FreeRTOS is used by microcontroller developers to build embedded products for every industry and market segment. Over the years Ive been aware of FreeRTOS being used in applications as diverse as toy trains and aircraft navigation systems, and just about everything in between.
I hope so! Im excited to be able to repay partners who put their trust in us with the stability, longevity, innovation, and expanded roadmap that AWS brings them.
Is the FreeRTOS community happy about this?
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Amazon FreeRTOS and the FreeRTOS kernel are part of a bigger initiative at AWS to speed innovation and improve business and operational efficiencies, not only in the cloud, but all the way out to IoT endpoints. Ongoing support for the FreeRTOS community is also part ofAWS commitment to open source.
We have also announcedAmazon FreeRTOS, which is based on the FreeRTOS kernel and adds important support for AWS and IoT use cases, such as software libraries that make it easy to securely connect devices to the cloud and on a local network. We haveopen-sourced these libraries.
We welcome any interaction with our users and partners that helps develop and expand FreeRTOS, but, at the same time, we need to ensure that we maintain the industrys confidence that our product is free from IP infringement. We have ahardware qualification programto maintain high quality as well as control over the IP that goes into the software. However, we encourage developers to create ports for their own use cases and republish those for the community.
FreeRTOS kernel v10 includes two major new features: stream buffers and message buffers. These are task (thread)-to-task and interrupt-to-task communication primitives, but, unlike other FreeRTOS communications primitives, they are optimized for single reader/single writer scenarios, such as passing data from an interrupt service routine to a task, or (increasingly important these days) from one microcontroller core to another. Stream buffers pass a continuous stream of bytes, whereas message buffers pass variable-sized but discrete messages. AWS added these new capabilities in direct response to requests I have received from users.
FreeRTOS was created in 2003 byRichard Barry. It rapidly became popular, consistently ranking very high in EETimes surveys on embedded operating systems. After 15 years of maintaining this critical piece of software infrastructure with very limited human resources, last year Richard joined Amazon.
Today we are releasing the core open source code as FreeRTOS kernel version 10, now under the MIT license (instead of its previous modified GPLv2 license). Simplified licensing has long been requested by the FreeRTOS community. The specific choice of the MIT license was based on the needs of the embedded systems community: the MIT license is commonly used in open hardware projects, and is generally whitelisted for enterprise use.
Why has FreeRTOS been the leading RTOS for so long?
We talked with Richard about all this, and more.
The number of connected IoT devices worldwide is in the billions and growing rapidly. Many of these edge devices from fitness trackers to sensors to washing machines to automotive transmissions use low-cost, low-powered microcontrollers with extremely limited memory and compute capability. For some IoT use cases, very predictable response times can also be critical (think: automotive). A standard operating system wont work here: you need areal-time operating system(RTOS) that works in very constrained systems.
FreeRTOS has been a runaway success, reaching one download every 260 seconds. It is difficult for a small organization to scale to match that kind of growth, and we were finding it harder and harder to keep up with demand for support and new features. While we had been in conversations with a number of suitors that offered to help FreeRTOS scale, Amazon were the first that were fully aligned with our owncustomer-obsessed values. Importantly, AWS vision for the project allowed us to continue to fulfill the obligation we have to our open source community to keep FreeRTOS both cross-platform and free for commercial use.
I have just listed the ways in which FreeRTOS systematically removed the reasons that companies might be uncomfortable using free software. But we still needed help to scale. AWS brings greater stability and longevity (FreeRTOS has been around for 15 years already). In addition, it brings a larger development and support team, accelerated development, a large portfolio, and the ability to innovate very quickly on behalf of its broad customer base.
In addition to continuing to develop and maintain the FreeRTOS kernel, at AWS we are extending it to offer a cloud-native IoT operating system, Amazon FreeRTOS, which helps overcome common difficulties faced by microcontroller developers, such as security, connectivity, and making it easy to manage devices through their lifecycle. You can find out more /freertos/
Deirdr has been communicating about technology, and helping others to do so, for 30 years. She has written one book (so far); edited two more (so far); produced and delivered technical training; produced hundreds of videos and live streams of technical talks; written, edited, and managed blogs; and managed events. She has been applying this skillset to cloud computing since 2010, and to open source for even longer. She joined AWS in June, 2017, as Content Lead for AWS Open Source team. You can find her at @deirdres on Twitter.
From today, you can use the Amazon FreeRTOS console on AWS to easily create device-specific downloads directly from AWS. Amazon FreeRTOS, which includes the growing library of additional capabilities already mentioned, is available fromGithubas well. This is in addition to the existing channels. website remains the home of the FreeRTOS kernel, and the MIT license terms make it even easier for partners to distribute the code.
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Does this mean I will have to be an AWS customer to use FreeRTOS?
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Of course, FreeRTOS has had some good fortune over the last 15 years, including that its launch coincided with the start of the rapid move to small 32-bit microcontroller architectures, but its sustained leadership position is no accident. That comes from our systematic approach to removing reasons why an organization mightnotwant to use a free product.
How can I/my organization contribute to FreeRTOS?
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No. FreeRTOS remains open source, with no commitments. In fact, AWS has simplified everybodys use of FreeRTOS by changing the license to MIT. FreeRTOS users are not required to be AWS customers in any way.
Announcing FreeRTOS Kernel Version 10
What are the new features in version 10 of the FreeRTOS kernel?
What are the benefits to the FreeRTOS community of being under the aegis of AWS?
Many companies were originally not sure whether open source software would meet their quality and documentation standards. They wanted to have clarity about the IP ownership, as well as broad hardware support. To answer these concerns, we tested FreeRTOS aggressively, and documented itsMISRAcoding standard compliance. We ensured that the FreeRTOS API wasfully documented online, in the code, and in a reference manual. FreeRTOS came with lots of examples, training, and even abookthat started from first principles. We also put a lot of effort into strict IP control. Finally, FreeRTOS has over 40 supported architectures.
What are the benefits of Amazon FreeRTOS?