Mike Stone

Mostly The Lonely Howls Of Mike Baying His Ideological Purity At The Moon

The OS That Wasn’t – Day 4

28 Apr 2020

Day 4 of the #100DaysToOffload series:

Today was the first day of the Red Hat Virtual Summit (#RHSummit), and one of the more interesting sessions I attended was on a product called ROS. ROS is the Robot Operating System, and it’s a collection of software frameworks for robot software development.

So I can hear the question you’re about to ask. How is a collection of software frameworks for robot software development an operating system? The short answer is, it’s not. That’s right, the Robot Operating System is not an operating system.

I know very little about ROS, and what I do know I learned about it today during the session. Still, I thought it was interesting considering yesterday’s entry into the #100DaysToOffload series, Killed By Google. Yesterday I talked a little about a tiny company called Eazel that created an open source product, went bankrupt, and had the product they created thrive. The company that created ROS has a similar story. They were called Willow Garage. They were founded in 2007, and faded into obscurity in 2014.

Despite Willow Garage no longer being around as the entity that created ROS, ROS is still very much in use in the robotics industry today. It can run on a variety of different operating systems (real ones this time), and powers devices from iRobot to NASA. If Willow Garage hadn’t made the choice to open source ROS, the robotics industry could be in a very different place today.

I’m looking forward to learning more about this operating system that’s not an operating system.

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