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

EMF changes tune, hails embedded Linux

Dec 5, 2007 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Embedded Market Forecasters has issued a report claiming that embedded Linux is just as dependable as other real-time operating systems (RTOSes). The independently funded report appears to recant EMF's controversial Microsoft-funded report in 2003 claiming embedded Windows OSes were far faster and cheaper than embedded… Linux.

Spread the word:
digg this story

The updated report now claims that projects using embedded Linux have achieved design parity with commercial RTOSes for most projects, offering the same level of design outcomes. The Framingham, Mass. researchers also state that Linux designs are capable of being incorporated within mission-critical applications that require MILS (Multiple Independent Levels of Security) or EAL (Evaluation Assurance Level) certification.

The EMF report's positive findings about Linux are limited to commercial embedded Linux distributions, however. The report says the study found that 15.9 percent fewer “in-house” Linux development projects met “pre-design expectation levels,” compared to projects using a commercial embedded Linux or certified RTOS.


EMF's original 2003 research report hit like a bombshell in the Linux community, at a time when embedded Linux was being hyped at the same dizzying levels accorded to “Web 2.0” over the last year. EMF claimed that Windows CE .NET and Windows XP Embedded ran 43 percent faster and at 68 percent lower cost, on average, compared with similar projects using embedded Linux. The report has now been updated, says EMF “in light of the many changes which have occurred since 2003 in embedded development technology.”

The 2003 study set off a firestorm of debate, based not only on the content, but by the Redmond, Wash.-based funding source. (EMF says the new report was funded solely by its general subscribers.) At the time, LinuxDevices published some editorials that crowed over the bursting of the embedded Linux hype bubble, yet also responded by printing several rebuttals, in which a typical comment was Jerry Epplin's contention that the report was “flawed on just about every level.”

EMF says the new report is based on interviews with more than 1,300 embedded developers in 2006 and 2007 across a broad range of embedded vertical market applications. (By contrast, the 2003 survey interviewed only 100 manufacturers and 456 embedded developers.) EMF's new survey asked for information such as current and anticipated tool usage, design starts, completions and cancellations, host development and target platforms, and microprocessors. The analysis was also based on time from design start to shipment, percent of designs completed behind schedule, number of months delayed, design complexity, and comparisons to pre-design expectations.

Stated report author Dr. Jerry Krasner, “This study shows that designing with an embedded Linux OS can be as dependable as designing with an RTOS. The availability of general and application-specific tool sets has enabled designs that are on-time and close to pre-design expectations. However, these results are specific to commercial embedded Linux and RTOSes, and were not experienced to the same extent by in-house Linux development efforts.”


The full report, called “Embedded Linux Total Cost of Development Analyzed” is available from EMF's web site. Also available on demand are customized cross-tab reports, according to an EMF spokesperson.

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.