Real-time operating system

Updated: 08/02/2019 by Computer Hope
real time operating system

Abbreviated as RTOS, a real-time operating system or embedded operating system is a computer operating system designed to handle events as they occur. Real-time operating systems are commonly found and used in robotics, cameras, complex multimedia animation systems, and communications. RTOS is frequently used in cars, military, government systems, and other systems that need real-time results.

Embedded operating systems contain a bare minimum of components, and are stored in a ROM chip instead of a hard drive.

Many operating systems, such as Windows and Linux, have embedded versions. Other examples include Chimera, Lynx, MTOS, QNX, RTMX, RTX, and VxWorks.


The opposite of an RTOS is a GPOS (general purpose operating system). See our operating system definition for further information on these types of operating systems.

Computer acronyms, Operating system terms, Real-time