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How to Pick an RTOS

Authored on: Feb 3, 2012 by Ralph Moore

Technical Paper

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There are many simple RTOS kernels on the market. The presumed advantage of these kernels is they are easier to learn than full kernels. The downside is missing capabilities needed by an application end up in the green application code rather than in the proven commercial kernel code. The less you have to design, code, and debug, the more likely you are to meet project goals. The cost of reinventing the wheel is likely to exceed the difference in cost between a full kernel and a simple kernel—even if the simple kernel is free. It may not be obvious what features your application needs. It is recommended that you download evaluation kits of simple and full kernels and try structuring your application for each. A little homework up front may save a great deal of unnecessary development work later.

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rwehri Posted Mar 18, 2012

Practically useless, surface-level diatribe with few specific details and more generalities that do not contrast RTOSs, but bigger operating systems, such as Linux and Windows. (No mention of Windows CE/Windows Mobile, because then the "bigger" OS would be perhaps ideally suited?) At the end of it, if you can figure out anything meaningful about whether or not there is one set of RTOS selection criteria that you should follow it isn't because you read this document.

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Ralph Moore Posted Apr 11, 2012

This whitepaper is intended for recent Computer Science graduates who received very little practical exposure to RTOSs in their college curricula and are now faced with selecting an RTOS. It also is intended for engineers and managers who likewise have had little exposure to RTOSs, yet may be the RTOS decision makers for their next projects. It is not possible to cover the enormous variety of embedded system projects with a single check list, as the above reader suggests. Hence, this whitepaper focuses on general concepts in order to promote a better understanding of RTOSs. Future white papers will focus on specific RTOS topics. The author, Ralph Moore

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subbu_embedded Posted Apr 13, 2012

The content does not fully justify the title. It only advocates generally known rules and principles in picking an OS between an RTOS vs simple-kernel vs heavy-OS. In reality, the main challenge is when you know you need a proper RTOS, which one suits your needs best.

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Ralph Moore Posted Apr 19, 2012

This is a good point -- and a difficult one to address. Much depends upon the complexity of the project, the hardware resources available(especially RAM and processor speed), reliablilty requirements, etc. I have posted some detailed technical whitepapers on our website (www.smxrtos.com) which may be helpful. It seems to me that to be truly useful, this kind of whitepaper needs to incorporate a good deal of example code, which I am considering doing for future whitepapers. I welcome suggestions concerning what topics are of main interest and how much detail is needed. Ralph Moore Author

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vbuck432 Posted Nov 13, 2012

In general it's a good article. Needing to pick an RTOS, this provided me with some things to keep in mind. One aditional note, it might be worth discussing rolling your own vs buying one (specifically focusing n how expensive or how many lines of code go into a USB stack or GUI etc).

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vbuck432 Posted Nov 13, 2012

I meant to say focusing on how expensive a USB stack is. Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to edit a comment once it's posted.

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