Pick a Free OS

QNX RTP: What lies beneath?

QNX, or Qee-nix, is one of the latest entrants in the free operating systems

market. If you mistakenly thought that QNX is a new kid on the block, you

couldn't be more wrong! The QNX Real Time Operating System ala RTOS (What the

heck does that mean? A: We'll get to that later) has existed for nearly 20

years. QNX Software Systems claim that they were the first to bring

transparent distributed processing to the PC, built-in fault tolerance and

embedded microkernel windowing system, to name just some of the pioneering

features. How could such a technologically advanced piece of software remain

out of the sights of computer enthusiasts? This brings us to the nature of

QNX's target market, the embedded systems - i.e. kiosks, digital watches,

automotive technologies and electronic devices. The company has a very

comprehensive web site with details of the growth of their OS, which can be

found at http://www.qnx.com/company/compover.html.

QNX has been trying to make their OS and Real Time Platform (RTP) popular with

computer enthusiasts for quite some time. Many people came to know about QNX's

compactness after the release of a demo disk, which showcased a 1.44MB disk

containing an operating system, Internet support, GUI interface and a

full-featured web browser!

There is of course no better way to publicize software than by giving it away

for FREE. The QNX OS/RTP can be downloaded free from the Get QNX site. The

demo disk can also be downloaded from the same site.

Overview

Before I proceed, let's get that one big question out of our way. What does

real time platform mean? If you have worked on an overloaded Windows machine,

which takes 1 minute to start an application, you already, know what a real

time platform is NOT! As I have discussed earlier, QNX has always been

targeted at the embedded systems market, which require precision and

high-speed performance with reliability. QNX Real Time Platform provides such

capabilities for applications running on it. This means, it is possible to

startup a web browser and start surfing within a second in QNX RTP, in

contrast to ending up with a blue screen of death and trying to reinstall

Windows (a non-real time platform) for the next 30 minutes!

The QNX RTP draws its strength from reliable architecture, scalability and