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An interview with Wind River chairman Jerry Fiddler

Mar 8, 2000 — by Rick Lehrbaum — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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Jerry Fiddler co-founded Wind River in 1981 and has taken on many roles during the past 19 years, from chief and only programmer to president and CEO to chairman of the board of one of the world's largest software companies. Jerry was recently profiled on KICU-TV's “Silicon Valley Business This Week” (located here). LinuxDevices.com founder Rick Lehrbaum recently chatted with Jerry regarding Wind River's perspective on Linux and the open-source software phenomenon.

RL: During a recent panel discussion on open-source software at the Embedded Systems Conference (Chicago, Feb. 29, 2000), I heard John Fogelin (Wind River VP Technology) say . . .

    “We see point-of-sale, ATMs, Industrial PC, and Internet Appliance applications as an opportunity where Linux can replace DOS and Windows NT. We embrace open source and are evaluating Linux as an OS option for Wind River customers. We are prototyping solutions based on Linux, now.”
In light of this, would you care to comment on Wind River's strategy regarding Linux?

Fiddler: John's comments are very accurate. We have stated the same thing publicly, for example at our recent press conference in Chicago. Among other things, we announced that the next version of Tornado (code-named “Cirrus”) will support Linux hosted development, but our interest isn't limited to the development environment, only. And, as John said, we are prototyping Linux based (target) solutions right now.

RL: How would Linux fit into the overall Wind River operating system (OS) strategy?

Fiddler: Linux has shown a lot of “traction” on Intel platforms, on embedded PC architectures. As you heard from John, we think Linux could be a good match for some Point-of-Sale, ATM, Industrial PC, and Internet Appliance type applications. Wind River has long been a staunch supporter of open source software, in many ways. We have made use of the GNU GCC, GDB, and Berkeley Network, and have, in fact, been good open-source citizens — contributing back into the open-source pool. We sell time-to-market, and if open-source is what is called for, we will provide it.

RL: Could you elaborate on your view of the potential coexistence of VxWorks and Linux within a Wind River OS strategy?

Fiddler: In my opinion, it was Microsoft who created Linux, or at least the opportunity for the Linux phenomenon that we are witnessing today. Microsoft created an OS that only runs on ONE platform — the PC architecture. That's what's made the current popularity of Linux possible, because essentially all the efforts to support Linux been focused on a single hardware configuration. That single hardware platform would not exist today if Microsoft had not enabled it via the perimeters of their OS.

RL: Whereas embedded applications are different?

Fiddler: In the embedded space, every computer is different! Last quarter, Wind River had over 1,000 design wins, and every one of them ran on unique hardware. That's an entirely different magnitude of problem and, in my opinion, an area where desktop computing technologies have traditionally foundered. Given how extremely diverse embedded applications are, architecturally, it's going to be interesting to see how well the open-source model plays in embedded. It's not clear how far Linux will go in the embedded market.

RL: I take it, you're not about to announce a Wind River “green hat Linux” or some such distribution?

Fiddler: We have no product announced at this time. However, if the best way to be successful is to use Linux in certain applications, for certain customers, or in certain markets, then we won't say “no” to Linux. Think of Linux as a technology. It's a technology that's available to everybody — including Wind River.

RL: So we shouldn't be surprised to see Wind River customers receiving Linux based support where they or their applications require it?

Fiddler: Wind River has recently undertaken some major restructuring subsequent to the merger with ISI. We are now organized in business units devoted to key markets (Platforms, Networks, Consumer, Transportation/Defense/Industrial). These business units have relatively independent charters and are empowered to support their markets and customers in the best ways possible.

RL: So if a business unit sees a need for Linux, they can offer it?

Fiddler: At this point, it's up to the individual business unit, and doesn't require higher level approval.

RL: Thank you!



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

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