Electronic Design

Embedded Linux Makes Strange Bedfellows

A new open-source product is on the horizon. Wind River will partner with Red Hat to develop an embedded Linux based on Red Hat's workstation. Other Wind River products like Wind Power will augment the new embedded Linux. Wind River's other platform-related software and middleware will be available for Wind River's Linux distribution.

The companies say that specific product announcements will come later this year. The new embedded Linux will only be available from Wind River. Red Hat will stay out of the embedded market, then, so it can concentrate on its enterprise offerings while having its platform available to embedded developers.

Wind River's Linux distribution will target low- to mid-range embedded-Linux applications, leaving VxWorks the primary option for hard real-time embedded applications. Wind River has already provided better integration between VxWorks and Linux, so the latest offering is a good complement to Wind River's existing product line.

Red Hat's current Linux distribution is based on the 2.4 kernel, although it includes many features found in the 2.6 kernel. One of the biggest differences between the two is the inclusion of the MMU-less, uCLinux support in the 2.6 kernel. Wind River wasn't able to comment on how this will affect the low end of its future Linux distribution, so don't look for any direct competition between its offerings at the very low end for quite a while.

These developments may come as a surprise, since Red Hat backed out of the embedded Linux market last year. Wind River also was pushing the merits of VxWorks, not Linux, at about the same time. Yet Wind River has just released its Wind Power integrated development environment based on the open-source Eclipse project (see "A Change In The Wind (River)," p. 38, March 15, 2004). Its new Enterprise Licensing Model (ELM), part of that announcement, gives companies a choice of royalty or royalty-free licensing. So, times obviously are changing.

Wind River doesn't have the only embedded Linux on the market, but it will give well established distributors like LynuxWorks, MontaVista, and TimeSys some company and competition. The bottom line is that Wind River is giving customers what they want.

Wind River

Red Hat

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