Wind River said last year that it would support Linux, as well as its proprietary operating system, with development tools for building applications to run millions of devices ranging from cell phones to airplane navigation gear. The software maker's operating system, VxWorks, has 30% of the market for so-called embedded systems.
The partnership with Red Hat will result in both companies contributing engineering talent to adapt Red Hat's popular version of Linux for a variety of products; the first target will be networking equipment, such as routers and switches. The companies also will work on integrating Linux with development tools and other software from Wind River.
The deal reaffirms the increasing use of Linux in devices other than servers, where Linux has long been challenging Microsoft's Windows and Unix vendors as the operating system to run business applications.
Along with the partnership, Wind River unveiled a new version of its WindPower application development tools, which will support VxWorks and Linux. WindPower is built on the open-source Eclipse framework, which means any tool supporting the platform can be plugged into the integrated development environment.
"The unifying strategy is providing a standard set of development tools that companies can utilize across proprietary VxWorks development, as well as Linux and other operating systems the IDE will support," embedded software analyst Stephen Balacco of market researcher Venture Development Corp. said.
By supporting Linux along with VxWorks, Wind River is helping developers use whichever operating system works best within a particular device. "This series of announcement places Wind River in a position where they can satisfy the choices of developers," Balacco said.
Embedded systems can be versions of popular computer operating systems, such as Windows or Linux; or they can combine an operating system and application in one program running on a specialized microprocessor. The systems are found in automobiles, planes, trains, space vehicles, machine tools, cameras, consumer electronics, cellphones, handheld computers, robots, and toys.
Wind River has said it has seen embedded Linux gain momentum in two of the five industries the company targets: digital consumer electronics and network infrastructure gear used in telecommunications. Industries in which Wind River hasn't seen much use of Linux is within automotive, aerospace and defense, and manufacturing. However, experts say there's no technological reason why Linux couldn't someday gain a foothold in those industries.
Other vendors taking advantage of the market changes around embedded systems include MontaVista Software and TimeSys. Both companies offer Linux-based embedded software and sell services and application development tools in support of the platform.
Along with the WindPower IDE announcement, Wind River launched an early release program for the next version of VxWorks. WindPower for Linux is scheduled for general release in May.