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FreeOS.com: A talk with Paul Leroux of QNX

Jun 14, 2001, 15:15 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Prakash Advani)


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QNX generates a lot of interest from Linux enthusiasts. FreeOS.com interviews Paul Leroux of QNX on the differences between QNX and other operating systems (Linux specifically) and the reasons the QNX OS hasn't been released under the GPL despite the company's move toward a more open source approach to source availability.

"...First of all, there's a lot of common ground. QNX and Linux share APIs, tools, etc. so that Linux developers can easily learn QNX, and vice versa. Actually, you can think of QNX and Linux as providing a very nice form of synergy. Together, they allow developers to leverage the same skill sets across a very wide spectrum of applications -- much wider, in fact, than any single operating system could do on its own.

Nonetheless, they are different. While they share programming interfaces, QNX is inherently realtime, whereas Linux is a general-purpose OS. QNX has a microkernel architecture (i.e. drivers, protocols, and file systems are dynamically upgradable, memory-protected processes), whereas Linux follows a far more traditional "monolithic" kernel architecture. I can name other differences (e.g. QNX is inherently network-distributed, QNX can scale smaller, etc.), but the point is that QNX and Linux are different tools suited to different jobs. For example, QNX is extremely well suited to the network-distributed architecture of a high-end router. It's also a superior choice for small, memory-constrained Web appliances or for any application that requires `hard' realtime determinism.

I'm only talking about technical merits here. But you also have to consider the company and people behind the QNX RTOS. We serve the embedded market, and embedding is hard stuff. OEMs building embedded products have very complex requirements and expect a phenomenal amount of expertise and experience on the part of their OS vendor. That's where we have a real edge, since we've been in the embedded business for over 20 years. We know the needs of embedded developers intimately."

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