Linked by James Ingraham on Mon 24th Jul 2006 11:15 UTC
QNX In today's entry in our Alternative OS Contest, James Ingraham takes a close look at QNX, the operating system based on the Neutrino microkernel. He concludes that "While you can probably find solutions for just about all of your desktop computing needs using the QNX RTOS, that is not QNX's strong suit. Its focus is real-time, embedded, and mission critical applications." Read on for the whole article.
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ingraham
Member since:
2006-05-20

"You can't do NOTHING with QNX..."

Ignoring the double negative...

I'd better call my customers quickly, then, since we've got about 100 industrial robots (we're a small company) doing "nothing" because they're running on QNX. Oh, and somebody put in a call to NASA and tell them the International Space Station isn't working either. Neither, apparently, is the Cabury plant in Canada, which is clearly NOT producing 48 million pounds of chocolate bars a year using QNX. And I guess we'll have to tell Audi, Accura, & Saab that their high-end, luxury in-car entertainment systems don't work. Or if you want to be REALLY scared, how about the anasthesia machines running on QNX? I guess they "can't do nothing" either. </sarcasm>

I would much rather be hooked up to an anasthesia machine running QNX than Linux. Sure, QNX doesn't have the best photo editors, chat clients, or games. But when you're talking about millions of dollars or even human life on the line, is "can I get on AIM?" really a relevant question?

Reply Parent Score: 1

CrLf Member since:
2006-01-03

"I would much rather be hooked up to an anasthesia machine running QNX than Linux. Sure, QNX doesn't have the best photo editors, chat clients, or games. But when you're talking about millions of dollars or even human life on the line, is "can I get on AIM?" really a relevant question?"

The "but it sucks on the desktop" crowd really annoys me, as if there's no life beyond the desktop.

But you just did the exact opposite here. Linux may be suited for the desktop (which I think it isn't yet, but that's a different story), but that doesn't mean it isn't suited for critical embedded applications too (there are medical systems out controlled by software running on Windows XP, which I find much more disturbing).

Reply Parent Score: 1

ingraham Member since:
2006-05-20

"Linux may be suited for the desktop... but that doesn't mean it isn't suited for critical embedded applications too."

Depends on what you mean by "critical." I would not trust Linux if life and limb were at stake. Nor do most of the people designing "life at stake" systems. My industrial embedded "critical" applications would do okay on Linux, but "crtical" here means "critical to production" not "if you screw up people die." The arguments are many and varied, but for me it boils down to this; the Linux kernel is not pre-emptable. That means you can never ever reliably guarantee system response time. Is it "fast enough?" Yes, generally. Has anyone decided to trust it fly a jet fighter? No.

I'm actually not aware of any medical equipment running on Windows XP that is actually life-crtical, e.g. delivering anasthesia, running a dialysis machine, etc. Controlling an X-ray machine or MRI maybe. Of course, one of the most famous software blunders in history was an X-ray machine that occaissionally delivered lethal doses of radiation (they wrote their own OS). If there ARE life-critical machines running Windows XP, I agree that it is quite terrifying.

Windows CE, on the other hand, IS in fact a real-time OS, and can reliably run critical systems. But nobody's controlling jet fighters with it, either.

By the way, NASA ground control at Johnson Space Center in Houston (as in "Houston, we have a problem") is chock full of Windows machines. This is fine, because you can just switch to another machine if you need to. The International Space Station, however, runs QNX.

You're right that Linux isn't automatically out of the running simply because it can be a decent desktop OS. In fact, nobody is really sure just how good (or bad) Linux is at "Real-Time Critical" applications. Such things are notoriously hard to measure. But I feel safer with the "traditional" commercial RTOSes, e.g. VxWorks, Integrity, QNX, etc.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

I believe we're all speaking about the desktop version, right ? Osnews deals with Linux, Morphos, skyos, reactos, etc... Are these embedded OSes ? Noooo, and thus I'm NOT speaking about the embedded version of QNX which is famously known for its power. So please don't put silly words in my mouth... This article competition mostly deals with DESKTOP OS, not embedded !

Currently, from a desktop point of view, QNX lacks of many many many features to compete with other opponent operating system. One thing that was (isn't anymore as QNX NC was pulled) hyped and promoted about QNX is how it is POSIX compliant, and how easy it is to convert softwares from *nix and Linux. Thus all of this for a promised usage as desktop OS.

The article deals with the desktop edition of QNX (shelf, photon gui, ...), and concludes that QNX is fast, reliable, etc... Sure, but unusable for the common buddy ;) And the competition is about desktop OS to be discovered by the common guys outa there !

Kochise

Reply Parent Score: 1