As meta-ros maintainer for five years by now (time flies like an arrow), I obviously have a strong bias for meta-ros. So, I probably cannot give you an unbiased advice on using OpenEmbedded or Ubuntu. Furthermore, I have not maintained an Ubuntu ROS system for five years.
I assume you are well aware of the strong and weak points of OpenEmbedded and The Yocto Project. So, I will just point out the current status of meta-ros:
We offer recipes for about 200 ROS packages (all basic packages are covered). If that is enough for you, you might quickly get your full product ready. If you need OpenBLAS or OpenNI2, you will face some challenges. Some users are working on that for some time as it seems (visible on the github forks), but they did not provide pull requests yet.
- The indigo branch is maintained and kept in sync with the ROS distribution release updates.
- The kinetic branch is experimental (well, just a few packages maintained in indigo don’t run yet on kinetic, but I did not move that to 100% completion yet) and it is not kept in sync with the release updates at the moment, again due to limited time for maintenance and as there isn’t any user asking loud enough for proper maintenance and support of kinetic.
- The lunar branch is an experimental branch from @allenh1; I do not know its current state, but I think it is probably also close to 100% completion of all 200 packages cross-compiling, but not completely there yet.
We have a CI system running that checks each pull request against the current master of openembedded-core and meta-openembedded, but we currently do not check on regular basis on a public system if the latest commit always works with the latest master commit of its dependent layers. We also try to keep changes backwards-compatible, but we do not test and maintain specific branches for Yocto releases. All other testing is really just other users (and me) test-building the recipes on a regular basis. If you want to improve the situation concerning CI testing, @rojkov and I can provide all information of our testing infrastructure.
SDK support is still not merged yet, but some users have experience with it; but I could not find time to test it. If that is important to you, let me know and we can move this topic forward together in the main-line repository.
I know that @vmajoral and his company explored the use of meta-ros a few years ago in 2013/2014, and he decided to build their embedded systems with Ubuntu. He might provide you reasons why he ultimately decided for Ubuntu.
Also, here is an interesting comparison from @trainman419 at ROSCon 2014 (again, from the developer around ROS ARM Ubuntu, so possibly biased in the other way):
I hope that helps.
Which ROS packages do you need? What features do you need? Which qualities do you expect?
Help is certainly appreciated; I have a long list of topics, but probably it is best to know what would be important to you and move those things forward collaboratively.