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Difference Between VxWorks and Linux

linux-dbVxWorks vs. Linux

VxWorks is a real time operating system (or RTOS) –meaning it is an operating system that an operating system (or OS) intended for real time applications. It was designed specifically to be used in embedded systems. VxWorks development is done on a host machine which runs Linux, Unix, or Windows. It cross compiles target software so that it is capable of running on various target CPU architectures.

Linux is a generic term that is used to describe a computer OS that is similar in design to Unix and is based on the Linux kernel –which is an OS kernel (or a bridge between applications and actual data that is being processed which is executed at the hardware level). The development of Linux is one of the forerunners of free and open source software collaboration –meaning all the source code can be used, freely modified, and redistributed. It can be installed on a plethora of computer hardware (from embedded devices to mainframes and supercomputers). It is usually packaged in a format that is known as Linux distribution for use on desktops and servers.

VxWorks is a proprietary, real time OS –meaning it is a real time OS that is neither free nor open source. It has been accessible by a plethora of platforms and now is capable of running on any modern CPU that is used in the embedded market. These CPUs include those of the x86 family, MIPS, PowerPC, and the families of ARM, StrongARM, and xScale. The primary features of the VxWorks OS include, but are not limited to, a multitasking kernel that includes pre-emptive and round robin scheduling as well as fast interrupt response; memory protection, in order to isolate user applications from the kernel; SMP support, an error handling framework; a file system; and local and distributed message queues.

Linux is a widely accessible OS kernel which runs on a plethora of computer architectures, the including IBM System z9 mainframe; the hand held ARM based, iPAQ; and System z10, which is found in devices such as mobile phones and supercomputers. There are also specialised distributions that exist in those architectures that are less mainstream –such as Intel 8086 or Intel 80286. Linux is found in standard desktops and laptops; however, in terms of the gaming market, Linux still lags considerably behind Windows. Many of the same applications that are found on Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X are available on Linux as well –either there will be a free version of the application that functions for Linux or that same application will have its own version for Linux.


1. VxWorks is a real time OS designed specifically for use in embedded systems; Linux is packaged in a format that works on both desktops and servers.

2. VxWorks is a proprietary real time OS; Linux is one of the forerunners of free and open source software collaboration.

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