Wind River Having a Real Time With Linux

Wind River is taking a page from its competitor’s playbook.

The company is incorporating real-time patches into its latest Wind River Linux releases a la MontaVista Linux.

Today, Wind River is releasing its fourth Linux release since 2004, with new
1.3 versions of the Wind River General Purpose Platform, Platform for
Consumer Devices and Platform for Network Equipment.

And it’s not only taking from the open source community. It’s also giving back in the form of a 300,000 line code donation to the Eclipse Foundation.

Apparently Wind River’s Linux efforts are quite literally “taking off” as
well, thanks to a deal with Boeing.

It’s all part of the continued growth of Linux adoption and development by
Wind River, which only began shipping Linux solutions in 2004 as a complement to its proprietary
VxWorks-embedded operating system.

“We’re no longer playing catch up,” Glenn Seiler, product line manager, Linux Platforms, told “We’re establishing a leadership

Seiler claims Wind River is the first embedded OS vendor to use the 2.6.14 kernel.

Wind River’s Platform for Network Equipment, Linux Edition 1.3, is also one
of the first to be Carrier Grade Linux 3.2-registered.

With its new releases, Wind River is however playing a bit of catch up with
its main competitor in the embedded Linux space, MontaVista Linux.

Since October of 2004, MontaVista had been developing and
promoting real-time enhancements for Linux.

By August 2005, MontaVista was claiming
for real-time Linux. At the time, John Fanelli, vice president of product planning and management for Wind River, told that he wouldn’t characterize “real-time Linux from MontaVista” as a competitive threat.”

Times do change. And open source does seem to make for some strange

Wind River’s 1.3 Linux releases include a preempt real-time
patch, which provides for a much higher degree of granularity in kernel
preemption and better interrupt response times.

“It is essentially the same work that MontaVista started a while back,”
Seiler said.

Seiler was quick to note, however, that the real-time Linux patches that MontaVista first proposed had undergone some change over time and are now part
of a merged effort with Red Hat kernel developer Ingo Molnar.

Though Wind River is incorporating the real-time patches, Seiler commented
that Linux is not anytime in the foreseeable future going to ever be able to
provide true determinism.

“There are certain preemption free spaces in the kernel where you can’t put
in spin locks,” Seiler explained. “We’re getting better levels of
determinism but it’s still not hard determinism.”

That’s where the other OS in Wind River’s stable, VxWorks, comes into play.

In cases where hard real time is required, Seiler said that VxWorks is the
obvious pertinent choice for those applications.

Seiler also agreed that it was a safe assumption that Wind River would pitch VxWorks to the aerospace and defense industries.

“VxWorks is by far our primary solution for that
market,” Seiler said. “With that being said, we do have some Linux wins in
A&D [aerospace and defense], and it’s actually maybe 10 percent of our overall Linux business.”

Aerospace giant Boeing is now one such Wind River Linux customer.

will be using Wind River Platform for Networking Equipment in support of
the U.S. Navy P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) mission system, which, the company said, is a long-range anti-submarine warfare,
anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance

Boeing is not the only company to use Linux in a defense application.

In November, Lockheed Martin Space Systems revealed that it would
be using Concurrent’s real-time RedHawk Linux operating system for a U.S. Army strategic missile defense system.

Though Wind River continues to support and push both its proprietary and
open source operating system solutions, there is no real
tension between the VxWorks and Linux sides of the Wind River business, according to Seiler.

“We’re growing our VxWorks business and we’re growing our Linux business as
well,” Seiler said.

Wind River’s Workbench development suite is the bridge between the two. The latest version, 2.5, is based on the open source Eclipse Framework.

But the company isn’t just a user of Eclipse; it’s also a participant.

Today Wind River announced that it is donating 300,000 lines of
code to the Eclipse Foundation.

It will distribute the code across four Eclipse projects, including the C/C++ Development Tools (CDT) Project, the Platform Project, and both the Target Management (TM) and Device Debugging (DD) subprojects within the Device Software Development Platform (DSDP) Project.

“Open source projects do not move along on their own; they don’t mature on
their own,” Steven Heintz, director of product management, developer tools,

“It takes a commitment from companies like
Wind River, of code, of business expertise and a financial commitment to
move these projects along.”

“We’re not dedicating eight engineers full time just to open source
contribution at Eclipse. We also contribute over a quarter million dollars
to Eclipse, as well.”

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