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Source rules among embedded developers

Sep 11, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Access to source code is the “primary motivating factor” in Linux adoption among embedded systems developers, suggests Evans Data Corp. The research firm found that two-thirds of developers surveyed deem source access “very” or “extremely” important, while only five percent thought it “not” important.

Some RTOS (real-time operating system) vendors offer source code access, but typically only under NDA (non-disclosure agreement), and at added licensing cost. One exception is Microsoft, which about a year ago began distributing the full source to Windows CE 6.0 at no extra cost to developers willing to acknowledge a relatively straightforward “shared source” license.

Of course, access to source code is a given with free and commercial Linux variants, since the GPL license governs the kernel, if not all available device drivers.

The EDC survey involved about 500 embedded systems developers. Of those, about 40 percent target embedded Linux. The most popular RTOSes — likely VxWorks and Windows CE, although EDC did not say — were used by about 20 percent of respondents, EDC said.

EDC CEO John Andrews stated, “Developers working with embedded systems really need access to the RTOS source code in order to optimize their applications efficiently. This is one of the reasons that proprietary RTOSes created in-house for a specific system have long been popular, and now it's a primary motivating factor in the adoption of Embedded Linux.”

Other findings from the August, 2007 survey include:

  • Tools rank above cost and performance when evaluating microprocessors
  • FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays) are now “as popular as microcontrollers and microprocessors” in embedded designs
  • Two-thirds of developers working on embedded systems for multi-core processors are targeting homogeneous cores

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