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Wind River spins MID Linux

Jun 5, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Wind River is readying a vertical-market Linux distribution specifically for MIDs (mobile Internet devices). Wind River Linux Platform for Mobile Internet Devices is the company's second “Platform” product to target Intel's Atom processor, and its second developed in collaboration with Intel, it says.

Wind River last month announced its Platform for Infotainment, a stack and toolset aimed primarily at the automotive equipment sector. The company hinted at the time that more Atom-specific Platform products were on the way, with Marketing Chief John Bruggeman commenting, “I believe there will be a mega-trend around Atom. There is very little difference between an automotive infotainment system and a mobile handset, portable gaming system, digital life home entertainment system, or a medical handheld unit.”

As before, the new MID Platform will leverage software and tools developed by the Intel-sponsored Moblin project. Also as before, the Platform will be available both in open source and commercial versions, with availability for both expected next year.

Wind River defines MIDs as having 4- to 6-inch displays. It says Linux is well-suited to the form factor, due to its small footprint, fast responsiveness, easy customizability, and low cost characteristics. Intel, which created the MID concept in April of last year, apparently agrees. It founded Moblin three months later.

According to Strategy Analytics figures cited by Wind River, MID sales could exceed $17 billion worldwide annually by 2014. Another analyst firm, ABI Research, has forecast MID shipments of 90 million globally by 2012, Wind River reports.

Anand Chandrasekher, GM of Intel's Ultra Mobility Group, stated, “Wind River's ability to deliver complete, integrated Moblin-based software solutions will foster innovation.”

Wind River CEO Ken Klein commented, “Mobile Internet Devices have the potential to be the next high-growth segment in the mobile space. Wind River is aiming to deliver on this potential by leveraging our leadership in driving open source standards and our expertise in developing commercial-grade platforms.”

Wind River's new Linux agility

Wind River now offers a total of four vertical market “Platform” products based on Linux, along with a more horizontal General Purpose Linux offering. Two of its vertical Platforms were announced since the company's reorganization five months ago.

Wind River's February re-org split the company into separate divisions, which include Linux, VxWorks, Tools, and Device Management. The split was aimed at enabling each group to respond to emergent market opportunities with greater agility, it said at the time.

In Wind River's most recent quarterly earnings report, Linux earnings grew 41 percent, reaching $8 million, or about nine percent of the company's quarterly intake. Linux bookings also rose dramatically, 143 percent year-over-year. And, overall profit growth triggered a stock price increase of several dollars per share, or roughly 15 percent.

Other recent announcements from Wind River's Linux division include:

  • Android demos in February with chip partners NEC, STMicro, and TI
  • Joining OpenSAF, an important telecom industry group, at the “founder” level alongside Emerson Network Power, Ericsson, HP, Nokia Siemens Networks, and Sun Microsystems

Moblin Infotainment stack

The centerpiece of's software is a Moblin Image Creator (MIC) tool designed to create two sandboxed filesystems on the developer's workstation. One filesystem provides a standardized Moblin development environment, while the other represents the filesystem being prepared for the target device itself. The MIC tool can be used to open chrooted shells in either of the environments.

When first run, MIC downloads a Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon filesystem into the development environment sandbox, in order to standardize the native toolchain and build environment among Moblin developers. The MIC interface then lets the developer pick a target processor (mccaslin or menlow), Ubuntu flavor (Gutsy or Hardy), and tolerance for proprietary features like Flash, before providing a list of “fsets” or feature-sets that users can choose from.

Moblin Image Creator
(Click to enlarge)

Finally, MIC provides an easy interface for launching chrooted terminals in each environment. Users without target hardware can simply launch the zephyr xserver from within the target filesystem, in order to run Moblin software on their workstation.

Moblin's homescreen and Mozilla-based “MIDBrowser”
(Click to enlarge)

Intel's contributions to Moblin include a “gcc compatible” compiler claimed to deliver up to a 30 percent binary performance improvement, by better accommodating the Atom architecture's in-order execution model. Another available tool, Powertop, helps developers make their Atom applications more power-efficient, and is also fun to use to extend battery life on Intel-based laptops running Linux. Intel gives away the compiler and associated tools, with free support for 15 days, offering optional support for $600 a year.


Wind River Platform for Mobile Internet Devices will ship in 2009, Wind River said. Pricing was not disclosed.

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