VxWorks is a real-time operating system made and sold by Wind River Systems of Alameda, California, USA.

VxWorks is designed for use in embedded systems. Unlike "native" systems such as Unix, VxWorks development is done on a "host" machine running Unix or Windows, cross-compiling target software to run on various "target" CPU architectures.


Wind River Systems was formed by a partnership of Jerry Fiddler and Dave Wilner. In 1981, Fiddler had come out of Berkeley Labs to write software for control systems, but wanted to pursue a career in computer generated music, which he funded through a consultancy business focused on real-time. His early clients included the National Football League and film director Francis Ford Coppola — for whom he designed a unique film editing system. Wilner, a former colleague at Berkeley, joined Fiddler and they formed a partnership called Wind River Systems (named after Wind River (Wyoming) where Fiddler had vacationed that year). Wind River was incorporated in 1983, with each partner contributing $3,000 and a desk to the business.

Wind River's first success was less a new product than an improvement on a primitive ROM chip with a 4K kernel sold by Ready Systems, now a Mentor Graphics product. The product, VRTX lacked everything from a file system to a development environment. Wind River created an accessory called VxWorks that turned the VRTX kernel into an OS and a development environment. Fiddler and Wilner had negotiated an agreement to sell VRTX with VxWorks. In 1987, anticipating that Ready Systems was going to cancel its reseller contract, Wind River developed its own kernel and a smaller, faster, lighter OS - written by an intern.

The name VxWorks is believed to be a pun (VRTX Works) on the VRTX real-time operating system.

OS overview

VxWorks is a proprietary, real-time operating system developed by Wind River Systems of Alameda, California, USA in 1987.

VxWorks has been ported to a number of platforms and now runs on practically any modern CPU that is used in the embedded market. This includes the x86 family, MIPS, PowerPC, Freescale ColdFire, SH-4 and the closely related family of ARM, StrongARM and xScale CPUs.

The key features of the current OS are:

Tornado (Development Environment for VxWorks 5.x releases)

Tornado is an Integrated development environment (IDE) for software cross-development targeting VxWorks 5.x.

Tornado consists of the following elements:

  • VxWorks 5.x target operating system
  • Application-building tools (cross-compiler and associated programs)
  • An integrated development environment (IDE) that facilitates managing and building projects, establishing host-target communication, and running, debugging, and monitoring VxWorks applications
  • VxSim simulator

Workbench (Development Environment for VxWorks 6.x releases)

Workbench replaced Tornado IDE for VxWorks 6.x. The Wind River Workbench is now built on Eclipse technology. Workbench is also the IDE for the Wind River Linux and On-Chip Debugging product lines.

Workbench for VxWorks consists of the following elements:

  • Eclipse framework and Eclipse (CDT) project
  • Project and Build System
  • Wind River Compiler and Wind River GNU Compiler
  • Debugger
  • Wind River Host Shell and Kernel Shell for VxWorks
  • VxWorks Kernel Configurator
  • Run-time analysis tools
  • VxSim simulator

Notable products using VxWorks

Spacecraft using VxWorks


The Voyager

External links

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