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Real Time Linux Gurus Take Linux to the Next Level

Dec 18, 1999 — by Rick Lehrbaum — from the LinuxDevices Archive

News and analysis by Rick Lehrbaum . . .

The world's leading developers of real time and embedded Linux implementations, gathered together this week for the Real Time Linux Workshop (at the University of Technology in Vienna, Austria), have reached consensus on standardizing a real time “application programming interface” (API) which will vastly expand the use of Linux in non-desktop real time… and embedded applications. The proposed embedded and real time API is based on Cygnus' EL/IX. The result is expected to be a Linux implementation that can handle the performance-critical and mission-critical requirements of non-desktop, “real world” applications for Linux.

If this EL/IX based approach succeeds, it will accelerate the already growing acceptance of Linux in the embedded and real-time systems market. In contrast to the desktop and palmtop applications space, embedded systems are virtually everywhere. There are estimated to be as many as 25 times as many embedded as desktop/palmtop systems. Until now, there has not been consensus or consistency on how to craft a real time version of Linux. Even so, Linux has already been gaining ground against both traditional real time operating systems (RTOSes) and Microsoft's WinCE and WinNT-Embedded. But, full acceptance of Linux in real time applications was retarded by the lack of a suitable common implementation standard. A new EL/IX derived real time and embedded Linux standard, if successful, promises unbounded growth of Linux-based applications throughout the embedded and real time applications markets.

About EL/IX

EL/IX is an application programming interface (API) that allows software developers to deploy applications on embedded products running Linux. EL/IX provides an interface that ensures application portability for any EL/IX compliant operating systems, such as Linux or Cygnus' eCos (an open source real time kernel for deeply embedded applications). EL/IX offers developers a framework that will allow applications to maintain compatibility between different underlying implementations of the operating system. EL/IX should allow developers to write, test, debug, analyze, and even simulate their applications on desktop systems running Linux. When implemented, EL/IX will permit developers to recompile their applications and deploy them on any EL/IX compliant system, whether based on x86, ARM, MIPS, Motorola PPC, SPARC, or any other microprocessor.

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