Feeds

Forgotten language enables nonstop gadgets

Smalltalk, in a very small machine

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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#

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.