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The Embedded Revolution: NI Linux Real-Time and ARM

The Embedded Revolution: NI Linux Real-Time and ARM


At NIWeek 2013, National Instruments unveiled a new operating system: NI Linux Real-Time. Between the keynote, NIWeek sessions, and media coverage, it’s evident that the release of this new real-time operating system (RTOS) is a significant milestone. Never mind the more than 60 man-years of engineering effort poured into the OS nor the joyous uproar from veteran users of NI’s embedded platform—in this feature, you will learn what this development means for you and will have a chance to participate in the contagious excitement around NI Linux Real-Time.

NI’s investment in this new RTOS coincides with the launch of two new dual-core ARM-based embedded targets: the NI cRIO-9068 controller for industry use and the NI myRIO device for classroom use. NI chose Linux because it is open, offers support across processor architectures, and beyond propelling R&D efficiency, has the ability to offer end users considerable value as well. NI Linux Real-Time benefits from NI’s expertise in reliable, real-time performance and preserves the same familiar LabVIEW software experience inherent to NI’s embedded targets.

NI Linux Real-Time is a compelling option for those struggling to decide between custom design and commercial off-the-shelf technologies. NI has long held a vision to offer designers the flexibility of custom design with the convenience of an off-the shelf purchase. NI Linux Real-Time contributes to this vision because it delivers the power of open-source innovation to NI’s embedded platform. With this new RTOS, users can further customize and tailor embedded targets to meet their design needs.

NI Linux Real-Time also offers impressive real-time performance with the approachability of a general-purpose OS. For example, previous RTOSs had to implement physical memory mapping to maintain real-time performance. On NI Linux Real-Time, you can benefit from a virtual (paged) memory model, and no longer have to contend with having to carefully monitor contiguous memory – all while maintaining the same level of system determinism. As another example, NI Linux Real-Time offers many utilities such as ps, netstat, top, grep, and find along with a full SSH console, which will enable you to better manage, maintain, and service your embedded targets.

For those who value security and reliability, NI Linux Real-Time should allay your fears. As a dual-mode OS that has a concept of users and permissions, this new RTOS is more robust and resilient. NI Linux Real-Time also relies on a securable, industry standard known as WebDAV for file transfer, and by default, ships without an open FTP server. Additionally, if you have the proper expertise, you can directly configure both a VPN and a Firewall on targets based on NI Linux Real-Time through OpenVPN and IPTables. In summary, you’ll be glad to learn that NI Linux Real-Time is more IT friendly and more easily securable, freeing you to focus on the application at hand rather than fretting over script kiddies.

NI Linux Real-Time also provides enhanced C/C++ support on CompactRIO systems. If you are coming from a large existing C or C++ code base, this new C/C++ support provides a much easier transition to NI’s embedded platform. For example, you can now more easily integrate existing C/C++ code alongside your LabVIEW Real-Time application. Beyond integration, you can even program the real-time processor entirely in C/C++ while leveraging LabVIEW to take advantage of the power of an FPGA. To enable you further, NI provides a single installer available at, which bundles Eclipse with a cross-compiler for NI Linux Real-Time.

The ubiquity of Linux lends itself to a significant amount of documentation and a large power user base. A prime example of the value of the new NI Linux Real-Time OS is the new condition monitoring platform from NI Silver Alliance Partner SEA GmbH, which was built using the cRIO-9068 controller. SEA quickly delivered a solution to market while using the new RTOS to implement security at a low cost, implement flexible network communication, and add support for time-correlated GPS measurements with drivers for Linux.

You can take advantage of the latest embedded technology from National Instruments because the new NI Linux Real-Time OS allows for greater customizability than ever before. Quickly deliver your innovative embedded design to market at a lower cost and with lower risk with the new generation of CompactRIO controller.

To learn more about how SEA used the NI Linux Real-Time OS, read the full case study at

Learn more about NI Linux Real-Time and NI support for Linux Desktop at

National Instruments,

Company profile:  National Instruments

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#4 December 2021
KIPiS 2021 #4
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