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Re: reincarnating nextstep

From: comrade
Subject: Re: reincarnating nextstep
Date: Sat, 19 Nov 2005 08:59:36 +1100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.11

On Fri, Nov 18, 2005 at 10:23:56PM +0100, Sa?o Kiselkov wrote:

> Making an OS distro independent of it's kernel is like trying to make a car
> independent of whether it has wheels, tracks or little feet - it is quite 
> tough.
> Most software, naturally, is kernel independent, but there's tiny edges here 
> and
> there that will cause you a headache when trying to switch around underlying 
> OS
> levels. Consider for example the following parts of a system:
>  - NetManager (each OS has different network management principles)
>  - device handling in the workspace manager (each OS has different device
> handling)
>  - auto-load driver framework (each OS completely different driver schemes)
>  - UserManager (Linux uses PAM, FreeBSD uses ... what was the thing's name
> again..., Darwin uses NetInfo)
>  - Installer (each OS has different partition layouts)
>  - graphical bootup (each OS does differently)
> All of these sub-systems are a necessity to achieve true NeXTStep user
> experience, but each of them either needs to be totaly restructured and
> rewritten for each separate underlying system, or at least heavilly #ifdef'ed.

Not totally restructured - creating an effective and reusable GUI and
API that provides a well-abstracted interface can be fairly easily
enhanced for each platform or release you want with platform-specific
bundles. In some cases (and I'm looking at *you*, Linux ;-) you may even
need a bundle to support a specific distro due to wildly varying ways of
doing anything outside of kernel-land...

I tend to agree with you about Linux though - choose a platform that is
wildly portable, well-understood, stable. Oh, perhaps I'm thinking of
NetBSD ;-)

Seriously, the underlying platform of a GNUstep distro should be of
interest to the developers and only some of the users. Use something
you're comfortable with and that meets your needs. If you're packaging
up a GNUstep livecd for the slashdot crowd, Linux is probably a good
choice. There isn't just one linux, unfortunately, you'll need to choose
a distro that you like and customise around that. But if you're an
OpenBSD person, don't hesitate to release a "secure desktop" if that's
what you're aiming at.

If you create good tools, don't be surprised if people abstract the
back-ends or port to other platforms. If you're a HURD person, don't let
the amount of work you'll need to get splashscreens and X working turn
you off, or the doubters stop you. But do be aware that each day of
effort on getting infrastructure working is one less day of hacking
usability features into that new GNUstep distro...


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