Feeds

Forgotten language enables nonstop gadgets

Smalltalk, in a very small machine

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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#

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?