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22 May 2013, 15:48

Digia previews "Boot to Qt" platform

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Qt logo Digia's Qt developers have been working on a commercial operating system platform called "Boot to Qt" and are now offering a technical preview of the new technology. The new platform fuses together the lower layers of the open source Android platform with a Qt framework UI stack to create what the company thinks is a solution to the problem of creating slick user interfaces on embedded devices. Java apps and the Android Dalvik VM are replaced by QML apps and Qt running natively.

The Boot to Qt demo shows it running on a number of devices.

"Boot to Qt" currently offers a single-process-running stack with a QML-based launcher which can start other QML-based applications. The developers say they are not aiming for multi-process support in their version 1.0 plans. The stack itself includes Qt Core, Qt GUI, Qt Network, Qt XML, Qt QML, Qt Quick, Qt Quick Controls, Qt Graphical effects and utility functions such as a virtual keyboard and power control/reboot options for handling the device.

Currently the developers have the stack running on, and evaluation images available for, the Google Nexus 7, BeagleBoard xM and Boundary Devices SabreLite; it can be run on Intel platforms though none is currently available as a target. As part of an SDK, there is also a VirtualBox-based simulator. The SDK is demonstrated in a video with QML code being produced within Qt Creator and running on the simulator and on an attached device.

Using Qt Creator and the Boot to Qt SDK.

Beneath the UI framework is the current Android base layer which makes for easier porting to a wide range of hardware, but the developers hope to be able to show similar functionality with "traditional embedded Linux" some time in the summer. An official release will come, for all variants, by the end of this year.

The platform is already performing well according to the developers, it is able to boot in 12 seconds on a Nexus 7 compared to 30 seconds with Android, and although there is less to boot in terms of services, the developers think that this makes the platform more suitable for many embedded use cases. The software and images are only available to evaluate on application. Further details are available on the Boot to Qt product page. Despite being composed of the open source Android base system and open source Qt framework, "Boot 2 Qt" is set to be a commercial-only closed source platform.


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