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OS X Operating Systems

Mac OS X May Go Embedded? 129

Posted by Zonk
from the stranger-things-have-happened dept.
VE3OGG writes "Apple Insider is reporting that Apple may very well be developing an embedded version of OSX. The report details what they believe will be the next step in Apple's future, which is extending its consumer electronics division. The first child of such a marriage between OSX and consumer electronic may be the oft-rumoured, not-yet-materialized iPhone — which it also asserts may well be released next fiscal quarter. It seems to be their opinion that with both the desktop and the phone running operating systems with similar underpinnings, 'expansive opportunities' would emerge."
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Mac OS X May Go Embedded?

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  • by arb (452787) <amosba@gma i l . com> on Saturday December 23, 2006 @01:43AM (#17346276) Homepage
    Would it kill story submitter to actually read the article before creaming his jeans over the rumoured iPhone?

    Wouldn't the first use of an embedded OSX be the already announced iTV [wikipedia.org]? Even TFA only rates the (rumoured) iPhone as one of the first, not the first. And the (rumoured) iPhone isn't mentioned in relation to the "expansive [interactive] opportunities".

    Poor summaries distort a Slashdot story yet again...
  • by kherr (602366) <kevin@pupp e t h e a d .com> on Saturday December 23, 2006 @02:22AM (#17346438) Homepage
    Based on the meager info, slips from Disney execs and rumors, it seems like the iTV could be a lot less than a Mac mini. Sure, many are using the mini as a home theater server (I'm one of them). But it's a full-blown Mac OS X computing environment with user home directories and the ability to run any app. The idea of the iTV (from my understanding) is that it's a remote TV displayer with some internet capabilities and maybe a HD for storage.

    Seeing how Steve Jobs like single-purpose devices, I could see the iTV being more like the Airport Express or even the WRT54G. An embedded device like that would be more reliable than a general Mac OS X system, since there are fewer breakable (software) parts. An embedded device also has the benefit of instant-on, which is what everyone expects from their consumer appliances.
  • Re:Not bloody likely (Score:3, Informative)

    by empaler (130732) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @02:25AM (#17346448) Journal

    Would the increasing power of small devices possibly render this argument obsolete? I seem to remember reading about 300-odd mhz processors in these devices, and I know a 400mhz G4 can run Tiger pretty well.
    Apples and pears - I have a 196 mhz phone that can barely run Windows Mobile. ("haw haw, I have a 3 ghz desktop that can barely run Windows XP, it's the software makers that are to blame" - not completely).
    Yeah, they have been achieving very high clock speeds in embedded processors, but the processors themselves are nowhere near as complex as a "real" processor.
    Seriously, my phone is slow. I purchased it to do away with multiple units (cell phone+palm pda) but in the end, I've been walking around for 6 months with an extra phone for making calls because it is so damned inefficient. I mostly blame the phone designers, I have a hunch they bullocksed up the drivers for the OS.
  • not any more (Score:5, Informative)

    by artifex2004 (766107) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @02:26AM (#17346450) Journal
    Are we still calling it now that Lynksys/Cisco has a product called that?


    The term I have seen lately is "iChat Mobile."
  • Re:iPhone? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Duncan3 (10537) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @02:31AM (#17346464) Homepage
    We're still calling it an iPhone. Cisco is trying to trick Apple lovers into buying their crap, and any judge with a brain would rule that way.

    When they launch it, we'll just have to tell people to go get a "real iPhone" a [what-they-call-it].

  • Re:Not bloody likely (Score:5, Informative)

    by mclaincausey (777353) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @02:35AM (#17346478) Homepage
    *snip* This is the same embedded market where constrained resources make extra layering in the kernel a no-no *snip*
    Microkernels are already in use as RTOSes on embedded devices. See QNX (a rather popular example) and Phoenix-RTOS for starters.
  • Re:iPhone? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MacDork (560499) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @02:46AM (#17346526) Journal

    Are we still calling it now that Lynksys/Cisco has a product called that?

    I'm guessing yeah, [iphone.org] still calling it that.

  • Re:iPhone? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rix (54095) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @02:59AM (#17346600)

    We're still calling it an iPhone. Cisco is trying to trick Apple lovers into buying their crap, and any judge with a brain would rule that way.
    No, no judge will ever let Apple lay claim to the lower case "i", any more than they'd let anyone else claim eGarbage. They should have come up with a more unique trademark.
  • Re:Not bloody likely (Score:3, Informative)

    by ebichete (223210) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:03AM (#17346608)
    QNX and friends are a very different kettle of fish. They run things like networking, filesystems and display managers as "user processes" and have a tiny microkernel core. Licensees can easily exclude (or not load) whatever modules they don't need and run with the basic minimum.

    As I recall OS X consists of the monolithic BSD atop of a microkernel and the networking, filesystems and display are all in the BSD layer. It's not comparable to QNX and I would not draw any conclusions from the success of some proper microkernel designs in embedded usage.
  • by Brat Food (9397) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:22AM (#17346688) Homepage
    Just a little history on osx:

    OSX started out long ago as open step (as far as being for intel). Open step became rhapsody beta, which ran on intel (i have some cds around somewhere still =). I could go on, but the point is that I'd bet, and it's been said, that osx was kept at mostly build parity with the commercially released PPC versions. I think the main thing holding back the intel version was an enabling technology like rosetta. Of course, it had been rumored for years that OSX was/is also compiled for Sparc and some other targets.

    Now, this is important because an os kept this relativly flexible would seem to have a monumentally esier time being targeted at different architectures (linux has this benefit as well). And leveraging APIs and frameworks for things like phones, video players, palmtop devices, media centers, could produce the most user friendly and functionaly devices seen yet.

    This brings me to why the apple phone will clean up, if even done remotely right. Cell phones suck. The UI's get worse and worse. Cell companies charge in retarded fashions for stuff in the US (ring tones? backgrounds?). Cell phone layouts keep getting worse (am I the only one who thinks the keypad on the new slim line of moto phones is atrocious?). Cell phone companies dont compete in the US (at least on price... has your cell phone bill ever really gone down, even with the current ubiquity?). Oh yeah, #1 thing - a competant music player/photo/video viewer without all the restrictions a verizon would place on it.

    And if apple is able to go te way of european phones, sellong unlocked phones useable worldwide with sim chips (and even possibly paid for with the latter in the US), all in all, apple should clean up and maybe, just maybe, force cell companies to make somereally good products. Kinda sucks that apple would be at least somewhat tied to current infrastructure, as it is said to be buying network usage from cingular.

    Oh well, I'll been holding off my cell upgrade till macworld.
  • Re:Not bloody likely (Score:3, Informative)

    by General Lee's Peking (954826) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:25AM (#17346702)
    QNX's Neutrino [qnx.com] is basically BSD layered on a microkernel and from what I've heard is the most highly regarded embedded OS out there. I don't know where you the got the idea you couldn't or shouldn't use a microkernel in an embedded system.
  • by flooey (695860) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:58AM (#17346854)
    Why? In most places you build a phone using a standard GSM module, get it approved by the FCC equivalent and market it to the public.

    I know the US doesn't use GSM, but why does that make it different?


    Actually, some networks in the US do use GSM (Cingular and T-Mobile are the two big ones). However, historically in the US, you couldn't just take any phone and have it work on a service's network, you had to get a SIM card that was provided by the network, and they would only provide that if your phone was one of the models they supported. That may change now that there's a DMCA exception for allowing phones to hook up to wireless networks, though.
  • Re:iPhone? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lars T. (470328) <Lars.TraegerNO@SPAMgooglemail.com> on Saturday December 23, 2006 @04:05AM (#17346884) Journal
    And that isn't even the first iPhone [freenet.de] product shipping (since last year). Freenet already filed to get a trademark in Germany in 2004, but the German Patent and Trademark Office refused to grant it because iPhone "was already in general use for internet phones".
  • Re:How novel (Score:2, Informative)

    by calciphus (968890) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @05:30AM (#17347126)
    Palm is a dying OS. Windows Mobile 5 has a massive library of applications, and doesn't require you to learn another language. Plus, the ability to sync with the ever-more-popular exchange servers wirelessly...even Palm is putting Windows on their devices...

    Sorry, but I can't stand an "os" without a file explorer or remote sync abilities.

    On, and most of them don't lose memory any more readily than palm devices anymore. So boo-hoo, your 2-year-old GPS system wasn't a great PDA. My phone is a better GPS system than most.
  • Re:iPhone? (Score:1, Informative)

    by sethstorm (512897) * on Saturday December 23, 2006 @06:05AM (#17347234) Homepage
    Yes, there is such a group [linksysinfo.org].
  • by Rix (54095) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @06:16AM (#17347258)
    Don't you remember the late 90's? There was eThis and iThat all over the fucking place.
  • by shadow349 (1034412) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @09:47AM (#17347752)
    Don't you remember the late 90's? There was eThis and iThat all over the fucking place.

    You mean like eWorld [wikipedia.org] (1994) and iMac [wikipedia.org] (1998), for example?
  • Re:iPhone? (Score:3, Informative)

    by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Saturday December 23, 2006 @10:15AM (#17347848) Homepage
    I wouldn't consider that ad credible, because I don't think they'd give up the clickwheel + button interface that has been their trademark since the beginning of iPod time.

    I think that if Apple really wanted the iPhone trademark, they would have negotiated with Cisco to buy it, starting many moons ago when they first got serious about the product. I don't think it would have been terribly expensive since Cisco didn't even use it until their new line of VOIP phones came out, and I don't think iPhone has the brand power in that space that it would under Apple's ownership.

    D
  • by puto (533470) * on Saturday December 23, 2006 @10:32AM (#17347888) Homepage
    about 80 million people in the US use GSM. It is the predominant service here.

    Cingular, T-Mobile, AllTell, and a umpteen little prepaid companies. Most using Cingulars network.

    Get your facts straight. www.gsmworld.com

    Puto
  • I/O Kit (Score:3, Informative)

    by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Saturday December 23, 2006 @12:32PM (#17348380) Homepage Journal

    Well, and an entirely different driver model, known as I/O Kit [apple.com].

    That & the XNU kernel design might be attractive to some developers over the Linux models. Maybe. Possibly. Inside Apple.

  • Re:iPhone? (Score:2, Informative)

    by macmastery (600662) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @06:08PM (#17349958) Homepage Journal
    You laugh, but the division of Apple that produced the Newton and Pippin was called "Personal Interactive Electronics" or PIE for short.
  • Re:Not bloody likely (Score:3, Informative)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr@NOsPAM.mac.com> on Sunday December 24, 2006 @04:55AM (#17352442) Journal
    Although quite different from QNX, Darwin's kernel is still not all that big:

    8488 -rw-r--r--@ 1 root wheel 4343332 Sep 8 17:19 mach_kernel

    4.3 megabytes, roughly speaking.

    -jcr

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