QNX Software has posted a page for its 30th anniversary, noting 30 ways that QNX touches your life (whether you know about it or not. It includes QNX’s use in high capacity routers, power generation systems, emergency dispatch systems, OnStar, navigation systems, warehouse automation, television broadcasting systems, trains and planes, and many more.It’s food for thought. Here at OSNews, we get caught up in desktop PC and mobile computing OSes, because we work with them intimately, and, more importantly, we choose them, install them, and control them. But our lives are surrounded by technology, and we’re exposed to operating systems every day that were chosen and configured by someone else. Sometimes that results in a seamless, pleasant experience, when everything works the way it should. In other cases, we’re frustrated at the limitations and bad decisions that other people made that affect us.
For my part, I’ve often been frustrated that I don’t have more fine-grained control over the configuration of my car’s systems, in particular the accessories such as audio and trip computers. For example, I have a six-disk CD changer in one car, and it automatically changes disks when one is over. I’d prefer that it just stop the current disk and give me a beep or something to alert me, or re-start playing the same disk. But it’s not possible to make that change. Even though there’s an OS in there somewhere, I have no access to it. Similarly, my DVR has an OS. I’m pretty sure it’s Linux, but the proprietary application running on top of it doesn’t allow me to configure it or use it the way I’d like.
There’s a whole underworld of mysterious operating systems and custom apps that we interact with everyday. Though the engineers that install and configure them may make decisions that frustrate us, we can take comfort that their raw material, such as QNX, has become feature-rich and reliable.
It was a little demo floppy released by the QNX folks that contained a demo copy of QNX complete with a full GUI desktop (Photon?), networking, a browser, and a bunch of other basic tools. Rather cool, I thought.