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Wind River Linux adds Docker and Kubernetes support for the edge

Jun 11, 2019 — by Eric Brown 2,724 views

The latest version of Wind River Linux debuts an “OverC” container stack that eases integration of frameworks such as Docker and Kubernetes on edge devices. The Yocto-based embedded distro is available in open source and commercial versions.

When reading about the latest, container-friendly version of the market-leading commercial Wind River Linux distribution, we were struck by the mention of an open source version of the commercial distro available for download on GitHub. We wondered if this was a new development after Intel sold off Wind River to investment firm TPG last year, but a Wind River spokesperson informed us that the open source version has been available since 2017.

The unnamed new version of the Yocto Project based, Carrier Grade Linux 5.0 compliant distribution has been upgraded for the expected wave of cloud-derived container technologies deployed on embedded edge devices. The new release incorporates a stack called OverC that’s designed to ease adoption of containers in embedded systems to “deliver powerful benefits such as greater scalability and flexibility.”


OverC supports frameworks such as Docker and Kubernetes and provides resources such as pre-built containers, tools, and documentation. It also integrates components from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and the Yocto Project.

Current container frameworks “lack the right design or support for mission-critical industries that typically employ devices with extremely long lifecycles,” says Wind River. Some of these enterprise-focused frameworks are “bloated or require updates too frequently to run effectively on these embedded systems.”

Wind River Helix Virtualization Platform
(click image to enlarge)

By combining this OverC runtime with the recently announced Wind River Helix Virtualization Platform, “heterogeneous systems employing a mix of OSes and requiring determinism and safety certification can leverage the scalability of containers while meeting the often stringent requirements of embedded systems,” says Wind River. Applications include industrial control systems, autonomous vehicles, medical devices and equipment, Internet of Things gateways, Radio Access Network (RAN) products, and network appliances.

The argument for embedded containers include easier installation and updates, greater security, and the ability to quickly scale for large deployments. It’s also easier to find developers with knowledge of cloud technologies than those with embedded chops. Finally, with the growing need for AI on the edge to reduce latency and costs from embedded-to-cloud communications, it’s easier to borrow cloud-based AI frameworks than to build them from scratch.

In addition to the free, open source version of Wind River Linux, there’s a subscription service that provides access to long-term support and maintenance, including security updates, “for the fully upstream Wind River Linux content.” Additional services and training are available, including custom content management and frozen branch management. A Wind River security team offers “constant monitoring” of the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database, security notifications from U.S. government agencies, organizations such as NIST and US CERT, and public and private security mailing lists.

More from Wind River: automotive OTA and O-RAN for 5G

Also this month, Wind River announced a partnership with Airbiquity to develop an end-to-end software lifecycle management solution for cloud-connected and autonomous vehicles. Wind River plans to contribute its modular Edge Sync OTA update and lifecycle management solution. Airbiquity will supply its OTAmatic software for OTA orchestration, campaign management, software and data management, and Uptane-based security framework capabilities.

Wind River Titanium Cloud architecture
(click image to enlarge)

Wind River also announced it has joined the O-RAN Alliance to further advance 5G network technologies. Virtual RAN and C-RAN are two of the most common use cases for Wind River Linux and the StarlingX based Wind River Titanium Cloud, says the company. Radio Access Network (RAN) technologies operate in wireless telecom base-stations to connect devices via radio.

Further information

The latest release of Wind River Linux with the OverC container technology is available now for free download on GitHub, and is also available via a subscription service. More information may be found in the announcement and product page.

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