Jun 13, 2005

QNX Lags Behind the Big Three

I just bought a dual 3.6 GHz Pentium 4 system to install QNX on since last time I was running it was two years ago with version 6.2.1 and it was dog slow. I figured that QNX 6.3, having been upgraded quite significantly, would run a lot better and so bought the best hardware I could for it. I'm pretty depressed by my latest experience with QNX, however, and I'll break down why.

Unlike QNX 6, 6.1, and 6.2, QNX 6.3 (released June '04) has pretty good multi-processor support. For once it's not a big deal to enable the SMP kernel and both chips are properly recognized. I only wish that Neutrino was optimized for HyperThreading and SSE3, because I'm basically running on two 3,600 MHz Pentium Pro chips here. Oh well, two is better than one, multimedia extensions or not.

Speaking of processor annoyances, why is there no check box to enable 64-bit support? Is it on by default, or does this operating system just not support this feature at all? With how slow it runs it would be my guess that it only runs in 32-bit mode. All the major operating systems — Windows, Mac, and Linux — support 64-bit. I find this neglect of 64-bit to be unnerving and amateur. Let's hope QNX 6.4 acts like it was made in the 21st century when it's released.

I don't know what the QNX engineers are doing, but each new version of QNX uses a lot more memory than its predecessor. For instance, QNX 6.2 on a 1 GHz Pentium III system was taking about 96 MB out of my 1 GB of RAM; QNX 6.3 on my dual Pentium 4 system is grabbing about 412 MB of my 4 gigs of memory. What gives? This is at startup, before I've even loaded any programs. This is a huge use of resources for no discernible benefit — in other words, a waste.

Networking is a nightmare. Aside from the horrible graphical interface for network configuration, speed is an issue. It seems to crawl at only a fraction of what it should be, and I have no doubts Windows would be faster on the same hardware. Perhaps it's limited driver support, and QNX only has generic drivers for all but a few choice chipsets. Maybe I'd be better off running a BSD TCP/IP stack. All I know is that I'm using a 10/100BaseT ethernet card and seeing little better than 56k speeds.

All I want to say is that QNX had better get its ass in gear if it wants a piece of the real commercial market. Why bother releasing an operating system that's only going to piss people off? I honestly don't know why I bother retrying it every release and I'm already boxing up this new PC to return it and save my money and I imagine a lot of other folks feel the same on this topic. Here's to hoping folks are still interested when QNX 6.4 is released in another couple years and that it played a serious game of catch-up in the meantime.

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