I like your description. There has been a bit of discussion about real-time linux in my workplace. A group is writing software that receives a stream of bits from a set of CCDs used for astronomical observations. They chose linux as the platform, but found out that they ended up losing a row of data every so-often (during each readout) due to the kernel going out to make sure its shirt was properly tucked in.
The obvious need here is to not lose track of the stream (in this case, flood) of bits coming from the hardware. I can imagine (though this may not actually be the case) that if a nuclear reactor has been streaming bits to it's warning systems, you certainly do not want to find out that the kernel was taking a short bathroom break. For my needs, I do not require a real-time system; if the kernel pauses for a brief moment to do some catch-up work, I don't care.
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