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Re: ``Shut-up and Hack!"

From: Luis Araujo
Subject: Re: ``Shut-up and Hack!"
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2006 18:53:26 -0400
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20060805)

 Jonathan S. Shapiro wrote:
> In my opinion, the reasons we are still in the C/C++ world for OS's are
> as follows:
>   1. More modern languages all rely on GC. GC does not get along with
>      real time or DMA, media applications are important, and they
>      rely on both.
>   2. Legacy apps are written in these languages. Even if you write your
>      core system in something else, you need to be able to support the
>      C/C++ runtime environment for apps. This creates a legacy/fusion
>      problem in your architecture.
>   3. There is no compelling performance reason to choose a safe language
>      and language-enforced safety in preference to C and address spaces.
>      In fact, the Singularity numbers show that the costs are, at best,
>      equivalent.
>   4. The majority of alternatives rely on JIT compilers. A high
>      performance JIT compiler is easily 10x the complexity of a fast
>      microkernel, and takes *years* longer to develop.
>      Singularity is a notable exception to this statement, because they
>      chose to omit dynamic loading and also to compile in advance. Their
>      compiler is still within the TCB, but it can be removed from the
>      TCB for most purposes if the typed assembly language stuff works
>      out. They also gave up the class loader idea, which was a VERY good
>      decision. Class loaders are completely unnecessary if the OS has
>      a decent application domain model.

I agree with you here, though i think these all points are like saying "electrical cars are not an option because we don't have any way to burn the fuel..."

>   5. In the absence of a compelling advantage, the risk of adopting new
>      technology isn't justified **if** it doesn't already exist in
>      established form.

I doubt we would have reached our current state of technology (at any level) if this were true.

> So the real question is: is there some market where the benefit might be
> compelling so that the new technology can be demonstrated? More
> precisely: where the benefit of new technology is so clear that the cost
> of developing the new technology while simultaneously supporting the
> legacy technology is justified.

I think the real question is, What kind of OS do we want to use within 10 years? ...

> Perhaps the answer is yes, but identifying that market is a very
> challenging thing to do. It took us 10 years for the EROS/Coyotos stuff
> to figure out the right initial market.

Market thinking can become in one of the most dangerous things for innovations.

As a sidenote, briefly referring to John Ousterhout , when he talks about scripting programming:

"They give up execution speed and strength of typing relative to system programming languages but provide significantly higher programmer productivity and software reuse."

.. and i think that if the OS researching community wants to go anywhere (further than unix-limited clones) , it will have to "give up" some things ... which ones? , well, that is what we have to find ... but i think that performance (at least initially) , will sadly have to be one of them unless you want to keep stuck (current state in my opinion).

And so, in this regard, i think the programming language community is making more progress than us (they have been able to give up more than us)... why not to ask for a bit of help?.



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