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EE Times: Open source code smooths RTOS design

“Embedded real-time-operating-system (RTOS) technology has
traditionally been delivered in two forms: as source code licensed
to an individual customer or as binary distributions, also licensed
to an individual customer. Over time, the weaknesses and
limitations inherent in those licensing schemes have become more
apparent to developers.”

“One candidate for a new approach to licensing is the
open-source model, in which the source code to the software is
freely available. When the open-source model is coupled with the
power and functionality that the Linux operating system delivers, a
very compelling solution unfolds.”

“Traditional source-licensed RTOS software restricts the source
to the licensee and forbids any disclosure to third parties. The
source license may also include a royalty payment. A binary RTOS
distribution provides no source to the RTOS, but also requires some
form of royalty if the RTOS is shipped in production. In both cases
there are many restrictions surrounding the use and disclosure of
the licensed software.”

“If a project starts with a source-code license and the source
is modified to fit some local needs, those sources start to stray
from the original code base. The supplier of the RTOS may have no
interest in the changes, and may not even have the process in place
to accept them. In any case, the RTOS is driven forward only
through the efforts of the RTOS supplier, which limits the
enhancements applied.”

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