Today there is virtually no technical processes that can do without automation – from simple systems that we use in our everyday life, to the most complex industrial manufacturing processes. Many technical devices, without which it is impossible to imagine the comfort and safety of life became such only because of the emergence of embedded systems. Today, with the increasing complexity of technical systems, the embedded software becomes an important factor that helps to analyze the operation of the certain object and the management system and adopt appropriate solutions to improve it. The use of intelligent, flexible automation systems and the interaction with them increase the competence of users.
Nowadays, the embedded systems can be found in a variety of products, including aircraft and military systems, automobiles, robots, computers, biomedical systems, communications, electronic instruments,industrial equipment, home appliance, office machines and personal devices. Embedded software is widely used in many spheres of human activity. Most of the up-to-date devices have sophisticated software that is required for multitasking. The operating system can provide all of these features to help application developers. The major cost of resources spent on the development of embedded systems are associated with the creation of a software. Development and testing of a new software takes a long time. Purchase and adaptation of software packages from other companies are usually associated with significant costs. In some cases, embedded system developers save their time and money by using free software available in source code (Open Source).
Until recently, the developers of embedded systems rejected the possibility of using Open Source programs, because of their unreliability, lack of adequate support, lack of documentation. In recent years the situation has changed. Open Source software products has shown their efficiency in many applications. Different versions of Linux have demonstrated ability to work in a number of complex applications, including military equipment. According to the latest survey, more than 20% of specialists in the field of embedded systems development use Linux, and another 30% plan to use it in the nearest future.
Of course, the Open Source software products have their weak points and, above all, the lack of documentation. For this reason, Open Source products are often used by companies, which have a staff that consist of a skilled and experienced programmers, who can carry out the necessary testing and prepare the documentation required for use of the program in a particular application.
However, the rapid progress of the Open Source community and an increasing interest in this products from the side of embedded applications developers, suggest a further increase in the use of free software that will compete with the commercial operating systems in many applications. Another direction in embedded systems development is connected with the use of multi-core processors that open up a great opportunity to extend the functionality of these systems. Also, the great prospects in terms of the embedded systems development are associated with the introduction of wireless communication technologies in this sphere.