Nine Reasons Source Code Is Your Embedded Developer's Secret Weapon

Nine Reasons Source Code Is Your Embedded Developer's Secret Weapon

If access to source has not been on your radar, consider now what limitations your company will face in terms of both the ability to modify code and the long-term availability of technical support.

It makes intuitive sense that access to the source code of a real-time operating system (RTOS) is particularly critical to those developing software to run on it —  while the characterization of embedded devices as fixed-function is evolving, resource-constrained systems continue to be optimized down to the last available clock cycle.

Back in 2007 we introduced source builds for VxWorks. Soon after, the binary libraries were removed from VxWorks releases. Building from source has been a fundamental part of the VxWorks image creation process ever since. More recently, we've included the code for every architecture we support, making it possible for all current customers to build on any architecture. Starting with VxWorks 21.11, we pushed even further by providing customers with access to our git repo – enabling customers to track differences between each version.

Here are the nine reasons we believe access to source code can be your embedded developer's secret weapon:

1.     Software development: Source code access allows developers to modify or extend existing software libraries or build new ones that meet their needs (such as adding new features). Having access to source code also provides developers with the opportunity to customize their development environment (IDE) by integrating third-party tools like debuggers or memory allocators into their workflow.

2.     Customization: Access to the source code allows developers to customize the RTOS to meet the specific needs of their embedded system. They can modify the code to add or remove features, optimize performance, or reduce resource usage.

3.     Security: Security is a critical concern for embedded systems. Having access to the source code allows developers to review and scan the code for potential security vulnerabilities. This can help in developing a system that is secure and protected against potential attacks.

4.     Debugging and troubleshooting: It is easier to debug when developers have access to source code, including the underlying OS, because everything is visible to them.

5.     Performance optimization: Source code can be used to optimize performance of an application by identifying bottlenecks in the code. This is especially useful for real-time applications that require high performance in order to meet timing requirements.

6.     Ease of maintenance: Source code provides a historical record of how an application was developed over time, making it easier for developers to understand how an application works.

7.     Portability: With source code it is easier to port applications across different hardware architectures, or to port an application from one platform or operating system to another with less effort on your part as a developer and with less vendor lock-in.

8.     Support: Because source code comes with built-in support for networking, graphics, and other common functions like serial ports or file systems, software developers can save time by taking advantage of this prewritten code. Also, in the event that your RTOS reaches end of life (EOL), or if support becomes unavailable for any reason, you may be able to continue by yourself with the source code.

9.     Software scanning: Most scanning tools such as open source software or other license scanners, don’t run on binaries.  Without visibility into the source code you cannot fully verify what code you’re shipping with your product.

If lack of access to the source code of your real-time operating system is an ongoing irritation for you or your development teams. we can help. You can license VxWorks now online or live chat with one of our experts and leave your black box operating system behind.