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From the December 12, 1997 ComputorEdge (Issue 1550)

By Jim Trageser


Now this is cool: An alternative operating system for PCs that just puts Windows and Microsoft to absolute shame.

Remember back in the old days, when home computers (the expensive ones, anyway) had 48K of RAM? And programmers had to really crunch their code and write tight little applications to make them work? Remember when you didn't need to have 70 megs of free hard-drive space just for your operating system? When you didn't need to add another 16 megs of RAM just to run the latest game?

Well, then check out QNX. This is a Unix and X-Windows-based OS for Intel machines that has a full graphical user interface that takes up very little memory – less than 1 meg, in fact.

Their Web site is slick and well-organized. You can learn about their embedded operating systems for various controllers and other dedicated CPU applications.

But best of all, you learn about the latest incarnation of QNX (they've been around since 1980) – and download software to create your own demo floppy disk of their 1.44MB Internet kit.

That's right: On a single high-density floppy, you get the QNX operating system (it replaces Windows and DOS when you reboot), a TCP/IP stack, a fully html> 3.2-compliant Web browser, a file manager, and a word processor with a handful of different fonts!

Some folks can still write tight code, eh? Because this thing runs totally in RAM – no accessing the hard drive at all.

The only drawback is that the dial-up program will only recognize 56K modems – so unless you have one you can't actually browse the Web. But that single floppy disk also has several html> pages of FAQs about the company that you can browse through.

Whether you're a Windows fan or not, it's worth checking out what some small company's programmers are able to do with the hardware.

Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance

Reader John Morgan sent in a tip on this site, suggesting that anyone who is interested in a calm, reasoned discussion on religion might want to check it out. I'd urge more caution myself, since this site seems to be run by folks who use the word "tolerance" as synonomous with "politically correct."

It's a pretty simple site in terms of graphics, but it is easy to find your way around. The heart of the site is a list of 63 "religions, faith groups and ethical systems." These range from Baha'i and Christianity to Wicca and Druidism to New Age spirituality to what they describe as "doomsday cults."

It has some interesting material, but this site – despite its assertions to the contrary – has a definite political bent. The authors quote the Bible to argue for a pro-choice position on abortion, for instance. They also generally ignore the Catholic Church, despite it's being the largest single denomination in the world, yet gush over Unitarians. You get the picture: You're tolerant as long as you agree with them.