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Embedded Operating System (OS) Selection and OS Migration to Open Source

The selection of an embedded OS can be complex. Besides technical capabilities, performance and the cost of a commercial OS, there are many additional factors you need to consider when choosing an embedded OS including:

  • Can you be assured the embedded OS you choose is reliable and stable?
  • Will the embedded OS support your processor of choice?
  • Will you have access to the right development tools?
  • How will you manage maintenance and security updates?
  • Is commercial support available and / or is there a strong developer community on which you can rely for help with issues?

Knowing your options is the first step in selecting an embedded OS for your project design.

options for migrating from commercial OS to open source OS

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Forty-one percent of embedded designs use an open source OS*.

*EE|Times 2019 Embedded Markets Study

Why should you choose an open source OS?

Whether initially choosing an embedded OS or switching / upgrading from a commercial embedded OS, there are many benefits to using an open source OS such as Linux, Android and RTOS for your embedded application including:

No royalty or license fees

Simply put, with an open source OS, there are no upfront costs and no royalty costs associated with each device.

The availability of a larger pool of developers

With an open source OS, you have access to a large number of available developers with expertise who can provide support, help with kernel upgrades and writing device drivers … and more.

Strong community support

Having strong community support around your embedded OS means any issues / bugs are more likely to be fixed — and faster.

The availability of source code

Having access to source code can enable you to offer features that would sometimes not be possible with a closed commercial OS.

Constant vulnerability monitoring and risk assessment by the open source community and others

Many companies and organizations have a bested interest in maintaining the high quality of open source software. As a result, vulnerabilities are often identified and fixed before they are exploited.


Linux and Android are the most widely used embedded OS, and many semiconductor companies are shipping SoCs with only Linux and Android BSPs.

Android is a trademark of Google LLC. The Android Robot logo is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license.

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