RIM Didn’t Rewrite QNX Operating System for BlackBerry 10

RIM Didn’t Rewrite QNX Operating System for BlackBerry 10

BlackBerry 10 is going to be a very secure mobile computing system. Scratch that. BlackBerry 10 is going to be a secure platform, entirely, with unlimited usage possibilities. This is of course thanks to the use of QNX operating system, which is the foundation of BlackBerry 10.

Sebastien Marineau, the senior vice president of BlackBerry OS, recently sat down with TechRadar. Additionally, you can see our interview with Sebastian from BlackBerry Jam Americas here. Sebastian describes just how powerful, mature, secure, and light-weight is the QNX operating system.

“We didn’t rewrite the QNX operating system for BB10,” Sebastien points out. “We took that platform and we took the operating system and we’re building an entirely new mobile stack on top of it but the core of it, QNX, has stood the test of time. The version we’re building on first released in 1999 to 2000. When you look at the heart of an operating system it usually takes a decade to mature.”

Will general consumers ever care about their mobile security? Sebastien believes there will be a ‘day of reckoning.’

“A day of reckoning will come. Because as more and more of our lives migrate from desktops and laptops to mobile devices, we will have to solve the problems around security, privacy, anonymity, access to data. If we want this true seamlessness between devices, it means that the underlying plumbing has to share all this data and the only way to do it is going to be to actually solve these hard problems. I am sure there will be some spectacular security breaches – and then people will wake up.”

Sebastien points out how Android is naturally flawed for security and immediately creates limitations. “I call it architectural integrity; maintaining integrity of the architecture and for that you need to deeply understand that architecture. The model with Android is one of microforking, from handset manufacturer to handset manufacturer and even between handsets.”

“It’s much harder to partition in Android because it’s a distributed architecture. It’s a distributed object model throughout all the Java components and processes and it’s far more difficult to partition that.” Whereas with BlackBerry 10 and QNX, they partition what different apps and processes are allowed to do very strictly.

QNX has stood the test of time and it’s microkernel is easy to understand. “If you look at the microkernel architecture, the microkernel is the only trusted component in the system,” he explains. “It’s the one thing that can never fail and it gets to control access. In the case of our microkernel it’s about 100,000 lines of code, give or take ten thousand and that’s the core code that has to be absolutely bullet proof. If you look at something like Linux, I don’t know what it’s up to today but it was up to 14 million lines six months ago. That code all runs in privileged space and one line in that can take down the whole system or be the vulnerability that people exploit. It’s very difficult to test to prove that that amount of code is secure and bug free.”

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