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EETimes: Reliability becomes an all-consuming goal

Dec 14, 1999, 17:54 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bernard Cole)

"One of the reasons that Windows has been considered as an alternative in some embedded applications, despite its reputation for crashing, was its complete ubiquity," said Eric Powers, vice president of software development at OneChannel Inc. (Davis, Calif.). "Other than Unix, the one operating system with a set of APIs with which virtually every developer has familiarity is Windows." With the emergence of free open-source versions of Unix, such as Linux, the combination of familiarity and low cost makes this operating system a compelling alternative. "And as versions of Linux, hardened and adapted for the embedded market, emerge, Windows will have a much harder time of it," he said."

"Operating systems that will have an edge in the new market for embedded devices with increasing degrees of connectivity, said Rob Krten, a software R&D consultant at QNX Software Systems Ltd. (Kanata, Ontario), will be those that incorporate network operation as a part of their basic design, not as an afterthought. Here again, said Ready of MontaVista, Unix-Linux will have an edge. "The Internet is part and parcel of Unix," he says "Protocols such as IP and TCP/IP stacks and utilities and, indeed, the Internet itself grew up on and around Unix systems." Today, said Ready, most of the Internet and telecommunications infrastructure runs over Unix software: "You cannot visit a Web site, send e-mail or dial into the Web without traversing at least one Unix server...."

"However, said Krten, don't count RTOSes out of the middleware game. Much of the functionality necessary to ensure reliable operation in a networked environment is integral to several operating systems, such as QNX' Neutrino, Unix-Linux and Lucent's Inferno, which make use of features such as name spaces to make arrays of distributed computers more reliable."

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