Mainline Linux Kernel Gains Real-Time Base Technology

Basic support for real-time Linux features is now available in the 2.6.18 kernel and will be further extended in future kernel versions. Core technologies related to real-time performance accepted for inclusion into the mainline Linux kernel source have resulted from the leadership of open source contributors such as Red Hat’s Ingo Molnar and TimeSys Senior Open Source Developer Thomas Gleixner. These key technologies submitted by developers at companies such as TimeSys, Red Hat and others are being permanently merged by Linus Torvalds into the mainline Linux kernel. This marks a significant shift from the traditional approach of having individual kernel developers maintain different real-time patch sets outside of the mainline tree.

“I am pleased that we can simplify development for real-time embedded devices by bringing this technology into the mainline kernel,” said Gleixner. Additional real-time features, currently available as kernel patches, will continue to be merged into subsequent kernels, increasing the open source availability of core real-time capabilities and associated infrastructure in the Linux kernel.

In a related announcement, the LinuxLink by TimeSys developer service has been expanded to provide all LinuxLink subscribers with access to these real-time patches. A LinuxLink subscription is a web-based service that provides tools, open source code, detailed technical reference information, and other embedded development resources for helping software engineers to customize Linux for their devices. LinuxLink subscribers will realize the value of continuous updates as real-time enhancements continue to be merged into the mainline kernel, with support for more features and architectures. In addition to the latest technology, subscribers have access to expert resources for help and advice on integrating and tuning real-time capabilities for their unique hardware platforms.

“The inclusion of real-time capabilities in the kernel validates the work of TimeSys in this space,” said Larry Weidman, CEO of TimeSys. “Our customers that require real-time capabilities can be confident that they are on a path that has a clear future, not only with TimeSys, but with the broader Linux community. TimeSys continues to be a leader in real-time who contributes back to the open source community and, by making the real-time extensions available to all LinuxLink customers, we hope to make a supported real-time solution affordable to a wider audience.”

Real-Time performance enhancements available in the 2.6.18 kernel include priority inheritance support to prevent priority inversions, and extensions to the generic interrupt handling layer across all architectures, including established embedded architectures such as ARM. These features are key infrastructure components that enable predictable and consistent performance in Linux, as required for real-time applications. Customers subscribed to LinuxLink have a solution that is based directly on the same real-time technology in the 2.6.18 kernel release, the real-time preemption patch, and additional real-time enhancements that are in the process of being merged into the mainline Linux kernel. The LinuxLink developer service is aligned with the forward-moving direction of the open source Linux community, rather than locking developers into propriety technology provided by a particular vendor who is challenged to provide useful support and maintenance.

About TimeSys Corporation
TimeSys is the leading developer service provider for the embedded Linux market, delivering LinuxLink subscriptions that empower developers to rapidly and efficiently create their own commercial-grade custom Linux platform. The continuously updated cross-compiled components, information and systems offered through LinuxLink subscriptions are aggregated from the open source community, semiconductor manufacturers and TimeSys and hosted in the TimeSys Network.