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LynuxWorks Tackles Embedded Migration

As Linux continues to gain momentum in the embedded space, the choice to migrate from investments in proprietary operating systems can become a concern for enterprise decision-makers.

Embedded Linux play LynuxWorks is tackling migration with a new partnership announced this week with embedded software solutions provider MapuSoft. LynuxWorks will use MapuSoft's OS Changer and OS Abstractor applications to help embedded developers port code from proprietary embedded operating systems to Linux.

MontaVista Linux, one of LynuxWorks' competitors and the leader in the open source community of real-time extensions to the Linux kernel, argues that LynuxWorks's new collaboration still will not provide a complete open source Linux solution.

Sonia Leal, product manager for LynuxWorks, explained that the partnership with MapuSoft is now being made because MapuSoft has recently qualified its product with LynxOS, based on the market interest both companies have seen.

According to Leal, migration from legacy embedded systems has been a problem that has existed for some time.

"However, the general market interest and need for a conversion product has gained enough momentum to support a commercialized product," Leal told internetnews.com.

Among the proprietary embedded operating systems targeted by LynuxWorks' new initiative is Wind River's VxWorks. Wind River now also has its own embedded Linux initiative.

"Of course, VxWorks code bases are candidates, since VxWorks has historically been the larger market player," Leal said. "So there is more VxWorks code migrating to LynxOS and embedded Linux than from other code bases."

VxWorks isn't the only proprietary OS, although it is being targeted for migration. Leal noted that one of the very positive things about MapuSoft's package is that it will also port Integrity and other proprietary code bases.

Migration tools may well be the key to greater market penetration for embedded Linux.

"They help enable developers to make a very swift conversion to Linux or a POSIX-based RTOS," Leal explained. "Oftentimes, this is a first phase of a product's new roadmap. After this first phase, software developers then start writing their applications to include the Unix process model and open system (POSIX) calls. Overall, this results in more robust applications and products that are then inherently portable."

The embedded Linux OS space is heating up with recent announcements from MontaVista and TimeSys, among others. In that competitive environment, Leal sees a competitively differentiated position for LynuxWorks.

"We only incorporate community patches to our product that are stable, which are qualified with our robust test suite," Leal said. In particular, she noted the recent work and inclusion by MontaVista and TimeSys of the open source community real-time extensions patch, which has been under development for over a year.

"LynuxWorks, along with TimeSys, MontaVista and RedHat, has donated engineering time to this patch effort," Leal said. "LynuxWorks has yet to incorporate the real-time patch improvements, due to the instability of the patch."

MontaVista Linux, which has been one of the most vocal proponents and active leaders of real-time Linux improvements, is not particularly impressed with LynuxWorks' efforts, either.

Peder Ulander, vice president of marketing at MontaVista, noted that MontaVista is also a partner of MapuSoft.

"Although also a MontaVista partner for years, MapuSoft still does not provide a complete solution, and in many cases, MontaVista professional services is still involved in the migration process," Ulander told internetnews.com.

Ulander explained that if a developer is stuck on a proprietary OS, but really wants to leverage applications written for Linux, MapuSoft's OS abstractor can help him to achieve that hurdle. However, Ulander argues that if a developer really wants to utilize open source software components, then why not select the operating system that it best runs on, namely Linux?