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Re: A niche for the Hurd

From: olafBuddenhagen
Subject: Re: A niche for the Hurd
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2008 02:50:32 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.18 (2008-05-17)


On Mon, Oct 20, 2008 at 10:17:10AM +0200, Arne Babenhauserheide wrote:

> Currently I know the Hurd as a nice and working concept, but I'd like
> it to spread, and for this it needs a niche. 

Very true.

> Is there already a niche where the Hurd is the best of all systems? 

Well, in potential, surely -- but in practice, I can't think of any...

> For that I'd like to organize a small brainstorm - just write down
> some usages where the Hurd could be or already is the best of all
> systems. 

I do have some ideas for the "could" part, obviously -- or I wouldn't be
here :-)

I'm not sure how to break them up into specific niches, though...

One important use is for very technical people, who don't always go with
standard solutions, but rather use new approaches to best solve their
problems, and will often find traditional kernels too limiting.

There is also the whole area I called "advanced lightweight
virtualization" (see
), i.e. the ability to create various kinds of interesting
subenvironments. Many use cases are covered by much bigger fish; but the
flexibility we offer here could still be interesting: I think the middle
grounds we cover between directly running applications, and full
isolation through containers or VMs, are quite unique. This could
simplify management of demanding applications for example, by partially
isolating them from other applications and the main system, and thus
reducing incompatibilities. Creating lightweight software appliances
sounds like an interesting option.

Another interesting aspect is application development: With the easily
customized/extended system functionality, and the ability to contain
such customizations in subenvironments, I believe that Hurd offers a
good platform for much more efficient development of complex
applications. Application developers can just introduce the desired
mechanisms on a very low level, instead of building around existing
abstractions. The extensible filesystem in particular seems extremely
helpful as a powerful, intuitive and transparent communication
mechanism, which allows creating truly modular applications.

While I believe this can be applied to any kind of applications, I'm
personally most interested in more efficient and powerful desktop
environments -- these considerations are in fact what got me seriously
interested in the Hurd.

Even more specifically, I've done most considerations (though by far not
all) on modular web browsing environments. Those interested can read up
some of my thoughts on this:


(Just skip the text mode browsing stuff -- the relevant part is the long
monologue at the end... I really should put these ideas into my blog.)

> The reason behind this is to have the Hurd be used in real life
> applications, so that it can slowly gain a holding. 
> A basic way for doing so is to first select a "pond" which is small
> enough that there are no bigger "fishes". Then to occupy that pond,
> and as soon as it is "conquered" move to the next slightly bigger
> pond. 
> This may sound like warfare, but it is simply strategic working:
> Having a niche as base gives the required momentum to move on.

Indeed. I actually have hoped to use this desktop stuff I described
above as the initial pond. I only fear that I'm not able to pull it off

> Please keep it at brainstorm mode for a week (till next Tuesday): No
> criticizing of other peoples ideas, but instead just gathering ideas.

What about criticizing my own ideas?... ;-)


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