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POSIX Layer, Stronger Chassis (Was: Re: Compatibility)

From: William Grim
Subject: POSIX Layer, Stronger Chassis (Was: Re: Compatibility)
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2005 18:47:47 -0500

I know I haven't really said much on this list due to some technical difficulties with email on my side, but I do want to say a couple things.

First, I think both Shapiro and AMS have valid points.  I think Shapiro makes a good case that the underlying system (what the users and application developers do not see) does not have to be POSIX.  In fact, on a good system, a POSIX layer shouldn't be terribly difficult to implement.

Secondly, I agree with AMS that POSIX should not be considered a second class citizen.  Yes, a lot of command-line interfaces (CLI) are based on POSIX interfaces, but so are a lot of other software.  I suppose an example of this would be any sort of app a developer may write in python or perl.  Things like IPC semantics are derived from the POSIX idea of IPC.  I know that this now sounds like I'm arguing for a developer's sake, but developers write software for end users.  If developers don't have familiar platform when coding, a lot less developers code for the platform; hence, less end users get software they really need.

So, I think that what we should really be concentrating on is a good chassis (primary system design) and add a POSIX layer as we go.  I think having the POSIX layer should be the de-facto layer that end-users see.  In fact, my initial interpretation of the Hurd design was that it was a POSIX-compliant OS that offered useful extensions, such as capabilities and distributed processing.  This was my interpretation, and I'm sure it will be the interpretation of others that follow me.

Sorry if I'm rambling, but I just wanted to be clear about my personal opinion on this matter.  I really don't see why Shapiro and AMS can't be simultaneously satisfied.  It seems that they are both arguing for virtually the same things but on slightly different sides of the spectrum (Shapiro for more GUI-based library support and AMS for the more classical POSIX approach).  I guess I could be missing something, and maybe I will need to explain further why I think both people (hence, both sides of the spectrum) can be satisfied simultaneously with good engineering.  However, I'll wait for further questioning.


William M. Grim
Student, Souther Illinois University at Edwardsville
Unix Network Administrator, SIUE, CS. Dept.
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