The use of QEMU as a playground is also a good starting point. You can do a lot of debugging in that context with risking a physical hardware crash. But, embedded Linux-capable hardware is cheap and available from (plug) Digikey ;-) . I use both beagleboards and beaglebones for development. Gumstix , APC and many many others are also available. I find that it's often easier to just use and real piece of hardware than get my desktop playing nicely with QEMU (better performance with the real hardware).
PTC will offer a virtual desktop environment for its Creo product design applications, potentially freeing engineers to run them from remote desktops on a variety of operating systems and mobile devices.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.