For several years, Intel launched a project related to the Linux kernel. Since then, until now there has not been a lot of information about it; and a few thought that Intel had left it on the side. But the reality is that the company has plans to make progress. And even to step on the accelerator in projects that join this operating system with the hardware. So much so, that they have even bought a specialized software developer company from Germany, Linutronix; to give more muscle and revitalize the project, and to advance GNU/Linux.
According to Intel, Linutronix, with whom they have been working for a decade, is responsible for the PREEMPT_RT patch. Drivers, sensors, robots, tools and other equipment use PREEMPT_RT to make communications possible in industrial applications. It works in real time and is run over GNU/Linux. When activated, this patch changes the mode in which the Linux kernel manages the interruptions; and locks to allow threads to have additional time in a core of CPU with little latency.
As a result of the application of the patch; developers can use it to configure the Linux kernel for real-time use cases without having to worry about non-controlled patches, nor by new versions of the kernel or other types of changes or disruptions.
Of course, despite its usefulness in industrial systems with GNU/Linux, as happens with other libre software projects; a small group of developers maintains PREEMPT_RT. So far, the project has suffered from lack of collaborators and financing to help integrate it with the main Linux kernel. However, there are enough companies that have already developed products that use the patch, and it is likely that now, by having Intel’s backup, the number of users using it will increase.
The terms of the purchase agreement are unknown, and so is the amount paid by Intel. But yes there’s confirmation from Intel, offering services for industrial systems that use GNU/Linux, as well as specialized GNU/Linux applications in real time. What the company has offered, through its Vice President, System Software Engineer of the Advanced Technology Group, Mark Skarpness, are the plans he has for Linutronix.
Thus, the manager has confirmed that:
By acquiring Linutronix, we are deepening our long-standing relationship with a highly respected team of globally recognized Linux experts, adding to the remarkable breadth and depth of Intel’s hardware and software talent. Linutronix will continue to operate as an independent business within our software division, led by Egger and Gleixner.
In addition, as confirmed to The Register; Intel will continue to support the project that has given life to PREEMPT_RT, since he said:
We intend to continue to support it. We think it’s really critical piece of technology that’s going to get used in a lot of places.