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Re: [Gnewsense-dev] The Linux kernel, no longer as monolithic as it once

From: Kim Hawtin
Subject: Re: [Gnewsense-dev] The Linux kernel, no longer as monolithic as it once was?
Date: Fri, 06 Aug 2010 12:29:45 +0930
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20100317)

What does this all mean in the big scheme of things? Not a lot, although it pays to learn from history. Things change slowly over time. Research groups do interesting projects from scratch and build up a great set of theories, we apply as much as we can of them. Some work in the real world, some don't.

Projects such a Plan9, Inferno, L4, etc. are not used because people
depend on lots of unportable and outdated applications, and because
the Desktop market is not interested in quality, just in prettiness.
And it is the Desktop that dictate the rules (unfortunately).

To be honest I hadn't thought about it like that.

The desktop market didn't really dictate where research groups took early operating systems, AFAICT. However, in recent years, read NT4.0, it most certainly did.

Linux on the other hand, was driven more by being able to support the available hardware, but had one key difference. The X Windows System was a completely separate project and pushed in different direction to the kernel team. That changed a while back, but kernel support for video devices didn't seem to be such big deal, although theres been plenty of discussion in that space. Its also been the leading example where many kernel folks use X as the ideal user space service idea for drivers. Around 2004 there was a push to make lots more hardware drives user space applications/services. That way the kernel could be smaller and more general purpose, rather than having many very different non interoperable interfaces.

For example in FreeBSD you had all sorts of different low level devices, char streams, several block devices, different types of memory devices, etc, etc. At some point they made everything a stream. How has that worked out? Well, it was generally slow at first, but its fast now... arguably faster than Linux in some regards.

Where am I going with this? Well, the key thing is that sometimes you have to break away from the main field and try those things you thought about... Thats really what FLOSS is all about right?



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