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VxWorks vs. Linux: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 24, 2024
VxWorks is a real-time operating system (RTOS) for embedded systems, while Linux is a free, open-source operating system kernel used in various distributions for computers and servers.

Key Differences

VxWorks is designed as a real-time operating system (RTOS) specifically for embedded systems, providing deterministic performance and reliability. Linux, conversely, is a general-purpose operating system kernel, used in a wide range of devices from servers to desktops, known for its flexibility and open-source nature.
VxWorks is known for its use in critical systems like aerospace and defense, where stability and real-time responses are essential. Linux, while also used in embedded systems, is more commonly found in servers, desktops, and increasingly in mobile devices, offering a versatile solution for various computing needs.
The development of VxWorks is controlled by a single company, Wind River Systems, ensuring a focused and unified direction. Linux, however, is developed by a global community of contributors, under the guidance of the Linux Foundation, leading to diverse adaptations and customizations.
VxWorks excels in environments requiring real-time, deterministic performance, such as robotics and telecommunications. Linux, with its broader scope, excels in providing a customizable platform for a range of applications, from personal computing to enterprise servers.
In terms of licensing, VxWorks is proprietary, requiring a license for use, which can be costly. Linux, in contrast, is largely available under the GNU General Public License, making it free for anyone to use, modify, and distribute.

Comparison Chart

Primary Use

Embedded systems, real-time applications
Wide range, including servers, desktops, mobile devices

Development Model

Controlled by Wind River Systems
Open-source, community-driven

Real-Time Capability

Designed for real-time performance
General-purpose, with real-time variants


Proprietary, requires purchase
Mostly free under GNU General Public License

Typical Use Cases

Aerospace, defense, robotics
Personal computing, enterprise servers, cloud computing

VxWorks and Linux Definitions


VxWorks is developed and controlled by Wind River Systems.
Wind River Systems released a new update for VxWorks.


Linux is a free, open-source operating system kernel.
The server runs on a Linux-based operating system.


VxWorks is a proprietary operating system requiring a license.
The company purchased a VxWorks license for their new project.


Linux development is community-driven, under the Linux Foundation.
The latest Linux version was a result of global collaboration.


VxWorks provides deterministic performance for real-time responses.
Their industrial automation relies on the real-time capability of VxWorks.


Linux is used in various devices, from servers to desktops.
She installed a Linux distribution on her old laptop.


VxWorks is a real-time operating system for embedded systems.
The Mars Rover's control system runs on VxWorks.


Linux is largely available under the GNU General Public License.
He modified the Linux source code for his project, thanks to its GPL licensing.


VxWorks is used in critical applications like aerospace and defense.
VxWorks was chosen for the fighter jet's navigation system.


Linux offers a customizable platform for different computing needs.
They customized their Linux kernel for enhanced security.


(software) Any unix-like operating system that uses the Linux kernel.


An open-source version of the UNIX operating system


What is Linux?

Linux is an open-source operating system kernel.

What are the typical applications of VxWorks?

VxWorks is typically used in aerospace, defense, and robotics.

How is Linux developed?

Linux is developed by a community of contributors globally.

What is VxWorks?

VxWorks is a real-time operating system for embedded systems.

Is VxWorks open-source?

No, VxWorks is a proprietary operating system.

Where is Linux commonly used?

Linux is used in servers, desktops, and various computing devices.

Who develops VxWorks?

VxWorks is developed by Wind River Systems.

What type of license does Linux use?

Linux mostly uses the GNU General Public License.

Why is Linux popular in servers?

Linux is stable, secure, and customizable, making it ideal for server environments.

Is Linux suitable for real-time applications?

Linux can be adapted for real-time applications, but it's not its primary focus.

Can Linux be used in embedded systems?

Yes, Linux is also used in embedded systems, though it's more general-purpose.

How does the Linux community contribute to its development?

The Linux community contributes through code, bug reports, and enhancements.

Do you need to pay for VxWorks?

Yes, VxWorks requires purchasing a license.

Can I modify the Linux kernel?

Yes, the Linux kernel can be modified under its GPL license.

What makes VxWorks unique for embedded systems?

VxWorks offers deterministic performance critical for real-time embedded systems.

What are the advantages of using Linux?

Linux offers flexibility, security, and a wide range of applications due to its open-source nature.

Can VxWorks be used for general computing?

VxWorks is primarily intended for embedded, real-time applications.

Is VxWorks user-friendly for beginners?

VxWorks is more specialized and may not be as user-friendly for beginners.

Can VxWorks be customized?

VxWorks can be customized within the constraints of its proprietary nature.

How does VxWorks handle real-time tasks?

VxWorks is designed to handle tasks with strict timing constraints reliably.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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