QNX is one of the computer industry's best kept secrets -- well at least in
my opinion -- and now, this operating system which used to cost several thousand
dollars is available for download on the Net -- free of charge to developers.
I first encountered QNX back in 1982 when it became the most reliable multi-user,
multi-tasking operating system for the PC platform. Since then it has gained
a very strong following amongst a small and close-knit community of developers
creating PC-based and embedded realtime applications using Intel processors.
It seems that QNX Software Systems Ltd have decided that there's more money
to be made by making their product attractive to developers than there is by
repeating the mistake which drove IBM's rather excellent OS/2 operating system
into the history books as an "also-ran."
Those who remember OS/2 will likely also remember IBM's arrogance towards
developers. Instead being sensible and helping developers by offering them
free or low-cost tools and product so as to encourage the growth of OS/2-specific
applications, IBM charged like wounded bull for all their upgrades, compilers
and documentation -- effectively alienating the developers so essential
to creating a base of native OS/2 applications.
IBM mistakenly assumed that it was a good idea to spend more than US$50 million
on fancy TV advertisements featuring nuns and goat-herders while at the
same time gouging programmers by charging a small fortune for the tools
required to tool up for OS/2 development. Of course
developers said -- "get stuffed -- OS/2 is really nice but we're already
tooled up to develop Windows software and we're not going to pay that much
just to write apps for your OS." So OS/2's potential to become "the" desktop
operating system was never realised -- a superior product sunk by an inferior
and arrogant attitude to the market.
The guys at QNX however have wised up and figured that by giving developers
everything they need -- including easy porting to QNX from Linux, they're
likely to recruit a lot of smart people who appreciate the unique features this
OS has to offer.
If you are a Linux developer or user, check out the
QNX site and then
download your own
of the OS and tools.
Be warned however that you're looking at a 24MB download for the minimal system
or 94MB for the full CDROM image file. However, even those with only
56K modem connections should be able to bring down the minimal 24MB file in a
reasonable amount of time. Hint -- the Tucows server seems to have more bandwidth
than the QNX one itself.
I'd be interested to hear from those who do take a look -- let me know what
you think. I know it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea -- but it's free!
IHUG's Satellite Service To Get Speed Boost
As regular readers will know I've been using
satellite-based broadband internet service (now called Ultra) ever since it
was launched and I've consistently been impressed.
When downloading the free QNX developers' system I consistently got a transfer
rate in excess of 250K bits/second which meant it took just a few minutes to
bring down these fairly large files.
Well good news for satellite-based Ultra users -- IHUG are about to provision
some extra bandwidth to improve performance. This new bandwidth arrives
mid-month and some early adopters will need to upgrade their satellite cards
but it looks like a great system is about to get even better!
Another Month Slips By
Here it is, the first working day of October and I find myself bound to repeat
the same message I have during the first edition of the month for far too long
Despite endless posturing and rhetoric on the part of government, we're still
no further ahead in the creation of an environment which will help foster
new economy industries.
The meagre grants scheme which is now available to would-be developers has been
swamped with applications -- such that only a small percentage are likely to
receive anything like the help they're seeking. This is surely a clear indication
that there are plenty of would-be participants in turning this country's sorry
economy around but that the government's blatant reneging on its election promise
with respect to R&D continues to stifle innovation and investment.
No New Economy "Rubbish" for this man!
Bla bla -- rave rave -- clearly I'm wasting my time pointing out the bleeding
obvious, yet again.
The quote of the week has to come from "let's play ostrich" Jim Anderton who
has decided that his Industry New Zealand board doesn't need anyone with
hi-tech knowledge or expertise. Jim said:
"I think these words like knowledge
economy, old economy, new economy are all a bit of rubbish."
That's right Jim -- if you don't understand something then first pretend it doesn't exist
and, if that doesn't work, just criticise it.
I'm Trying To Paddle Against The Current
In spite of, not because of government policy, I'm still prepared to
have a go at developing and launching my next "million-dollar idea" from
an NZ base -- but whether I end up taking the expressions of interest
received from the USA and Asia or whether I keep it here is entirely dependent
on the availability of local startup funding.
As I mentioned in Friday's edition,
I'm presently seeking backing for what I know will become a key
infrastructure component of e-commerce on the Internet. This is a
system that will have global impact and which has already generated
expressions of interest from major players in the US marketplace.
I'd like to "keep it kiwi" because the overseas earnings and local jobs it
stands to create are massive -- particularly when you look at the
projected size of the online e-commerce marketplace by the end of 2001.
Will this become yet another case of NZ's economic future disappearing offshore?
Only the next few days and local investor interest will determine that I guess.
And have I applied for one of the government's grants? No thanks -- ideas like
this require that all involved move at "Net speed" and, quite frankly, the time
involved in jumping the hurdles is far more valuable than measly $100K on offer.
As always, your feedback is welcomed.