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Wind River adds Linux Platforms, rev’s tools, toots DSO horn

May 23, 2005 — by Henry Kingman — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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Wind River has unleashed a slew of embedded software news at its annual developer's conference this week in Orlando, Fla. It has released several vertical market “Platform” OS and middleware stacks targeting Linux, updated its Workbench tools, and started a top-level “device software development” project at Eclipse.org, among other announcements.

Linux runtime platforms

Perhaps the most significant of Wind River's three announcements today is the launch of a Linux version of its General Purpose Platform. The company is already shipping a Linux version of its Platform for Network Equipment.

According to Bruggeman, the “General Purpose Platform, Linux Edition” is similar to Wind River's Network Equipment Platform, but without the clustering and high-availability features. “It's lighter, smaller, faster, more mobile. But it comes with the tenets we stand for in the Linux space. Our customers are asking for industrial strength, industrial grade, with associated middleware integrated, tested, certified, supported — with someone standing behind it.”

The General Purpose Platform is based on a 2.6.10 Linux kernel, and is supported by Workbench 2.3. It benefits from Wind River's two decades of experience in testing and supporting embedded operating systems, Bruggeman says. An “early access” version of the platform is available now “for select customers,” and will be generally available in June 2005.

What's a “Platform”?

Wind River first announced its “Platforms” strategy in November 2002. The Platforms target specific vertical markets, and include an embedded operating system and associated middleware. Initially, the company's Platform offerings included:

  • Consumer devices (Platform CD)
  • Industrial devices (Platform ID)
  • Network equipment (Platform NE)
  • Server appliances (Platform SA)
  • DO-178B (Platform DO-178)

In addition to the General Purpose Platform announced today, and an Automotive Platform for in-car devices announced last week, Wind River is currently working on a Linux Platform for the military and aerospace market, Bruggeman said, but is not ready to announce details.

Wind River has vowed to bring Linux support to all of its Platforms “where that's applicable,” according to Marketing VP John Bruggeman, who adds, “You don't want to do Bluetooth twice, or Wi-Fi. But we're no longer an operating systems company. We're a Platforms company.”

The “process, partners, and people”

Bruggeman says that Wind River is ready to mobilize an extensive professional services team, and leverage an extensive partner network, to support its Platforms. Additionally, the platforms have flexible licensing models. “All of Wind River's Platforms are based on the four P's — product, partners, process, and people,” said Bruggeman.

Bruggeman acknowledges that services are an increasingly important component of Wind River's business model. The company's service team has about 200 engineers which form the “head of the spear,” as Bruggeman puts it. Additionally, the company has partnered with Indian IT outsourcing house WIPRO to extend its reach and capabilities. “WIPRO is very similar to IBM's professional services team. They can do as much, or as little, as a customer needs,” notes Bruggeman.

On the importance of services, Bruggeman said, “The biggest challenge our customers face is integration. With the scale and size we have, we can put feet on the street. It's not a 'Deliver me a bunch of technology, and I'll go do it,' pitch. Customers are saying, 'This is getting too complicated. I want best practices, development processes, help porting applications to the next version when the middleware is revised.' Service is becoming a bigger part of the total piece.”

Wind River's Linux Platforms are available under a variety of flexible licensing models, Bruggeman says, a message echoed by Wind River CEO Ken Klein, who began his keynote at Wind River's devcon today by thanking customers for sticking by the company during the years when its licensing models “made you want to rip out your hair.”

Wind River has assembled deep partner ecosystems around all of its Platforms, Bruggeman says, noting that Wind River was chosen by MIPS as the premier OS and middleware provider for its portfolio of intellectual property such as cores for chip designers. ARM has also endorsed Wind River's General Purpose Platform, while Freescale chose Wind River as the “optimized software partner” for its Media 5200 telematics chip — despite the fact that Metrowerks originally ported Linux to the chip, in October of 2004.

On the Carrier Grade Linux front, Wind River has forged strong partnerships with number two and number three telecom equipment manufacturers RadiSys and Artesyn, which have chosen the company as their premier, lead partner for Linux on AdvancedTCA systems. “These are not paper partnerships. They're pretty explicit, with joint roadmap alignment, joint development, and joint selling,” Bruggeman says. Number one telecom equipment provider Motorola, on the other hand, has selected MontaVista Software as its “preferred” Linux software partner. None of the partnerships are exclusive.

Eclipse-based tools update

Wind River is now shipping Workbench 2.3, its second release to be based on the 3.0 version of Eclipse. The release supports Wind River Linux, Red Hat Linux, kernel.org Linux, and MontaVista Linux, according to Wind River, and offers better support for hardware debugging and probe tools, new configurations aimed at specific kinds of developers, and support for ThreadX, Express Logic's RTOS for deeply embedded systems. Additionally, Wind River will lead a top-level Eclipse Foundation “device software development” project, it says.

New in Workbench 2.3 is availability in several different configurations, or modules, that target specific types of developers. For example, a new “Desktop” module does not require a target or support hardware tools, making it more cost-effective for application developers. Specific modules are also available for kernel debugging and development, and for hardware bring-up.

The hardware bring-up version of Workbench 2.3 includes, for the first time, support for all of Wind River's on-chip debuggers, emulators, and probes, according to Bruggeman. “This version includes tightly and completely integrated support for all of Wind River's tools,” Bruggeman emphasizes.

Also new in Workbench 2.3 is support for ThreadX, a small-footprint RTOS from Express Logic, with which Wind River partnered on the integration effort. Bruggeman says support for ThreadX adds an RTOS for deeply embedded systems, enabling organizations to standardize their development environment for a broader range of embedded projects.

Wind River announced in March that it would increase its investments in a several open standards bodies, including CELF and the Eclipse Foundation. At that time, the company proposed a new top-level Eclipse project, the Device Software Development Platform project. According to Bruggeman, “The project has been accepted by community, and started in earnest.”

VxWorks not forgotten

The VxWorks 6.1 release follows up 2004's major 6.0 release, which added support for MMUs, an IPC-based message-passing interface enabling VxWorks processes to communicate with Linux processes, a Unix-like process model, and an open infrastructure at the OS level. Bruggeman characterizes 6.1 as an optimization release that adds performance and scalability.

Additionally, the “General Purpose Platform, VxWorks Edition” platform announced today adds support for several popular processor architectures, including ARM 9 and 11, Intel Pentium M and XScale, and Renesas SuperH-4, and SuperH-4a.

These releases also demonstrate Wind River's commitment to its proprietary RTOS, alongside its growing investment in embedded Linux. “We are continuing to invest in and drive VxWorks forward,” Bruggeman said, “We think VxWorks has an important set of customers that rely on us to keep it going, and we've developed it to a level now that we can do that. We can invest in it inspite of what the rest of market says.”

DSO

Wind River has coined the phrase “Device Software Optimization,” or DSO, as an umbrella descriptor for its growing range of embedded OS and middleware products and services. The company has succeeded to a degree in pushing industry analysts and publications toward the term.

Gartner will publish market research that “breaks the hype cycle around DSO,” Bruggeman said, while online publisher CMP Media today launched a Wind River-sponsored advertorial website called www.dso.com. Gartner's research director, Theresa Lanowitz, said, “DSO offers a complete integrated development environment, and the ability to commercialize market-specific middleware.”

Wind River began its embrace of embedded Linux in December of 2003, after many years of disparaging the suitabilty of Linux for embedded applications. Last month, Wind River CEO Ken Klein told CNET that Wind River will offer more specific value than other Linux vendors, by pulling together partner ecosystems, service organizations, industry specific middleware, and flexible licensing models around embedded Linux.

Wind River's evolution from a proprietary real-time operating system (RTOS) company to a strong supporter of Linux as part of a more flexible, pragmatic “device software optimization” strategy is chronicled here.


 
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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