By Paul Anderson
When I joined Wind River over ten years ago, there were many in the company and in the embedded industry that saw open source software with extreme skepticism: too big, too slow, too risky, too expensive to maintain, and so forth. Over the years, the industry at large has figured out that open source software, particularly Linux, has an essential role in the embedded ecosystem, just as real time operating systems, software development tools, test frameworks, and many other things play a critical role in developing and deploying embedded device. But, the role of Linux embedded development represents something else, a fundamental change in the way people think and act as it relates to how software is developed, deployed and maintained in the embedded space. Linux is different.
One of the major ways Linux is different is the way it has constantly evolved and expanded over time—not surprising, since thousands of developers turn their eyeballs and their brains upon it every day. To be a successful commercial Linux vendor, one must embrace the velocity of Linux—not necessarily as fast as the open source community but a whole lot faster than traditional embedded software has evolved in the past. The new class of development is much more iterative than the traditional approach to embedded development.
Integrate. Build, Test. Release.
And then do it again and again.
Some are not used to a higher cadence in development, nor in the availability of newer platforms on which to base development. Rather than holding for a “big bang” release, we have chosen to deliver increased functionality incrementally and give our customers a choice in what they adopt. This allows us to pull in newer functionality from upstream sources and get them to customers more quickly. But, it’s not all about just slapping on the latest bits and pushing them out the door. Each release is carefully planned, executed, and validated to ensure the customer is getting the highest quality embedded Linux product possible.
Since our 4.0 release, we’ve added critical tool integrations (update pack 1) and sophisticated graphics capabilities (update pack 2). Which brings me to our latest development: Wind River Linux 4, Update Pack 3. With this one, we got our arms around some state of the art technologies—virtualization, emulation, simulation, to name a few. We added significantly to our store of BSPs. So much of what we’ve done is of interest to our networking customers we thought about calling it “The Networking Release. ” Kidding aside, the functionality of this release benefits a much broader group of customers.
One of things I love about open source is that there are always new features and capabilities in the product that can be used in many new and creative ways. Nobody tells you what to make and how to make it. Instead, we give you the parts and the tools you need to build your own race car, according to your own design. This update pack is full of goodies—including add-on products from several partners—that make your products faster, more sophisticated and more secure.
We’ll show how to use the new functionality and who to call if you’re having problems, and we’ll leave it up to you to come up with the new and creative new embedded products.
Who knows? Maybe you’re working on a next generation smart energy gateway device. Who are we to say that our new virtual routing and forwarding solution isn’t exactly the piece you need to crawl outside the box and build the killer app?
Please, let me know when you do.
For additional information from Wind River, visit http://www.facebook.com/WindRiverSystems.