Microsoft will soon open-source Eclipse ThreadX real-time operating system that has been deployed on more than 12 billion embedded devices worldwide since its first release in 1997 and, for instance, it is found in Broadcom processors powering Raspberry Pi SBCs.
ThreadX was a commercial, safety-certified real-time operating system developed Express Logic which was acquired by Microsoft in 2019 and renamed to Azure RTOS. Last year, Microsoft decided to start the process to fully open-source Azure RTOS under an MIT license and managed by the Eclipse Foundation. Hence its new name: “Eclipse ThreadX“.
The Eclipse ThreadX project is not simply comprised of the RTOS itself, but also includes other components:
- ThreadX – Real-time operating system (RTOS) designed for deeply embedded applications
- NetX Duo – Industrial-grade TCP/IP network stack designed for deeply embedded real-time and IoT applications
- FileX – FAT-compatible file system integrated with ThreadX kernel
- GUIX – Embedded graphical user interface (GUI) library
- USBX – USB host, device, and on-the-go (OTG) embedded stack integrated with ThreadX kernel
- LevelX – Flash Wear Leveling for FileX and stand-alone purposes
- GuiX Studio – Design environment, facilitating the creation and maintenance of all graphical elements for CUIX
- TraceX – Analysis tool that provides a graphical view of real-time system events to better understand the behavior of real-time systems
The Eclipse Foundation is still working on legal issues but the full source code should be released in full in the next few weeks since the organization has a Q1 2024 target. You can already find (most of?) the source code on Github and the Threadx.io website has more details and documentation as well.
As explained by Frédéric Desbiens, who manages the embedded, IoT, and Edge computing programs at the Eclipse Foundation during a podcast on the Embedded Computing website, the MIT license is permissive so which means companies using the open-source Eclipse ThreadX don’t need to commit their change to the project.
That probably means not much will change for existing projects, and I would not expect Raspberry Pi to release the source for future versions of the Thread firmware based on the open-source version. But that may mean more companies may start using the RTOS and it will compete more directly against the popular FreeRTOS.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.