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VxWorks icon.svg
VxWorks 7 Bootup Screen.png
VxWorks 7 boot-up screen
DeveloperWind River (a wholly owned subsidiary of Aptiv)
OS familyReal-time operating systems
Working stateCurrent
Initial release1987; 36 years ago (1987)
Latest releaseVxWorks 7 23.03 / March 3, 2023; 2 months ago (2023-03-03)
Marketing targetEmbedded systems
Platformsx86, x86-64, MIPS, PowerPC, SH-4, ARM, RISC-V
Kernel typeMonolithic
Official websiteWindriver.com/products/vxworks

VxWorks is a real-time operating system (or RTOS) developed as proprietary software by Wind River Systems, a subsidiary of Aptiv. First released in 1987, VxWorks is designed for use in embedded systems requiring real-time, deterministic performance and, in many cases, safety and security certification for industries such as aerospace, defense, medical devices, industrial equipment, robotics, energy, transportation, network infrastructure, automotive, and consumer electronics.[1]

VxWorks supports AMD/Intel architecture, POWER architecture, ARM architectures and RISC-V.[2] The RTOS can be used in multicore asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP), symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), and mixed modes[3] and multi-OS (via Type 1 hypervisor)[4] designs on 32- and 64-bit processors.[5]

VxWorks comes with the kernel, middleware, board support packages, Wind River Workbench development suite and complementary third-party software and hardware technologies. In its latest release, VxWorks 7, the RTOS has been re-engineered for modularity and upgradeability so the OS kernel is separate from middleware, applications and other packages.[6] Scalability, security, safety, connectivity, and graphics have been improved to address Internet of Things (IoT) needs.[7][8][9]


VxWorks started in the late 1980s as a set of enhancements to a simple RTOS called VRTX[10] sold by Ready Systems (becoming a Mentor Graphics product in 1995).[11] Wind River acquired rights to distribute VRTX and significantly enhanced it by adding, among other things, a file system and an integrated development environment. In 1987, anticipating the termination of its reseller contract by Ready Systems, Wind River developed its own kernel to replace VRTX within VxWorks.[12]

Published in 2003 with a Wind River copyright, "Real-Time Concepts for Embedded Systems"[13] describes the development environment, runtime setting, and system call families of the RTOS. Written by Wind River employees with a foreword by Jerry Fiddler, chairman, and co-founder of Wind River, the textbook is an excellent tutorial on the RTOS. (It does not, however, replace Wind River documentation as might be needed by practicing engineers.)

VxWorks key milestones are:[14][failed verification]

  • 1980s: VxWorks adds support for 32-bit processors.
  • 1990s: VxWorks 5 becomes the first[citation needed] RTOS with a networking stack.
  • 2000s: VxWorks 6 supports SMP and adds derivative industry-specific platforms.
  • 2010s: VxWorks adds support for 64-bit processing[5] and introduces VxWorks 7 for IoT in 2016.[15]
  • 2020s: VxWorks continues to update and add support, including the ability to power the Mars 2020 lander.[16]

Platform overview[edit]

VxWorks supports Intel architecture, Power architecture, and ARM architectures. The RTOS can be used in multi-core asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP), symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), mixed modes[5] and multi-OS (via Type 1 hypervisor)[4] designs on 32- and 64- bit processors.

The VxWorks consists of a set of runtime components and development tools. The run time components are an operating system (UP and SMP; 32- and 64-bit), software for applications support (file system, core network stack, USB stack, and inter-process communications), and hardware support (architecture adapter, processor support library, device driver library, and board support packages).[5] VxWorks core development tools are compilers such as Diab, GNU, and Intel C++ Compiler (ICC)) and its build and configuration tools. The system also includes productivity tools such as its Workbench development suite and Intel tools and development support tools for asset tracking and host support.[5]

The platform is a modular, vendor-neutral, open system that supports a range of third-party software and hardware. The OS kernel is separate from middleware, applications, and other packages,[8] which enables easier bug fixes and testing of new features.[15] An implementation of a layered source build system allows multiple versions of any stack to be installed at the same time so developers can select which version of any feature set should go into the VxWorks kernel libraries.

Optional advanced technology for VxWorks provides add-on technology-related capabilities, such as:

  • Advanced security features to safeguard devices and data residing in and traveling across the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Advanced safety partitioning to enable reliable application consolidation
  • Real-time advanced visual edge analytics allow autonomous responses on VxWorks-based devices in real-time without latency
  • Optimized embedded Java runtime engine enabling the deployment of Java applications
  • Virtualization capability with a real-time embedded, Type 1 hypervisor


A list of some of the features of the OS are:[3][17][18][19]

In March 2014, Wind River introduced VxWorks 7, which emphasizes scalability, security, safety, connectivity, graphics, and virtualization.[9][15][20] The following lists some of the release 7 updates.[1][5][6][9] More information can be found on the Wind Rivers VxWorks website.

  • Modular, componentized architecture using a layered build system with the ability to update each layer of code independently
  • VxWorks microkernel (a full RTOS that can be as small as 20 KB)
  • Security features such as digitally-signed modules (X.509), encryption, password management, ability to add/delete users at runtime
  • SHA-256 hashing algorithm as the default password hashing algorithm
  • Human machine interface with Vector Graphics, and Tilcon user interface (UI)
  • Graphical user interface (GUI): OpenVG stack, Open GL, Tilcon UI, Frame Buffer Driver, EV Dev Interface
  • Updated configuration interfaces for VxWorks Source Build VSB projects and VxWorks Image Projects
  • Single authentication control used for Telnet, SSH, FTP, and rlogin daemons
  • Connectivity with Bluetooth and SocketCAN protocol stacks
  • Inclusion of MIPC File System (MFS) and MIPC Network Device (MND)
  • Networking features with 64-bit support including Wind River MACsec, Wind River's implementation of IEEE 802.1A, Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) over L2TP, PPP over virtual local area network (VLAN) and Diameter secure key storage
  • New Wind River Workbench 4 for VxWorks 7 integrated development environment with new system analysis tools
  • Wind River Diab Compiler 5.9.4; Wind River GNU Compiler 4.8; Intel C++ Compiler 14 and Intel Integrated Performance Primitives (IPP) 8

Hardware support[edit]

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 Intel x86 family (including the Intel Quark SoC),[21] MIPS, PowerPC (and BAE RAD), Freescale ColdFire, Intel i960, SPARC, Fujitsu FR-V, SH-4 and the closely related family of ARM, StrongARM and xScale CPUs. VxWorks provides a standard board support package (BSP) interface between all its supported hardware and the OS. Wind River's BSP developer kit provides a common application programming interface (API) and a stable environment for real-time operating system development. VxWorks is supported by popular SSL/TLS libraries such as wolfSSL.[22]

Development environment[edit]

As is common in embedded system development, cross-compiling is used with VxWorks. Development is done on a "host" system where an integrated development environment (IDE), including the editor, compiler toolchain, debugger, and emulator can be used. Software is then compiled to run on the "target" system. This allows the developer to work with powerful development tools while targeting more limited hardware. VxWorks uses the following host environments and target hardware architectures:[23]

Supported target architectures and processor families

VxWorks supports the following target architectures:

  • ARM
  • Intel architecture
  • Power architecture
  • RISC-V architecture[2]

For the latest target architecture, processors and board support packages, refer to the VxWorks Marketplace: https://marketplace.windriver.com/index.php?bsp&on=locate&type=platform

The Eclipse-based Workbench IDE that comes with VxWorks is used to configure, analyze, optimize, and debug a VxWorks-based system under development.[24] The Tornado IDE was used for VxWorks 5.x[25] and was replaced by the Eclipse-based Workbench IDE for VxWorks 6.x. and later.[23] Workbench is also the IDE for the Wind River Linux,[26] On-Chip Debugging,[27] and Wind River Diab Compiler product lines. VxWorks 7 uses Wind River Workbench 4[28] which updates to the Eclipse 4 base provides full third party plug-in support and usability improvements.

Wind River Simics[29][30] is a standalone simulation tool compatible with VxWorks. It simulates the full target system (hardware and software) to create a shared platform for software development. Multiple developers can share a complete virtual system and its entire state, including execution history. Simics enables early and continuous system integration and faster prototyping by utilizing virtual prototypes instead of physical prototypes.[31]

Notable uses[edit]

The ASIMO Robot uses VxWorks.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter uses VxWorks.
The Clementine spacecraft used VxWorks.

VxWorks is used by products across a wide range of market areas: aerospace and defense, automotive, industrial such as robots, consumer electronics, medical area and networking.[6] Several notable products also use VxWorks as the onboard operating system.[32]

Aerospace and defense[edit]



Space telescopes


Consumer electronics[edit]


Industrial robots
Test and Measurement
  • Bachmann M1 Controller System[74]
  • Invensys Foxboro PAC System[75]
  • National Instruments CompactRIO 901x, 902x 907x controllers[76]
  • Emerson distributed control system controllers
  • AMX controls system devices
  • The Experimental Physics and Industrial Control System (EPICS)[77]
  • Bosch Rexroth Industrial Tightening Control Systems[78]
  • MCE iBox elevator controller[79]
  • Schneider Electric Industrial Controller
  • B&R Automation Runtime
Storage systems
  • GrandMA Full-Size and Light Console by MA Lighting[81]


Networking and communication infrastructure[edit]

TCP vulnerability and CVE patches[edit]

As of July 2019, a paper published by Armis[110] exposed 11 critical vulnerabilities, including remote code execution, denial of service, information leaks, and logical flaws impacting more than two billion devices using the VxWorks RTOS.[111] The vulnerability allows attackers to tunnel into an internal network using the vulnerability and hack into printers, laptops, and any other connected devices. The vulnerability can bypass firewalls as well.[112]

The system is in use by quite a few mission-critical products, many of which could not be easily patched.[113]


  1. ^ a b "VxWorks Goes 64-bit", Electronic Design, March 25, 2011
  2. ^ a b "Wind River Announces RISC-V Support for VxWorks RTOS". www.businesswire.com. December 10, 2019. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  3. ^ a b RTOS Handles AMP and SMP, electronic design, March 2009
  4. ^ a b John Rath (February 2014). "Intel Adds Virtualization Platform for Industrial Systems".
  5. ^ a b c d e f Embedded Star Article, February 2011
  6. ^ a b c Wind River reinvents real-time system for the Internet of Things, iTERS news, March 2014
  7. ^ "VxWorks 7 Announced". harmonicss.co.uk. 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  8. ^ a b Wind River Reinvents the RTOS for the IoT, Business Wire, February 2014
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  13. ^ Li, Qing; Yao, Caroline (2003). Real-Time Concepts for Embedded Systems. CMP Books. ISBN 1-57820-124-1.
  14. ^ Company Histories, Funding Universe
  15. ^ a b c Wind River Outfits VxWorks for the Internet of Things, Computer World
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  18. ^ POSIX Certification Register
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  34. ^ a b c d e ExtremeTech news
  35. ^ Clementine Project Information Page
  36. ^ The Software Behind the Mars Phoenix Lander
  37. ^ ExtremeTech article
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  39. ^ Bullseye: Autonomous Satellite Enters Jupiter’s Orbit
  40. ^ AgustaWestland Project Zero
  41. ^ the US Navy’s unmanned combat air system X-47B, YouTube video
  42. ^ Verocel webpage
  43. ^ The Free Library, Farlex
  44. ^ http://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/rq-170-sentinel/ Airforce-Technology.com
  45. ^ https://act-on.ioactive.com/acton/attachment/34793/f-cd239504-44e6-42ab-85ce-91087de817d9/1/-/-/-/-/Arm-IDA%20and%20Cross%20Check%3A%20Reversing%20the%20787's%20Core%20Network.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  46. ^ PTR Group celebrates third successful launch of the year, PTR GRoup webpage
  47. ^ James Webb Space Telescope, SPIEL Digital Library
  48. ^ Case Study: European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System
  49. ^ TacNet Tracker Software, ESTSC
  50. ^ Flexible camera applications of an advanced uncooled microbolometer thermal imaging core, SPIE Digital Library
  51. ^ Barco Selects Wind River for Military Display and Management, Bloomberg
  52. ^ Wind River: Toshiba is using Simics to develop automotive application software, Embedded Control Europe
  53. ^ Wind River Helps Bosch Motorsport Race For The Win, Globe and Mail
  54. ^ Hyundia works with Wind River, Telematics News
  55. ^ Magneti Marell i Motorsport Chooses Wind River VxWorks for Formula One Race Cars, HighBeam Research
  56. ^ The Network on Wheels -- Java Developers, Start Your Programming Engines!,Oracle
  57. ^ "AMX Meets Productivity, Cost-Savings Goals with Wind River" (PDF). August 2007.
  58. ^ "AMX AV/IT Administrators Guide".
  59. ^ Drobo In depth review, Automated Home
  60. ^ Honda Robots Asimo, Robotics Technology Simplified
  61. ^ Motorola's DCT2500 Core Interactive Digital Set-Tops Deployed With Wind River Software, BrightRoll news webpage
  62. ^ As a Case Study of WindRiver: introduce MobbyTalk/MobbyTalk253, Mobile Technika
  63. ^ MythTv on ReplayTv hardware?, Don Ritter
  64. ^ "ABB Robotics and vxworks". ABB. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
  65. ^ Comau Robotics Picks Wind River VxWorks for RTOS, TMCnet.com
  66. ^ KUKA Video, YouTube
  67. ^ COPALP webpage
  68. ^ Yaskawa, Motoman Strategic Partners
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  71. ^ Hexagon Metrology Standardizes on Wind River’s VxWorks for Next-Generation Metrology Equipment, Bloomberg.com
  72. ^ Leading Chinese Transportation Company Relies on Wind River to Meet Stringent Safety Certification Goal, On-line Wall Street Journal
  73. ^ Bombardier Transportation Selects Wind River Platforms for Safety Critical Certified Display on London Underground, Online UK Reuters
  74. ^ Wind Power Automation Leader Bachmann Relies On Wind River VxWorks For Next-Generation Controller System, Globe and mail
  75. ^ Invensys acquisition: “Now, it is up to how well we execute.”, The Instrument Readout SignPost
  76. ^ National Instruments Support Page
  77. ^ EPICS base Release 3.14 Installation Instructions
  78. ^ Bosch Rexroth YouTube video
  79. ^ iBox user guide Page 8-41
  80. ^ Toshiba Photocopiers
  81. ^ GrandMA Full-Size Data Sheet
  82. ^ "Wind River Introduces Software Platform for Medical Devices Complete with Compliance Documentation". Archived from the original on November 8, 2012. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  83. ^ Olympus ESG-400 high-frequency surgical generator
  84. ^ BD FACSCount article
  85. ^ Thema process control article
  86. ^ CEREC Chairside Solutions
  87. ^ Arkoon selects Wind River for nextgen equipment, Highbeam Business
  88. ^ Ubee-Airwalk uses Wind River's VxWorks in femotcell,Telecompaper
  89. ^ Kontron AG e-newswire
  90. ^ QQTechnologies goes Global with VxWorks, Datsheets 360
  91. ^ Stubbs, Jack (August 5, 2018). "Huawei in British spotlight over use of U.S. firm's software". Reuters U.K.
  92. ^ Broadlight Client page
  93. ^ Sky Pilot Command Line Interface Reference document
  94. ^ Wind River delivers Raptor with VxWorks Platform, ETT Asia news
  95. ^ Siemens deploys 2.5G Wireless Data Platform, 3G Newsletter
  96. ^ FlexiPacket Release Note
  97. ^ Oracle acme support page
  98. ^ Avaya ERS 8600 Wikipedia
  99. ^ Dell PowerConnect, Wikipedia page
  100. ^ Routing Protocol Operations Guide for SmartEdge
  101. ^ Enhanced Security for Industrial Networks, Belden webpage
  102. ^ VoIP Security webpage
  103. ^ Multiservice Switch, Wikipedia
  104. ^ Knowledge Base, Radware webpage
  105. ^ "Samsung OfficeServ brochure" (PDF).
  106. ^ Tim's IT-Blob: A deeper look on SonicWALL kernel
  107. ^ Thuraya SO-2510 Satellite
  108. ^ SANYO Multimedia Tottori Chooses RADVISION SIP Developer Toolkit to Build New IP Phone, Business Wire
  109. ^ 3Com NBX Phone Systems, AdCom Technologies Inc.
  110. ^ "Urgent/11 Critical Vulnerability" (PDF). Armis.
  111. ^ "Critical Vulnerabilities Dubbed URGENT/11 Place Devices Running VxWorks at Risk of RCE Attacks". Tenable®. July 29, 2019. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  112. ^ Gmuender, John (July 29, 2019). "Wind River VxWorks and URGENT/11: Patch Now". SonicWall. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  113. ^ Newman, Lily Han. "An Operating System Bug Exposes 200 Million Critical Devices". Wired.

External links[edit]