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Blackberry Cellphones Operating Systems

RIM Unveils New OS Based On QNX 262

Posted by Soulskill
from the reinventing-the-reinvented-wheel dept.
New submitter HommeDeJava writes "Research In Motion unveiled a new operating system for its tablet and smartphones at the company's BlackBerry developer conference in San Francisco. Called BlackBerry BBX, the new OS combines features of the existing BlackBerry OS and its recently acquired real-time QNX OS. Could BBX attract software developers and spur interest from consumers?"
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RIM Unveils New OS Based On QNX

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  • I already know the future. Fail, of the epic kind.

    • by whistl (234824) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @06:56PM (#37756004)

      I agree. Too little, too late. It'll take years for them to turn things around, and they just don't have the time.

      • Bimbo Newton Crosby, RIM is a corpse. If this would have happened five or even three years ago? they may have had a shot. but the ship has done sailed and from the looks of it the final tally will be Apple #1 with Android trading spots with iOS from time to time, so iOS and Android own 1 and 2, and MSFT buying their way into third place but not having a prayer of taking #2 much less the coveted #1 spot.

        With mobile there is always a chance of something coming from out of left field, after all who would have thought 6 years ago that Android would suddenly explode, but RIM just doesn't have it. They don't have the hardware, the designs, nor the buzz, and even the CxO types are all running around playing with their iPhones and HTC Androids, its over. I just wonder who will buy them out for the IP, MSFT or Google? Maybe Samsung?

        • It happens every couple of years. Go do a google search and you will see. They are as bad as Apple, it don't matter how bad they fuck up, people forget and go back to thumb typing.
      • by Alomex (148003) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @09:44PM (#37757524) Homepage

        Don't get ahead of yourselves.

        Let's not forget that Apple came back from a far worse shape than this in the late 90s. It is way too early to say that "they just don't have time".

        They better put a move on it, pronto, would be a much more accurate statement.

        • Apple also doesn't have a dead dog in the race, with frequent outages of service due to a single point of email and message failure controlled by their proprietary network. Apple also innovated the hell out of their products. RIM has not done this. It's a "me too" effort at best, and not a very good one.

          Outside of organizations married to its corp-friendly proprietary nonsense, RIM has zero reputation right now.

          As a developer, I wouldn't spare a thought towards porting my applications to that platform. It's

        • correction (Score:2, Funny)

          by mevets (322601)

          not pronto, procnto is the process manager in qnx.

        • by rsborg (111459)

          Let's not forget that Apple came back from a far worse shape than this in the late 90s. It is way too early to say that "they just don't have time".

          Have you even heard one of their co-CEOs talk? One is all techno-babble and the other is a bean-counter with no real product experience. None of them are the caliber of Steve Jobs, and as a company, RIM is not the caliber of pre-Jobs Apple in the 90s (which was still quite innovative, just mismanaged).

          Fire one or both of the current leadership, and we can talk turnaround. As it is RIM does not have the DNA for a massive course-change.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I thought this was going to be a cut and paste of the BSD is dying usenet message from the 1990s.

    • by errandum (2014454)

      they could simply port the encryption and infrastructure to Android... I still believe they make awesome hardware and it's a shame to see it go to waste because of the same mistake done over and over and over again :\

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DJRumpy (1345787)

        Given the legal challenges to Android right now, I would imagine they don't want to put all of their eggs in one basket. I can't blame them. It could turn into a win if the OS is well accepted. The game isn't over till it's over. If anyone in recent history has taught us that, it's Apple.

        Android popped up in a smartphone market ruled by iOS and is now a huge player. RIM could pull the same move, although the OS won't be available for free, it could gain them needed traction in a market that is quickly slipp

        • Android popped up in a smartphone market ruled by iOS and is now a huge player.

          Correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember seeing bunches of reports on Android back in the late Palm T|E days competing with Dell's Windows based mobile. iOS wasn't even on the radar then.

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            Correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember seeing bunches of reports on Android back in the late Palm T|E days competing with Dell's Windows based mobile. iOS wasn't even on the radar then.

            That's correct.

            Android was demonstrated and shown off a few weeks before the iPhone was even announced back in 2007. There's a CES 2007 video showing Android.

            Looking remarkably... blackberry-ish or WinMo ish with a 5-way navigator and stuff like that.

            Then the iPhone was announced, and a serious amount of re-engineering happe

    • by syousef (465911) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @07:08PM (#37756208) Journal

      I already know the future. Fail, of the epic kind.

      I prefer fail of the EEPROM kind.

    • Agreed.

      I own a BB and a Playbook. The Playbook, BTW, i bought at 50% off with bonus accessories.

      The BB is good as a cell phone. But OS 6 release (i upgraded my phone), has been crap. Some stuff is major improvement like faster browser but there are many bugs. Since I'm regrettably on contract, I'm considering buying an iPhone 3 and using that instead.

      As for the Playbook, its got a really nice screen, responsive, good feel. And thats about it. I'm using it as an ebook reader - I read a lot of PDFs and the ei

      • The BB is good as a cell phone. But OS 6 release (i upgraded my phone), has been crap. Some stuff is major improvement like faster browser but there are many bugs. Since I'm regrettably on contract, I'm considering buying an iPhone 3 and using that instead.

        I have a BB Bold, which I agree is a good phone. Haven't gone to OS6. Has RIM figured out that people actually send html mail? As for the Playbook, I looked for one when they first cam out, but couldn't find a single working demo anywhere they were sold, so I gave up. I'd say RIM is toast.

    • QNX... what it has always done best was to be a tiny little itty bitty real-time operating system kernel which... as a user of it for 20 years I can safely say was AWESOME. They fit their entire real-time kernel into kilobytes and then supported building whatever you needed on top of it using a fairly unique (for the time, but really similar to UNIX messages) message passing system to communicate between tasks.

      QNX was NOT fast. It was however quite efficient and bragged for years about task switching times
  • by Jadware (1081293) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @06:53PM (#37755954)
    sounds like an industrial strength, secure platform that might actually be adopted by governments, enterprise companies, medical, etc. not sure how it will be marketed to education and gaming though, except by showing nice 3d framerates
    • by ThorGod (456163)

      You shouldn't have been rated down, but yeah I don't see this being a negative. With all the professional users of blackberry phones, their tablet's almost assured a user base.

    • good enough for nuclear reactors ... sounds like an industrial strength, secure platform that might actually be adopted by governments, enterprise companies, medical, etc. not sure how it will be marketed to education and gaming though, except by showing nice 3d framerates

      Seriously, how is this modded -1? QNX is all about special purpose dedicated applications. If the military needed a specialized tablet QNX may very well be the OS of choice, perhaps RIM the supplier. Likely, no. Plausible, yes. Similar story for specialized tablets for medical use, say something rated to be used in an operating room (note that this is more about the hardware than software, an iPad probably can't be sterilized without inadvertently destroying the electronics) to control equipment, display da

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        In order for QNX to meet the specialized requirements you're thinking of, every part of the OS has to be certified, which means nothing Blackberry produces will be useful to the military for 2-4 years at the soonest or it will be stripped down to the point that RIM will have no advantage.

        Contrary to popular belief QNX isn't that impressive anymore. It was at one point, but theres nothing about it now that isn't a well known and well understood concept, at least when your thinking of RTOS and security stand

    • by evilviper (135110)

      not sure how it will be marketed to education and gaming though,

      If you can boast an OS that doesn't lag while multitasking (eg. Music over bluetooth in the background) while doing other stuff (education, games, whatever) and furthermore that it'll keep running demanding workloads for months without becoming unstable or crashing, I think you'll be able to get pretty broad interest in the platform.

    • But what advantage does QNX offer here? I sure want an RTOS in my car's anti-lock braking system, but I couldn't care less if my phone is "just" a Unix derivate. If Linux is good enough to run Google and Wall Street, and BSD is good enough to run a huge chunk of Internet routers, then either of them are good enough to run my phone.

      Enterprises are mainly built around Unix, IBM, or Windows. Medical is very often centered around Windows. Education gets by fine on Macs and Windows. RTOSes aren't especially good

  • by ThorGod (456163) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @06:55PM (#37755980) Journal

    I last booted QNX something like 10 years ago...back then it was realtime, unix based (I think?), and relatively promising. I remember it was even more responsive than Linux (which was was more responsive than Windows).

    The software, called BlackBerry BBX, bridges RIM’s current BlackBerry operating system and its newer QNX platform, co-Chief Executive Officer Mike Lazaridis said today. That should remove developer “roadblocks” and make it easier for them to build applications for RIM. Lazaridis didn’t say when the new BBX program will be available

    Anyone have experience programming for QNX? If it's "just another unix" shouldn't porting to it be straightforward?

    • The entire OS is written in assembly along with the applications. So if thats your thing then go for it.

    • The big question is not the core POSIX APIs, but how you do UI, high-level networking and so on.

      For UI, QNX has Photon, but I very much doubt that it's what they'll use in this thing; and even if they do, they'll likely wrap it in something higher-level (it's vanilla C).

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @07:04PM (#37756140)

      I last booted QNX something like 10 years ago...back then it was realtime, unix based (I think?), and relatively promising. I remember it was even more responsive than Linux (which was was more responsive than Windows) ... Anyone have experience programming for QNX? If it's "just another unix" shouldn't porting to it be straightforward?

      QNX is a real-time operating system. For programmer convenience some things are unix-like. However unlike Linux and other unix implementations QNX is a *hard* real-time OS, you are guaranteed that things will happen within certain timeframes. QNX is targeting embedded environments, in particular environments that require incredible reliability - for example military and aerospace. QNX is exactly the sort of thing you use when you are building a mars rover.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @07:37PM (#37756564)

        Except, of course, the Mars Rovers used VxWorks. :-) (Another hard real-time embedded OS which is used quite a bit more than QNX.)

      • QNX is distributed, network aware implementation of POSIX APIs on top of a rather unique realtime kernel.

        But it is a unix-based system, with most of the GPL tools cross-compiled. Your command line doesn't change much, if at all. The QNX GUI (if it survived the merger with Blackberry tech) is tight, slick, low-profile interface. Very responive.

        Personally I'm interested in developing for any one platform, so I focus on Java 6 JEE based services that will eventually provide for HTML5 web interfaces to

        • It's not UNIX-based. It has a degree of UNIX compatibility and a UNIX-like shell, but that's not the same thing.
          • by msobkow (48369)

            As I said, the question is whether you think Unix is a kernel or the tools.

            If the tools and APIs are compatible, good enough. It's a unix system.

            Every manufacturer's implementation of Unix uses a different kernel. If you think they're still on the original AT&T SVR4 or BSD 4.2 code bases, you're way off course. They've all been tweaked and tuned, with different advantages and disadvantages for scalability, tuning, and management.

            QNX is another kernel, nothing more. A very slick kernel, but ju

    • by fluffy99 (870997)

      I last booted QNX something like 10 years ago...back then it was realtime, unix based (I think?), and relatively promising. I remember it was even more responsive than Linux (which was was more responsive than Windows).

      The software, called BlackBerry BBX, bridges RIM’s current BlackBerry operating system and its newer QNX platform, co-Chief Executive Officer Mike Lazaridis said today. That should remove developer “roadblocks” and make it easier for them to build applications for RIM. Lazaridis didn’t say when the new BBX program will be available

      Anyone have experience programming for QNX? If it's "just another unix" shouldn't porting to it be straightforward?

      Yes and no, it's a no obfuscated obtuse set of APIs to program against. We can't even get stuff that worked in QNX 5 to compile under QNX 6. Two years ago one of teams decided to upgrade an existing system that ran QNX 5 and some proprietary hardware. They just planned an OS upgrade to QNX6 and swapping a few of the specialty cards out. It still doesn't work two years later. We could have ported the code over to Linux and been done a year ago. It really didn't help that mid-stream they got bought out

  • If RIM is going to switch OSes, why wouldn't they go with Android? Cheaper to obtain and support, far larger app and developer base, easier to market it than "QNX? What's that?", bigger security community.

    RIM is just trying to protect its "different" status, despite the actual cost/benefit.

    • by loftwyr (36717)

      I have a feeling that they're following Palm down the long winding road of obsolescence. A Unix OS that isn't compatible with either of the two main players.

    • Because they're really really REALLY fucking stupid. That's why.

    • Probably because they didn't want to be viewed as just another Android handset; they wanted to have some differentiating factor. Unfortunately they don't have the talent pool to pull-off such an ambitious undertaking.
    • by mirix (1649853)

      This argument shows up here all the time, and it's lame as hell.

      When Ford was doing alright, why didn't GM and Chrysler just sell CKD fords? They'd have done better, in the short term at least.

      When Apple came into the game, symbian was number one by a long long stretch. Why didn't they just paste an apple logo onto a Nokia phone?

      If you go to android, you're just another commodity manufacturer. You can make money that way, sure, but when you hit it right, with your own design, the thing prints money.

      That sa

    • by laird (2705)

      QNX and Linux are _really_ different. QNX is a realtime OS for embedded applications, since as controlling car engines and factory equipment. This means that performance is extremely reliable (realtime OSs guarantee no glitching/slowdowns), it never crashes, and it runs efficiently on very limited hardware, on pretty much any CPU. For example, QNX is the OS running 200+ models of cars, in 20m+ cars on the road. It's proprietary and expensive, but for some applications you don't care about that as much as yo

    • If RIM is going to switch OSes, why wouldn't they go with Android?

      Maybe you guys suggesting RIM "just go android" are living in lala land? Why not just hand over the keys of the castle to Google and be done with it all?

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      If RIM is going to switch OSes, why wouldn't they go with Android?

      Yeah why not just do what everyone else is doing.

      far larger app and developer base

      Blackberry runtime for Android apps. They've already tapped into that community to a degree.

    • by codepunk (167897)

      One fantastic reason is native executable code, however they are now too late to the game for it to make any difference.

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @06:58PM (#37756036)

    It sure seems like RIM is thrashing around looking for a path forward. Apple seemed to suffer from the same thing, limping along with an OS that lacked basic features like memory protection and preemptive multitasking until 2001, but look at them now.

    Are RIM users loyal enough to wait out the problem years?

    • Re:Comeback Kid (Score:4, Informative)

      by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @07:11PM (#37756234)
      Apple had a game plan back in 1997 when they got NeXT and with it, Steve Jobs. At first Steve Jobs was only supposed to be there consulting on how to integrate NeXT into Apple. What he saw was that Apple lacked more than an upgraded OS; they lacked focus and execution. Jobs convinced the board that to oust the current CEO. Now mind you, it took 4 years for Apple to incorporate NeXT technology into OS X but the overall plan was started under the former CEO Gil Amelio. I don't believe that Amelio, however, could have done it. He was better at cost cutting than long term vision.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @07:04PM (#37756122) Journal
    Is there a pool of developers out there, saying to themselves, "I'd totally develop for blackberry; but their kernel is t37 suxxor!"?

    If, by some strange chance, the answer is yes, then yes, they should come flocking.

    Otherwise, their fortunes will likely continue to depend on how pleasant their systems are to develop for, and how many devices capable of running applications are in the hands of users interested in buying them...

    By all accounts, QNX is an accomplished OS; but it doesn't(in itself) solve the direst of problems with RIM's 3rd party dev efforts, which are not so much kernel limitations as user environment, dev tool, and API ones. If RIM can outperform its historical self in those areas, good for them. Otherwise, this "BBX" is going to offer the delightful choice of the same old blackberry crap, or Adobe Flash running like a wounded fainting goat [wikipedia.org] on some flavor of ARM SoC; but with a rock-solid foundation...
    • RIM has said that it will primarily use native code and existing open-source libraries. Doesn't sound so bad.
  • QNX Neutrino (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ModernGeek (601932) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @07:06PM (#37756170) Homepage
    QNX is probably the best operating system ever. If properly utilized, I could see Blackberry overpowering all other mobile phone manufacturers. I ran it on my main computer a long time ago, and it was one of the best computing experiences I have ever had. If it were F/OSS, I would use it for much more.
    • If properly utilized, I could see Blackberry overpowering all other mobile phone manufacturers.

      I have a feeling, based on this blog entry from an attempted Playbook developer [jamiemurai.com] that unfortunately it's not going to be "properly utilized".

    • by zixxt (1547061)

      QNX was a fast and fun OS when I ran it back around 2002/2003 but damn it was buggy and unstable mess, I could crash by playing a mp3 or make the file system do a little bit of work. It sucked on my desktop.

      • by Cassini2 (956052)

        Funny. I would have said that QNX crashes often in 1988.

        Are their any QNX success stories?

        The issue with obscure operating systems is in the device driver support. If the project will take two to three years to develop, and be in the market for another five to ten years, then several different hardware platforms will be required. If you are not running an operating system that supports a wide range of hardware with pre-built drivers, then multiple different device drivers may be needed over the life of

    • by finkployd (12902)

      Go check out a playbook, and prepare to be disappointed. They botched like a bunch of, well, hardware manufacturers who know nothing about software.

    • QNX is probably the best operating system ever.

      I think you forgot to insert the "Imma let you finish" part.

  • If so, then yes, you'll have lots of developers.
  • Embrace Android or die... those are pretty much your options at this point.
  • You know what I find really interesting about this story? BlackBerry is trying to save their hide by moving their telephone O/S to a Unix variant. Now that iOS and Android are both Unix-derived, it's old hat, almost a given. But it was just a few years ago that it was understood that Unix was old, antiquated technology to be replaced by newer, sexier Windows/Mac systems.

    What a difference a decade makes! Linux has since come to dominate the server and engineering workstation spaces, MacOS has been reborn as

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