Contiki: The open source operating system that you've probably never heard of...

In today's open source roundup: Contiki is a little known but highly useful open source operating system. Plus: VLC adds Chromecast support, and a review of GoboLinux 015

Over the years Linux has become has become an incredibly popular and well known operating system. But there are other open source operating systems that are quite useful in their own right, but that haven't gotten anywhere near as much media attention. Contiki is one of them and Wired takes a look at what makes Contiki so useful.

According to Wired:

Contiki isn’t nearly so well-known as Windows or OS X or even Linux, but for more than a decade, it has been the go-to operating system for hackers, academics, and companies building network-connected devices like sensors, trackers, and web-based automation systems. Developers love it because it’s lightweight, it’s free, and it’s mature. It provides a foundation for developers and entrepreneurs eager to bring us all the internet-connected gadgets the internet of things promises, without having to develop the underlying operating system those gadgets will need.

Perhaps the biggest thing Contiki has going for it is that it’s small. Really small. While Linux requires one megabyte of RAM, Contiki needs just a few kilobytes to run. Its inventor, Adam Dunkels, has managed to fit an entire operating system, including a graphical user interface, networking software, and a web browser into less than 30 kilobytes of space. That makes it much easier to run on small, low powered chips–exactly the sort of things used for connected devices–but it’s also been ported to many older systems like the Apple IIe and the Commodore 64.

More at Wired
Contiki Operating System
Image credit: Wikipedia

I must confess that I wasn't aware of Contiki until I ran across Wired's article. It's quite a fascinating little operating system. So useful but so very tiny. You can get more information about it on the Contiki site, including a list of hardware that it runs on.

Here's a list of other useful links about Contiki:

Contiki Support

Contiki Downloads

Contiki Community

Contiki Blog

Wikipedia also has a good overview of Contiki, with some useful reference links at the bottom of the article. I doubt that Contiki will ever be as well known as Linux, but it's good to know that it's available for those who need it. It's yet another feather in the cap of open source software.

VLC adds Chromecast support

OMG Chrome reports that VLC is adding Chromecast support to its desktop, iOS and Android apps.

According to OMG Chrome:

VideoLAN, the development team behind the open-source app, which is often described as the Swiss Army Knife of video players thanks to its ability to play virtually any file format, has confirmed plans to include Chromecast support in future releases of its apps on Android, iOS and, most interestingly, desktop.

Google’s cheap media streamer is already supported by a number of leading mobile applications, including Netflix and BBC iPlayer, and is available to buy in a growing number of countries.

More at OMG Chrome
VLC Adds Chromecast Support
Image credit: Amazon

It makes a lot of sense for the VLC developers to do this, given the amazing popularity of Google's Chromecast. The device is currently the number one product in Amazon's best selling electronics list, and it has spent more than 263 days in the top 100. It also has a four star rating, with more than 16,000 customer reviews. All in all, it's definitely a device worth supporting in VLC.

GoboLinux 015 review

DistroWatch reviews GoboLinux 015, a desktop distribution that tries to redefine software management.

According to DistroWatch:

GoboLinux organizes software on the system differently than most Linux distributions. Software is stored in a directory hierarchy which divides software by name and by version. This allows users to locate and manage software using directories based on the package's name. New software versions can be installed alongside older versions of packages. Old versions of software we no longer want can be removed simply by deleting the program's directory.

I appreciate the GoboLinux developers for trying something different. I always like to see someone come along and try to improve software management. I even appreciate trying to shake up the arcane Linux file system. However, GoboLinux, from a practical point of view, simply did not deliver an alternative file system or effective package management. Perhaps, down the line, the software management tools will improve and the collection of available packages will grow. For now, GoboLinux presents some interesting ideas, but not a practical implementation.

More at DistroWatch
GoboLinux 015 Review
Image credit: DistroWatch

Based on DistroWatch's conclusions, it seems that the GoboLinux developers have some more work to do to make its software management live up to its full potential. But I give them credit for trying something different, sometimes experimenting with new models is the only way to really innovate. It should be very interesting to see what happens in future releases of GoboLinux.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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