back to article BlackBerry tablet boots from 'floppy disk OS'

The BlackBerry Playbook – RIM's answer to the Apple iPad — is sure to have a certain cachet among aging techies. The 7-inch tablet is based on QNX, the UNIX-esque microkernel operating system that famously booted — graphical user interface, networking, and all — from a single 1.44MB floppy drive. RIM acquired QNX this past …


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  1. Shaun Hunter

    QNX with Adobe Air, WOW!

    RIM may hit the ball out of the park when this gets on phones and other infotainment devices. I still don't see how Harman couldn't capitalize greatly on QNX considering their market. Hopefully their agreement with RIM also yields some advances in home/pro A/V.

  2. Slappy


    That bloody huge bezel is a right munter!

    1. Matthew Saroff

      Could I have that translated please?

      What is the American equivalent of "right munter?

      1. frank ly

        re. Munter

        Gabriele Munter was a German expressionist painter. People in her paintings usually have rough looking faces, with slightly blotchy colours. Hence, the word 'munter' is used to refer to a person or thing that looks rough or crude. This has been extended to mean ugly or even fugly.

      2. Neil Greatorex



      3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


        "Right munter" = "Ugly S.O.B."

      4. Dex
        Thumb Up

        Munter =/= Minger+1

        Although why they couldn't just add 2G to it is beyond me, i mean it would eliminate the need to have this plus a blackberry or maybe that's the plan o_0

        RIM - All your devices are belong to us!

      5. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        @Matthew Saroff

        "What is the American equivalent of "right munter?"

        - Darned well not very attractive (old chap)?

        1. MnM


          'bogus', as in 'that is one bogus filly'.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            or the really disappointing bobfoc

            Body Off Baywatch

            Face Off Crimewatch

      6. Anonymous Coward


        A munter is a woman who is aesthetically challenged. However, in this context I believe the writer intends to decry the design of the bezel. See also: beer glasses.

      7. TeeCee Gold badge

        @Matthew Saroff

        Therefore: Munting - as above, Munter - one who's only chance of getting any is by munting.

        You work it out. At the risk of the banhammer I'd say feel free to post your interpretation as I'd be interested to see what linguistic behemoth the colonials come up with for that one. I don't think that "fugly" quite conveys the full horror here...

      8. Baskitcaise

        munter 4 you:

        Think - The Hudson Italia

        Where is the bucket icon?

      9. hplasm

        I believe the appelation the gentleman may be seeking

        Is 'moose'.

      10. Malcolm 1


        "aesthetically displeasing"

  3. LuMan


    I remember downloading and playing with the QNX floppy-based OS demo thingy. As I remember it had the micro-kernel, GUI, TCP/IP stack, browser, calculator, text editor AND a version of Towers Of Hanoi. All on 1 floppy.

    Then I installed Windows 95 of 30-odd of the little bleeders!

    1. Tim Parker

      ..and snappy

      It's been way over 10 years since I last even played with QNX, but I was incredibly impressed with the speed of the desktop graphics, the exceptional multi-tasking performance and the rather nice - quite transparent - networking view (nodes). This was all on a high octane Intel 486DX2-66, but with sod-all RAM IIRC.

      And tiny of course.

      Love to see what it's like now...

  4. LPF
    Thumb Down

    @Matthew Saroff

    The american equiv is rosie o'donnell

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aging techies mutter mutter

    I'm only forty-bloody-two.

  6. Peter Gibbins

    blah blah

    Yeh - but can it play Angry Birds?

  7. StooMonster

    Posted from my iPad

    Over on Ars Technica I read one commentor complaining about bezel on iPad and he thought this was great; I thought WTF as bezel on this puppy looks enormous.

    Still ... HDMI connector, 1080p playback and output, in-built cameras, and dual core CPU look to be Apple beating. Although Apple rumoured to be adding cameras to iPad in January, don't see dual core any time soon, nor HDMI output (Steve likes his iPod connector) or 1080p video (Steve says 720p is good-enough for Apple customers).

    Looks like they'll also be hitting Apple with the Flash stick too.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      @ StooMonster

      "Looks like they'll also be hitting Apple with the Flash stick too."

      I wonder how long until Apple hits back with pointless patent worries? After all the company that wants to claim the word "pod" might well be crazy enough to want to claim every flattish mobile device everywhere is their idea...

  8. camfox

    BlackBerry tablet boots from 'floppy disk OS'?

    Confusing - so the article says it doesn't boot from a floppy then does it?

    1. Mr Atoz

      Floppy Disk?

      No's a pretty misleading title.

  9. AndrueC Silver badge

    Windows is also POSIX compliant

    Well actually it has a POSIX compliant subsystem:

    I wonder how much 'fun' it is to get that working?

    1. Daniel B.

      Interix Subsystem

      It actually works pretty well. I suppose that the MS XENIX knowledge base didn't evaporate, or that some MS people actually know how to do POSIX. It also seems to do a better job of doing POSIX than Cygwin, but for some reason most people seem to disdain "Services for Unix" and use Cygwin instead.

    2. Tzael

      Re: Windows is also POSIX compliant

      Have to say that MS Windows' POSIX support is pretty damned good, and Microsoft has supported Windows NT with their POSIX implementation since '93. Originally only minimal POSIX compliance was included with NT 3.1 but NT 3.5 changed that completely and Microsoft has received full compliance certifications since that time.

  10. Annihilator
    Thumb Down

    Security first

    "And Dodge pointed out that because of its use in the military, QNX offers Common Criteria EAL 4+ security."

    All very well and good, but kind of useless when you give the unlock codes to any government that kicks up enough of a stink..

  11. Steven Knox

    Ah, QNX!

    Last I used that, it was to try out a little proof-of-concept in the early nineties: an OS and graphical web browser that could fit on a floppy. QNX faded from my radar, but I kept the browser (a little thing called Opera.)

    Good to see the other half doing well.

  12. Tim Walker

    Another QNX-based device was...

    ...the 3Com Audrey - remember that?

    I never saw one "in the flesh", but basically it was an "Internet appliance" designed to sit in your living room or kitchen, sync your Palm device (getting an idea of its age yet?), surf the Web, and so on.

    Only catch: it was launched in 2000, when wireless networking had yet to take off, and most users were still on dialup Internet. The Audrey had a built-in modem, but you had to plug in a USB network adapter if you wanted this feature, and that was Ethernet-only.

    Hope the new tablet fares a bit better than its distant ancestor...

  13. dyfet

    QNX has a much longer and deeper history

    While most seem to date their experience with QNX to the cute 1 disk boot of the later Neutrino kernel, QNX actually goes as far back as to the 80's, where originally it was a fully deterministic realtime microkernel system written entirely from scratch by Dan Hilderbrant for x86 PC hardware, and hence also predates the widespread use of things like ethernet. It was often used for industrial control (including nuclear power plants) and factory automation at that time.

    Originally the unique feature of QNX was it's ability to treat micro-kernel system calls either as "local" messages between processes on the same machine, or distributed over a (arcnet) lan, in an entirely seem-less manner. Hence, one did not need to know where the actually computing for a system call physically happened. In this incarnation it support x86 real mode and later 286 "protected mode", as well as a C library that was generally "compatible with" posix/usrgrp libc "visible" standards. It's other primary characteristic was very high performance, thereby demonstrating indeed what the later Mach and GNU Hurd failed to achieve with micro-kernel architecture was actually possible.

    Later came QNX4, which offered a more fully posix compliant interface while retaining it's primary focus on being a realtime microkernel and introduced threading to the architecture. It also supported the by then more "modern" PC hardware, and of course ethernet. Neutrino came after that.

  14. Tom 7

    With every reinvented wheel

    the same old problems will re-occur. And the whole thing will eventually head towards a real somewhat larger OS.

    I mean, even MS are thinking of adding security!

  15. David 14
    Thumb Up

    Nice Business Device

    I must admit, being an IT guy, I am interested in a small, portable tablet to do some browsing, etc. I am quite suprised with the overall design and the functionality this new PlayBook is currently promising - linking to BES and pairing with BlackBerry handsets for sharing data is a fantastic use for many enterprise businesses, where bringing in an iPad is still... well... not encouraged.

    Dual-Core, HDMI, 1080p output (with dual screen display!) is impressive, but as many will mention and understand - the battery will be the achilles heel... whats the point of all this capabilit if the system can only run 2 hours on a charge. One of the reasons I love my blackberry is the 4-days between charges I can get on the device... 2 full days with moderately heavy use!

    I stay cautiously optimistic and awate to see the final device in 2011.

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