What is the Zephyr Project?

The Zephyr Project, is a Linux Foundation hosted Collaboration Project, an open source collaborative effort uniting leaders from across the industry to build a best-in-breed small, scalable, real-time operating system (RTOS) optimized for resource constrained devices, across multiple architectures.

The Zephyr Project’s goal is to establish a neutral project where silicon vendors, OEMs, ODMs, ISVs, and OSVs can contribute technology to reduce the cost and accelerate time to market for developing the billions of devices that will make up the majority of the Internet of Things

The Zephyr Project is perfect for building simple connected sensors, LED wearables, up to modems and small IoT wireless gateways. Because the Zephyr OS is modular and supports multiple architectures, developers are able to easily tailor an optimal solution to meet their needs. As a true open source project, the community can evolve the project to support new hardware, developer tools, sensor and device drivers. Enhancements in security, device management capabilities, connectivity stacks and file systems can be easily implemented.

The Zephyr kernel is derived from Wind River’s commercial VxWorks Microkernel Profile for VxWorks. Microkernel Profile has evolved over 20 years from DSP RTOS technology known as Virtuoso. The RTOS has been used in several commercial applications including satellites, military command and control communications, radar, telecommunications and image processing. The most recent example of the technology’s success is the successful Philae Landing on Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko and the accompanying Rosetta Orbiter.

Our Vision

The Zephyr Project’s goal is to become the best-of-breed, open source RTOS for connected, resource constrained devices, and built with security and safety in mind.

The Zephyr Project is working with leaders across the industry to create a solution that integrates and creates a robust, easy to use, customizable RTOS for a variety of industries and comprehends varying degrees of development needs. Zephyr Project and Linux Foundation will take strides in continuously expanding membership, building awareness to the project, and reinforce the open source development model through encouragement of community contributions.

Why create another RTOS?

Connected devices are the future, and development is happening quickly. The technology requirements are so vast that no one person or company has all the answers. Collaboration is key to share expertise and drive down the cost of connected devices which are projected to be deployed by the billions by 2020. A platform to promote collaboration has to be commercially-neutral, inclusive of all contributors, and governed in such a way that all interests are fairly represented. Today, only one such project exists, and that is Zephyr Project.

In the past few years the world has seen numerous “small-footprint” RTOSes. There are new RTOSes released by companies at an increasing rate, open source and otherwise, why create another? It may be more appropriate to ask, “Why does the industry need RTOS consolidation?” With this proliferation in RTOSes and small OSes we’ve come to notice a few things:

Market Fragmentation
  • Several RTOS options for small devices, each with their own restrictions.
  • Paid-for, commercial license or restrictive non-IP-friendly open source licenses
  • Open source projects tailored to a single party’s goals
Other RTOSes are run by major stakeholders with promises of open source & collaboration.
  • No clear way to upstream code that better suits your product development model
  • No community support ecosystem from professionals and experts.
  • No clear leader

What makes Zephyr Project different?

Security
  • Developed with security in mind
  • Employs an in-depth security development lifecycle: security validation, fuzz and penetration testing, frequent code reviews, static code analysis, threat modeling and reviews to prevent backdoors in the code
  • The project’s governance includes the formation of a security working group and a delegated security maintainer
  • The governance and its members have the responsibility to ensure that all aspects of the code are developed securely
Open Source
  • Available through the Apache 2.0 open source license
  • Free to use in commercial and non-commercial solutions
  • Hosted as a collaborative project with the Linux Foundation, the project is neutrally governed employing a lightweight governance and development model
  • From professional makers to large industrial and commercial vendors, the Zephyr Project strives to deliver a universally adoptable solution for the Internet of Things.
Modular
  • Zephyr Project provides developers with feature-rich software optimized for memory constrained devices.
  • Runs on systems as small as 8 kB of memory to more than 512 kB
  • Complete freedom – use the RTOS as-is or tailor a solution by enabling/disabling nearly every feature using Kconfig
  • Developers can use their tool suite of choice by supporting custom toolchains and compiler optimizations
Connected
  • Optimized for low-powered, small memory footprint devices
  • Supports Bluetooth®, Bluetooth® Low Energy, Wi-Fi*, 802.15.4
  • Supports standards like 6Lowpan, CoAP, IPv4, IPv6, and NFC
  • Refined and enhanced functionality through community-driven development