Move 1: QNX
CTO, QNX Software Systems
Last November at Computer 98 in Cologne I promised to deliver an advanced operating system that would once again put Amigans at the forefront of technology. Over the past 7 months we have had a team of over 40 engineers working towards making that promise and vision a reality. We are now in the final stages of development and are poised to put these new technologies into the hands of thousands of serious, enthusiastic developers like yourself.
QNX is often compared to UNIX, LINUX and BSD. We do share the same POSIX APIs, and most code written for these systems ports easily to QNX, but the resemblance ends there. Based on 20 years of OS experience, QNX has a radically more advanced architecture. It's a massively scalable, multi-threaded, fault-tolerant, realtime OS designed for devices and computers of any type or size. QNX provides a unique network architecture where large full-service protocol stacks aren't required on each computer and devices plugged into the network are simply "discovered" automatically by other devices - all services and peripherals of the new device can then be used by any other device in the network. QNX is also the only self-hosted RTOS where the development environment and the runtime target environment are the same. And though we're not open source, we adopt an "open source" policy for hardware-specific drivers. This allows us to continually support the latest hardware advances, while still maintaining control of core technology. More importantly, it ensures QNX has a focused vision for the future.
If you haven't visited our web site before, I invite you to look at the QNX Realtime OS and Photon microGUI®. If you'd like to dig a little deeper, we've included some screen shots of the exciting new look-and-feel for Photon below (click on the image to expand). We've also put the new QNX Neutrino System Architecture manual online.
In a nutshell, QNX is the core and Photon the graphical environment for our new OS foundation:
Initially, we're looking for beta sites interested in porting existing applications or writing new applications. Companies and individual developers are both invited to join - the only thing we ask is commitment. We want active beta testers, not tire kickers, who will promise to provide valuable feedback.
Of course, commitment goes both ways. So in addition to starting this program, we will, as of now, become active and vocal in all the appropriate newsgroups and magazines. We're looking forward to being a fully active member of the Amiga community, and to working closely with Amigans to create the next revolution in multimedia computing.
Our initial beta release will be for x86 PCs. While this hardware platform may, at first, seem undesirable to some of you, remember that most QNX applications and device drivers are source-identical across CPUs and boards. As a result, any work done on x86 will migrate easily to any other supported platform. We chose x86 because it's the hardware solution most widely available at low cost in the time frame that we wish to release the first beta - this Fall.
Are You Interested?
If you're interested in joining the QNX Developers Network for Amigans, please click here to fill out the application form. If you have any questions, email us at email@example.com.
If your company already has an application you wish to port, you're also invited to contact the Department of Strategic Alliances at QNX Software Systems. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +1 613 591-0931.
Move 2: Amiga
· · OPEN LETTER TO THE COMMUNITY
After months of research and in-depth discussions with all of our technology partners we have decided to use Linux as the primary OS kernel for the new Amiga Operating Environment (OE). I know this decision is a shock to many of you given the previous announcements and activities relative to QNX. This was a very complicated and difficult decision to make and I assure you that I didn't make this decision without a significant amount of research and deliberation. We have been researching Linux since February but didn't finalized our decision until several weeks ago. We were planning to communicate it to the Amiga community in the technology brief that will be released in the next few days.
I am pressed to communicate the Linux decision before the technology brief because of information released by QNX in the last few days. This information had not been reviewed or approved for release by Amiga. In light of our Linux decision, this information is confusing and misleading so I would like to take the time to clarify the situation. I can't disclose any details of the Amiga/QNX discussions because of legally binding confidentiality agreements but I can talk to you about our decision to use the Linux kernel. I think that you will agree that this is the right decision once you understand the reasons for this decision.
Before I continue, I should mention that our technology decision does not reflect negatively on QNX. I believe that QNX is a good company with great technology. I just believe that Linux gives us a better chance of executing our plans successfully.
The decision to use QNX as our OS partner on our next generation multimedia convergence computer (MCC) was made late last year. When I took over as president of Amiga in February of this year, I initiated an in-depth review of existing Amiga plans and decisions. As president of Amiga I had to make sure that we were defining a strategy and an execution plan that would allow Amiga and the Amiga community to be successful. We reviewed our strategy, architecture decisions, technology partners, and execution plans. During this review period we also added a number of very talented and experienced people to help us finalize our technology and product decisions. I am confident that we now have a solid and exciting plan that people can have confidence in.
Linux has been picking up substantial momentum over the past year as a viable, open OS alternative in the marketplace. This momentum, the growing commitment to Linux applications from a wide variety of software vendors, and the growing availability of Linux device drivers from hardware vendors, makes it a compelling candidate. Additionally, with all of the significant component suppliers putting resources on writing drivers for Linux it was difficult to get them to port to yet another operating system. Using the Linux OS as a foundation for our Amiga OE allows us to leverage a significant amount of available software drivers and utilities. This allows us to quickly support multiple graphics cards and other peripherals.
Given the above-mentioned advantages, we decided to do an in-depth technical analysis of Linux to determine if it was a suitable OS kernel for our new Amiga operating environment (OE). As we ported parts of our higher level operating environment and AmigaObjectTM architecture to Linux, we discovered some significant performance advantages in the Linux kernel in areas such as distributed object messaging across a network (up to 10X the performance of Windows NT). Although Linux configurations can be very large in size, the core pieces of the Linux kernel are actually very small and efficient. In considering hardware requirements we also found companies working on hardware components that were optimized for the Linux kernel. Additionally, Linux is probably the most stable operating system available in the market. After months of in-depth research we were confident that we could build an extremely exciting next generation Amiga based on the Linux OS kernel.
Does this mean that the next generation Amiga will not be unique? Absolutely not! Remember that the OS kernel is only one component of the new Amiga OE and the hardware is unique. The revolutionary nature of the Amiga OE is in the way it extends the traditional operating system to provide a host environment for a new class of portable applications - applications that exist in a pervasive networked computing environment. We will be integrating multiple technologies including an efficient windowing environment and a unique user interface.
In summary, we decided to use Linux because of the incredible momentum and the fact that it is solid technology and a good foundation for our new Amiga OE. Additionally, the Linux community is an impressive force that we should be aligned with. We share many common values and objectives with the Linux community. Using Linux as our OS kernel allows us to build a unique and revolutionary operating environment while leveraging the enormous momentum of Linux.
The soon to be released technology brief will further explain our architecture and plans for integrating all of the selected technology. Once you read it, I am confident that you will understand the revolutionary nature of the next generation Amiga. I assure you that Amiga and the Amiga community will be a driving force behind the next computer revolution.
Move 3: QNX
Where Do We Stand?
Eight months ago we were chosen by Amiga as their foundation OS partner. Our development group was thrilled to be part of the rebirth of such an innovative product. To meet the challenge we knew it would take a tremendous effort on our part. We had a team of people in place working on our part of the Amiga NG soon after the alliance was announced. Over the next few months we involved more and more of our engineering resouces towards making QNX an advanced multi-media platform. Our investment so far has been significant. These are costs we have born ourselves.
It is clear today from Jim's letter that we were not chosen for the next generation Amiga. Naturally we're disappointed. So, where do we stand now? It is not our intent to confuse the Amiga community. We are proud of what we have accomplished and want to include Amigans in what we've achieved. I did make a promise to deliver an operating system and I intend on keeping that promise. I don't want to split the community, nor do I wish to engage in a war of words. I don't ask you to "trust" me or to take me at my word. Both QNX and Amiga have promised to deliver technology into your hands in the very near future. I ask only that your assessment of QNX be based on what we do and what we deliver.
Thanks for the overwhelming support we have received so far.
CTO, QNX Software Systems
Move 4: Amiga
I have read many of the comments from the Amiga community regarding our Linux decision. The key observation I would make about the feedback I have received is that people don't have a good understanding of our plans for the next generation Amiga. This is my fault and we are working to rectify this with the upcoming technology brief. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not to judge the Linux decision until you have a chance to read the technology brief.
The foundation OS is just one component of our new operating environment. In addition to the OS, there are many components of hardware and software technology being integrated into the final product. The underlying OS is not what makes the next generation Amiga revolutionary. You will more clearly understand this once we have released the "technical brief" in the next few days. Whether we use QNX or Linux, the new Amiga will be exciting, elegant, easy to use, incredibly efficient and yes, truly revolutionary!
I should mention that I was adamantly against Linux when it was first suggested in March. It took several months of intense research to convince me that it was the right decision. I can assure you that the decision was not made without a significant amount of deliberation. I would not have made the Linux decision if I didn't believe it offers us a better overall solution while significantly increasing our probability of success. Please read this letter in detail to get a better understanding of the factors that drove this decision.
I would like to further explain the Linux decision starting with the concept of revolutionary:
rev·o·lu·tion·ary ("re-v&-'lü-sh&-"ner-E): adjective; 1 c: constituting or bringing about a major or fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something: a change of paradigm [a revolutionary new product]
The key driving objective of our plans is to come out with a truly revolutionary product that can drive the next computer revolution. By definition, revolutionary ideas are not easy to visualize and are difficult to communicate. The upcoming technology brief will help you understand why the next generation Amiga is revolutionary. You need to keep an open mind because revolutionary products ALWAYS challenge the norm and most people think in terms of the norm. Once you understand what makes the next generation Amiga unique and revolutionary you will understand why picking Linux over QNX isn't a critical technology decision.
Our design philosophy was to find a good solution for the traditional pieces of the OS and build our revolutionary elements on top of this. It's that simple. QNX is a good technical solution for the OS components but poses a significant market and industry challenge. Linux is sucking up the mind share and resources of most of the major component manufacturers and technology suppliers. I simply don't believe we can gain enough momentum without tapping into the Linux momentum. Linux will give us continuous access to new technology and components as they are released. With QNX we could get out a new platform but I don't believe we would keep up with the rapid technology changes in the computer industry. At Gateway, I was one of the leading product executives in this industry and I have in-depth experience in this area. IT WAS MY ASSESSMENT THAT WE WOULD FAIL ON THIS PATH. Please take note of this statement. How could I NOT make the Linux decision if I truly believe this? How could we continue on a path that I think will have us fail? Who will benefit if we fail?
Let's also talk about the Linux technology itself. Some people view Linux as a stable but large and inefficient OS. I had this concern also when Linux was first suggested so we spent a significant amount of time understanding Linux, its strengths and weaknesses. We have even discussed our Linux evaluation in-depth with Linus Torvalds to better understand the pros and cons. Linux is evolving at a very rapid pace and I was satisfied that it could comfortably meet our technology requirements. Part of the reason Linux is large and inefficient is because there are so many options and different configurations. Amiga will define a clean and efficient Linux configuration as a standard part of our operating environment.
An additional advantage of Linux is the fact that there are companies working on hardware components optimized for the Linux kernel. This will allow us to gain efficiencies and increased performance on the MCC through tight integration of hardware and software components. The MCC hardware will be highly optimized for both the Linux kernel and Java. In addition to the unique Amiga OE, the MCC will run Linux and Java better than any other computer in the world. This is worth some market momentum and will significantly increase our probability of success. We should expect to sell many Amiga computers into the Linux community and this is a good thing. We won't be successful unless we can increase the size of the Amiga community.
I can understand the caution that many of you have on this announcement and will work aggressively to alleviate your concerns. I want to emphasize that it was not my intention to mislead the Amiga community in any way. I have been working hard to put together the best plan possible for Amiga to drive the next computer revolution. I believe that the Linux decision is consistent with this objective. Maybe I should have communicated this decision as soon as it was made several weeks ago but I was hoping to get out more information on the overall architecture first. I apologize for not doing a better job planning the communication on this. I am making dozens of key decisions a day and some of them aren't ideal. There are some people that will use the confusion caused by this situation to fuel a negative community reaction in order to split the community. It is critical that we stand united as a community or all will be lost. Please be patient, strive to understand, and have confidence. It's been a long and turbulent ride but I promise you that the wait will be worth it.
Move x: More to come...