How conveniently are we surrounded by machines and devices for every task today- Isn’t it?

But imagine what if any hardware device manufactured to perform a specific task does not serve the purpose.

It would be a terrible failure.

So, do embedded systems have an operating system to perform flawlessly as desired?

Of course, with the combination of hardware and firmware, an embedded system works amazing.

The syncing of these will develop an embedded operating system. Let’s read further to understand what it is and what are the types of embedded operating systems that help any device to function better.

What is an Embedded Operating System?

The primary purpose of embedded operating systems is to operate the device efficiently and reliably to manage the hardware and software resources. It acts as a partition tool to simplify developing further layers of software.

Multiple embedded applications require an OS. If the application is complex and needs a high-end processor, an operating system would inevitably help.

One of the embedded operating system example is a mobile phone. While a mobile phone is running, the OS built inside will also run on the embedded processors.

Check below how an OS fits into an Embedded system.

OS fits into an Embedded system

Choosing the right embedded operating system is critical in building an embedded device. Below are the types of embedded operating systems that can help you decide which OS suits your device best.

What Are The Types of Embedded Operating Systems

“The heart of every operating system is Kernel.”

It is solely responsible for managing the hardware, memory, files, etc. The kernel provides access to system memory.

Is that all?

You wish!

This isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are multiple operating systems that are installed in the embedded systems.

Let us give you insights into the different Kernel used in embedded operating systems.

As the kernel is a significant part of operating systems; it handles synchronization and inter-task communication. It incorporates a range of features that allows a device to control and function in the real-world environment.

Commonly, there are three types of kernel used to run the operating systems.

  • RTOS
  • Linux
  • Android

Let us understand each of them in detail.

RTOS – Real-Time Operating System

To start with RTOS, real-time means dealing with time to execute a task, and real-time is predictable to events that react within specific time constraints.

For example, a Keyboard. The end-user wants the key to be displayed on the screen instantly once they type. Within a few milliseconds, the programmed real-time operating system displays the text on the screen.

Check if your application is real-time. The application is where time is of paramount importance. Standard OS does not respond to completing any task automatically, whereas RTOS ensures to finish the task promptly.

An embedded system like a smart wearable device that needs multitasking, runs on RTOS that helps to measure the OS performance in the 10th of seconds. Which means, a smart wearable device if connected to an operating system, helps to perform multiple tasks like Tracking, listening to music, saving data, etc. all at the same time.

Furthermore, let us study the types of RTOS.

types of RTOS


Soft RTOS is used when the system fails to meet a deadline. Though the process to get the desired result is more important.

The best example of soft RTOS is audio, video systems. In simple terms, it allocates memory to run and get processed in the RAM storage.


A hard RTOS means that delivery failure may lead to a huge system failure in one go.

The best example of hard RTOS or immediate RTOS is medical devices, pacemakers, anti-lock brakes that operate at a stringent deadline.


Like hard RTOS, if a firm RTOS misses a deadline, the system does not fail but degrades quality.

Example: Airplane sensors, spacecraft, and planetary rovers.

These real-time embedded operating system concepts are a mandate to embedded software development for reliable and efficient operations.

Now, what if you want to use these concepts to connect multiple devices in milliseconds?

Have you ever heard about FreeRTOS?

The primary subcategory of RTOS is FreeRTOS, which is specifically designed and responsible for deciding which task to execute first.

FreeRTOS is used for IoT software development with strict real-time constraints. Used by many developers, FreeRTOS can connect approximately 127 devices to the internet every second.

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Still confused about RTOS and FreeRTOS, consult experts to understand in detail. We can help you design the smallest application with the help of FreeRTOS.

After a detailed explanation about RTOS, do you still think about whether to use RTOS or not? Let’s talk about the advantages of Real-Time Operating Systems to get a clear picture.

  • Top-priority time scheduling
  • Abstraction of time information
  • Maintaining the operations
  • Easy testing
  • Code rescue
  • More efficient
  • High system integration

Amazon provides extensions to FreeRTOS for IoT real-time applications strictly.

If these devices use RTOS as their OS what about other devices?

Well, Linux is also another embedded operating system that is used often.

Linux Operating System

Linux Operating System

Linus Torvalds introduced Linux who made a copy of the Unix kernel. It is an open-source software code used to create flexible, secure, and safe devices for daily use.

Linux is not intrinsically RTOS but extensions that might make it a viable option to use—well designed to install in embedded systems of devices.

The most significant example of Linux is smart home devices, car consoles, smart tablets, digital storage devices, etc.

Advantages of using Embedded Linux:

  • Linux works on two interfaces only with limited memory space: LED and serial ports.
  • Linux is an independent platform.
  • It allows multiple modifications in the source code to reuse the components.
  • The embedded operating system software is cheaper and reduces the cost of hardware.

Moving on to the next OS, more recently, a new breed of embedded operating systems emerged with a bespoke version of Android. At first impression, Android may seem a little odd as an embedded OS, but the fact is Android is already a part of Embedded Linux and a popular choice as an embedded operating system.

Embedded Android

Embedded Android

Is Android just Linux?

Well, the answer is still vague.

Linux is an excellent choice for embedded systems in many cases. So what differentiates the Android open source from other embedded Linux projects?

The basic definition is that Android sits on top of the Linux kernel, and below are the additional features that add to its popularity.

  • It’s free to use.
  • Android is an obvious option for any touch screen product for its rich UI interface.
  • Regular programming with tools for debugging.
  • Open-source software to customize to your needs.
  • Quick Prototyping

With all the above-explained types of embedded operating systems, let us now read which OS tops the list and why it is the best for embedded systems.

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Which Embedded Operating System Powers the World of IoT Today?

As we can witness that businesses adopt IoT, the embedded systems market should upgrade to IoT-friendly embedded devices.

Embedded systems play a vital role in IoT as they function in time constraints, low maintenance, and low power consumption. The type of embedded operating system widely used in this process is RTOS, as it helps in synchronization, multitasking on microcontroller-based systems, and task prioritization.


That’s all about the types of embedded operating systems.

If you are thinking of transforming your hardware to an IoT-enabled device or developing a new IoT device, RTOS is accessible and powerful. To avoid any fatal outcomes, you need proper implementation of RTOS in the machine.

With in-depth experience in developing embedded systems, we lend extensive services for embedded systems development to create a robust solution for your IoT-enabled embedded device. You can hire embedded software developers from the top embedded solution providing company to make the best product.


What is the difference between an embedded system and a real-time system?

Embedded systems are electronic devices that are designed to perform a dedicated program. On the other hand, a real time embedded system is designed to perform a task within a time frame providing timely response to critical and non-critical events.

Which of the following is a valid type of operating system?

There are multiple types of operating systems. It all depends on the type of application you are looking to develop. If your device consists of a time frame or requires it to respond in milliseconds, you need RTOS. Apart from RTOS for other embedded applications, you can use Linux and Android as an operating system.

Difference between embedded system and non embedded system?

The major difference between embedded and non-embedded systems is that embedded systems are designed to perform only one specific task whereas a non-embedded or a general system performs multiple tasks.

Useful Resources For Embedded Software Development