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Re: about GNU Hurd

From: Thomas Schwinge
Subject: Re: about GNU Hurd
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 02:43:53 +0200
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On Wed, Jul 25, 2007 at 09:34:38PM +0200, Stephan Peijnik wrote:
> Speaking of myself I did not do any hacking on the Hurd because I do not
> want to write code that is not going to be applied for whatever reasons.

Sorry, but this is near to absolute nonsense.  Of course, nobody likes
doing work whose results will be ignored in the end.  But in this case
here that's not true for two major reasons.

(a) It's not like every patch we receive will be ignored, that's simply
    unfair towards the maintainers, including me.

    A bunch of patches are being applied.  Just send one and we shall
    see.  And the other bunch of patches that did not yet get applied is
    waiting in another bunch of files on my hard disk to be evaluted and
    finally be judged upon.

(b) -- and that's the even more important reason in my opinion: it's
    absolutely not true that working on the Hurd on GNU Mach would be
    misspent time!

    I constantly hear people claiming that working on the current Hurd on
    Mach implementation would not be worth it, because in the end, when a
    new Hurd based on another micro kernel will eventually be used, then
    their work for the Hurd on Mach can't be re-used.

    You are right, it may very well be that the code you wrote can't
    directly be used.  But -- and that's the important thing here! -- the
    knowledge you got while writing that code, while reading (and
    examining, QUESTIONING!) the existing code will definitely be

    See, I may place here this apt quotation by J. Shapiro, author of the
    EROS and Coyotos micro kernels: ``Don't forget Mach.  It's much
    cheaper to read about somebody else's mistakes than to duplicate them
    yourself!'' (#hurd irc channel, 2006-03-27).

    Or, from another point of view: in school at the tender age of
    thirteen or fourteen I was faced with the question of having to
    decide whether I want to learn the Latin language or not.  (Compare
    to learning Hurd on Mach.)  Of course, learning to read it (or even
    write it or speak it) has absolutely no immediate benefit for your
    daily life.  You can't go to Latin-country and speak with that
    immaginary country's habitants, simply because such a country doesn't
    exist (anymore).  Nevertheless -- and this meant some extra hours for
    additional lessons compared to the regular schedule -- it was
    absolutely worth it: when beginning to learn French two years later
    (compare to learning Hurd on another micro kernel) it absolutely
    proved its usefulness.  We, who had had our Latin lessons, have
    easily (well, yes...) been able to deduce unknown vocabulary (same
    origins), complex grammar -- you got the idea!  (And think about
    being able to visit Rome and have the potential to decipher those
    ancient stone tablets!)

So, don't be reluctant.  Just contribute.  It'll be worth it, one way or

> In my opinion, what the Hurd needs right now, and first of all, is
> a maintainer which applies patches and, once that works, some sort of
> advertising to attract new hackers.

I don't disagree and I already try to -- even with success in my opinion!
-- work towards both those goals.  The pain about this work I'm doing --
and it so far mostly is organizational work -- is that you
not-really-insiders (no offense intended!) don't see a lot of outcome
from it.  But be assured: there is daily work being done and I (and
others, of couse!) invest considerable chunks of time into it.


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