News Archive (1999-2012) | 2013-current at LinuxGizmos | Current Tech News Portal |    About   

Embedded Linux is doomed. DOOOMED!

May 8, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

In an opinion piece for, Green Hills Software CEO Dan O'Dowd has resumed his crusade against embedded Linux — with a new twist. O'Dowd argues that recent marketing by commercial Linux distro vendors MontaVista and Wind River prove that they agree that embedded Linux is “chaos.”

In the article, entitled “Embedded Linux: With friends like these, who needs enemies?” O'Dowd, whose company makes the Integrity separation kernel and real-time operating system (RTOS), suggests that by spreading FUD about DIY Linux, the leading Linux distro vendors are actually proving that their underlying embedded Linux technology is deeply flawed.

A long-time Linux skeptic who once claimed that Linux was a “national security risk,” O'Dowd writes, “If embedded Linux champions are saying that embedded Linux is terrible, why would anyone want to risk their products or their company on it?”


O'Dowd points to recent marketing efforts from the Big Two Linux vendors, including a recent article in Military Embedded Systems, in which Jim Ready, founder and CTO of MontaVista, writes that large-scale DIY projects using embedded Linux can be “a significant investment (read 'big bucks') in time and money,” and then goes on to argue that DIY development can be a “software money pit.”

O'Dowd also references a recent full-page print advertisement from Wind River that asks: “Choosing Linux as your next device operating system?” and then follows with “CHAOS” written in large crooked letters, followed by “fatal error,” “system crash,” “game over,” and “panic.”

Opines O'Dowd, “Wind River and MontaVista are certainly in a position to know how hard it is to use embedded Linux, because they are using it, supporting it, and selling it. And since their business is trying to pick up the pieces for companies that have already failed with embedded Linux, they have heard plenty of horror stories.”

After suggesting that MontaVista and Wind River may be in serious financial difficulties, O'Dowd then refers to Embedded System Design surveys that claim that “from 2005 to 2007, the percentage of developers using embedded Linux and the percentage planning to use embedded Linux have both declined. And even more important, the percentage not interested in embedded Linux has nearly doubled.”

Back in 2004, O'Dowd wrote an editorial in EE Times that predicted that the Linux tools market would die , and then in a subsequent press release went on to criticize MontaVista for opening offshore development centers in Moscow and Beijing. “So much for the cold war,” he wrote at the time. He went on to call Linux a “national security risk” and concluded, “We must not entrust national security to Linux.” Yet, later that year, Green Hills announced it was supporting embedded Linux with its Integrity product, albeit placing the open source OS safely in a “Padded Cell,” presumably where it could die a peaceful death and not threaten national security.


  • An October report by VDC found that Linux will remain one of the leading embedded operating system choices “into the future.”
  • An August report by ABI Research forecast a 75 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) for Linux in smartphones through 2012, making it the fastest-growing OS in the sector.
  • An Embedded Market Forecasters report in December, which was based on a large survey of embedded developers, concluded that embedded Linux is just as dependable as other RTOSes.

O'Dowd's article should be available here.

Eric Brown

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

Comments are closed.