Yet Another SBC

Tim Rowledge tim at
Thu May 26 18:02:53 UTC 2005

Bob Courchaine <bobc at> wrote:

> "...real OS..."? Like what, Tim? Does stripping the "pointless" stuff
> out make it (Linux) real or is there something else you'd do?
By 'real OS' I mean an OS intended for small machines. It could almost
certainly be a variant of linux or bsd or beos or whatever BUT my perception is
that OS work tends to concentrate heavily on supporting big systems; SMP,
journalling filesystems, mega-this and giga-that. A household tablet for
browsing the web and controlling your tivoMatic and heating etc simply doesn't
need that. Even assuming 'just use a linix kernel' is tolerable, a load of
peripheral dross has to be dropped from the distribution; most unices have
eleventy-trillion files scattered around in a manner that might be convenient
to system administrators but really makes little sense for people.

We made a valiant attempt to tackle this at Interval for the WebPad by making
an OS that let Squeak handle realtime events and processor scheduling all the
way down. Killed by billg.

I'm certainly not a fan of unix-as-it-exists, nor indeed of dos, windows,
amigaos, risc os (though I tolerate it on a daily basis) or any other os I've
had to use. They're all horribly flawed.

> >From what I can see, the exobox never reached the light of day. Why
> would this device redux be 5 yrs too late?
Trivial answer - it's 5 years too late for exobox
More serious answer - I suspect the market isn't really there anymore unless
the price is _really_ low. exobox lived in a time when the US economy still
existed and people wanted to spend money on nice gadgets.

The exobox s/w was based on the idea of a stripped down linux running on 2-
300MHz P3s or thereabouts, the best cheap machines that could reasonably be
sourced back in 99/2000-01. Even then they were something like $500.

Tim Rowledge, tim at,
Strange OpCodes: SG: Show Garbage

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