Embedded Linux Keeps on Growing, IoT Next Big Win

As I noted at the beginning of this year, open source has won, even if it's not finished. That's easy to show at the top end, since Linux currently runs 485 of the top 500 supercomputers in the world. But at the other end of the spectrum, data has been harder to come by. That makes a new post on Linux.com reporting on the embedded sector particularly welcome. Here's the key finding:

A new VDC Research study projects that Linux and Android will continue to increase embedded market share through 2017 while Windows and commercial real-time operating systems (RTOSes) will lose ground. The study suggests that the fast growth of IoT [Internet of Things] is accelerating the move toward open source Linux.

"Open source, freely, and/or publicly available" Linux will grow from 56.2 percent share of embedded unit shipments in 2012 to 64.7 percent in 2017, according to VDC's "The Global Market for IoT and Embedded Operating Systems." That represents a CAGR of 16.7 percent for open Linux, says VDC.

As that indicates, it also looks at Android's share of this market. Interestingly, Android does not compete much with vanilla Linux, but rather with the embedded version of Windows:

In the general embedded market Android is eating into the share of Windows Embedded more than that of Linux, says VDC. Android is moving quickly into areas where Windows has generally outperformed Linux, including automotive infotainment, medical devices, military handhelds, and to a lesser extent, retail and signage.

While some of these applications can be considered IoT, Android is not doing as well in applications that are more typically labeled IoT, such as connected home and industrial automation. These are areas where Linux will continue to shine. Even Google's Nest, for example, runs Linux rather than Android.

That last comment seems to confirm that the future looks rosy for Linux as far as the Internet of Things is concerned - not least because even massively-supported rivals like Android can't compete with the minimalist, customisable Linux here.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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