1660253918432 Beckhofftwincatbsd1sb

TwinCAT/BSD provides an additional operating system for Beckhoff Industrial PCs

May 1, 2020
Combining the TwinCAT real-time kernel with open-source FreeBSD OS promises increased customization and security with reduced licensing effort and cost.

Beckhoff is releasing TwinCAT/BSD as an alternative operating system (OS) for its proven PC-based automation platform. Ideal for applications across industries, TwinCAT/BSD combines the TwinCAT runtime with FreeBSD, an industrially tested and reliable open-source operating system. This additional OS is designed to increase options for customization, reduce license costs and eliminate distribution issues with third-party vendors, including licensing and eventual discontinuation of support.

In addition to multi-core support and a small software footprint, TwinCAT/BSD combined with the Beckhoff Package Server offers a simple option for installing TwinCAT functions and FreeBSD applications or updating the entire system. TwinCAT/BSD will support all TwinCAT runtime functions and additionally enable the use of the HTML5-based TwinCAT HMI on the same system. Of course, Beckhoff will continue to support Windows operating systems in new and already installed controller hardware.

While the alternative OS opens up new possibilities for the Beckhoff Industrial PC (IPC) portfolio, it does not fundamentally change the capabilities of the PC-based control platform. Engineering still occurs in the familiar TwinCAT XAE (eXtended Automation Engineering) environment based on Visual Studio from a Windows development computer or via a Web browser using TwinCAT Cloud Engineering.

Full customization remains possible with TwinCAT/BSD, along with an increased OS lifetime and availability for older devices. Simply put, the TwinCAT real-time kernel is combined with the open-source FreeBSD operating system to provide an additional OS option, when applications call for it, with the same reliability, security and openness delivered by the standard Beckhoff platform.

Alternative OS

Figure 1: TwinCAT/BSD is a powerful alternative OS for the Beckhoff’s PC-based controllers while continuing to support Windows-based systems.

Why is FreeBSD a good fit for TwinCAT?

The roots of FreeBSD reach back to the University of California, Berkeley, where the initial kernel was developed; in fact, BSD stands for Berkeley Software Distribution. A modern iteration of Unix, FreeBSD is related to systems such as Linux, and many well-known Linux programs can now be used under TwinCAT/BSD. Unlike Linux, however, it is a complete operating system and not simply a kernel. Through these strengths, FreeBSD is currently the basis for numerous industrial and consumer technology platforms, including the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation OS and widely used software and services such as WhatsApp, Netflix and many others.

Open Windows

Figure 2: TwinCAT/BSD provides operating system for the machine controller while the TwinCAT engineering environment remains on a Windows development computer.

[javascriptSnippet ]

While TwinCAT/BSD charts a different path from Windows, there is no loss of system openness or performance—both hallmarks of New Automation Technology from Beckhoff. As with Windows operating systems, a wide variety of additional software can be installed on the machine controller alongside TwinCAT. In addition, the OS provides the robust security of a modern Unix system. This open-source technology easily extends to the industrial space, promising simple configuration, extensions and customizations as desired by the individual programmer. TwinCAT/BSD ensures an effective, reliable OS for wide-ranging applications.

Sponsored Recommendations

Power Distribution Resource Guide

When it comes to selecting the right power supply, there are many key factors and best practices to consider.

Safe Speed and Positioning with Autonomous Mobile Robots

Here are some tips for ensuring safe speed and positioning for AMRs using integrated safety technology – many of these tips also apply to automated guided vehicles (AGVs).

Faster, Accurate and Reliable Motion Control With Advanced Inductive Technology

This white paper describes new technology offering improved position measurement capabilities in reliability, speed, accuracy and more.

The Value of Dual Rated AC/DC Disconnect Switches

Why is it necessary for me to have a disconnect switch installed in my application?