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QNX OS on a floppy 162

jmaggart writes "QNX Software Systems is offering a downloadable demo of their "realtime" OS that uses a POSIX filesystem and comes complete with a GUI that supports windowing, a dialer, browser, and a webserver.
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QNX OS on a floppy

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  • Well, from a Real World point of view, speed. Monolithic kernels are inherently faster (on the same hardware, obviously) than microkernels. Academia wants to justify the research time they've spent on these things, so they've come up with various ways of speeding them up. However, all the methods they suggest could equally well apply to monolithic kernels, still making them the faster choice.

    I've always liked the microkernel approach, if only because it lets you do cool stuff like distributed OS functions. Even so, I just don't see it gaining acceptance outside of niche markets for some years to come. I'm also not convinced that the advantage of the simplicity of the modules is not outweighed by the complexity of the message passing.

    (Yes, I know NT is allegedly a micro-kernel based architecture. That will probably explain why it's slow and error prone, I guess)

  • So, perhaps Hemos should post that Linux is
    available, in case some people missed it?

    If it's old, it's old. That you haven't heard of
    it yet does not make it new.
  • yeah!
    - Trading Places
  • I downloaded that thing over a year ago and I've used it quite a few times to access the internet when my computer has been in a state of OS limbo. It's useful, but this is not news.
    Gabe Ricard
  • There are a couple solutions. One of which is to
    use a system with two CPU's. On NT, you could have
    a CPU intensive application going, and still be
    able to use the system as normal since the GUI
    would process on the second processor (assuming
    the intensive app isn't pegging out both procs).

    Another idea is to just use BeOS.....

  • OS-9 was the first modular, multitasking OS to grace the microcomputer scene. It made 6809's rock.
  • One of the neat things about the Amiga is no matter how high the load is, or how slow the machine is (even the 7 MHz 68000), the GUI always looks and feels very fast and snappy. That doesn't mean it really is always fast, it's just that the gadgets (widgets) are responsive because the code that handles them runs at a higher priority than "normal" stuff, and the Amiga uses an absolute scheduler. This probably sounds like a pretty unimportant point to most people, but once you've used an Amiga for many years, you start to build up subconcious expectations from a GUI.

    I don't know how long ago you actually last used a 7MHz m68k running AmigaDOS, but the GUI is definately not as fast and responsive as you make out. Often when running compute-bound tasks the interface takes many seconds to redraw (which could be sped up somewhat by using Chip memory as a backing store for the parts of window contents that were covered by other windows). Some things were faster thanks to the custom chips and use of Chip memory (smooth scrolling is a good example), that much is true, but I would never go as far as to call the GUI "very fast and snappy" when running the machine at a high load. Perhaps you should drag out that old 7Mhz m68k with 512kB of Chip memory and run something compute intensive on it, then try and tell me the GUI is fast.

    Unfortunately, I don't know a great deal about QNX or Neutrino, so I can't comment as to how well the GUI performs. I do remember a quote from (I think) Dave Haynie about people eventually realising that GUIs should be a realtime task (I don't remember the exact quote, sorry).

    Incidentally, I'll bet that when you compare the speed of the video subsystem on the 400MHz Intel PC and the 7Mhz Amiga, you're not comparing them running at equal screen modes and bit depths, are you? And of course comparing the speed of a different GUI on a different machine is not exactly scientific.

  • I believe the QNX demo floppy is the invention of Dan Hildebrand [], who passed away last year.

    I think I'll download it to see what neat new stuff they've packed into it.


  • I know, I used it as my personal machine OS for years (Tandy did this unusual thing- they coupled a _real_ OS with their little toy computers. OS-9 was available for something like $200 for the Color Computer and it was like night and day compared to MS-DOS of that day.). It literally unlocked the horsepower lurking in the dinky case of the CoCo.

    It had a K & R C compliant C compiler, a Pascal compiler, and a block structured Basic that was something of a cross between C and Pascal on steroids. With the CoCo 3, it unleashed a memory space of up to 512k, allowing the user unprecedented levels of power (the 6809 instruction set was more space and speed efficient than the 8086 processor, making 512k seem more like 1-2M in comparison...).
  • Qnx messed my stuff up! blah ! .. I ran it reset got in QNX reset tried to boot redhat ( i dont use lilo , use boot disk) and it could not "touch" anything . So i used back up boot disk , same thing.. I used boot disk for old kernel , samw thing. I used rescue disk .. Same thing , I had to reinstall . BLAH!
  • Yup, it may be old, but it's something worth checking out. I'm actually *very* happy I downloaded that demo. When my hard drive decided to implode, I was able to get on the Net and send out a couple of important emails (and read Slashdot!) before getting my computer fully functional again.

    Get may come in handy!

  • hahaha, that's just too funny
  • It *does* come with (in addition to the OS, GUI, text editor, web server, and a couple of other goodies) a web browser that does HTML 3.2 and JavaScript. There's a Tower of Hanoi game implemented in JavaScript on the demo.

    No Java, but still pretty darned impressive for 1.44 megs!!!

    (Anyone know how much QNX costs, they don't seem to have a price anywhere on their site, so I'm going to assume expensive!!!!)

  • One more reply. I just checked the comments (35 and counting) and the only thing that has been moderated up so far is this plea for more old news... And I thought the moderation system wasn't working.
  • If you where an OS expert you'd know microkernels are a superior design concept but have suffered performance wise since they leed to more syscalls (ie trapping into the priveliged mode of the CPU) However QNX is not a good example of 'high' performance microkernel. There are microkernels that are high performance. L4 (a microkernel) runs a User level Linux (L4Linux) server at 110% the speed of native linux a 10% slowdown on a quick port is pretty good and you get more flexibility. if your interested in finding out more on high performance microkernels :)

    Cheers WeirdArms

    P.S. I'm not bagging QNX, its nice specially since its a 'complete' system.
  • You can do all of the above with Linux, and if you want an X system to go with it, look into using one of the few mini X-servers around

    Good Luck !
  • You can generate single floppy contained FreeBSD systems.
    Follow this link to the Small FreeBSD home page [] for more information

    .. and note the cuddly PicoBSD logo [] :-)

    BTW, FreeBSD 4.0-CURRENT users should have a look at their /usr/src/release/picobsd [usrsrcreleasepicobsd] directory.

    Expected: "Microsoft Sux!" Got: End of file
  • In a few words: A realtime OS differs from a non-realtime OS in one important way: The realtime system will respond in the quickest way possible to any event - interrupt, etc.

    Also, realtime OS' tend to be deterministic, i.e., you can say for certain that the kernel will give time to this task next, then that task, then that task, and so on.

    A realtime OS is needed for where unexpected delays in servicing events can be very horrendous. E.g., Reactor starts to overheat. Run this under Linux [no RT modules], Windows (hah!), and you *might* get response oh, 10-100ms after the event happens. This is the time it takes for the OS to realize something happens and has to service it. A realtime OS, like QNX, will switch tasks within 37uS (on a 386-sx25), ready to run the task to service the event.

    BTW, I read in Circuit Cellar (, that Win95 responded within 30ms, NT 15ms, and a custom Win32 RT implementation of 2ms. Less overhead to worry about.

    The only problem? RTOS' tend to use more resources to ensure their real-timeness. Of course, this extra requirement pales when compared to OS' like NT...
  • A friend of mine downloaded a demo over a year ago, and I downloaded one a few months ago. I suspect things have changed a little since then, but this is hardly new news. Whats the big deal?
  • The web browser itself was like an older version of Netscape, but with fewer features.

    And fewer bugs.

    It's not fancy, and it flashes a lot redrawing pages, but it's amazing that they managed to fit a functional browser on a floppy along with the OS. This is clearly a case where "less is more".

    Alas, its not open source...


  • by draven ( 387 )
    this is oldassed news.... They've been doing this for like 2 years
  • hello??? it was a joke. Offtopic? flamebait? I don't think so. At least one sensible moderator read this. You would think the "OTOH" part would have clued in the "sarcasticly challenged"
  • long as it's got a browser. If that works, and it handles Java, a mass migration could be underway for surfing purposes. I know I'd use it.
    And on a floppy? How long has it been since someone decided bloat wasn't a feature? Cool.
  • Seems to me I heard of the QNX floppy a long time ago. Although it might not have had a webserver back then, it definitely had at least a browser, etc.

    Still, it's worth checking out for those who haven't heard of it.

  • Where has the AROS project gone to? Three apage is not up anymore and the code ? weeeell! I cant find it! Help anyone???!!!!
  • the QNX demo floppy has been around for at least a year, maybe two. i work with QNX and i'm not particularly impressed. if i were an OS expert, i'd talk about monolithic kernels and probably have some opinion about its "inherent superiority," but i don't, so i just marvel at how crufty it all is.
  • Ingredients:

    >Dos 6.22 formated floppy with only the basic files required for booting

    >Minuet from University of Minnesota along with dialing software.

    Minuet included a basic pop mail client, web browser (later version even supported images, but the browser was flakey) newsreader, ftp, gopher, and telnet clients. Did everything I needed on the internet for a long time.

    I should look for that disk around here somewhere...

  • Whooops.... er lets try again...

    Where has the AROS project gone? I cant find the page, and what about the source?

  • This isn't new. I remember doing this about two years ago, although the webserver part I think is new on the QNX floppy demo. It is cool, tho. :)
  • Isn't Apache 2.0 threaded? The reason they couldn't get a successful port of 1.x was because of the forks, IIRC, but with 2.0, the BeOS port is possible.

    There are a couple of multithreaded web servers for BeOS out there. One of them is Robin Hood. The other is Poorman (which ships with BeOS). There is at least one more, but I can't remember the name. Until BeOS gets better security and networking, it's a moot point anyway. Just wait until R5 tho... I bet for a mid-range server, BeOS will trounce NT for ease of use, scalability, and cost. I won't make claims against Linux, cause that's not smart...

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    I run BeOS. The rules don't apply.
  • It has a web browser *and* server. Last time I checked it, the network version only supported two types of card, though admittedly they were two of the most popular. Now, I gather by reading the website that the range has increased. Personally, I find this quite useful when I'm running demos and conferences - I can set up a browsing station safe in the knowledge that although people can surf, they can't screw up the filesystem on the machine without rebooting it (and there's a BIOS password to get past!). -Jef.
  • The webserver was on the disk a year ago. Sure I was impressed back then. But then again, It's just to darn expensive.

    Hmm, makes me wonder why slashdot use the Amiga logo. Isn't amiga "officially" dead as a GPOS now, or will Gateway crawl back to QNX and say sorry we left you, we wish to work with you after all?

    And then everything will offcourse be OK, and we will be having our Black Nextgen Amiga boxes after all.
    1. Get some books about real-time operating systems.
    2. Start writing your open-source one.

    Just don't expect the commercial software industry to not try and cover their costs through sales. TANSTAAFL.

    Or are you among the OSS advocates who are advocates because they like free (beer) software?

  • I hate to break it to you, but the clueful saw the first 50 posts saying this wasn't new.
  • Linux and NT provide little to no memory protection for in-kernel components like device drivers. QNX does. Under QNX, if your driver crashes, the kernel just restarts it. In Linux or NT, you get and "oops," "aieeeeeee" or BSOD.

  • QNX is the only totally modular OS that I know of. It's truly a microkernel OS -- all the kernel does is message passing, process creation, memory management, and timer control... drivers, filesystems, even the scheduler runs as separate processes.

    What about the HURD []?

  • Call me when you have X on there.

    Not on a 1.44MB floppy.. I don't believe that will happen.

    I am not sure however if it won't be possible to chop Mozilla to small size. If it is flexible written enough to be plugged to other GUIs I have hope for this direction.

  • Apache 1.x does indeed use fork()s. You must consider that apache is ony a *port* and not at all optimized for BeOS' threading model. I only mentioned it because it's the most widely accepted web server.

    Apache 2.0 for BeOS will probably switch to modern threads. In the meantime, there are several other decent servers. Better yet, use a different OS. R4.x is not really suited for heavy duty

    I agree with the other post about BeOS giving NT a run for the money. R5 might just turn out to be a decent server OS.
  • um... what about it? QNX, Linux, NT and, apparently, OS/9 are actual, working OSes.

  • I don't know how long ago you actually last used a 7MHz m68k running AmigaDOS, but the GUI is definately not as fast and responsive as you make out. Often when running compute-bound tasks the interface takes many seconds to redraw

    I'm referring to gadget animation speed, not window redraw speed. For example: you click on a button, and it instantly assumes the "pressed down" look. Release the mouse button, and the button appears normal again. Granted: the action that this event causes (e.g. redraw a window, compile a program, whatever), may take quite a while to complete on a 7 MHz Amiga. There's no disputing that. :-) OTOH, on a busy NT box, you click on the button, and maybe right away, or maybe a few seconds later, the button flashes as it is redrawn in pressed down state, and then again in its normal state.

    On the Amiga, since the visual feedback is instantaneous, you always know that the computer "heard" you and will eventually get around to doing what you told it to do, so the user can go on to the next thing, which may involve pressing another button in the same GUI, switching to another app, or whatever. On the NT box, you have to wait for the computer to acknowledge your mouse click, to be sure you didn't "miss" the button or something.

    The issue isn't raw speed; it's about instantly responsive feedback. The GUIs on the "mainstream" OSes just don't "feel" as good.

  • nope. reinstall and backups work fine.. not sure tho. But i couldnt touch anything thats all i know
  • [about the HURD]
    um... what about it? QNX, Linux, NT and, apparently, OS/9 are actual, working OSes.

    I think that the HURD is an actual, working OS - not vapourware. At least, that's what the GNU people claim []:

    The Hurd is real software that works Right Now. It is not a research project or a proposal. You don't have to wait at all before you can start using and developing it.

    But despite this, they have it in 'projects' rather than 'software'. So maybe you are right that it isn't finished yet - or at least, not fully tested and debugged yet. But clearly, QNX is not the 'only' fully modular OS.

  • Well Its not BS and if you'd like the publication
    I can point it out to you :) You migth also find some interesting papers related on mixing a L4Linux server with a real time server and giving cache allocation garenties.
    The speed can be maintained since the a microkernel can be optimised a lot more then a monolithic kernel. So please next time you think BS ask for more info (like a publication)

    Cheers WeirdArms

    P.S. the publications can be found at then follow the links
    (you might like to click on the english version first) to L4Linux and the papers for L4 linux and you'll find all you need :)
  • Yes, they have every right to charge whatever the hell they want for THEIR (learn to spell, please) work-- however, I firmly believe that one should ALSO have the right to snort coke all day in the privacy of one's own home, but that one shouldn't do it-- it's just plain a Bad Idea.

    Just because it is (or should be) your right doesn't MAKE IT "right". Learn the difference.

    Everyone should have the right to create a horrible, bloated piece of software and charge $499.95 for it. That doesn't make it a good thing to do.
  • >thing have anything to do with Amiga?

    It has nothing to do with Gateway/AmigaInc anymore so I guess the icon is wrong.

    QNX has done a deal with Phase5 ( Makers of G4 cards, Gfx cards etc for Amiga and Mac platform) to supply QNX with the PPC cards for Amigas and also for the Amirage computer, sounds like pretty cool hardware.
  • I don't care about "open source". "Open source" started out as a euphemism for "free software" used to sell the concept to businesses, and now has turned into a meaningless buzzword. It's roughly equivalent to what happened to "hacker"-- it got into common use and was warped out of its original meaning.
  • Actually, the Mac stuff is there to piss off the M$ junkies, and yes, I DO want Apple to make MacOS free software. Incidentally, it's worth noting that Apple is moving closer and closer to making their OS free software, whereas Red Hat is moving further and further away from free software ideology.

    Debian forever!
  • Academia wants to justify the research time they've spent on these things, so they've come up with various ways of speeding them up. However, all the methods they suggest could equally well apply to monolithic kernels, still making them the faster choice.

    ... quoting Linus almost verbatim without citing him?

    Berlin-- []

    Having worked at Burger King one summer[1], I can tell you that we actually are supposed to let people know these things if they ask. Well, except for the cash register system; that isn't really our problem[2] (although your bill is).

    We did get asked occasionally (twice, I think), too. Some people have food allergies, and these folks were probably saved a potentially fatal reaction.

    Maybe you could have picked a better example for something that would be stupid to open source?

    [1] Lest you be left with the impression us open-source zealots are unemployable losers flipping burgers, I now work as a programmer for a major defense contractor, making a lot more money. Oh yes, we've contributed at times to some of the Free Software we use, too.

    [2] When I worked there, most locations ran a proprietary POS app on MSDOS 6.2. The registers were 386s on a 10Mbit LAN, and a desktop machine in the manager's office with a modem link to the "home office".

    Berlin-- []
  • The news is just that they updated it a few days ago. Not particularly exciting, but I guess it's not any less newsworthy than other OS update stories (Linux 2.whatever, Windows NT 5, etc) and Slashdot usually mentions those.

  • Since the OS loads into RAM after booting, you can run around with a single floppy, and get it running on a roomful of machines... fun if you're bored and in a public library/school computer lab, etc.

  • This really is a demo guys and gals. Sure it's useful if you need a web browser in a hurry. Forget about using the web server though. When I tried it, maybe 2 years ago, I didnt find any way to modify the filesystem. Maybe if someone were to make a pc that would allow you to drop to a console, and modify memory....or maybe this is a job for VMware, and od on the memory for the process.
  • by Bozdune ( 68800 ) on Wednesday October 06, 1999 @11:39AM (#1634503)
    I worked with QNX for several years, '92-'95. During that time period, QNX dropped its "QNX Windows" product in favor of its new "Photon" product. The old product was junk; unfortunately, we used it heavily. Photon's schedule kept slipping and I went on to better things before Photon became a reality.

    The OS is pretty neat, but it could use some open-source thrashing instead of just a few (admittedly smart) guys in Ottawa hacking with it. We experienced a reasonable number of "Blue Screens of Death" (yes, QNX kernel panics bear a marked resemblance to the NT dies we are all familiar with). Probably many of those have been fixed over time, but equally probably new ones have come along. Exposing the source code to thousands of eyes would be productive, I suspect.

    We also had some problems with the file system (corrupted files). At that time basically only one guy (Bill, a really smart fellow) was working on the file system, and unfortunately you had to hit him in the (proverbial) nuts with a baseball bat to get his attention. To QNX's (and Bill's) credit, they did fix the problem. However, this illustrates a big disadvantage that closed-source vendors have -- namely, in many cases only one dude can do the work, whereas open-sourcers can call on help (and patches) from around the world.

    The OS does fit in a remarkably small memory footprint, and its messaging system is very fast, even between machines. It was a good and stable framework on which to build a meta-messaging applications layer. Our customers were astounded at the up-time of their QNX-based systems, as opposed to the Micros~1 competition.

    QNX suffers from the same problem as all proprietary operating systems -- you have to call them when you have a problem, and their attention to you seems to depend on how much of their business you represent. In 1995, it appeared that they were focusing heavily on the embedded market (set-top thingies, etc.), and were more-or-less in standby mode on the general-purpose OS side. I haven't seen anything to indicate a change in direction in the last few years, although Photon appears to be real now. Also, I should admit that I haven't been watching that closely.

    As far as QNX pricing is concerned, it was very reasonable for OEM quantities. I would encourage anyone to contact them to get a price quote. They seem to be willing to structure a deal, unlike some larger companies we know.

  • It depends. If you want to use the OS that this disk actually demos (QNX4) or if you're really interested in embedded applications, you'll have to ask QSSL, and I bet it's not cheap.

    On the other hand, in relation to the Amiga... QSSL has licensed their Neutrino OS for use on Phase 5's new Cyberstorm/Blizzard G4 boards for free. [] (Well, "free" except that you'll spend a few hundred bucks for the PPC board, and you need an Amiga to put it in. ;-) The license might actually apply to the PPC port of Neutrino in general (not necessarily P5's hardware), but I'm not sure about that, better check before you get in trouble. This Neutrino PPC port will come with development tools, probably just GNU stuff like GCC. And instead of being intended for embedded apps, this is intended for use as a general-purpose OS to take over the world, crush Windoze, Linux, AmigaOS, etc, etc. ;-)

    Anyway, that's the deal. QSSL is courting Amiga hackers and developers to come over to Neutrino by offering it for $0. It's very tempting and many of us are biting.

  • You should be able to toy around and do what you want with mulinux [], a floppy linux distribution, a second floppy adds X with chimera (a small graphical browser) plus tons of other tools, plus you can open it up and configure it to your heart's content.
  • For those wondering. I would assume QNX was stuffed inder the Amiga
    graphic because of one of many misunderstandings between the Amiga
    branch of Gateway, and everybody else. This one being that QNX and
    Amiga were OS partners and that the 'new' Amiga software that Amiga
    was working on would first be made to work on/with on QNX.

    You can
    take a look at what QNX has to say about the Amiga at [].

    As an Amiga user (does this mark me for death?) I was excited to hear
    the new OS would be based on something so solid and seemingly
    revolutionary. Gateway/Amiga really stomped on the Amiga
    community IMO...

  • I'll do this really fast.

    Real-time systems are special-purpose operating systems.
    A real-time system is used when there are rigid time requirements on the operation or a processor or the flow of data, therefor it's often used as a control device in a dedicated application.

    A hard realtime system GUARANTEES that critical tasks completed on time.
    Modern operating system features like VM is (almost)never used in a HRTOS, also, the data is usually stored in a ROM.
    A "good" use of HRTOS is found in, for example, weapon systems.
    As you might have understood the HRTOS is tightly linked with the H/W.

    In soft real-time systems there are still time-critical tasks. They get priority over other tasks until the critical task is completed.
    Solaris is a SRTOS, and is by far superior to Linux on good H/W(PCs sucks rock).

    This is VERY short description, if you want to know more you'll have to wait for me and my brother to set up our homepage, not a time-critical task I hope ;)
  • Agreed, this is nothing new... I downloaded and messed around with this sucker over a year and a half ago... it's nother new....
  • Anybody know of some other sites out there where people can discuss interesting technological issues without wading through so much crap? Maybe someplace where people thought of the value of their post before posting thing like...

    "I'm so smart, I knew this years ago..."

    Perhaps they could either shut up about how smart they are or since they know it all already, they could add something meaningful to the conversation! Really, I don't think it is that bad an idea to announce a new version of something that is not a total revolution. If it doesn't interest you, skip the topic rather than letting all of us know. If a story comes along with no responses, that will speak for itself. Personally, I'd rather see only 10 posts (on-topic) rather than hundreds of "I knew that" or "this isn't that impressive" or other EGO related posts.

    I used to think usenet discussion groups were bad, but it seems that Slashdot has managed to gather more know-it-all-but-contribute-nothing attitudes than one would expect to exist in the wild!

    Where else can one go to engage in discussions like this that might have more content?


    ...learning about Cuba, and having some food...

  • So maybe this is old news, and maybe I'm a dork for not knowing this already, but I don't have a real clear idea on what is meant by "Realtime". All I have is some sort of vague idea that it is used in embedded stuff and that realtime programmers have some sense of superiority ;) Anyone care to point me to a good explanitory link or furnish me with some good info themselves?
    Thanks Advancedly,
  • Ok, it IS old news, but...

    1) The new demo has network support with drivers for a few network cards

    2) In the next month, they are supposed to have a "free for personal use" downloadable release so that you can actually install and configure the OS permanently.

    Diss it if you like, but an HTML 4.0-compliant web browser with javascript, css and frames support that runs on a 386 with only 4MB of memory is pretty cool.

    - Smoke Me a Kipper, I'll Be Back For Breakfast

  • by greywire ( 78262 ) on Wednesday October 06, 1999 @09:40AM (#1634516) Homepage
    1. QNX + Phase-5's PPC is being pushed as the "new Amiga".

    2. The QNX OS and this one disk demo is really no big deal to Amiga folks.

    3. AmigaOS is pretty modular, more so even than most Amiga folk realize: most of the ROM which one might think of as the "kernel" is really just library modules that get opened like any library on disk. I'm pretty darn sure a similar demo could be created with AmigaOS.

    4. QNX is not free. More power to them. However "free" is almost always good, and that's one reason I think that AROS (an opensourced Amiga OS clone) is a better future for the Amiga than QNX.
  • As others have said it doesn't support Java, but it does support Javascript (which is kinda impressive for a small floppy), but when I went to my page PowerPak GSDK [] it didn't show up, the page has pop-ups from the hosting service, and the javascript didn't open a new window, so all that showed was the banner in the popup on a blank page. And an error message about Javascript.
    These services usually place thier Javascript code at the very top of the page which is the incorrect place for javascript and does not conform to strict HTML guidelines, but with so many pages using pop-up ads one has to wonder whose fault the incompatibilty is "QNX or the hosting services?" I Think the QNX guys could have at least tested the browser on a page with popups.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 06, 1999 @09:55AM (#1634519)
    For the bloke who doesn't know why it has the chequered ball...

    Amiga Inc originally asked QSSL to provide them with the OS for thier new box, (when there was still going to be a new box) then Amiga Inc did what they do best, (screw up) they bailed in favour of Linux.

    QSSL being the truly stand-up types they are, pledged to com through on thier promise of support to the Amiga community, and (with or without Amiga Inc) create a New OS for the Amiga based on PPC architecture based on Neutrino which they'll give away for free...

    On the subject of expense, *YES* it is bloody expensive, I paid 1000 pounds (UK) for the OS, Photon TCP/IP & Voyager runtimes, and X and an X dev licence, but if you register then you're entitled to free upgrades, etc. Thier tech support is really very good, (they got someone to knock me up a custom touchscreen dev kit...)

    It goes fast on a 486, and it guarantees an interupt in 27 Microseconds, (even on a 386sx 25)

    Trust me, this shit is *WAY* cool :)

    I'll be happy to trade insult and injury here:
  • I downloaded the demo a few months ago. It auto-detected all of my hardware (all I had to tell it was keyboard layout). I connected to my ISP on my first try and started using its HTML 3.2-compliant browser. Then I decided to see how much it could handle. I opened about 5 browser windows and 5 3D QNX logo windows and didn't notice any slowdown.
  • I have looked at QNX and thought it looked very neat. The only major problem is it is not open source. Is there anything Open Source like this?

    It does not have to be real time I suppose, but the ability to transparently run stuff across networked machines blows me away.

    Imagine a future where you build your system like you build your Hi Fi today.
  • Again, more dated experience, mine was in '97.

    It was pretty trippy, Photon seemed cool, but it wasn't X (you could get X for Photon, it you were willing to shell out even more cash).
    The gotchas never seemed to end though, everything was a wee bit different than the rest of the world. And you had to pay $$$$ for a compiler. At the time, I couldn't find gcc binaries for it.

    And the software we were using (also from Ottawa area, IIRC) needed QNX Windows (AUUUUGGGGGGH!) even though we didn't give a rats ass about a GUI even needing to run.

    The coolest thing about it though was that we also had obtained Phindows (i think it was called that) which allowed you to run Photon in Windows. Big deal you say? Well, Photon also allows you to view another Photon session within your own, share it, etc.. (i'm fuzzy on the details)

    The point I'm eventually trying to get to without too much reminising is that I was able to get a photon session looking in on itself looked like it does when you point a camera at the monitor it's displaying on, although I think I had to reboot 'cause it was recursing too quickly. (oops)
  • You just need to use the included text editor and start modifying the htmls to see the changes.
    Of course, as it's all in RAM, when you turn your machine off everything will be lost but in the meanwhile the filesystem works as enough as any other filesystem.
  • Anybody know of some other sites out there where people can discuss interesting technological issues without wading through so much crap?

    In theory, Slashdot should be just what you're looking for, except that the moderation system isn't quite ready yet. Switch it to a system where readers pick which moderator score sets to use, and it'll kick ass.

  • With only serial port support and no network drivers, you can't really put it to the test, can you?
  • This is very, very old news. I first downloaded and played with this demo in late 96/early 97. I remember being very impressed by how well the browser performed and its incredible size.

    Since QNX is primarily a real-time OS, I always thought they might like to provide a "single-user" or non-commercial version (like SCO, BSDi, or Sun) do that potential users can actually program for it before buying. They can also make sure it meets their needs. Right now, if I were building an embedded system, I am going to use one of the BSDs because I know them very well. Having experience with QNX (or VXWorks, or ChorusOS) might prompt me to change my mind later.
  • I've heard this from a few people, how unimpressed they are with QNX. How so?

    Dave :)

  • Yes, there's a network version now (at least, that's what the page says, I haven't tried).

    I'm wondering if they're using the new GUI they designed for the new Amigas on this floppy. Wait, DID they design that GUI, or was it Amiga that designed it in collaboration with them?

    Anyway, if they are, that'd be one very snappy looking floppy sized OS :)

    el bobo
  • but I did like Photon.... made X11 seem like, well, a lot more than it has to be. Maybe photon isn't as flexible as X, not sure as I just used photon, never look into it deeply, but that it fits on a floppy - with browser - makes it a windowing system i'd like to see in linux.. too bad my coding is lousy...

  • There is network support in the demo for well
    over half a year now.
  • I downloaded this a few days after RH4.0 came out. That emploeyd the new 2.0.11 kernel if I remember right. You do the math :)

    It's really an incredibly advanced and intuitive system, but it's just too expensive for me.

    So many things that you use every day and take for granted use QNX in the background. It is one of the world leaders in embedded systems.
  • It's not "pretty cool", it SHOULD be that way.
    Those guys didn't use some weird tweaking in assembly (like those 256 byte demos), - they just did it "the right way".
    This demo is very good in this aspect - it shows the utter bloatedness of all the soft we use daily.
    Linux included - feel free to flame me, but I flatly reduce to advocate things like StarOffice or Netscape or even KDE.
    Yet Linux _kernel_ is pretty cute. At least before 2.2, but even 2.2 is still ok.

    PS: Is "Photon" thingie heavy copyrighted?
  • Microware's OS/9 broke drivers, filesystems and the like out into individual modules that could be loaded/unloaded on the fly, I do believe. It is a wonderful OS -- shame that Microware never aimed for marketing it outside the embedded controller market.
  • So what if it's old! I'm going to snag a copy tonight, now I've freed the modem up.

    (I've been downloading Oracle 8i EE for Linux, Oracle WebDB for Linux, Oracle Application Server for Linux, Informix Dynamic Server for Linux, Informix C-ISAM for Linux and IBM Java 1.1.8 for Linux, to see how they compare with the Open Source equivalents of each of them. I've also got IBM DB/2 6.1 on order. And if anyone from Microsoft is reading, I want you to take this list to the idiot who wrote that Linux piece and politely, but firmly, tell them that Linux has very nice desktop and server software, thank you very much.)

    Back to the QNX - it sounds cool, and I'll add it to the OS' that I have. ExoPC is cool, too, and FAST! BeOS is OK, but the demo CD is too limited to get a good feel for it. I =want= Solaris, though! As soon as I've saved enough for it...

  • There are also one disk Linuces.

    I went to the site hoping to find something truly interesting, like a QNX demo disk-like thing that was BSD, so that I could modify it and do what I want with it (mmmm, cheap X-terminals).

    Call me when you have X on there.

    I tried the QNX disk, and was extremely impressed. Ever since then, I've wanted to buy a copy. Alas, I cannot currently budget for it.

    Hmmm, what about those "mini" X servers I heard about a long time ago? What's happened to them? We can do some really neat stuff with those.
  • All the it's old news replies are because it's _really_ old news and every body knows that.

    But any ways, you should give it a try, I haven't seen any other OS in the world doing the same (OS+GUI+WM+Browser+JS) It's just too much for the rest of the OSes
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, I have no floppy ;)
  • One of the nice things about a microkernel system like Neutrino is that someone could analyze the interfaces between the modules and start quietly replacing the modules (which should be relatively small and easy to understand) with their own versions. The new modules could be open source. The module replacement could be done a little at a time, in small increments of work, either by one person or many.

    If someone wanted to steal Neutrino's design and replace it with an open source clone, it might be remarkably easy. An order of magnitude or two easier than the WINE project (which is basically an attempt to clone a closed source monolith), that's for sure...

    Um.. not that I'm implying that I intend to do such a thing...

  • The point of this site is to share and discuss news. Obviously the posters should attempt to avoid things that their viewers are likely to have seen already.

    However, the number of "old news" comments in this discussion is unreal. ONE or TWO would suffice. It seems in this case people get some sort of pathetic ego boost from stating that yes, they too saw the item in question somewhere else first.

    If you've already seen an article, read something else. Don't tell us you've already seen it. The rest of us probably don't care.

  • I remember downloading this 3 years ago. It was pretty cool then. And, yes, it did have a web server in it then. I remember writing down my ip address and then going to a lab and loading a page off my dial-up.

    Too bad it doesn't support CSS.

  • When a 1ms delay means the difference between live and death a real time OS is the only one which can _always_ keep the patient alive while the other OSes can loose 1% or 0.1% of patients, who cares?
  • In those other OSes, the OS doesn't trust user processes, but it usually trusts itself. The device drivers and filesystem are part of the kernel, run in supervisor mode, and there is no protection from them. Under a microkernel, many OS services are actually just tasks that have little more privledges (if any) than a user process. It's the ultimate in paranoia. :-)

    It's probably not a big deal most of the time, especially to end users, since device drivers and filesystems tend to be rather thoroughly debugged before they get shipped. But the microkernel approach is sure gonna be a lot easier for some programmer who is writing/testing/debugging that kind of stuff. I expect we'll see a lot of interesting OS hacking done with Neutrino, kinda like what happened on the Amiga with some of the interesting virtual devices and DOS handlers (filesystems), except that the Neutrino hackers will be even happier since they won't be rebooting as often. :-)

  • Im amazed this wasn't picked up by slashdot earlier. But anyway, what the submission fails to mention is that they have two versions now. One is for dialup internet connection and the second is for network connection. I've never tried the network connection one since I dont have a network... Maybe I could put it in a box at school and boot it up... Anything is better than windows... Anyway, this is still pretty impressive that everything fits on a floppy and it autodetects your hardware most of the time!
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Wednesday October 06, 1999 @02:41PM (#1634557) Homepage Journal

    Just an addendum to some of the other comments here... There's a reason that Amiga refugees are particularly interested in realtime OSes compared to people from other backgrounds.

    One of the neat things about the Amiga is no matter how high the load is, or how slow the machine is (even the 7 MHz 68000), the GUI always looks and feels very fast and snappy. That doesn't mean it really is always fast, it's just that the gadgets (widgets) are responsive because the code that handles them runs at a higher priority than "normal" stuff, and the Amiga uses an absolute scheduler. This probably sounds like a pretty unimportant point to most people, but once you've used an Amiga for many years, you start to build up subconcious expectations from a GUI.

    It's still relevant because even 1999 computers are still too slow. My boss's 400 MHz NT box, for example, when it's running a CPU-bound app (even just one of them), and it seems especially common when there's disk activity, the GUI gets slow. Intolerably slow from an Amiga user's perspective. Yes, I'm saying that a 400 MHz NT box is uncomfortable to use compared to a 7 MHz Amiga. I hope this isn't interpreted as flamebait. :-) Obviously there are many other factors that determine a computers overall speed and usability, but the Amiga's responsiveness is one of those factors that Amiga users particularly cherish, perhaps because other platforms haven't considered it to be as important.(?)

    QNX and Neutrino's ability to guarantee that certain things will happen in a certain amount of physical time mean that it will be possible for them to have GUIs that are as responsive as the Amiga's. I honestly don't know yet if Photon has that virtue or not (it probably does, but that's just a guess), but the point is: with Neutrino, it's possible. Amigans are looking for that sort of thing.

  • I do recall using something like this three years ago. QNX may have updated it, but this is nothing new.
    I noticed
  • ExoPC? That one's new to me, though I'll probably go and learn all about it this evening.

    BeOS is a really nifty operating system for a number of reasons (this is just my lameass opinion, of course)
    • developing BeOS applications is painless... even _enjoyable_
    • BeOS, although not free, is quite cheap at around US$40
    • Be people are enthusiastic, cool, and not broken into factions
    • POSIX compliant. Most unix apps only require a recompile to run under BeOS.
    • It's super-configurable, yet Mom can still figure out how to play Mah Jongg.
    • BeOS does SMP better than Linux could ever hope to

      and looking ahead at what the future may bring....
    • Networking is getting tweaked and written into the kernel for R5. with hot networking BeOS would make the ideal server. Yes, BeOS runs Apache just fine.
    • Multiuser might be coming with R5 too.
    Yeah, I think Be is great. But it's not the One True OS. There is no such thing. Go use whatever the hell you want.
  • That version of slackware was called minilinux. It was very old and consisted of *five* not one floppies. The filesystems were compressed w/ Pkzip (not gzip). It used UMSDOS so there was no need to partition. I remember that it had a X implementation. However, it was very limited.

    However, Linux and QNX are too different embedded animals. We use both at my site here. QNX is POSIX compliant. However, a lot of the expected UNIX commands are different. The graphics window looks very similar to Mandrake's KDE. (I'm not kidding.)

    I'm wondering if one enterprising company will take the best of both (many GNU tools are already available for QNX) and merge the two into one mini Linux/QNX distro. Don't doubt it. It can happen.

  • All anyone can think to say is "this is old news" and "I've heard of this ages ago."

    Well, guess what... you're not everybody. I didn't know about this until just now. So that makes it relevant to me. I'm willing to bet there are others to whom this is not old news.

    Chill out and stop expecting the world to revolve around you.
  • It now supports HTML 3.2 and JavaScript.
  • Yes, they have a network version now. Worked fine with my ne2000 clone card.
  • I used to use a version of a Slackware installation which had been cut down to fit on a floppy. In terms of things like file downloads it was much faster than the windows installations at uni, and for repairing a dead system it was perfect. Of course It didn't have any GUI but it was still a very useful tool.

    Any progress in this area is good news. Adding the latest features isnt the only goal. Getting a fully featured OS onto a tiny space can only improve the technology as a whole. I look forward to seeing lots of spin-offs.
  • Okay, so this isn't news to those of us who tried this very demo about a year ago. But if you're not one of those people, get the disk! Try it out!

    QNX is the only totally modular OS that I know of. It's truly a microkernel OS -- all the kernel does is message passing, process creation, memory management, and timer control... drivers, filesystems, even the scheduler runs as separate processes. It requires only 1.95 sec to do a full, user-level context switch on a Pentium-133. For those Mosix fans out there, it inhernetly supports running processes on remote nodes in a network of computers.
    QNX's unique approach to transparent distributed processing lets you launch processes across the QNX network, allowing for full inheritance of the environment, including open files, current directory, file descriptors, and user ID. The microkernel also includes POSIX.1 (certified) and many POSIX.1b realtime services, as well as high-speed diagnostic event tracing.

    See html [] for more.

    Their website [] says that its "now multiplatform!", which is news. Previously, it ws an x86-only OS.
  • While this may be old hat to some, I doubt I'm the only one to be new to this.

    Install was simple; I ran the install script and rebooted. After loading, I was prompted to select a geographic region and a screen resolution. While the color depth was limited to 256, the resolutions went fairly high.

    Dialup setup was easy; I entered my DNS address, username, password, and authentication method. I was connected on the first try at 48,800. Don't even bother if you have a win modem.

    The 3 plug-ins worked nicely, but the telnet client was the most useful. I was able to check my e-mail and edit files, ect.

    The web server worked like a, ahem, charm. Just don't try to
    serve and browse at the same time. Browser performance was flaky after
    the first hit.

    The web browser itself was like an older version of Netscape, but
    with fewer features. Data transfer performance was sluggish compared
    to other platforms. On the whole, though, the system was usable.
    Yahoo, CNet, ZDnet,,, and of course Slashdot rendered

    This seems like something that would be a nice supplement to all
    those mini one disk Linux distros out there. Sometimes a portable
    GUI browser is nice to have. You guys/gals should give this a try.

    Btw, I'm using the Demo to type this review:-)


  • Not the demo, the development kit? Seriously...this demo is worthless because (last time I check it) you could only play some silly Java puzzle game since that was the only webpage on the server. You also had to have pretty standard hardware (3Com NIC, etc).

    Now, if I could modify this sub 1.5MB wonder to include the ONE driver for the hardware part I really need...and have it serve up a single webpage with links to my primary websites...then I would think this is very very cool indeed.

    Imagine the next time a user's system isn't working: he or she boot this preconfigured floppy (which has the exact drivers needed for that system), which then connect to a server, uploads the data directory, pulls down a new image of WinNT or whatever, reloads the data and voila! The user has fixed his or her own system and I didn't even have to know about it.

    This would also be terrific for web-based training programs...a user could pop in a "C++" disk that would be preconfigured to take them to the C++ training program on a CBT server.

    So how much is it gonna cost me to be able to develop this kinda diskette...or am I only going to be able to use the QNX operating system on embedded devices?

    - JoeShmoe

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"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas