The Beagle Bone Black is a great embedded platform running Linux. Sure you can download a pre-made distro and apt-get install whatever you want. Or you can start writing your own apps (and not just python scripts either). If you’ve never done any cross-compiling before it may be a daunting task to get up and running.
Michael has put together a really extensive guide to getting set up. Normally you just install the right tool-chain and you are good to go, but he’s gone a step further with setting up a graphical dev environment (Eclipse) and showing you how to do remote deployment of your binaries. This saves you the trouble of doing it manually (or even worse, rebuilding your sd-card image each time to put it on there).
Great article, check it out.