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Advantages of Moving to Linux
Linux has the simple and elegant design of the UNIX OSs, which guarantees a very stable, robust and secure system. Linux is also an Open Source project, meaning that the source code of the operating system is freely available to everybody and can be customized to user’s needs. Linux can be customized for real-time applications and is called embedded Linux in this case. The Open Source Community helps the growth of Linux by adding new features to the kernel, porting Linux to new architectures, providing easy tools for application development and a host of free device drivers/BSP support.
Here are some other advantages provided by Linux:
Cost: No need to spend time and money to obtain licenses and no royalties need to be paid. Therefore, Linux is a royalty free RTOS.
Performance: Customized Linux can provide persistent high performance by handling a large number of users simultaneously. Linux can also be optimized with required functions to achieve greater performance in mission critical real-time embedded applications. Some vendors provide additional performance tuning by using tools like a Profiler.
Flexibility: Linux can save disk space by only installing the components needed for a particular use. Hardware support : Linux currently supports almost every processor, including x86, ARM, Hitachi SuperH, Intel Xscale PXA2xx and IXP4xx, MIPS, Motorola 68000, PowerPC and Samsung S3C24xx. Apart from these, Linux can also support 32/64 bit architectures and both UP/SNMP modes.
Better Memory Management: By making use of virtual memory, Linux makes the system appear to have more memory than it actually has through sharing it between competing processes as they need it.
There are some disadvantages that could prevent using Linux in using embedded real-time applications such as:
Real-Time constraints: The Linux architecture provides real-time performance through the addition of real-time software modules that run in the kernel space, the portion of the operating system that implements the scheduling policy, hardware-interrupts exceptions and program execution. Since these real-time software modules run in the kernel space, a code error can impact the entire system's reliability by crashing the operating system, which can be a very serious vulnerability for real-time applications. But using an Abstraction Framework can help reduce the bottleneck and will also add much functionality that could enhance and optimize the Linux platform’s performance.
Porting millions of lines of code to Linux : Manually porting millions of lines of code from your present OS to Linux could be time consuming, error prone. However, there are Porting Tools that can help you do this much faster.
When you compare the advantages of using Linux to the disadvantages, it is clear that choosing to move to Linux will provide you much more benefits, both technical and economical. This is especially true with the availability of Porting and Abstraction Tools that can enhance the Linux platform’s performance and easily port code to Linux.