Which embedded O/S for a 32-bit RISC microcontroller?

My company may soon have to put together our first embedded system. Since we're beginners, we're probably not going to (a) know what we're doing, (b) have a good firm set of application requirements, (c) have a lot of embedded/programming experience.

The target hardware would most likely be one of the Tensilica 32-bit cores, or an ARM/922 (probably not an ARM7 TDMI.)

I realize that makes this question really really loaded, but given the criteria of "needs to be maintainable by non linux-gurus", what's the better embedded O/S choices? Can be commercial or open-source...since we're willing to pay a little more upfront for (hopefully) eaiser learning curve.

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From what I've seen from Windows CE5.0 choose an OS where you have access to all the source (which isn't the case for WinCE 5.0). You'll need it to be able to fix bugs! I it where my call, I would choose Linux. It has a more layered structure which makes it possible to isolate a problem more quickly. Besides, you can prototype your software on a PC and then compile it for the embedded platform without changes.

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Nico Coesel

It used to be (a long time ago) that the more you paid for your RTOS, the better support you got. It's not that way any more.

Realize that because this is your "first time", you will make mistakes. Don't be afraid to toss your 1st choice and try another. Just make sure you don't loose a bunch of money in the process. There are even some "try before you buy" licenses out there.

You might find this interesting:


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Linux is fine, but may possibly be overkill. We have had good results with FreeRTOS.

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David R Brooks

It seems you assume that a non-Linux OS will be easier to learn and maintain? Considering you will a learning experience no matter which OS you pick, something mainstream like Linux or uCLinux is guaranteed to have better documentation, more people in the world that can help you (either for $$$ or free on Usenet etc), and frankly is likely to fewer bugs.

There are pleanty of good reasons to pick something else depending on the circumstances, but given your concerns, Linux clearly seem the best choice.

BTW, the Linux learning curve is trivial.


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Tommy Thorn

I haven't looked too deeply into the Nucleus OS but they're on the top of my list to evaluate for an embedded Mico32 processor application. The numbers I saw for them 2-3 years ago was pretty impressive with respect to kernel size and configurability.

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eCos might be worth a look as well. It's free, supports a lot of different uCs, and you can buy professional support from several companies.

cu, Sean

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Sean Durkin

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