Wind River warms to open-source groups

The operating system specialist, which has decided to embrace Linux rather than fight it, announces that it has joined two prominent open-source groups.

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Wind River Systems, an operating system specialist that decided to embrace Linux rather than fight it, announced Monday that it has joined two prominent open-source groups.

The Alameda, Calif.-based company joined the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), which develops and promotes Linux, and the Eclipse Consortium, an open-source project launched by IBM to develop better programming tools.

Joining the groups, which each work on software that directly competes with products from Wind River, shows the extent of the company's commitment to Linux. Until October, when Wind River released programming tools for Linux, the company shunned Linux in favor of its proprietary VxWorks operating system used in "embedded" computing devices such as nerve gas detectors and wind turbines.

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"I'm sure that Wind River would just as soon Linux had never reared its head. After all, they have about a 30 percent share of the embedded systems market, and Linux can only disrupt that," said Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff. "But, given that embedded Linux is a market reality, Wind River is smart in getting ahead of the wave rather than waiting for it to crash on top of them."

One of OSDL's main projects is the Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) specification used for telecommunications equipment manufacturers--Wind River's biggest customer for VxWorks. And programming tools are a crucial technology for customers that create specialized software for embedded devices.

"Recently, our telecom equipment customers have begun migrating from a world of fragmented Unix offerings to Carrier Grade Linux. Wind River's customers are looking for compatibility between CGL and VxWorks, and would like to see Wind River bring its embedded expertise and tools capabilities to CGL," Wind River said in a statement.

OSDL is funded by members including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Sun Microsystems, Red Hat, Computer Associates International, Oracle, Fujitsu, Hitachi, SuSE and others. Closer to Wind River's markets, other members include embedded Linux companies TimeSys and MontaVista Software and telecommunication equipment makers Cisco Systems, Force Computers, Nokia, NEC, Alcatel and Ericsson.

Wind River also competes with Microsoft, which is angling for embedded computing markets such as in-car electronics.

Joining Eclipse is part of Wind River's work to let companies "standardize embedded development on a single, open standards-based integrated development environment," the company said. Wind River plans to sponsor the EclipseCon 2004, a conference devoted to the developer project.

Wind River named a new chief executive, Ken Klein, earlier in November.