Right here’s a question: What is the world’s most popular operating system? You’d probably say some version of Microsoft Windows, right? Well, you’d be wrong. The most popular operating system in the world, according to this report is ITRON.
ITRON is not your typical operating system, it is a real-time kernel for small-scale embedded systems. Simply put, it’s a small, extremely fast operating system core designed to be run on small electronic devices like mobile phones, digital cameras, music players etc. ITRON allows both hardware and software makers to use a standard base for writing applicatios. This is important as it allows them to safe the time and money that earlier would be spent reinventing the wheel. Because ITRON and it’s derivatives are firmly open source, it means that knowledgable users can write their software if they don’t like what comes as standard (although you probably won’t be reprogramming your freezer any time soon).
Of course, it’s hard to write a paragraph about an open source Operating System without talking about Linux in some way or the other. ITRON however seems more mature than the equivalent RTLinux. This is only to be expected as the roots of ITRON go back farther than Linux’s and has been designed from the ground for the purposes it serves. But there is some effort at uniting the two projects with ITRON providing the kernel and security and linux giving the rest.
ITRON while very popular (estimates say some 3 billion machines are running it) it’s still fairly out of the limelight. But it seems to me that ITRON may be laying the foundation of an operating system design which one day allows to you link all the electronic devices in your house together in one seamless network (yes including the toilet and the kitchen sink).