Operation systems for measurement devices

Myth: “Linux is a great operating system for measurement devices”.

Many vendors of measurement devices proudly state to use a specific operation system. Why you shouldn’t care!

Operating systems for measurement devices are important to ensure longer term operational stability.

What is the operating system?

  • It is the bridge between hardware and software.
  • It translates between different hardware platforms.
  • It enables basic communication interfaces.
  • They are built to fulfill special purposes as working on many different platforms, taking care of fast electronic development change or have to be extreme robust.


Linux is a Unix derivation and built on a free license open source basis to enable millions of developers to add fast new features to the operating system. For some applications it is exactly what you need to get excess to the mobile and internet world. While there are some small and robust Unix kernels with limited routines and features out there, you also will see very loaded and not so stable variants of some Linux distributions. On the other side of the spectrum there are proprietary minimal operating systems or boot loaders which only will work on a specific hardware for a specific purpose. These operating systems will be in any case very robust but also limited in features and supported platforms.

You should not care what the vendor is using as long the system runs stable. Vendors stating having Linux as there operating system want to transport the message “its for free”. It’s not, someone has to do the work of taking care of the operating system and you do not want that millions of developer are adding features as they like.

We think a measurement device has different electronically layers and so the need for different operation systems.

The Seibold three layer electronic concept:

  • Sensor and Actor Layer; has to support newest electronic technology, not (easy) up-gradable, very robust, communication via serial protocol. Photometer, pumps, probes. Proprietary operating systems are preferred.
  • Controller Layer; this is where the measurement program runs. Turns pumps, reads photometer and probes. Operating system must be proprietary, small, limited and very robust. Features like washing machine.
  • Communication Layer; about communication to individuals and systems. Features like a mobile phone. Unix or Linux makes sense to support the well known features and devices.
Myths, Facts and Realities #003. About operating systems for measurement devices.

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