Robotics & Automation News

Market trends and business perspectives

nxp openil robots image

NXP launches new version of the Linux operating system customised for industrial operations

NXP has launches what it describes as a “community-based industrial Linux distribution for Industry 4.0”.

Open Industrial Linux, or OpenIL, provides immediate access to industrial time-sensitive networking technology, says NXP.

NXP Semiconductors is best known for making computing chips but also has a big business in connectivity solutions, which is what Industry 4.0 is about – connecting machines to the internet. 

NXP says its Linux-based OpenIL is specially designed for factory automation and original equipment manufacturers.

By breaking down the barriers of real-time computing and networking in a standard, community-based distribution, OpenIL helps these OEMs usher in the Industry 4.0 era, says NXP.


The OpenIL distribution includes TSN support, per-stream policing, time-aware shaping of network traffic, and 801.1AS time synchronization.

TSN Ethernet is integrated in the Layerscape LS1028A industrial applications processor announced by NXP in March 2017.

Dan Mandell, senior industry analyst at VDC Research Group, says: “NXP has taken a leadership role with the OpenIL distro in focusing Linux designers specifically on industrial automation opportunities, while simultaneously leveraging its Layerscape system-on-chip capabilities to enable Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing systems. It should prove a powerful combination.”

Factory managers and industrial-equipment makers are turning to Linux for its operational stability, security, and cost of ownership.

For similar reasons, they are turning to Ethernet to replace vendor-specific networking protocols.

Richard House, software vice president at NXP Semiconductors, says: “OpenIL combines security, TSN, edge computing, and Industry 4.0 into a single Linux distribution.

“OEMs can focus on their value-added technologies to create the next generation of smart manufacturing solutions while utilizing proven hardware and software platforms.”

Originated by NXP, OpenIL’s baseline capabilities include IT infrastructure software such as networking stacks, web servers – which NXP says is useful for configuration management, scripting tools, and system utilities commonly part of Linux distros.

OpenIL facilitates OEMs adding software from the rich Linux ecosystem using an optional instantiation of the popular Ubuntu user-space filesystem layout, says NXP.

Other notable OpenIL distribution features include:

  • Xenomai real-time extensions to Unix, easing porting from a real-time operating system like VxWorks or pSOS
  • Extensible Markup Language and NetConf-based network configuration utilities for TSN
  • Generalized precision time protocol with the linuxptp daemon
  • Drivers for the Ethernet Interfaces and the NXP SJA1105T TSN switch
  • Support for edge computing services