Help convincing team to go with Linux instead of Win NT!

Help convincing team to go with Linux instead of Win NT!

Post by Brett L. Moo » Fri, 19 Nov 1999 04:00:00



Hi,

I am consulting for a medical device company developing a life
critical control application.  I feel I am the lone voice of reason
when I urge the development team to select Linux as the platform (i.e.
open source, smaller footprint, increased reliability, etc).  They are
currently designing for NT - no code development yet so there is still
time to save them :-)

I need some reliable sources to bolster my argument.  Anything will
help - although good development support (de*s, documentation
tools, etc) is something they see as lacking.

Any ideas?

Thanks, Brett

 
 
 

Help convincing team to go with Linux instead of Win NT!

Post by Rob Brown-Baylis » Fri, 19 Nov 1999 04:00:00


I think a saw a link on Slashdot recently about an article writen by a
medical dude, It seems it would support your argument.  I did not read it
though....

(in case you don't know, www.slashdot.org)



Quote:

> Hi,

> I am consulting for a medical device company developing a life
> critical control application.  I feel I am the lone voice of reason
> when I urge the development team to select Linux as the platform (i.e.
> open source, smaller footprint, increased reliability, etc).  They are
> currently designing for NT - no code development yet so there is still
> time to save them :-)

> I need some reliable sources to bolster my argument.  Anything will
> help - although good development support (de*s, documentation
> tools, etc) is something they see as lacking.

> Any ideas?

> Thanks, Brett


 
 
 

Help convincing team to go with Linux instead of Win NT!

Post by Grant Edwar » Fri, 19 Nov 1999 04:00:00



>I am consulting for a medical device company developing a life
>critical control application.  I feel I am the lone voice of reason
>when I urge the development team to select Linux as the platform (i.e.
>open source, smaller footprint, increased reliability, etc).  They are
>currently designing for NT - no code development yet so there is still
>time to save them :-)

Life-critical under NT?

I hope I never get hooked up to something like that.

I don't konw how you could even attempt to convince the FDA
that NT (or Linux for that matter) was reliable enough to do
something like that.

Or when you say "platform" do you mean the host and not the
target?

Quote:>I need some reliable sources to bolster my argument.  Anything will
>help - although good development support (de*s, documentation
>tools, etc) is something they see as lacking.

Nuts.  

Development is where Linux shines.  People have been tailoring
Unix as a development system for 30 years.  Linux was _written_
by developers for their own use -- development is what Linux
does _best_.  Thousands and thousands of people have been
hammering the bugs out of gcc and gdb for more than 10 years.

You've got three or four de* GUIs from which to chose (and
at least a dozen good editors) to pick from (show them nedit if
they like the windowy stuff).  I've heard good things about
Kdevelop (though I haven't tried it).

If you want commercial support, there are IDEs, CodeWarrior,
GnuPro, and several other compiler vendors.

For documentation there's SGML, TeX, LaTeX, texinfo,
WordPerfect, Applix, StarOffice. For revision control, CVS is
probably the best (again, various GUIs available for multiple
platforms).

We're not really sure what NT does best, but development sure
ain't it.

--
Grant Edwards                   grante             Yow!  .. someone in DAYTON,
                                  at               Ohio is selling USED
                               visi.com            CARPETS to a SERBO-CROATIAN

 
 
 

Help convincing team to go with Linux instead of Win NT!

Post by Norm Dresne » Fri, 19 Nov 1999 04:00:00


Is someone there under the mistaken impression that NT is a real-time OS?  
 Ouch, that device is going to hurt more people than it will ever help.

My best advise is to go to the rtlinux web-site and then buy a pre-packaged
Linux + RT-Linux extensions from Zentropix (and stay away from the almost
daily updates to RTL)

        Norm



Quote:

> Hi,

> I am consulting for a medical device company developing a life
> critical control application.  I feel I am the lone voice of reason
> when I urge the development team to select Linux as the platform (i.e.
> open source, smaller footprint, increased reliability, etc).  They are
> currently designing for NT - no code development yet so there is still
> time to save them :-)

> I need some reliable sources to bolster my argument.  Anything will
> help - although good development support (de*s, documentation
> tools, etc) is something they see as lacking.

> Any ideas?

> Thanks, Brett

 
 
 

Help convincing team to go with Linux instead of Win NT!

Post by Graffit » Fri, 19 Nov 1999 04:00:00



[snip]

Quote:>My best advise is to go to the rtlinux web-site and then buy a pre-packaged
>Linux + RT-Linux extensions from Zentropix (and stay away from the almost
>daily updates to RTL)

RTLinux is very well suited for real-time data aquisition.  Device control,
OTOH, is not one of its strong points.

Quote:>> I am consulting for a medical device company developing a life
>> critical control application.  I feel I am the lone voice of reason
>> when I urge the development team to select Linux as the platform (i.e.

Life-critical?  As in safety critical?  Then no, Linux isn't what you're
looking for.  Neither is NT.  There are operating systems out there that
are designed for safety critical real-time operations, where the entire
source has been verified to work correctly (i.e. people have gone through
the trouble of performing all the logical/mathematical proofs to show it
will work correctly).

Use one of those instead, or have fun with the lawsuits. :-)

Quote:>> I need some reliable sources to bolster my argument.  Anything will
>> help - although good development support (de*s, documentation
>> tools, etc) is something they see as lacking.

It doesn't matter.  Neither Linux or NT has been verified at the source
level for safety-critical applications.

-- DN

 
 
 

Help convincing team to go with Linux instead of Win NT!

Post by Bruce Edg » Fri, 19 Nov 1999 04:00:00



> Life-critical?  As in safety critical?  Then no, Linux isn't what you're
> looking for.  Neither is NT.  There are operating systems out there that

Take a look at QNX, www.qnx.com
We've been using it for several years, x86 based, XFree86, KDE, unix
knock-off,
hard realtime and rock solid.

-Bruce.

--

Sattel Global Networks          818.709.6201 x122

 
 
 

Help convincing team to go with Linux instead of Win NT!

Post by David Frant » Fri, 19 Nov 1999 04:00:00



> Hi,

> I am consulting for a medical device company developing a life
> critical control application.  I feel I am the lone voice of reason
> when I urge the development team to select Linux as the platform (i.e.
> open source, smaller footprint, increased reliability, etc).  They are
> currently designing for NT - no code development yet so there is still
> time to save them :-)

> I need some reliable sources to bolster my argument.  Anything will
> help - although good development support (de*s, documentation
> tools, etc) is something they see as lacking.

> Any ideas?

> Thanks, Brett

Brett;

I really hope that your team reconsiders NT. if as I understand your
posting it will be driving a divice doing any sort of life support.    I
really not sure how one would achieve validation on an installation of
that sort.     It might be concievable to use WinCE or one of the other
new NT variants that allow very fine control over how the system is
built, but I'd be surprised if MS would even support you in this
endeavor.

As far as linux goes that should also be approached with caution, in any
event you will be totally on your own support wise.    I really don't
believe that anyone could charge enough to provide you support and cover
the possible litigation that may arise from your product.     Further
more none of the 2.2.XX series kernels are stable enough for this type of
project so you are looking at supporting a 2.0.xx series kernel.     By
the way the 2.2.XX kernels still do better than NT.

You might be better off designing around a Real Time kernel that has a
long history in this type of application.

Dave

 
 
 

Help convincing team to go with Linux instead of Win NT!

Post by Rod Roar » Sun, 21 Nov 1999 04:00:00



Quote:>I am consulting for a medical device company developing a life
>critical control application.  I feel I am the lone voice of reason
>when I urge the development team to select Linux as the platform (i.e.
>open source, smaller footprint, increased reliability, etc).  They are
>currently designing for NT - no code development yet so there is still
>time to save them :-)

>I need some reliable sources to bolster my argument.  Anything will
>help - although good development support (de*s, documentation
>tools, etc) is something they see as lacking.

Like others who have responded, the "life critical" part bothers me.
But in general you can design/develop for both platforms at once.
Check out wxWindows at http://www.veryComputer.com/

For most apps there is little reason to strap yourself to a single
platform other than ignorance or obstinacy.

KDevelop is a useful IDE with this... class browser, editor, de*,
etc.

-- Rod
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Sunset Systems                           Preconfigured Linux Computers
http://www.veryComputer.com/;                    and Custom Software
----------------------------------------------------------------------

 
 
 

Help convincing team to go with Linux instead of Win NT!

Post by Brett L. Moo » Sun, 21 Nov 1999 04:00:00


Thanks for the comments!.  I initially stated that I was attempted to
persuade the team to go with Linux - and that is mostly true.  My main
point was "no NT".  

I would rather start with a Unix derivative (i.e. Linux) and strip all
non-essential functionality (virtual memory, all but the most basic
networking, etc).  Develop the control application so that it was the
OS - the two would not be distinguishable - memory management, file
management, I/O would all be handled by the app.

Based on my understanding, the FDA is much more likely to grant
marketing clearance to something in which the developers had explicit
control over each line of code - Open Source sounds like the most
appropriate beginning point.  Hence, Linux again.

Thoughts?

Brett

 
 
 

Help convincing team to go with Linux instead of Win NT!

Post by David Frant » Sun, 21 Nov 1999 04:00:00



> Thanks for the comments!.  I initially stated that I was attempted to
> persuade the team to go with Linux - and that is mostly true.  My main
> point was "no NT".

> I would rather start with a Unix derivative (i.e. Linux) and strip all
> non-essential functionality (virtual memory, all but the most basic
> networking, etc).  Develop the control application so that it was the
> OS - the two would not be distinguishable - memory management, file
> management, I/O would all be handled by the app.

> Based on my understanding, the FDA is much more likely to grant
> marketing clearance to something in which the developers had explicit
> control over each line of code - Open Source sounds like the most
> appropriate beginning point.  Hence, Linux again.

> Thoughts?

> Brett

Brett;

Given your thoughts above I still believe that what you really need to do
is to buy a realtime kernel from an outfit that specializes in the
medical industry.     Top be honest I can't even say who that may be at
this time.    Since you have not stated what your product does my
question to you would be why do you thing you need such a large OS either
NT or Linux seem to be over kill for a medical device.

To do as you suggest with Linux, which can be interpeted as gutting the
operating system, would be both time comsuming and error prone.     You
might be farther ahead to just build your own microkernel from the ground
up.

One thing that you did not clarify is wether or not the OS is directly
driving the life support functionality or is it supervising a stand alone
device.      My thought is, that if the actual hardware that does the
"life support function" is independant, then mayby either one of the OS
could do.     Linux would be a good choice if you can put alot of time
into choosing the best kernel for the machine and are willing to support
that kernel internally for the life of the machine.    I only mention the
previous line due the thought that you will have many specialized drivers
that you won't want to continueally test as the mainstream system
evolves.     Also; depending on how tightly your product is integrated
into the OS spurious changes could trigger the need to revalidate the
entire machine.     As you may already know validation can have a huge
impact on the viability of any product.

It should alaso be mentioned that if you  are doing this sort of thing
you should have at the very least a supportted development system and a
set of compilers.    You could try someone like Cygnus for this type of
support.    Whomever you look to for support should be aware that your
product is a medical device, many vendors do not want to play in that
market.

Dave

 
 
 

Help convincing team to go with Linux instead of Win NT!

Post by gab » Mon, 22 Nov 1999 04:00:00


Quote:>I am consulting for a medical device company developing a life
>critical control application.  

I would go for a very simple OS, maybe even DOS instead of UNIX or
Linux.  Depending on your specific needs (Hard or soft realtime,
etc...) the right choice might be to go for one of the special OSes
that support that kind of functionality.  If it is really critical,
though, I would stay away from both NT and Linux.

gab

 
 
 

Help convincing team to go with Linux instead of Win NT!

Post by Tim Smit » Wed, 24 Nov 1999 04:00:00


[SNIP]

Quote:> I would rather start with a Unix derivative (i.e. Linux) and strip all
> non-essential functionality (virtual memory, all but the most basic
> networking, etc).  Develop the control application so that it was the
> OS - the two would not be distinguishable - memory management, file
> management, I/O would all be handled by the app.

> Based on my understanding, the FDA is much more likely to grant
> marketing clearance to something in which the developers had explicit
> control over each line of code - Open Source sounds like the most
> appropriate beginning point.  Hence, Linux again.

> Thoughts?

Eeeek!
For life-support and/or medical type applications you should never use
closed-source code like DOS or Windows (you have no way of knowing any
of the hidden little tweaks buried in that code that could bite you
someday. You also should seriously consider not using a standard PC...
the architecture is a hack job (I wouldn't want my life* in
the balance with a PC).

Finally, if you're even considering using a complex, operating system
for this app, please drop the project before you kill somebody!!!
Anything that critical sould be as small, uncluttered, and directly
targeted to the task at hand as possible. If you want a complex GUI
and all sorts of fancy bells & whistles, put the critical stuff in a
completely designed and programmed by your company box...then hook that
box to a pc through a serial port, network, etc. and run the GUI and
such on the PC where an occasional lock-up or blue-screen of death or
GUI failure from insufficient free resources will have no tragic
results.

-Tim