14 Jan 2014

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Thorium: On the embedded use case

When people think about "embedded" systems, they often think about ARM systems running Linux. Well, that's one part of the embedded world, but another big chunk is actually x86 systems running Windows. For that matter, one of the biggest reasons for someone to use x86 in an embedded application is to get the ability to run Windows applications. There are a LOT of point-of-sale and other dumb terminals out there that run Windows due to the widespread availability of a Windows application to do damn near anything. Now anyone who has ever had to set up an embedded version of Windows knows that traditionally it is a royal pain. Microsoft did not make it easy, in part due to the way they stripped out everything "non-essential" including, oh, most of the drivers you actually care about and might use on an x86 platform. That probably has something to do with how big a footprint Microsoft's implementation of NT is. On the other hand, ReactOS is tiny in comparison. Even better, with the source code and build environment publicly available, it becomes possible to customize exactly what goes into an installation CD. But even without going to such extremes, the footprint of the default installation of ReactOS is tiny compared to that of Windows. Furthermore, ReactOS is fast, much much faster than current versions of Windows. Now that is partially because we provide fewer features and thus need to run fewer services, but in embedded applications with resource constrained systems, the users aren't asking the OS for much. Equally important, the less resources the OS takes up, the more there is for the embedded application, the thing that a user actually cares about.

So what does this all boil down to? Well, ReactOS has always been more than just a platform for running cloud based desktop environments. It is a fully functional operating system after all. As such, we feel that it is equally important to show off its embedded prowess as well. To that end, we are introducing another reward level at $550 to provide backers with an embedded x86 development kit. The kit will come with a VIA EPIA embedded board with a power supply, minimum of 1GB of RAM, and a compact flash with ReactOS installed. At the time of release, ReactOS will have been tuned to function with the drivers of the selected EPIA board so that sound, networking, and 2D accelerated graphics should all function out of the box. The current board selected is the N800-10E, though this may be upgraded to a newer system should a better one be released in the interim. In addition to the basic inputs and outputs that make this board a fully functional and easily usable computer, it also has that all important serial connector for those interested in actually hacking away at ReactOS. See you all at the finish line.

Comments (2)

  • anon

    "Furthermore, ReactOS is fast, much much faster than current versions of Windows."
    This is a very, how to better put it, "delicate" claim you make here. I can already see hordes of fans shouting this from the roofs (read your favourite social network). Do you have any numbers to back this, because I think it might be good to share them with the community then?

    Jan 17, 2014
  • anon

    i will cloud computing be forced on us, for me i want nothing to do with it just my opinion.

    Jan 26, 2014
This blog post represents the personal opinion of the author and is not representative of the position of the ReactOS Project.