Factors to consider when selecting an operating system for Edge computing

Edge computing applications: Maximize performance by choosing an appropriate operating system

Choosing the right software is critical to successful implementation of Edge computing applications. The operating system in particular takes on a central role, as it forms the foundation for the entire software infrastructure. It significantly influences the performance and integration of Edge applications. Therefore, a careful selection of the operating system (OS) is of great importance for an efficient Edge computing environment.

Choosing the right operating system for Edge computing: What matters?

When selecting the appropriate operating system for edge computing applications, several aspects must be taken into account to ensure optimal performance and efficiency. The three most important factors for the selection of the operating system are the footprint, security and maintainability.

Blog Post Edge Computing Operating System

Small footprint: Advantages for Edge operating systems

Because Edge devices often have limited storage space, an operating system with a small footprint is of advantage. A small footprint also comes into its own during updates via mobile communications or with limited connectivity. This enables efficient use of limited resources and ensures smooth execution of applications. Integrating containerization technologies such as Docker can improve the scalability and flexibility of Edge applications. These technologies enable easy deployment of applications to different devices and centralized management via a repository.

Edge application security: The role of the operating system

Another important consideration is security. Edge computing applications are more vulnerable to security threats compared to centralized systems due to their decentralized and distributed location. Therefore, it is critical that the operating system has robust security features. This includes, for example, an integrated firewall to protect the applications and the data they contain from unauthorized access.

Maintainability as a success factor for Edge computing

In addition to security, maintainability also plays an important role. An operating system with user-friendly maintenance features enables efficient management of updates, patches and bug fixes. This can minimize downtime and reduce total cost of ownership. Well-organized maintenance also makes it easier to monitor the system and diagnose errors, which contributes to stable and reliable execution of Edge applications.

Operating systems for Edge applications in comparison

Windows IoT from Microsoft


Windows for IoT is a member of the Windows family designed specifically for the Internet of Things. It offers powerful enterprise-level features, security, and manageability. Windows IoT enables organizations to create secure devices for the IoT that can be quickly deployed, easily managed and seamlessly integrated into a cloud strategy.

Windows IoT emphasizes security and provides robust security features to protect IoT devices from threats. Regular updates and security patches can close security gaps. In addition, the operating system provides the ability to create fixed-purpose devices that are restricted to only certain applications and peripherals. This reduces the risk of unauthorized access and tampering.

Windows IoT offers extensive maintenance and management capabilities. Through the Microsoft ecosystem and built-in Windows management, IoT devices can be efficiently monitored and maintained. With features such as remote management and centralized update management, updates and patches can be easily deployed to devices. This enables efficient management of large fleets of IoT devices.

Windows IoT offers different editions designed to meet the specific needs of IoT devices. Windows 10 IoT Core is the smallest member of the Windows 10 operating system family and features a small footprint. It can run on devices with limited memory while still providing the familiar manageability and security of Windows 10. Windows IoT Enterprise, on the other hand, is a full version of Windows Enterprise and enables the creation of dedicated devices with specific applications and peripherals. The newer Windows 11 IoT Enterprise version is also already available.

Linux Distribution

Linux attaches great importance to the security of the user. In contrast to other operating systems, Linux is less susceptible to viruses and malware, this is reasoned in the architecture of the Linux kernel. Applications, for example, are strongly isolated from each other and access to central system components and hardware is generally limited to the most necessary parts. As a result, Linux users are better protected against malware and can live without the use of anti-virus software in most cases. In addition, in terms of data protection, Linux offers improved privacy and no unwanted data collection.

Linux distributions are known for their ease of maintenance and updating. By using package management systems such as APT or DNF, updates and bug fixes can be managed efficiently. These systems allow software to be updated centrally and make it easier to monitor the system. This can minimize downtime and reduce total cost of ownership. However, it is important to ensure that all systems are at the same software level and that there are no version conflicts.

Linux distributions such as Ubuntu also offer extensive community support, which is available for questions and problems.

Linux distributions are characterized by their low memory requirements. They are optimized to run efficiently even on older computers, making efficient use of resources. An example of this is Lubuntu, a lightweight variant of Ubuntu that is only 0.7 gigabytes in size. The small footprint makes Linux distributions well suited for edge devices and other systems with limited storage space.

Welotec egOS

The Welotec egOS is a powerful platform designed specifically for Edge computing applications. It offers a wide range of features that optimize the security, maintainability and footprint of Edge applications.

The egOS places great emphasis on the security of edge applications. Regular updates and security patches to the underlying Linux operating system address security vulnerabilities. In addition, the Welotec egOS supports a wide range of hardware platforms of varying performance, so that the right one is available for each use case, but the user experience always remains the same. The specific CLI (Command Line Interface) of the Welotec operating system allows the user to easily configure the device. While ensuring in addition that the Operating System cannot be modified or manipulated by the user.  

Updates to the Operating System are done as so-called A/B updates, i.e., if an update fails, the last running version of the operating system is used. Although the entire operating system is included in an update, the footprint is small, e.g., to keep resource usage low when connecting the edge gateway via mobile communications.

The firewall and proxy settings enable control of connectivity and data flow in restrictive the respective company networks. This ensures the security of the edge gateways and protects communications.

The Welotec egOS provides full Azure IoT Edge integration and the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) provides easy provisioning of the Edge device in Azure. The management of the individual Azure modules is done completely via the Azure Cloud. Furthermore, custom Docker containers are also possible through the Docker Runtime on the Edge Gateway.

With the management via Welotec Smart EMS, efficient device management is ensured. The software solution allows scalability of configuration and updates for larger fleets of Edge Gateways.

The integration into the Welotec VPN Security Suite also enables a simple rollout of VPN configurations and automatic certificate handling. Furthermore, it provides the  advantage of an remote access to all connected devices and machines.


What you should look out for selecting an operating system

In summary, optimized container and resource management makes efficient use of storage space and resources. This is especially important since edge devices often have limited hardware resources. The Welotec egOS enables lean and efficient execution of edge applications.

However, choosing the right operating system depends on specific requirements, security preference and available resource budget. It is important to consider individual needs and priorities to select the right operating system for the particular IoT scenario.

Our experts* are happy to assist you in selecting the right operating system. Please contact us to discuss your specific use case and to get the right solution.