"Embedded Systems Programming Editor in Chief Michael
Barr recently forwarded me an intriguing letter from a consultant
who had attempted to build a business helping companies incorporate
Linux into their embedded systems. The effort was a complete
failure; a year of work had turned up only two companies actually
using Linux in the embedded arena, so the consultant returned to
traditional real-time operating systems where there's plenty of
work and lots of money.
What gives? If you believe the magazines, it appears anyone not
using Linux is a dinosaur, an atavistic throwback doomed to write
miserable little 8051 assembly language programs forever. At the
local bookstore an entire shelf of computer magazine headlines
scream "Linux Forever!" All tout this OS as the solution to
everything that ails us, from hackers to global warming.
Unfortunately, Linux is an unassailable icon. Those who cast
aspersions on it are immediately branded as wrong-thinking
heretics. Yet it's just an operating system. That's it - a tool,
something that allows us to build real systems. In the embedded
world Linux is even less than an OS; it can't even manage real time
events -- at least not in the native distribution. Unless Linux is
bolted on top of a traditional embedded RTOS, your system might
have a killer file system but be unable to handle asynchronous
events in a timely manner."