Jun 19, 2005

Legend of the QNX Upgrade

When I first got involved with QNX, I was looking for a better platform than Mac, Linux, or Windows. Each had had severe disadvantages that I'm sure we're all familiar with by now: Mac runs only on proprietary Apple hardware, Linux is a mess of spaghetti code not ready for a production environment, and Windows is a security and stability nightmare. After having spent years working with these shortcomings of the Big Three operating systems, I discovered and installed QNX.

My initial impression of the OS was that while small, fast, and efficient it lacked applications, drivers, and a polished interface. Booting it alongside Linux and Windows for novelty, I watched for improvements to the platform. When QNX 6.1 was released it became the only operating system on my hard drive. I finally had a truly efficient system that took full advantage of my hardware without the bloated overhead that Linux and Windows had.

This trend continued by leaps and bounds about a year later with QNX 6.2 and again the next year with 6.2.1. Another year and QNX 6.3 introduced an updated GUI and polished multi-processor support. A year after that and QNX 6.3 Service Pack 1 pushed the platform ahead even more. It was around this time, however, that I heard whisperings of a major upgrade to the platform, but all lips seemed sealed tight about the project save for its codename, Overfiend.

It was then that I decided to became an official QNX beta tester and received copies of QNX 6.4 beta software. It looked like a move forward for the platform like 6.3 had been from 6.2.1 — the interface became even more polished, the install easier and faster, driver support increased, and more development tool packages added on. After a couple more prerelease builds, however, several changes caught my eye that didn't quite seem to make sense.

For instance, what purpose was there in renaming the kernel file from "vmqnx" to "hentaix?" And why was there now a service named tentacle_rape running in the background, visible in the System Process Inspector? Other differences were more visible — alongside the older wallpapers there were now graphics, drawn in anime style, of the Voltron team eating a girl cut into sushi, and another of the Power Rangers having sex with Rita Repulsa while Lord Zedd looked on.

Even more disturbing were the animated icons of spikey-haired, cartoonish faces splitting themselves open to reveal penis-headed tentacle beasts. What does such an image have to do with a real-time embedded operating system? My curiosity got the better of me when the default cursor changed to a cartoon penis complete with shorn scrotum and what appeared to be ejaculate dripping from the head. I emailed the developer team feedback on these new, outlandish changes.

A week later I received a letter from QNX Software Systems explaining that I had been removed from beta testing, the money I had paid to participate in the program was non-refundable, and I still had to abide by the non-disclosure agreement I had signed or face possible legal action. I emailed both the legal department and the development team asking why I had been terminated from the developer's program but never heard from anyone at the company again.

All I can say at this point is that I'm completely mortified. I can not fathom why such changes, simply disastrous to the operating system, are being made in the first place or why the legal department is trying to hush them up. No serious developer in his right mind would ever run a product that included porn in its operating system, which means suicide for QNX Software Systems and future versions of the QNX operating system. This is sheer madness.

I urge any and all QNX developers aware of these changes in QNX 6.4 to come forward now: QNX's customers, as well as the general public, have a right to know that their investment is being prepared for a shameful flush down the industry toilet. Whatever got into QNX that steered it toward Japanese hentai porn is wrong and must be stopped as soon as possible. For the future of QNX and the jobs and products that depend upon it, I implore you to take action and save QNX from itself.

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