I had been running QNX 6.3 on my trusty old 1.4 GHz Pentium III system with two gigs of memory for the last couple years and it was alright. Never quite fast enough despite decent hardware (P3 chips were 2x as fast as P4s clock per clock, don't whine otherwise) and limited hardware support, I was looking forward to the upgrade because, finally, after four years I might get a better-optimized system.
After booting from the 6.4 disc, it asked if I wanted to either [I]nstall or [U]grade, but when I selected [U]pgrade, it immediately asked what to do with disk partitions, identical to what it does for an install. After hitting escape and rechoosing [U] a few times, I just told it to install in place. That's where it finally saw that I had an installation already and asked if it should fresh install or upgrade. What was the point of having the two options to begin with? Frustrating.
A few short hours later the upgrade was complete using all 127 GB of my hard drive's 500 GB of space. Yes, the QNX installer sees the whole disk but can only actually use just under 128 GB of it. What is this, 2001? QNX 6.0-6.3 I could kind of, kind of, see not having large HDD support, but the fact that 6.4 doesn't is ridiculous. It's 2008, folks, let's get with the program.
Despite this, all of my data was where I had left it and the file system hasn't changed much. I had backed up anyway, remembering the massive loss and corruption of data the upgrade from 6.2 to 6.3 burned me with.
Anyway, after logging in, I notice the GUI has been refined. It actually looks quite nice. We're talking the Windows XP Fisher-Price interface or Mac OS X v10.2 here, but it's still a step up from the doldrums of Amiga-like interfaces QNX has been using. Not that 6.3 was bad; it was better than its predecessors, but I finally feel like I'm using an operating system made in the Noughts, not the Eighties.
The default web browser is Firefox 3, a huge improvement over the god-awful Voyager. Too bad Adobe won't deign to make Flash for QNX or Apple QuickTime for that matter. Face it, using QNX is putting yourself back in time by about ten years on the multimedia front. And this was going to be the AmigaOS at one point? What a dead platform.
Now a little about performance. QNX 6.4 performance is, overall, dogged compared to QNX 6.3. How does QSS expect people to develop for their operating system when it takes forever to load the IDE or change the desktop background? I was checking out the new wallpaper included in 6.4 and they took forever to load. Window dragging isn't any better and it glitches like there's no tomorrow. I tried a couple newer video cards and they made no difference; apparently QNX doesn't support 2D GPU acceleration or any other kind of GPU acceleration at all!
After all this I decided to play a game. The trusty old windowed DOOM game was there, just as it has been since 2000, and since it's a demo you can't go beyond the first level or use cheats. I checked Amazon and Newegg for QNX versions of WoW to no avail, and apparently the Open Source community hasn't ported it either. I wonder if WoW could even run on QNX without the hardware support modern operating systems have.
Overall I was happy with the upgrade. I've been doing commercial web site development on it since 2000 and this is the best version so far. It's just not very good overall. Firefox 3 helps immensely with my web business but the lack of iTunes or real games kills me. I guess I can't complain because it's free, but I'd watch for QNX 6.5 if you need QNX but want better features.