Embedded Processors, Part Three

"In Part One and Part Two of this series we delivered an overview of the embedded processor market and key product families. We also looked at Java chips and other custom embedded processors. Then we reviewed some of the microarchitectural and programming features that differentiate embedded processors from mainstream CPUs. And we described some performance measurement techniques and issues. In this final segment, we'll dig into DSPs, media processors, and power saving techniques." Read the third installment of the interesting article at ExtremeTech.

XFree86 4.2 Released

There is a brand new version of the Unix windowing system, XFree86 4.2, available for download. This is mostly a bug fixed release, no major new features were introduced. Our Take: XFree does the job just right when it comes to serve just what it was designed to do back in the '80s: provide a windowing system to a Unix workstation or server. But these days, everyone seems so busy trying to shapeshift X11 with themes or funky window managers and squeeze its architecture and code hard to push it to perform adequate with 3D games. But X was not designed for all that. Proof of that is the fact that X is not as smooth as MacOSX's Aqua or BeOS is, is not multithreading, it does not have good response times or latencies, it does not support font antialias correctly, no double buffering, and even 3D gaming support is a hack. Should X be pushed to do things it was not designed to do, or should it be re-implemented in such a way that it features all the latest tech gizmos, but in a more "natural" way that it also stays compatible with most of today's X applications? Discuss.

AOL-Time Warner in Negotiations to Buy Red Hat

"Media and Internet titan AOL-Time Warner is in negotiations to acquire Linux distributor Red Hat, the Washington Post reported Saturday, citing unidentified sources familiar with the matter. The talks were fluid and it was unclear how much AOL, which runs the biggest U.S. Internet service provider and the second-largest U.S. cable television system, would pay for Red Hat, the newspaper said. Red Hat is the leading distributor of Linux, which unlike software such as rival Microsoft's Windows operating system, is an "open source" platform that anyone can change to suit their needs." Read the rest of the story at C|Net News.

Gates: Security is Top Priority

With the release of WindowsXP, the Microsoft operating system has shown new levels of stability and performance, but analysts say that security is not up to par yet. Bill Gates, chairman of the Microsoft corporation has now set security as the top priority for the software maker's products, a shift that analysts say can't happen soon enough. The internal memo Gates sent to Microsoft employees and subsidiaries was leaked to the press yesterday.

Interview With Preemptible Kernel Patch Maintainer, Robert Love

"In this interview, LinuxDevices.com founder and executive editor Rick Lehrbaum chats with Robert Love, the principal maintainer of an increasingly popular kernel-preemption patch that improves the real-time responsiveness of the Linux kernel. Love describes his role in the project, explains why the preemption enhancement is important to a broad range of Linux applications beyond just embedded/real-time (including end-users' desktops), and shares his vision of the future of Linux in the embedded and desktop markets." Read the very interesting interview at LinuxDevices.

Real Time and Linux, Part 1

"What is real time? This article, first of a three-part series, introduces the benchmarks we'll run on real-time Linux version in the next two issues. Linux is well tuned for throughput-limited applications, but it is not well designed for deterministic response, though enhancements to the kernel are available to help or guarantee determinism. So-called real-time applications require, among other things, deterministic response. In this article I examine the nature of real-time applications and Linux's strengths and weaknesses in supporting such applications." Read the rest of the story at LinuxDevices.

Java’s SuperStar on Why Microsoft’s C# Isn’t

"Java inventor James Gosling says he isn't losing much sleep over Microsoft these days, despite the software giant's effort to stem Java's popularity with its own Java-like language. The next battle in Web services software development pits Microsoft against Java creator Sun Microsystems, along with Java adherents IBM, Oracle and others. Crucial to Microsoft's effort is C#, a Java-like language that will soon be part of the company's new Visual Studio.Net package of software-development tools, which was released to developers Wednesday." Read the rest of the interview with James Gosling at C|Net News.

GNOME 2.0 Desktop Alpha Available

An alpha version of the new GTK+ 2.0 based, Gnome 2.0, is now available for download and testing. The new version enhances anti-aliased text and internationalisation support, accessibility features and more. Screenshots available. Our Take: Note on the Gnome roadmap that they expect to also break binary and source compatibility for version 3.0 as they currently do now for 2.0. I wonder if this is what makes proprierty systems (eg. Windows) more successful commercially. The support for backwards compatibility is certainly something that users will always appreciate if they can run their closed source programs for the years to come or, for open source apps, users will be able to compile for the new Gnome version without changes in the app's source code. However, supporting older versions, can cause "bloat". Is the trade off acceptable? Discuss.

Linux Virtual Machines For All

""The Heist." A panicking manager type leads police detectives into what appears to be an empty server room. "It's the crime of the century!" the balding, middle-aged, middle manger exclaims over cheesy adventure-movie background music. "Everything's gone!" "What was stolen?" asks one of the cops. "Everything," the pointy-haired boss answers, "payroll, R&D, customer records ..." Of course, our hero, a scruffy-looking geek boy, saves the day. He points to a mainframe in the back of the room, and says, "We moved everything onto that one. It's going to save us a bundle. I sent out an email ... " The music swells, and the announcer says something about IBM servers running Linux saving you a bundle. What the commercial doesn't tell you is that the spendy IBM server in the commercial is running multiple copies of Linux at one time as virtual machines." Read the rest of the interesting article regarding virtualization at NewsForge.

A Funeral for Be Inc, a Rebirth for PalmOS

From TheRegister article regarding the Be liquidation auction that took place yesterday: "Afternoon engagements called us, and we never got the chance to bid for the 29 Be mugs, the lot of a hundred Be T-shirts (we'd dearly one of either - will swap), or the iMac we'd promised shacker. Let alone the BeBoxes. Or, gasp! the Hobbit prototypes which preceded the PPC BeBox." In the second photo you can also see sitting Marco Nellisen (SoundPlay author, Palm engineer now) and behind him, Arve Hjonnevag (ex-Be kernel engineer, at Palm now too). In the meantime, BeUnited, after was rejected a license from Palm, they now state that they will focus on supporting Open BeOS, while Palm, Inc. revealed some information about PalmOS 5: "Three significant improvements include the ability to use multitasking and multithreading in applications, improved performance using OS 5 with the faster processor, and compatibility with current applications." However, not all Palm developers are happy because: "Some of the old programs will run faster, some will run slower, and some won't run at all."

Chips Ahoy at Salon.com

"AMD competes with Intel, and the public wins. The right Microsoft antitrust settlement can bring the same energy back to the software market. The personal computer industry may be in its worst slump in history, but you wouldn't know it by following the news from the processor wars. Over the past two years, Intel and AMD have unleashed an incredible competitive cycle in Silicon Valley." Read the interesting editorial at Salon.com.

USB 2 Arrives in Linux’s Unstable Kernel

The faster version 2.0 of the Universal Serial Bus connection technology, the center of some controversy with Windows, has been incorporated into the latest test version of Linux. Linus Torvalds, founder and leader of the Linux operating-system project, released version 2.5.2 of the "kernel," or core software, Monday, including initial support for USB 2.0. Linux may have lost its allure as a get-rich-quick scheme for would-be entrepreneurs, but the largely volunteer programming community that advances the core software is still functioning." Read the rest of the story at C|Net News.com. The unstable kernel 2.5.x also includes the new VM, scheduler and we hope to see the preemptible and XFS patches rolling in that source tree. In the USB 2 matter, Windows2k/XP's USB 2 stack is also not ready yet, but it has already leaked on the web.

Solaris Hole Opening Way for Hackers

"Online vandals are using a two-month-old security hole in Sun Microsystems' Solaris operating system to break into servers on the Internet, a security expert said Tuesday. Researchers witnessed the attack when one intruder broke into a Solaris server under intense observation as part of the Honeynet Project, an initiative to develop ways to turn spare computers into digital fly traps to study and document actual Internet attacks." Get the rest of the story at C|Net News.com.

The 2.4.x Kernel of Pain

"For desktops, the 2.4 version of the kernel is just fine. If you have heavy-duty processing needs, 2.4 has been a series of disappointments. Sysadmins of big iron have two choices -- go back in time or play upgrade hopscotch. Both have problems. Let's start from the beginning. In July 2001, I was responsible for upgrading a customer's server from Red Hat 6.2 to Mandrake 8.0. The machine was built from scratch, and Mandrake was installed onto a freshly formatted RAID 5 array. We then migrated the Red Hat 6.2 applications to the new machine." Read the rest of the story at InfoWorld.

Design Patterns in Qt

"The so-called GoF book Design Patterns (GoF referring to the Gang of Four -- Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, and John Vlissides -- who authored it) has been very influential in software development--and rightfully so. Every programmer has read it or at least claims to have done so. In this article, I will explore how Design Patterns are used in Qt programming. Qt article at O'Reilly site, by Matthias Kalle Dalheimer, author of Programming with Qt, 2nd Edition, a book to be released late February and it will cover the latest Qt 3.1 API.

“Designed for Windows XP” Application Test Framework

A new testing methodology to ensure that applications meet the requirements defined in "Designed for Microsoft Windows XP" Application Logo Specification can be downloaded as a 475 KB self-extracting zip file containing Word documents and related test tools in .EXE and .TXT format. The second document defines the requirements for the "Designed for Microsoft Windows XP" Logo for software and it weighs 707 KB.

THEOS Corona Now Commercially Available

Friday 11th January saw the commercial release of the THEOS Corona, a multi-user operating system for Intel PCs. Latest in a long line of THEOS products, this updated version of the popular business-oriented operating system includes support for more PCI, USB and PCMCIA devices, enhanced screen objects for different console types, integrated TCP/IP networking, large file system / long filename support, and much more. More information is available from www.theos-software.com (the US developer) or www.theos-gb.com (the UK distributor for THEOS products). THEOS was originally known as the OASIS operating system on Z80 supermicros such as those from Onyx, Altos and IBC. It was relaunched for the IBM PC-AT and compatibles in the mid-1980s and renamed as THEOS. The core development team has remained constant for all that time, with additional development for THEOS Corona being done in Madrid and the Canary Islands.