Monday, March 26, 2007

WindRiver and RTLinux .... My take on it

I know the news is about two months old, but I don't like to rush in to commentary...

WindRiver's purchase of RTLinux is the first smart move that WindRiver has made in years. Before their new acquisition, WindRiver only sold their legacy OS VxWorks and a six-month old version of linux kernel they downloaded from

Let me just rip into VxWorks for a bit, cause I have some well needed venting to do.....

Technologically, VxWorks lags behind every other major embedded operating system. Its amazing that the most popular OS in the industry is also the worst. One of their more recent innovations, memory protected processes, has been in most embedded operating systems for years.

Also their ARINC-653 partitioning is pathetic. They implement ARINC by running a master VxWorks OS which schedules slave VxWorks OS's which each runs its own ARINC partition. So if you want three ARINC partitions, you will need to run four copies of VxWorks on your hardware. Pretty much all other competitors can sanely implement ARINC with just one OS.

The main argument for buying VxWorks, is that your code is locked into it and you have no other choice.

... End anti VxWorks Rant

So even though VxWorks continues to make WindRiver a lot of dough, its not going to get them anywhere interesting.

On the other hand, their purchase of RTLinux is interesting. They have a real chance of bringing enterprise software developers into the embedded world. Most embedded products only have a small amount of hardware-related or realtime code. Everything else is pretty similar to desktop development. If RTLinux can get every-day software engineers to work on an embedded systems, it should become pretty popular.

Buying RTLinux brings WindRiver's technology to the forefront and I hope it moves our industry forward. However I doubt Windriver will make any money off of it. Whenever you sell Linux products, you also have to give them away for free. Why would anyone buy RTLinux when they can download it for free?

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