always skeptical I'll get a good answer to some arcane questions.
    – Steve
    Apr 20, 2015 at 21:42
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    @Steve: good point - the context needs to be primarily programming-related if it's an embedded software question - so I guess a general question about e.g. installing embedded Linux might be deemed off-topic, and it's not obvious exactly where it would be safely on-topic.
    – Paul R
    Apr 20, 2015 at 21:59
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    I think a new Stack Exchange site for embedded Linux (and variants) would be excellent. There is a HUGE base of embedded Linux systems out there, and they have specific needs that a desktop/server doesn't necessarily have, as well as the expertise of users that work with these kinds of systems specifically.
    – Steve
    Apr 20, 2015 at 22:53
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    @Steve: there is already an active proposal on Area 51: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/70800/embedded-systems
    – Paul R
    Apr 20, 2015 at 22:58
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    Excellent, I just went and committed to it. And I see you just did too! Thanks.
    – Steve
    Apr 20, 2015 at 23:16
  • @PaulR but it has died since. Jul 27, 2016 at 8:34
  • I wonder whether a lower bar could be set for participation? The embedded community is much smaller than the general software community. Oct 9, 2019 at 18:53
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The term "Embedded Systems" covers such a huge area that there's no easy way to answer this. Here's a helping:

Stack Overflow

Great for programming embedded systems. Questions about compilers, build process, software testing, etc. are all warmly welcomed. Don't ask about chip programmers, and other hardware specific stuff here.

Server Fault

Much to my dismay, some people are referring to thin clients, kiosks, network advertising displays, etc as embedded systems. Technically they are, but questions about integrating particular products with your servers, setting them up, handling software and user issues with these are best left to the IT crowd.

Super User

If you are using an Intel Atom, Micro ATX, Beagle board, or some other Common Off The Shelf hardware with an OS such as windows or Linux, and you have questions about integrating them with various USB motor controllers, Microsoft robotic software, or such, then you may find some help here.

Electrical Engineering

Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, soldering, chip programming, wiring, sensors, best way to measure some real world phenomena, etc all are best placed here. You can pretty much ask all of the above at Electronics, but you may get a better response for some problems on the above various sites - for instance C algorithms on an 8 bit microcontroller are perfectly well suited for StackOverflow, and even assembly language questions, but if you prefer you can mount those questions at Electronics.

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    Given that, on SuperUser, IPhone questions are marginal and IPod questions are essentially forbidden, I have my doubts that someone would find help for their Intel Atom, Micro ATX, and Beagle Board questions there. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/16087/…
    – user102937
    Feb 12, 2010 at 18:28
  • Thus the 'and you have questions about integrating them with...' which are allowed.
    – Pollyanna
    Feb 12, 2010 at 18:51
  • Hm, looks like they have clarified the policy in the faq. That would limit the question to software drivers and cabling from the computer to the device, neither of which I find particularly interesting. But I see why they have to draw the line somewhere.
    – user102937
    Feb 12, 2010 at 19:05
  • Chiphacker is cool.
    – user102937
    Feb 12, 2010 at 19:09
  • The trouble with Chiphacker is that it's mostly hobbyists. They often prefer to do things the hard way. Feb 15, 2010 at 20:16
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    @Jeanne - That's very true. I wonder if there's a market for a site that caters to "professional" EE's, not unlike the math stackexchange site caters to only high-level mathematicians. I would like to see such a site, but I have no following I could bring. It would almost have to be started by Pease or Circuit Cellar, or some other existing group.
    – Pollyanna
    Feb 15, 2010 at 20:27
  • Nice breakdown. Is there a master list, somewhere? Specifically, I'm looking for where to ask Mac-peripheral specific Qs, like "how to make my scanner work with latest OS-X?"-type of things. Thanks!
    – Olie
    Apr 11, 2012 at 18:58
  • @Olie You can try apple.stackexchange.com for those. The main list is at stackexchange.com.
    – Pollyanna
    Apr 12, 2012 at 4:39
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Questions about programming embedded hardware are welcome, as are questions about cross-compilers targeting such hardware and questions about embeddable OSs, and libraries that are designed to support programming cute little boards, and and and...

Questions about soldering, designing PCBs, ground loops, why the magic smoke got out of your chip, and so on, are not appropriate.

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Embedded software questions are acceptable. Tag them with 'embedded'.

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    I think embedded-systems would be a better tag to use, since it is not ambiguous as embedded is. Unfortunately embedded is far more used. Feb 14, 2010 at 21:51
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    I totally agree with @Purple and I actually posted a Retag request [embedded] -> [embedded-systems] some time ago (can't find it back, WTF?) because of the ambiguity and because I don't think that the use of [embedded] should be forbidden for other things than "embedded systems" (like the HTML tag, embedded servers). But people from the [embedded] tag have decided that it was for embedded systems only... This is just wrong. Aug 29, 2010 at 19:29
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Some embedded systems ecosystems have dedicated communities on the Stack Exchange network. These include:

If your embedded system incorporates these microcomputers, your question might be on-topic there.

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