Open-source RTOS for smallest IoT footprints: Zeyphr, a Linux Foundation project

March 14, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
The open source Zephyr Project aims to deliver an RTOS, and has issued a call for developers to help advance project for the smallest footprint IoT devices. The Zephyr Project has been conceived as an open source collaborative effort will unite leaders from across the industry to build a real-time operating system (RTOS) for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Early support for the Zephyr Project includes Intel (including its acquired business groups Altera Corporation and Wind River), NXP Semiconductors (including its recent merger with Freescale), Synopsys, and UbiquiOS Technology Limited. Zephyr Project is inviting others interested in this technology to participate.


Industrial and consumer IoT devices, the Foundation contends, require software that is scalable, secure and enables seamless connectivity. Developers also need the ability to innovate on top of a highly modular platform that easily integrates with embedded devices regardless of architecture. While Linux has proven to be a highly successful operating system for embedded development, some IoT devices require an RTOS that addresses the very smallest memory footprints. This complements real-time Linux, which excels at data acquisition systems, manufacturing plants and other time-sensitive instruments and machines that provide the critical infrastructure for some of the world’s most complex computing systems.


“Developers today have many choices when it comes to platforms. The Zephyr Project will offer a modular, connected operating system to support the smallest footprint for IoT devices,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director, The Linux Foundation. “We invite developers to contribute to the Zephyr Project and to help advance a customisable embedded open source RTOS to advance IoT. By hosting this at The Linux Foundation, we look forward to the cross-project collaboration among Linux and this community.”


Modularity and security are key considerations when building systems for embedded IoT devices. The Zephyr Project prioritises these features by providing the freedom to use the RTOS as-is or to tailor a solution. The project’s focus on security includes plans for a dedicated security working group and a delegated security maintainer. Broad communications and networking support is also addressed and will initially include Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy and IEEE 802.15.4, with plans to expand communications and networking support over time.


The Zephyr Project aims to incorporate input from the open source and embedded developer communities and to