Research In Motion is buying QNX Software, with the intention of pushing the embedded OS into cars and using it for a new generation of "intelligent peripherals". RIM already has an OS for its mobile phones, but QNX has some architectural advantages as well as a foothold in the in-car entertainment business, which RIM would like …
QNX is a very cool OS
I first used QNX (Quick UNIX) ten years ago. It was installed on an industrial controller run by an Intel 486 (the chip before Pentium). Three people were telnet'd in with a simultaneous FTP running and no one seemed to notice the load. Rumor has it that RIM wants QNX for use in automobiles.
If I remember correctly (and I haven't had memories implanted overnight by a Canadian secret agent squad) QNX has also been used in nuclear power stations...
At least QNX is a fairly good bit of software. One drawback I ran into with 4.* was that its browser wasn't particularly fast and it doesn't collate events, so if you, say, hold down "down arrow" to scroll down, it'd get spammed with "scroll down" events, each one of which it would duly execute... very... slowly. Well, in comparison to the rate the OS receives events. The browser should instead eat the queue and transform twenty consecutive "scroll down one" events into one "scroll down twenty" event and execute that. Because, being a RTOS, QNX is REALLY good at quickly taking events and queueing them for applications to deal with.
It feels like a bit of overkill though. But it'd beat anything from redmond any day, so it's all for a good cause. Now if only RIM would come up with sensible email server software integration.
QNX good mostly
We have used QNX since 2001 as the embedded RTOS in some of our sensors. It is POSIX compliant so it ports from/to Linux very easy. The reason I chose to keep it when I took over the code was we had arlready bought the $10K developer seat and it is super easy to wite device drivers for.
'played with it' a while back
I recall playing with QNX and Neutrino a long time back..was fairly impressed...my reason
for looking at it in the first place was it was apparently going to be the new RTOS core of the next AmigaOS - things didnt turn out that way though. we didnt get MIPS or DEC Alpha CPU either.
QNX good but wrong side of history
Embedded linux did more to reduce QNXs shine than anything. For mission critical I would use QNX or perhaps even VxWorks. For shipping a massive volume of low margin consumer devices with very little unique IP I would use zero license cost embedded linux.
QXN? For Blackburys?
What's wring woth WinCE?
Not that easy to port to.
We looked at it a couple of years ago, and found porting posix code to QNX (at least stuff meant to run on Linux and BSD like say openssh) was in fact very very, even with help from QNX. So much as the OS has amazing realtime and lovely message passing facilities, the posix bit just turned out to be nearly useless for porting code to QNX. Quite a shame really.
If you are using stuff already ported to QNX or writing your own code or buying code from other suppliers though, it sure is a nice OS. Just don't put too much hope in the posix support bit.
First exposed in 1991
A co-worker loaned me his manuals. Being an Amiga programmer, I was quite surprised to see a nice micro-kernel based OS on the x86 platform. After a little research I found out that the founder of QNX was a fellow Amiga programmer who had written a few games. Gee, I wonder where he got the idea for a real-time micro-kernel based OS?
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