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Kit Plummer
Software Engineer :: Techitect :: Evangelist
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Every once and a while I return to my Linuzealot days and get pumped about the current state of Operating Systems. I first encountered Linux almost 15 years ago [reference"] well before it was a walking toddler. I was a young Airman stuck in the middle of sheep field in the middle of no where England at RAF Croughton :


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working on communications systems. At the time my “network provider” was Prodigy which strangely enough is my network provider today. I found Linux as a recommendation from a buddy who was an OS/2 zealot…but seeking alternatives. Obviously, back then my first impression was “where’s the windows”?

Since then I’ve built websites, robots, UAVs, dashboards (car) and a load of other things with it. But, I’ve never had the real desire to use it everyday as my “desktop” OS – save for a short period in 98 where I just did it to prove that I could (and failed). It still isn’t there…though that is not the intent of the blog – no desire to flame on about what it is, and isn’t.

There’s a recent article in Military Embedded Systems that reminded me that, for as far as Linux has come, it still has a long way to go – even in the embedded space. LynuxWorks has done much for Linux in this space, and in general. But, it is clear to me (considering the marketeering in MES) that even they are behind. The references to “separation kernels” are good – if we live in a WindRiver VxWorks/Green Hills Integrity world. The problem is that we don’t, and neither does Linux. Multiple Independent Levels of Security/Multiple Levels of Security systems depend on the guaranteed protection provided by systems – which Linux can’t do in a separation kernel mindset. However, virtualization is possible. It is unfortunate that the way we can virtualize general OS environments without a separation kernel isn’t addressed. To me, I see more important that we can run a “Classified” Linux OS paired with a “Unclassified” Windows™ systems – on the same hardware platform. I know Green Hills and WindRiver are proposing systems that run Linux on a “separated” kernel paired with their respective RTOSes, but that isn’t what we need for the general masses. (I do agree that we do need from GH/WR too.)

I won’t even go into the burden non-standards have put on NCS in general. Linux can help, and will help in that space. But, no until we can stop only bringing it to the party in embedded/secure applications. It is equally interesting that this particle article at MES is labled “LICENSE”. This is really what caught my attention. We are still in a techno-world where the LICENSE is a hangup. The fact that “using” Linux is still foreign – even in the DoD space baffles me. So, WE, as the Linux community need to be sure not to leave the embedded market behind – or the opportunity to drive OSS and Linux in to the DoD/Govt. sectors will continue to be a struggle.

BTW, isn’t the embedded map cool?


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