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Embedded Linux distro rolls in verticals

Mar 16, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

Wind River is shipping version 3.0 of its commercial embedded Linux distribution, which now integrates vertical distributions, including networking. Wind River Linux 3.0 upgrades to kernel 2.6.27 and GCC 4.3, speeds boot-time, adds 250 applications, upgrades real-time and multi-core support, and launches a Kernel-based Virtualization Machine (KVM), says the company.

Wind River now offers a single Linux distribution that includes a set of pre-configured system profiles for industries such as aerospace and defense, consumer, industrial, networking and medical, says the company. Previously, the company packaged stand-alone vertical distributions (aka, “Platforms”), with different features and hardware support. The roll-in helps reduce purchasing complexity while increasing development flexibility, says Wind River.

The integration includes the Wind River Platform for Network Equipment (PNE) distribution, the first Linux distro to achieve Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) 4.0 registration with the release of version 2.0 in February 2008. Now that it formally incorporates PNE, Wind River Linux 3.0 is said to comply with CGL 4.0.

Virtualization, multi-core, and real-time enhancements

Version 3.0's new KVM, based on a function that was added to mainstream Linux in 2006, aims to let user-space processes exploit the virtualization capabilities built into modern 64-bit x86 processors. The Wind River KVM does not include the company's upcoming hypervisor technology, which was tipped last June. However, the KVM will support the hypervisor when it ships later this year, and already supports Intel VT or AMD-V extensions, says the company.

The KVM is integrated with version 3.0's upgraded multi-core support, including a new hardware offload capability, and “multicore aware tools for development, debugging, and analysis,” says Wind River. The company recently announced a deal with Intel on multi-core that involved integrating Intel compiler and performance primitives into Wind River's Linux and VxWorks distributions, as well as adding support for the upcoming hypervisor.

Wind River Linux 3.0 is said to integrate the latest PREEMPT extensions (_RT and _IRQ) for near real-time operations. Where full hard real-time performance is needed, the stack can be used with RTCore, also called “Real-time Core.” Wind River bought RTCore from FSMLabs in April 2007.

250 new apps

As with previous releases, Wind River Linux comes with “pristine source” upstream code, along with patches. This feature is claimed to help developers integrate future changes from upstream open source projects.

The Linux stack is integrated with Wind River's Eclipse-based Workbench development suite. The company also touts a Linux Distribution Assembly Tool (LDAT), described as a cross-architecture build system enabling developers to organize, store, and manage different parts of the development system.

Wind River Linux now boasts more than 500 software packages, 250 more than the previous version. Bundled packages are said to include multimedia, graphics, and HMI (human-machine interface) applications.

Key features of Wind River Linux 3.0 are said to include:

  • Linux kernel 2.6.27, with 1,694 kernel patches across 50 features
  • GNU GCC 4.3.2 toolchain
  • More than 500 software packages (250 new), including, GTK+, GNOME, Gstreamer, OpenGL, WiFi, and Bluetooth
  • Preconfigured system profiles for specific device types
  • 64-bit user/kernel space application and tools support
  • Real-time options including PREEMPT_RT and PREEMPT_IRQ real-time extensions; optional Wind River Real-Time Core for Linux for guaranteed hard real-time interrupt response
  • CGL 4.0 compliance for networking/telecom availability, scalability, manageability, reliability, and performance
  • Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) virtualization solution for Linux on hardware containing virtualization extensions, such as Intel VT or AMD-V, and the upcoming Wind River hypervisor
  • Multi-core hardware offload and multi-core aware tools for development, debugging, and analysis
  • Integrated security-enhanced Linux packages for access control, process separation, and protection against malicious processes
  • Reduced root file system footprint for flash memory constrained devices
  • Accelerated kernel boot time for “instant-on” capability
  • Broad hardware support, now including Sun Microsystems's UltraSPARC T2
  • Wind River Advanced Networking Technologies stack integration for additional networking functionality (optional)
  • Support for Wind River's newly acquired Tilcon graphics suite (late 2009)

Back to the mothership

Wind River's reintegration of its vertical distributions closes a circle begun in 2002, when the company announced a platform strategy, that included verticals for consumer electronics (Platform CD, later PCE), industrial devices (ID), Network Equipment (NE, then PNE), Server Appliances (SA), and aerospace and defense (DO-178B). At the time it launched its “Platforms” vertical marketing strategy, Wind River had not yet begun to embrace Linux.

Wind River says that the version 3.0 system profiles support “different device types.” That diversity probably does not (yet) include IVIs (in-vehicle infotainment devices), nor MIDs (mobile Internet devices). In those verticals, Wind River has made some fairly recent stack announcements, with Wind River Linux Platform for Infotainment, and Platform for MIDs. Both of these stacks target Intel's Atom processors, and at least in the case of IVIs, code availability may be limited for now to members of the Genivi Alliance that launched earlier this month.

Major releases of the general Wind River Linux platform have included version 1.3, which arrived in July 2006, adding telecom-related features and updating its Eclipse-based Workbench development tools.

Stated Nithya Ruff, senior director of product management and marketing for Wind River's Linux Product Division, “More than 15,000 man hours of testing and 500,000 test cases specifically for Wind River Linux 3.0 ensures commercial-grade product quality.”


Wind River Linux 3.0 is available now, at an undisclosed price, says Wind River. More information may be found here.

Wind River recently announced a strong yearly earnings report, but offered lowered guidance for fiscal 2009, with expectations of flat growth, due to the recession.

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