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Wind River gets Linux fever

Embedded systems mainstay Wind River is telling all and sundry that it is set in a new direction with a refocused, aggressive Linux strategy. The 20-year-old company's software runs devices from cell phones to the Mars Exploration Rovers. Its product list includes VxWorks, an operating system that accounts for 30% of the market for embedded systems; the WindPower integrated development environment; and middleware targeted to particular industries. The company also offers services and support.

Last month, Wind River launched new versions of these products designed to support developers building embedded applications using Linux. VxWorks 6, the latest version of its operating system, rolled out with what Dave Fraser, Wind River's chief marketing officer, characterized as "our largest ever investment in our core technology." The new OS comes with a host of enhancements designed to expand its market reach, including additional capabilities that link it closely with Linux. "We want to allow our customers to build applications that accommodate both offerings, sometimes side by side," Fraser told ADT.

At the same time, the company launched the latest version of its IDE, WindPower 2.0, which now embraces both Linux and VxWorks. The new dev tool release is based on the open-source Eclipse framework and is designed to provide users with a single environment for writing applications for both OSs. WindPower for Linux is scheduled for release in May.

Despite three years of declining revenue (from $438 million to $204 million), Wind River continues to dominate the embedded software market. In the last 20 years, more than 300 million devices have been deployed with Wind River's technology platform, according to Michel Genard, the company's senior director of platform marketing. The company's new open-source strategy and its newly minted alliance with Red Hat are responses to that customer base's growing interest in Linux, Genard said.

"Our customers have been looking at and asking us about Linux for some time now," he said. "Many of them were downloading Linux distributions that were not standardized and could fork from the mainstream. Red Hat has been delivering a successful mainstream-packaged Linux distribution for a number of years, and would provide the kind of stable solution our customers are looking for."

Wind River will work with Red Hat to adapt the Raleigh, N.C.-based Linux distributor's version of the OS for a variety of products, Genard said, beginning with networking equipment such as routers and switches. The new Red Hat Embedded Linux will be based on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 code base, he added. No release date had been announced at press time.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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