Feeds

Forgotten language enables nonstop gadgets

Smalltalk, in a very small machine

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Swiss embedded software company Esmertec has acquired the start-up founded by VM pioneer and former technical lead of Sun's HotSpot project, Lars Bak. OOVM was founded in Denmark in 2002 and privately-held Esmertec acquired the company for an undisclosed sum.

OOVM produces a virtual machine that allows programmers to hook in remotely and modify code on the fly without needing to reboot the environment: which is very useful indeed. It makes software updates transparent to the user.

"If you have say, a small router or a dishwasher you can upgrade the code while it's running, no reboot is required," Bak told us today. "If you have a device, and you have more than one component it doesn't make sense to shut down the system."

Consumer electronics manufacturers have experimented with the technology, attracted not only by the serviceability but by its small size: as low as 128kb, which includes a TCP/IP stack. For example as a research project, Bang and Olufsen built the VM into digital speakers, which could then be modified over FireWire.

How does it achieve this magic? OOVM's technology comes in two parts, a VM and a development environment, and it uses Smalltalk, rather than modern-day kludges such as Java, which resembles a modern object-orientated environment in the way that a pub ashtray resembles a cigar store. (It's also a "highly addictive drug", warn advocates.) Unlike a full scale Smalltalk system, 'reflection' is limited to the developer environment, so changes to classes are made in the IDE (Eclipse is supported) then pushed down the wire.

Before leading the HotSpot project, Bak worked on Sun's pioneering Self Project - which began life at Xerox and then continued at Stanford, and Beta, a successor to Simula. He has 18 years experience developing virtual machines. Any useful bit of advice stand out, we wondered?

"You have to make them simpler," he told us. "Which was not the case with Self; it was a fairly big system."

On the day that Steve Jobs hailed the ability to transfer your music to a portable device as, err, a major breakthrough, it's nice to be reminded what amazing things computer scientists really can do. Would this be enough to persuade visiting Martians, seeing our 30-stage CPU pipelines, Windows registries and nine incompatible versions of the arse-feed, to put away their death lasers? Perhaps. ®

Related links

Esmertec
OOVM
Project Self bibliography

Related stories

Java or Cocoa? Mac developers choose their brews
Borland's Dead C Scrolls
Anders Heljsberg on what's next for C#

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.