French microkernel house Chorus Systemes SA is re-fashioning its business around Java and Corba, claiming its biggest customers, predominantly telecommunications companies like Alcatel Alsthom SA and Lucent Technologies Inc, are leaning towards running portable Java applications atop their real-time devices rather than Unix. Chorus, whose Chorus OS microkernel is the underpinning for embedded operating system environments used in devices such as telephone switches and base stations, has traditionally majored on supporting Unix processes above the microkernel, enabling customers to run off-the-shelf Unix applications on their devices. But the wind is blowing in the other direction now. Unix vendors themselves are less interested in embedded markets such as point-of-sale, and have mostly set off to stake claims in Internet and database territories. Chorus’ closest relationship, with Santa Cruz Operation Inc, is now in deep store, for instance.
New range of devices
The telecommunications firms, meanwhile, are now looking toward a whole new range of devices such as Web and screen telephones and other network computing devices which will run Java applets over distributed object systems. They are relying on Object Management Group Corba-based protocols as the underpinning for distributing their technologies. Underlining their importance, the Object Management Group is currently putting together a request for proposals for real-time services for use with Corba. Meantime, Chorus has stripped the hardware abstraction layer from the JavaOS 1.0 operating system, which it has licensed from the Sun Microsystems Inc Unit JavaSoft, and has merged it with the Chorus microkernel, so that Chorus threads and Java threads can communicate, enabling the operating system to run Java applets natively (CI No 3,106). Chorus is running the combination, which its calls Chorus/Jazz, on Intel processors, initially claiming performance is just fine, unlike indications that JavaOS runs very slowly on Sparc RISC processors. Chorus believes the telecommunications industry is primarily interested in creating easy-to-use interfaces for their systems with Java, and reckons Chorus/Jazz improves the performance of Java over native JavaOS implementations. It is talking to JavaSoft about returning some of its real-time work to JavaSoft, but says its priority is chopping JavaOS down to run in under 2Mb.