Blue Screen of Death on an airport departures screen

What’s wrong with Windows?

Microsoft Windows NT® and Windows 2000® are fairly robust operating systems which are widely used as a server O/S and for running mission critical applications. By and large this is successful and cost effective. There are times when something else is more appropriate.

More reliability

Unix operating systems such as Linux and FreeBSD are considered more reliable than Windows NT, are cheaper to licence, and can still run on commodity PC hardware. Many companies are turning to these solutions as a server O/S, as web hosting platforms, and for running critical applications. There is also a niche for POSIX compliant real time O/S such as QNX. Although this doesn’t have the advantage of being free to licence, it does run on commodity PC hardware, and is extremely robust.

Realtime and Embedded Applications

This is where the deterministic response and small hardware footprint requirements of QNX really come into its own. QNX has been used for such diverse applications as the British Telecom public- access Internet payphone and an Anasthesia monitor used in US hospitals.

The middle of nowhere - VIPA

Geco-Prakla (now Western Geco) needed a seismic QC system which would be deployed in remote locations within Oman and Saudi Arabia. The system needed to capture the seismic data en route from the recording instrument to the SCSI tape decks. The system would also potentially need to acquire data from vehicle tracking systems, GPS, and source QC systems. To keep costs down, the initial systems were deployed as rack-mount PC’s, with 90Mhz Pentium I processors. The QNX operating system was chosen because:

The VIPA software was developed for Geco-Prakla by a software engineer now employed by Courtlands Technical Services.