MontaVista Software Inc’s plans to boost the real-time capabilities of Linux via a new open source project have been dismissed by both Linux creator Linus Torvalds and fellow embedded operating specialist Wind River Systems Inc.
Sunnyvale, California-based MontaVista launched the Open Source Real-Time Linux Project on Tuesday with plans to boost the real-time capabilities of the Linux operating system to match those of commercial real-time products.
The company said that the new capabilities, to increase the responsiveness of Linux to real-time applications while driving down latency issues, would grow the total addressable market for Linux by enabling it to meet the hard real-time requirements of embedded and communications applications.
Extremely fast real-time capability is the final barrier to comprehensive implementation of Linux in a wide range of devices, said MontaVista CEO, James Ready, in a statement. Our strategy has always been to drive native real-time improvements in Linux itself, and to open the process to as large a developer audience as possible.
MontaVista has already contributed some real-time improvements to Linux, such as the preemptible kernel technology included in version 2.6 of the kernel, elements of real-time scheduling, and high resolution time management.
Tovalds’ response to the new project has not been welcoming however, with reports indicating that he believes the developments required to enable real-time responsiveness would be too intrusive on the operating system, making it too complex and getting in the way of other operating system requirements.
MontaVista rival and recent Linux convert Wind River has echoed Torvalds’ response. Putting real-time capabilities inside the Linux kernel is intrusive, said Wind River chief marketing officer, John Bruggeman. There are better real-time solutions on the market that will serve the customer better.
That might sound like an advert for Wind River’s VxWorks real-time operating system but Bruggeman stated that the company was speaking from experience. We’ve had real-time Linux in the labs, he said. It’s just not the right solution for the market.
And he insisted that aside from technical limitations and problems matching Torvalds’ philosophy of a single Linux kernel, there just is not the demand for real-time Linux. We haven’t had a single request for real-time Linux, he said. If they want real-time, use a real-time operating system that was built from the ground up to do that.
In the meantime, MontaVista will continue its real-time Linux project, as the open source license allows it to do. Whether the developments will be accepted into the Linux kernel remains to be seen, however.