Last updated
Developer TinyOS Alliance
Written in nesC
OS family Embedded operating systems
Working stateCurrent
Source model Open source
Initial release2000;23 years ago (2000)
Latest release 2.1.2 / August 20, 2012;11 years ago (2012-08-20)
Marketing target Wireless sensor networks
Available in English
License BSD
Official website tinyos.net

TinyOS is an embedded, component-based operating system and platform for low-power wireless devices, such as those used in wireless sensor networks (WSNs), smartdust, ubiquitous computing, personal area networks, building automation, and smart meters. It is written in the programming language nesC, as a set of cooperating tasks and processes. It began as a collaboration between the University of California, Berkeley, Intel Research, and Crossbow Technology, was released as free and open-source software under a BSD license, and has since grown into an international consortium, the TinyOS Alliance.


TinyOS has been used in space, being implemented in ESTCube-1.


TinyOS applications are written in the programming language nesC, a dialect of the C language optimized for the memory limits of sensor networks. Its supplementary tools are mainly in the form of Java and shell script front-ends. Associated libraries and tools, such as the nesC compiler and Atmel AVR binutils toolchains, are mostly written in C.

TinyOS programs are built of software components, some of which present hardware abstractions. Components are connected to each other using interfaces. TinyOS provides interfaces and components for common abstractions such as packet communication, routing, sensing, actuation and storage.

TinyOS is fully non-blocking: it has one call stack. Thus, all input/output (I/O) operations that last longer than a few hundred microseconds are asynchronous and have a callback. To enable the native compiler to better optimize across call boundaries, TinyOS uses nesC's features to link these callbacks, called events, statically. While being non-blocking enables TinyOS to maintain high concurrency with one stack, it forces programmers to write complex logic by stitching together many small event handlers. To support larger computations, TinyOS provides tasks, which are similar to a Deferred Procedure Call and interrupt handler bottom halves. A TinyOS component can post a task, which the OS will schedule to run later. Tasks are non-preemptive and run in first in, first out order. This simple concurrency model is typically sufficient for I/O centric applications, but its difficulty with CPU-heavy applications has led to developing a thread library for the OS, named TOSThreads. TOSThreads are unmaintained and have been deprecated. [1]

TinyOS code is statically linked with program code and is compiled into a small binary, using a custom GNU toolchain. Associated utilities are provided to complete a development platform for working with TinyOS.


TinyOS began as a project at UC Berkeley as part of the DARPA NEST program. It has since grown to involve thousands of academic and commercial developers and users worldwide. (list in reverse chronological order)

Integrated development environments

As of 2010, three integrated development environments (IDEs) are available for TinyOS, as plug-ins for Eclipse:

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">GNUstep</span> Open source widget toolkit and application development tools

GNUstep is a free software implementation of the Cocoa Objective-C frameworks, widget toolkit, and application development tools for Unix-like operating systems and Microsoft Windows. It is part of the GNU Project.

Carbon was one of two primary C-based application programming interfaces (APIs) developed by Apple for the macOS operating system. Carbon provided a good degree of backward compatibility for programs that ran on Mac OS 8 and 9. Developers could use the Carbon APIs to port (“carbonize”) their “classic” Mac applications and software to the Mac OS X platform with little effort, compared to porting the app to the entirely different Cocoa system, which originated in OPENSTEP. With the release of macOS 10.15 Catalina, the Carbon API was officially discontinued and removed, leaving Cocoa as the sole primary API for developing macOS applications.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Windows API</span> Microsofts core set of application programming interfaces on Windows

The Windows API, informally WinAPI, is Microsoft's core set of application programming interfaces (APIs) available in the Microsoft Windows operating systems. The name Windows API collectively refers to several different platform implementations that are often referred to by their own names. Almost all Windows programs interact with the Windows API. On the Windows NT line of operating systems, a small number use the Native API.

AppleScript is a scripting language created by Apple Inc. that facilitates automated control over scriptable Mac applications. First introduced in System 7, it is currently included in all versions of macOS as part of a package of system automation tools. The term "AppleScript" may refer to the language itself, to an individual script written in the language, or, informally, to the macOS Open Scripting Architecture that underlies the language.

A cross compiler is a compiler capable of creating executable code for a platform other than the one on which the compiler is running. For example, a compiler that runs on a PC but generates code that runs on an Android smartphone is a cross compiler.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">WebObjects</span> Java web application server and framework originally developed by NeXT Software

WebObjects was a Java web application server and a server-based web application framework originally developed by NeXT Software, Inc.

In computer programming, the word trampoline has a number of meanings, and is generally associated with jump instructions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Delphi (software)</span> General-purpose programming language and a software product

Delphi is a general-purpose programming language and a software product that uses the Delphi dialect of the Object Pascal programming language and provides an integrated development environment (IDE) for rapid application development of desktop, mobile, web, and console software, currently developed and maintained by Embarcadero Technologies.

The Object Windows Library (OWL) is a C++ object-oriented application framework designed to simplify desktop application development for Windows and OS/2.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Free Pascal</span> Free compiler and IDE for Pascal and ObjectPascal

Free Pascal Compiler (FPC) is a compiler for the closely related programming-language dialects Pascal and Object Pascal. It is free software released under the GNU General Public License, with exception clauses that allow static linking against its runtime libraries and packages for any purpose in combination with any other software license.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">IBM System Object Model</span> Programming framework

In computing, the System Object Model (SOM) is an object-oriented shared library system developed by IBM. DSOM, a distributed version based on CORBA, allowed objects on different computers to communicate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Windows Forms</span> Graphical user interface software library

Windows Forms (WinForms) is a free and open-source graphical (GUI) class library included as a part of Microsoft .NET, .NET Framework or Mono, providing a platform to write client applications for desktop, laptop, and tablet PCs. While it is seen as a replacement for the earlier and more complex C++ based Microsoft Foundation Class Library, it does not offer a comparable paradigm and only acts as a platform for the user interface tier in a multi-tier solution.

nesC is a component-based, event-driven programming language used to build applications for the TinyOS platform. TinyOS is an operating environment designed to run on embedded devices used in distributed wireless sensor networks. nesC is built as an extension to the C programming language with components "wired" together to run applications on TinyOS. The name nesC is an abbreviation of "network embedded systems C".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vala (programming language)</span> Programming language

Vala is an object-oriented programming language with a self-hosting compiler that generates C code and uses the GObject system.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">AmigaOS</span> Operating system for Amiga computers

AmigaOS is a family of proprietary native operating systems of the Amiga and AmigaOne personal computers. It was developed first by Commodore International and introduced with the launch of the first Amiga, the Amiga 1000, in 1985. Early versions of AmigaOS required the Motorola 68000 series of 16-bit and 32-bit microprocessors. Later versions were developed by Haage & Partner and then Hyperion Entertainment. A PowerPC microprocessor is required for the most recent release, AmigaOS 4.

RemObjects Software is an American software company founded in 2002 by Alessandro Federici and Marc Hoffman. It develops and offers tools and libraries for software developers on a variety of development platforms, including Embarcadero Delphi, Microsoft .NET, Mono, and Apple's Xcode.

QML is a user interface markup language. It is a declarative language for designing user interface–centric applications. Inline JavaScript code handles imperative aspects. It is associated with Qt Quick, the UI creation kit originally developed by Nokia within the Qt framework. Qt Quick is used for mobile applications where touch input, fluid animations and user experience are crucial. QML is also used with Qt3D to describe a 3D scene and a "frame graph" rendering methodology. A QML document describes a hierarchical object tree. QML modules shipped with Qt include primitive graphical building blocks, modeling components, behavioral components, and more complex controls. These elements can be combined to build components ranging in complexity from simple buttons and sliders, to complete internet-enabled programs.

Mbed is a development platform and real-time operating system (RTOS) designed for internet-connected devices that utilize 32-bit ARM Cortex-M microcontrollers. These internet-enabled devices are often categorized under the Internet of Things (IoT) umbrella. The Mbed project is a collaborative effort led by Arm Holdings, in partnership with various technology companies and contributors.

Objective-C is a high-level general-purpose, object-oriented programming language that adds Smalltalk-style messaging to the C programming language. Originally developed by Brad Cox and Tom Love in the early 1980s, it was selected by NeXT for its NeXTSTEP operating system. Due to Apple macOS’s direct lineage from NeXTSTEP, Objective-C was the standard programming language used, supported, and promoted by Apple for developing macOS and iOS applications until the introduction of the Swift programming language in 2014.


  1. "TinyOS development repository TOSThreads deprecated". TinyOS current development repository. Retrieved 3 December 2018.