"Windows won the war for the desktop. But there's a new struggle over
operating systems embedded in everyday objects, and this time free
software has the inside track."
Free at Last!
< http://www.technologyreview.com/magazine/may01/tristram.asp >
To Jim Ready, the answer is clear: embedded systems need open-source
software. More precisely, they need Linux. ...
... In addition to sheer accessibility, open-source software offers an
unbeatable price. Embedded systems are extremely cost sensitive, and the
operating system often needs to cost pennies per unit. That's why, about
one-fourth of the time, developers write their own operating systems to
avoid licensing fees. An open-source operating system lets them avoid
both the fees and the work of writing something completely new.
A final advantage is flexibility: you can change open-source code, as
long as you share what you've done. This allows open-source developers
to add any little quirk they need to make something work exactly as they
want it to. Significantly, this makes it easy to add features that would
never hold enough mass appeal to make their way into a general-purpose
operating system—such as a single-line command that could align all the
solar panels on a space station for maximum energy collection.
If the story stopped there, then Linux and the open-source movement
would triumph over all would-be evil empires in the embedded-systems
market. That would be the Hollywood outcome with strong sentimental
appeal. But despite its advantages, Linux has limitations that even its
legions of flag-wavers can't seem to fix. And even open source
supporters, in some cases, think the embedded-Linux movement is a
shameless waste of energy.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Fri Sep 21 2001 - 16:18:45 PDT