As part of a new technology and business model it has drummed up to sustain itself, the Open Software Foundation and some of its sponsors – IBM Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co, Hitachi Ltd and Digital Equipment Corp – plan to create a common set of application programming interfaces that will bring their various Mach-based microkernel efforts […]
As part of a new technology and business model it has drummed up to sustain itself, the Open Software Foundation and some of its sponsors – IBM Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co, Hitachi Ltd and Digital Equipment Corp – plan to create a common set of application programming interfaces that will bring their various Mach-based microkernel efforts into sync. The Software Foundation envisages independent software vendors using the interfaces to write software for multiple microkernels and, where microkernels are installed in conjunction with Unix, that database vendors and others create interface hooks into their applications. The four investors are paying a minimum of $100,000 each under the Software Foundation’s Advanced Technology Offering process, designed to nurture research and development technologies to raw, but stable, code releases and make them available freely for research, evaluation and internal use. It’s a kind of pre-Pre-Structured Technology process. Advanced Technology Offering code could go forward into a Pre-Structured Technology, to company-specific products, or to the wall.
The microkernel initiative, which has been brewing since at least last October (CI No 2,530), will deliver a preliminary specification by October, including additional symmetric multiprocessing, fault-tolerant and real-time work, with conformance and performance test suites thereafter. They’ll be available, along with an unencumbered version of the Software Foundation’s microkernel source code – and all other Advanced Technology Offering code – from an Open Software Mall the Foundation is creating on the Internet. IBM will develop compliance with the specification in a second rev of its microkernel technology. The Advanced Technology Offering is part of a model for next-generation microkernel architecture the Software Foundation wants to foster. It is not clear whether other Mach users, including NeXT Computer Inc and Convex Computer Corp will make use of the application programming interfaces; as we went to press, NeXT was unfamiliar with the initiative. The Software Foundation said Advanced Technology Offerings will jump-start collaboration around technology from industry, academia or its Research Institute, providing a counterpoint to the commercial Pre-Structured Technologies. Advanced Technology Offerings require a minimum of three investors contributing $100,000 for up to six engineers, plus a $50,000 maintenance fee, with three code releases on a quarterly basis. Investors get unrestricted commercial rights, other redistribution rights are estimated at $25,000 per licencee. Other Advanced Technology Offerings underway are Distributed Computing Environment Web, and Sun Microsystems Inc’s Java. The Distributed Computing Environment Web Advanced Technology Offering, funded by AT&T Corp, Hewlett-Packard and Hitachi, is an application for employing Distributed Computing Environment naming, security and access control mechanisms over the Web. An interface module will enable browsers to interact with servers via the Distributed Computing Environment. It will work with off-the-shelf browsers and won’t require source code alterations. Although it will work with commercial servers, access to source code and the use of multithreaded Web servers will yield better performance, the Software Foundation said. Sun, Hewlett-Packard, AT&T and Novell Inc are funding an Advanced Technology Offering for Sun’s Java World Wide Web technology, with implementations for HP-UX, UnixWare 2.0 and Unix System V MP-RAS, plus an evaluation of how Java can be used to create secure Web-based applications. Additional Advanced Technology Offerings already lined up – a dozen will be active by the end of the year – include a contributed widgets library; Common Object Request Broker Architecture support in Distributed Computing Environment; a data format conversion architecture; plus Distributed Computing Environment applications, event services, navigator, Network File System, name service interface over XFN, public key extensions and system test
suites. Next comes a federation of dominant name services, HotJava, iKP secure payment protocol on Distributed Computing Environment, Java controls, Motif multimedia widgets, network clipboard, scalable trusted public key certificate repository, ODP training service, Wand Web and Distributed Computing Environment server and XFN conference library. The Software Foundation’s Open Software Mall will include software executables and source; documentation, plans, designs and specs, Web links to relevant sites, services, products and consulting.