OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY
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OSU Open Source Lab

RTEMS

by Amanda Kelner

Within the last several years, the OSL has provided a home for the Real-Time Executive for Multiprocessor System, or RTEMS. RTEMS is an open Real-Time Operating System (RTOS) that supports both open application programming interfaces (API) and interfacing standards such as Berkeley sockets. Basically, RTEMS supports the embedded systems in programs, or the combinations of software and hardware designed to do very specific tasks. RTEMS works in spaceflight, medical devices, and more. For a while, RTEMS was developed and hosted by a corporation named OAR where it was continuously developed by its programmers, however the project was lacking a certain amount of IT expertise. Enter the fateful meeting between RTEMS developers and our very own Lance Albertson at a Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit.

Think of this story as though RTEMS grew up and left home, let’s say for college. After over twenty years living at home (the OAR offices) and multiple complications that led to the RTEMS project and its community being offline for extended periods of time, the need to move out was clear. But, as we all know and hate, moving out isn’t an easy process, especially when you don’t have a place to go. RTEMS’ parents (or the engineers) are embedded real-time software engineers, which is perfect for a Real-Time Executive for Multiprocessor System, but RTEMS needed exposure to other things, in this case IT guys. Because of this, RTEMS’ growth (or its IT setup) was stunted. Think of it as the difference between having your parents dress you for picture day and having your cool aunt dress you for picture day. Both are going to think you look great, but only one is going to be right. But then, at a “parents” weekend (the GSoC Mentor Summit), RTEMS’ parents met Lance Albertson, our own director. Finally, RTEMS had a place to go. Since the move, RTEMS’ old friend buildbot has moved in and shares a space with RTEMS, and a new friend, NTPsec (Network Time Protocol secure), has also joined the lab. Sharing the OSL technical expertise means these projects receive world class network performance. Though the road was long and harrowing, RTEMS finally has a home here at the OSL.

Now that RTEMS is settled into its new home, the RTEMS community is looking to expand and develop its networks and projects with the support of the OSL. What makes RTEMS so special, particularly with big names like NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), is its ability to stand up to the test of time. With projects with lifespans of ten to thirty years, RTEMS needed an infrastructure that could reflect their own hard work. In this way, our relationship with RTEMS has been both fruitful for our developers in learning the techniques for RTEMS’ particular projects, but also beneficial for RTEMS as a way to satisfy their own projects in ways their developers weren’t able.