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GNU is Not Unix

RMS Says Hurd Could Be Loosed in 2002 582

Mark Cappel writes "According to PCWorld, RMS said in an interview in India that Hurd will see the light of day this year."
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RMS Says Hurd Could Be Loosed in 2002

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  • Repent! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @08:56AM (#3148182)
    The Hurd is finished?

    The end must surely be nigh!
    • Re:Repent! (Score:5, Funny)

      by hawk ( 1151 ) <> on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:54AM (#3148437) Journal
      Yes, indeed. Commercially feasible fusion will also be released this year, and Apple will finally release OS X, and Windows will work, really, this time, and . . . And lets not forget the new Amiga that dual boots into BeOS . . .



    • The end must surely be nigh!

      It surely is, considering mozilla is almost finished [] too!
  • by Anders ( 395 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:01AM (#3148193)

    I am looking forward to running a Hurd system. "Hurd" is much easier to pronounce than "GhNU slash Linux" is. I think that Torvalds guy should give more consideration to how he names his creations, like the GNU guys do.

    Oh, wait.

    • Re:Hurd-GNU/Linux (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kilobug ( 213978 ) <> on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:29AM (#3148327)
      Pay attention to vocabulary:

      "The Hurd" (with the article) or "the GNU Hurd" is the set of servers that run on the top of a micro-kernel (GNU Mach for now, OSKit Mach soon, maybe L4 latter). The pair: The Hurd + -kernel can be used as a remplacement of the Linux kernl

      GNU is the full operating system created by the GNU project. It contains The Hurd and many other things. It can be called GNU/Hurd to avoid confusions.

      The Hurd is not a system, it's not a micro-kernel, it's not a kernel, it's a set of servers that run on top of a -kernel to replace a standard kernel.
    • I think you would have needed to chat with Linus' mother/father way back when about that..
    • "Hurd" is much easier to pronounce than "GhNU slash Linux" is.

      That's "GhNU Hurd" to you, buddy.

  • by anandsr ( 148302 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:05AM (#3148211) Homepage
    I used to follow HURD till about 3-4 years back than
    lost all interest. There are some very special
    features that you get with HURD, but now with UML
    some of them are being fulfilled by Linux. I hope
    the best for HURD, but I don't see it gaining much
    mindshare in the near future.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:05AM (#3148212)

    RMS said in an interview in India that Hurd will see the light of day this year.

    Emergency power to the sarcasm deflectors !

  • As we all know, by now, Apple's OS X [] is also based on the Mach microkernel. The foundation of OS X is Darwin []. Darwin is Open Source and it runs under x86 PCs and of course Apple hardware. So my question is quite simply, how is Hurd different? Is the Darwin kernel architecture not OO-based? Does Hurd bring other advantages to it that Darwin doesn't already have?

    • by HiQ ( 159108 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:16AM (#3148266)
      Does Hurd bring other advantages to it that Darwin doesn't already have? Well, yes! The big difference is that Hurd is named by a pair of mutually recursive acronyms. Darwin isn't. So there you go!
    • by karmawarrior ( 311177 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:22AM (#3148293) Journal
      My understanding is that the Darwin kernel is basically a port of the FreeBSD kernel to Mach, probably with some NextStep stuff thrown in.

      Hurd is a completely ground-up new design. It's not a Unix or Unix-like kernel, though it does provide those services.

      • The Darwin kernel is the Mach microkernel from NeXT plus I/O, FS and such specific to Darwin and then a BSD module for that side of things. So it isn't really a port of the FreeBSD kernel to Mach, the BSD compatibility is only a portion of the Darwin system. The reason I asked, though, is because Hurd talks about being a Mach kernel as well - it would seem that there wouldn't be that much of an advantage to reinventing the wheel over and over again. I'm not knocking Hurd by any means - I really don't have any decent knowledge of it, just from reading the Hurd main page, I don't get a sense of what makes it special/interesting/beneficial. In effect, what's all the big fuss about? Having an OO based design and kernel implementation is laudable, but besides making maintenance easier, what other benefits are the Hurd folks hoping to realize? Are they looking to put this in embedded devices? General application? I'm trying to get to the core of why Hurd should be regarded as more than an academic endeavor. Enlighten me, don't flame me, please! :)
    • by phaze3000 ( 204500 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:33AM (#3148345) Homepage
      Does Hurd bring other advantages to it that Darwin doesn't already have?

      Yes, unlike Darwin [], Hurd is Free, not just source-avaliable.

      It'll be interesting to see how Hurd performs against Linux once it's more mature. I strongly suspect that Linux will kick Hurd's arse performance wise, but that remains to be seen. Another Free operating system is of course always welcome.. :)

    • For starters... (Score:5, Informative)

      by IPFreely ( 47576 ) <> on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @10:06AM (#3148526) Homepage Journal
      For starters, look here []

      The quick form is:
      1. All system services are processes in Mach, including any form of I/O and authentication, They may be switched in/out be the administrator at will.
      2. Users may create their own services that are available to themselves or to others. EX. A user can write their own encrypted filesystem that works out of a single large file in their regular home directory. When they log in, they start up their EFS server, mount the filesystem to their own process and work in it. It is not visible to anyone but themselves, and is visible to their own programs as if it was just another directory. Sound fun?
      3. Network services start at low/no authority and gain authority based on the ID/password provided by the requesting client. This really reduces the threat of network service attacks. No more root exploits in FTP or HTTP or other services. (In traditional services, the server has high authority and lowers it based on ID authentication)

      If these aren't enough fun, read up to see more.

    • by karlm ( 158591 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @12:20PM (#3149432) Homepage
      First off, why a microkernel? Remember, the huge stink over Linus changing the memory manger out from under the kernel somewher around 2.4.4? In many microkernels, the memory manager is a userland server. Changing memory managers is in essence no dfferent from changing from Apache to Tomcat. You like the other memory maager? Okay, no need to patch, just have an option in the bootloader or init script to run a different memory manager. The same thing goes for the scheduler. You could even conceivably swap schdulers on the fly to give better response when a user is logged in and give better agregate thoughput when all users are logged out. Maybe Apaache would come with its own scheduler optimized for webserving. The modern L4 microkernel implements recursive memory management and scheduling. This means youcan have different memory management and scheduling on a per-task basis.

      The Hurd is really just like WINE except that it pretends to be a monolithic UNIX system instead of pretending to be a Win32 system. The HURD is currently ported only to Gnumach, but this may change. Darwin refers to both the Berkley UNIX translation layer and the underlying microkernel.

      Imagine the ugliness of moving parts of XFree into the kernel. WinNT/XP and Darwin move parts of the video subsystem into the kernel for performance reasons. NT set out to be a true microkernel, and perhapse NeXT started with this goal as well. The HURD doesn't move any of the server code into the kernel. The HURD on Gnumach follows a clean microkernel/sever seperation. Mach is a beast of a microkernel, but in essence the system is a much more pure microkernel. Your video driver goes beserk (supposedly the cuase of most NT/XP bluescreens nowadays) and all you have to do is restart the video server. Maybe you have a watchdog server running to restart essential servers that go kaput.

      Of course, there's also the liscence issue for liscence bigots. You can get Darwin's source, but IIRC, you can't redistribute changes you make. I think everyone here will gree that this is less of a Good Thing than GPL or BSD liscenced kernel code.

      As for me, I'm a design bigot. Gnumach is more of the Right Way to do Mach, but it's still the beast that is Mach. Bonus points for being a microkernel, but Linux is still more elegant (as are the *BSD kernels). UNIX monolithic kernels do a pretty good job of providng a minimum numberof orthogonal services and primitives that can be well tested and well understood. This is one principle of good design. Mach has over 100 system calls implementing all kinds of non-orthogonal services and primitives. Darwin refers to Mach and the BSD userland personality tranlator designed for Mach. HURD is just the userspace POSIX translator that was supposedly designed to be microkernel agnostic, so you could easily port it to a different microkernel and have HURD running on QNX or RtLinux, or even a monolithic *BSD or Linux kernel. There are efforts to port the HURD to the L4 microkernel. They've discovered that the HURD as presently implemented is highly dependant on certain aspects of Mach. They're debating rewriting the HURD from scratch becase of all of the Mach dependancies. It looks like they'll try and port the HURD to a "Virtual Kernel" and then have a thin library that gets linked in to wrap the VK calls and translate for the actual kernel (and perhapse a few userland servers, depending on exactly how the VK and actual microkernel break up kernel and server functionality.)

      If the L4-HURD people suceed, you might actually see the HURD outperform *BSD, Linux, et. al. Microkernels have inherently worse agregate throughput due to the increased coontext switching. However, some L4 implementations cheat and put several tasks in the same address space and simply change the read-write permissions on memory pages instead of actually switching contexts (and flushing the TLB) between tasks. This is called lazy context switching and may actually allow L4 to outperform all of the kernels that use conventional context switching. Of course, the monolithic kernels could also use lazy context switchng, but they are harder to modify. I have a copy of L4 on my machine that is only 49,847 bytes large. About half of that has tobe machine-specific code, so often times it's easier to rewrite L4 from scratch when "porting" to another architecture. After all, there's probably more than 50k of object code that changes between releases of the Linux kernel.

      People get confused and claim that Darwin is something of a NetBSD kernel or FreeBSD kernel merged with mach. The kernel has a userland personality that translates Berkley UNIX (BSD) systm calls to mach system calls. There's not really any NetBSD or FreeBSD code in the kernel as far as I know. The kerel is basically the NeXT kernel and BSD 4.3 personality server ported from m68k to PPC and an update to BSD 4.4 personality.

      The NetBSD and FreeBSD connection comes from the userland utilities. Originally, most of the userland utilities were ported from NetBSD, but now Apple has snagged one of the main FreeBSD developers, so the userland is becomming more like FreeBSD.

      • They're debating rewriting the HURD from scratch becase of all of the Mach dependancies.

        This is where the HURD is beginning to look like the 4 decades of effort Charles Babbage put into endlessly redesigning his computing machines without really completing any of them.

  • "One of the reasons we are looking forward to having the GNU system finally available from the GNU Project is that it will be only free software," Stallman added.

    Doesn't Debian only include Free (as in speech) software???
    • sorry, preachers such as mr. stallman don't have time to answer obvious questions such as this. I'll help him out a little. yes debian includes free software, but it's based on the Linux kernel which refused to call it GNU/Linux. If they won't have GNU someplace in the name, and refuse to ad those 3 little letters somewhere, then Stallman's little group will start up their own competing, less mature, and less feature rich proejct because the free software must be GNU. oh wait i was thinking about the gnome stuff. it only has 2 letters and HURD, well.. still seems like a revenge type thing to me.
      • > it's based on the Linux kernel which refused to call it GNU/Linux.

        No, the kernel is called linux, RMS's dispute is that what is called "linux the operating system" is actually a modified version of GNU using the linux kernel, hence GNU/Linux.

        > If they won't have GNU someplace in the name, and refuse to ad those 3 little letters somewhere, then Stallman's little group will start up their own competing, less mature, and less feature rich proejct because the free software must be GNU.

        Um, no, not even the FSF are _that_ pedantic. GNU uses Xfree86 which is non-GNU free software.

        > HURD, well.. still seems like a revenge type thing to me.

        Revenge for what? Hurd has been under development for longer than Linux has. Check your facts.
      • I think the point of this excersise is,(and was), to build a 100% free,(as in speech), os.

        "Welcome to the GNU Project web server, The GNU Project was launched in 1984 to develop a complete Unix-like operating system which is free software: the GNU system. (GNU is a recursive acronym for ``GNU's Not Unix''; it is pronounced "guh-NEW".) Variants of the GNU operating system, which use the kernel Linux, are now widely used; though these systems are often referred to as ``Linux'', they are more accurately called GNU/Linux systems. "

        This was stallman's intention right from the begining ,When the linux kernel came along this got side tracked.I am glad Hurd is near completion as I will soon be able to work and play on a completely free os.

        This is not about revenge.I will be very happy to use a ,"..less mature, and less feature rich proejct ..",which is free,(as in speech),than a feature filled os which is not 100% free.
        • This is not about revenge.I will be very happy to use a ,"..less mature, and less feature rich proejct ..",which is free,(as in speech),than a feature filled os which is not 100% free.

          I like the Hurd in principle, but this is just silly. Removing anything in the non-free section from my Debian system will get me the same thing, but with more features left over. :)

    • by joe_fish ( 6037 )
      Linus interprets the GPL for Linux as allowing non-GPL apps and device drivers, and there are a lot of non-GPL apps for Linux.

      RMS will interpret the GPL for Hurd as allowing only GPL apps and device drivers. So even if Hurd gets to be big there would never be an Oracle/Hurd etc.

      Or in other words Hurd will never be as big a Linux

      • by naasking ( 94116 ) <naasking@gmail . c om> on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:40AM (#3148379) Homepage
        RMS will interpret the GPL for Hurd as allowing only GPL apps and device drivers.

        For your information, Hurd is a microkernel with device drivers as user-space applications, ie. they are not linked into the kernel as in Linux. Since no linking takes place, the GPL does not apply and you can have as many closed-source drivers as you like. GPL does not apply to stand-alone applications if they do not link with GPL code.

        • The original said:
          RMS will interpret the GPL for Hurd as allowing only GPL apps and device drivers.

          Even if you interpret drivers not as drivers but as apps, the statement still holds.

  • Linux alone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anders ( 395 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:09AM (#3148232)

    Quoting the article: "Linux is a kernel, and now we have our kernel, which is an alternative to Linux, and they both work in the context of the overall GNU system, as the kernel alone won't run without the rest of the system ," he said.

    Linux alone actually runs quite well, though not doing much of interest. But by adding only a few (non-GNU, I believe) tools to the kernel, it is quite capable as, for example, a router.

    • Re:Linux alone (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      But then it would have most likely been built using GNU tools.
    • Re:Linux alone (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hawk ( 1151 )
      >Linux alone actually runs quite well, though not
      >doing much of interest.

      Yes, but linux+GNU tools doesn't do all that much of interest, either, untill you add the other things we take for granted . . .

      Which, of course, is why when most people say "linux", they *don't* mean "linux kernel and GNU tools," but also perl, sendmail, X, and a gaggle of others . . .


      • Re:Linux alone (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fonebone ( 192290 )
        Which, of course, is why when most people say "linux", they *don't* mean "linux kernel and GNU tools," but also perl, sendmail, X, and a gaggle of others . . .

        RMS needs to realise that people just say "Linux" because its the closest replacement to "Unix". but people always refer to "Unix" to mean a whole collection of tools and libraries, the same as GNU/Linux. so it's an understandable (mis)use of language.

  • Yeah and No... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <> on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:10AM (#3148236)
    I read the following in the article:

    "In India there are a number of people who are capable of seeing free software as an ethical and social issue, whereas in many parts of the world very few people recognize the ethical and social issues, and they are more interested in the practical benefits of today's free software," Stallman said.

    I think it has nothing to do with India in specific. It has more to do with that getting people to pay software when they do not have the money is the issue.

    Last time I checked Indian programmers want to be paid just as much as everyone else on this planet. It is just right now that Indian programmers are getting shafted and paid less than they rightfully deserve.

    While the FSF does not preclude getting paid, it makes it DAMM difficult. If you look at the past Slashdot arcticles you can see a good business model is what makes sense. I would like the FSF to consider the fact that people have mortgages, children and college.

    Sure there are companies that are doing ok. IE Redhat, but Redhat is one of the few. The rest are having problems as witnessed by the slashdot articles. Philosphical arguments are easy when you are feed, clothed and have a roof over your head.
    • As a programmer making fair wages with fair outgoings and a family I can't (or won't?) afford windows + office.

      I do contribute to OS software and am happy to use Linux and Open Office along with Lilypond etc etc and all my other favourites.

      So OS helps me, the guy with family to put through school.

    • "I would like the FSF to consider the fact that people have mortgages, children and college. "

      How is that a problem? YOU do not HAVE to write free software, no one is making you.

      "Philosphical arguments are easy when you are feed, clothed and have a roof over your head"

      So what are you saying? Are you saying that people who CAN and are in a postion to write free software should stop so that people in india or else where for that matter can write non free equivelents of what the fsf write presumebly on propritory expensive non free alternatives which would cost the Indians alot more .Should soup kitchens which feed the poor stop so that the poor man who runs a soup shop in the slums can have more business?

      I would say that free software is more of a benifit to india than a hinderance because it gives indians tha ability to write and hence sell that ability to write software. If all os's and software development enviroments were propriatory the indians would not be able to afford to pay for them.I think your argument and your logic is silly and not well thought out, explain to me How
      india would benifit more from there not being freesoftware in the world as oppossed to how it is benifting right now from freesoftware being available.

      You can give a man a free meal and he will not be
      hungry for a day ,teach him to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime.

      • I have no problem with Free / Shared / Open / Propriatary Software. My opinion is live and let live.

        I do have a problem with RMS's comments. He is saying things to people that are ludicrous. He is saying the West does not understand what he is trying to do, whereas India does. He does all of this from his "comfy" home. It reminds me when the Sun King's wife said "Why do they need bread when they can eat cake".

        It ticks me off because I have lived (have family that currently lives) in developing countries. And in developing countries there are many factors at work. Having someone like RMS spout off that the "West" does not understand him gets my goat ROYALLY!!!

    • Businesses that use the software don't have any trouble making money from GPL software. It saves spending on other things. They hire programmers to build applications for internal use. Some of these will also be distributed, but most won't be. And most of the one's that are won't be of much interest to anyone except the business partners of the original business.

      Don't think of the "software house business". That is one that isn't well supported by the GPL. But software consultants are. And the consultants can do a sort of "software house business" on the side, largely as advertising. And non-computer businesses (both small and large) are. A part of the problem is that much of the way that we look at how things should operate is based on how they operated under a monopoly system, i.e., "I'm the only one who has the right to distribute this program which does this wonderful thing! So buy it from me now! (see attached list of resellers with attractive markups)". But that's not the kind of model that the GPL supports. Perhaps you can make it work. Red Hat seems to be able to, even all they can sell is the right to use their name. But not many will. It's the wrong model.

      The GPL systems work best with the assumption that people (and businesses) do things largely for their own use, and that software can then be shared without much cost, so why not do so? You've already built it, your costs are sunk. And then you don't need to start your next project from ground zero. You have access to free compilers, editors, etc., and there's lots of code lying around, some of which you may be able to adapt to your own ends. And then you can share that back. If you are a consultant, this lets you work more cheaply at the cost of not being able to effectivly mass-market your result. (Or you can avoid using the pre-built code and just use the tools. Then with a bit of care you can even mass-market your work, but someone else will probably be able to create something roughly equivalent for a lot less work, so don't expect to make too much that way.)

      The GPL system is really the antithesis of the star system. Most of the real stuff is done by small groups without the need for a lot of capital. Not only small companies can contribute, but even lone individuals can. Or they can join together into loosely structured teams. True, really large projects, like Mozilla, tend to need full time support staff. I understand that most of the work on Mozilla was by paid employees .. I admit I'm not sure about this. And I'm also not sure of the significance. KDE seems to have organized itself around the projects first, and not gotten support until after they had a working version, and Debian is still independant, then there's Linus...
    • Re:Yeah and No... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BasharTeg ( 71923 )
      Last time I checked Indian programmers want to be paid just as much as everyone else on this planet. It is just right now that Indian programmers are getting shafted and paid less than they rightfully deserve.

      No, American programmers are getting shafted by the US Immigration and Naturalization's failure to make sure that immigrant professional wages don't crush citizens' professional wages, by limiting the number of foriegn professionals are allowed to enter our market. The flood of Indian programmers has hit the American programmer's paycheck, and we now have CCNA and MCSE NetAdmins making more money than programmers with a B.S. or M.S. in Comp Sci. I do agree with you though, force the employers to pay the Indians reasonable wages, so the rest of us can compete with them. If you can get an Indian Java programmer for 20,000 or less, and an American programmer is looking for something in the 50-70k range, there's no competition. If everyone was paid in the same range, then you could decide between an American with a B.S. in CompSci, or the Indian programmer. I'm not a racist, and I don't hate Indian programmers, but it's a fact that they ARE flooding our market. The same way laws work to protect American companies from 'dumping', and tariffs are applied to imports (like the steel issues recently), the INS is supposed to protect the economy from a flood skilled laborers that dilute our labor market.

      Before anyone flames me about immigrants' rights, no one had a RIGHT to immigrate here. Most of these programmers aren't immigrants anyway, they just get granted work rights because they're professionals and companies will sponsor them.

  • As someone who is not familiar with the HURD project (other then: it's a GPL'd Kernel?) can someone provide us with a brief list of some of the cool features/immediately noticable advantages HURD should provide? (This isn't intended as flamebait - I just seriously couldn't dig up much info in plain english)
  • by linuxislandsucks ( 461335 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:13AM (#3148250) Homepage Journal
    I bet $150 Hurd will not be released this year..

    Place your bets here!
  • The Hurd...provides a rather complete and usable operating system today. It is not ready for production use, as there are still many bugs and missing features.

    Complete. Usable. Not Ready. Buggy. Missing Features.
  • From the Hurd page:
    According to Thomas Bushnell, BSG, the primary architect of the Hurd: `Hurd' stands for `Hird of Unix-Replacing Daemons'. And, then, `Hird' stands for `Hurd of Interfaces Representing Depth'. We have here, to my knowledge, the first software to be named by a pair of mutually recursive acronyms.

    Is it just me, or are people who should be PROGRAMMING spending WAY too much time on non-programming garbage?

    It's like the whole WINE GPL/BSD license thing. The WINE Programmers decided on the correct license. Ganted, I don't know their structure, but, IMHO, Programmers should be making business decisions as often as MBA's should be making programming decisions.

    My favorite saying comes out time and again:
    There are two types of people in the world. Those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.

  • The Hurd and Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ukryule ( 186826 ) <> on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:23AM (#3148297) Homepage
    In an attempt to answer all the 'why not just use Linux?' questions, have a look at the man's explanation [] of it.

    Basically, Linux wasn't around when Hurd was started, and they believe it is different enough to complete/compete despite the grand rise of Linux. (Remarkably honest & non-political notes by RMS)

    Good luck to them - i hope it succeeds (we can't have Linux becoming a monopoly ... :-)
    • by BadlandZ ( 1725 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:53AM (#3148434) Journal
      Many may disagree, but there are a lot of people out there that prefer the BSD licence to the GNU/GPL license scheme.

      So, they built a (arguably) better OS based on BSD license, and called it FreeBSD. Then it forked and we have NetBSD, OpenBSD, and FreeBSD.

      Despite the great beauty of FreeBSD, and the vastly developed environment (countless ports that work flawlessly, providing users with easy to install and run applications), FreeBSD is not doing as well as Linux.

      Why? Buzzword Bingo. It's hard enough to compete with Microsoft to get a persons attention, and convince them to try a new OS. And, when the average person looks for a "alternative" Linux is the most obvious choice. FreeBSD gets only a small fraction of that attention, even if it is technically equivalent (or better in some people's opinion).

      IMHO, this is why HURD may fail. It's not because it won't be a good alternative, or because it will be technically inferior, because those will likely be untrue. Hurd will probably be competitive, but how will it get a market share?

      Linux will make vast roads to having a real-time kernel, embedded, etc... (QNX like), long before Hurd is ready. So, add the lack of press, lack of interest, and slow development, I can't help but think it will not see much success. How can you not see it in a similar light to the BSDs, even if the licensing is different?

      • I've had some thoughts on this reciently [].

        Unix-systems are similar enough that a switch from one to another is usually practical. Everything else is preference or application specific.

        I agree that mind share is a big deal, and often trumps technical capability. The Hurd, though, is an interesting beast. It has some potential applications where Linux isn't as useful (currently). Like the BSD Jail, Linux will either add those capabilities or will not be as useful. Unlike Jail, some of the capabilities of Hurd come from the design of Hurd, so mimicing them under Linux will likely be awkward or impractical.

        Either way, it should spur more evolution in modern Unix-style systems, so it's worth it for that reason alone.

      • by PigleT ( 28894 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @10:16AM (#3148595) Homepage
        "FreeBSD is not doing as well as Linux. Why? Buzzword Bingo."

        No, it's down to hardware driver lack of support.
        When I can't install FreeBSD on my Vaio but NetBSD works, I don't use FreeBSD.
        When the Linux kernel recognises my dodgy eetherpro/100B("Sony") NIC, but the Hurd doesn't, I run Linux.

        The fun question is: if the source is openly available for linux to support a given bit of kit, would someone want to take the code and use it gratuitously (munging licensing arrangements as need be) or do they want to preserve independence and duplicate effort? The latter has the advantage of providing alternatives but doubles the creating and debugging effort. Not to mention, I'm a lazy fellow as well.

        More and more I think we're heading for a different singularity: modularity. "Kernel by Hurd, userspace by netbsd, hardware.networking by linux", you name it.
        Now the Openness of Source more or less allows this, how about some cross-OS distributions? ;)
      • Another very important reason why Linux does better is that there is a lot of (mainly commercial) software that is distributed only as an RPM and which won't run at all under FreeBSD. Where I work we where running FreeBSD on all our unix boxes until recently. We decided to start using SAPdb as our database. It's GPL, but compiling it is hell but there is a perfectly working RPM distribution of it. So now were running Redhat on all boxes....
      • Quite wrong (rather completly actually). BSD license is NOT a safe haven for businesses to *share* commodity code. It does a company a disservice to add value that can be repackaged/modified/hidden by their competitor. BSD's failure is UNIX's failure. GPL licenese allows a company to add value knowing that a 3rd party cannot *ever* remove that value via repackage/modify/hide.
        IMHO GPL is always the better license.

        Any company that plans to make money entirly upon software sales is doomed to failure. 60-80% of software cost is maintenence. So the value position in software is to sell SUPPORT contracts. You can give/sell the software *at cost* and still make more on support -- even if the software is so perfect as to never need any support at all.
        • Perhaps true...except for games. Games are not a "make money on support" area. They are hard, code-intensive, creatively challenging (if you care about good artwork and story) and are not ammenable to support. For SOME games you might be able to sell cheap and then make money on network play...something like a, but this is ONLY for games that are multiplayer (not all are or should be) AND liked by many.

          Game companies are made or broken by software SALES, nothing else. You want games, you must pay for them or they just don't come.

      • Despite the great beauty of FreeBSD, and the vastly developed environment (countless ports that work flawlessly, providing users with easy to install and run applications), FreeBSD is not doing as well as Linux.

        Why? Buzzword Bingo.

        Close but no cigar. Despite what Mad Mundie et al say about the BSD licence, is it the case that it just is NOT all that commercially attractive?

        The GPL is just a better licence. It's fairer to developers, and in a bizarre way, that makes it more attractive to commerce. Keeping the developers happy keeps the software coming.

        GPL is also more resitant to forks, as anyone who wants to distribute has to publish source. Forks are bad, mmmkay?

        And anyway, the GPL is practically a religion these days. You don't want to cross God, do you?

  • What's the name?

    According to tradition it's got to have a name. More X's, the better. Not three X's thou.
    So my bet would be Hurdix. (No GNU, because there's no non-GNU hurd..)

  • Right Here [].
  • by ( 71379 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @09:43AM (#3148391)
    "RMS said in an interview in India that Hurd will see the light of day this year."

    But RMS won't. He hasn't been out of his cave since 1986.
  • I installed this version of Debian Hurd [] (id=51) months ago and it is quite stable (I'd say more than windows95) so, because of its elegance, the few remaining minor problems should be fixed soon.
    So, whoever called this vapourware should at least verify their sources : Hurd is no more confidential.
  • RMS said in an interview in India that Hurd will see the light of day this year

    ...until they've reached an agreement to call it GNU/Hurd or GNhUrd.
  • Assuming that RMS is interested in people (lots of people) using Hurd. This means hackers and users.

    Most hackers have their plate full with Linux. A few use *BSD instead. Even fewer have experience with BOTH. Guess how many hackers will install Hurd?

    Linux has filled the ecological niche of "an OS for the hacker". *BSD are the "also ran". Hurd will be the "also also ran".

    Now let's look at the users. Users don't really care about the OS. They want (need) (1) useful applications (2) ease of installation (distros).

    Nobody's going to port apps (or make a distribution) of Hurd just because it's "freer than Linux".

    Unless the micro-kernel architecture provides a huge advantage to the end-user, either in terms of performance, scalability, reliability (*), or making a whole new something possible which no-one thought of before, I don't see the apps. Anyone care to port OpenOffice to Hurd? How about KDE?

    As to installation, are the drivers there for all the peripherals that Linux/*BSD have?

    My guess is that, with luck, Hurd will be taught in CS operating system courses as an example micro-kernel architecture (but Mach is available for that...).

    I'd be glad to be corrected by someone who's actually played with Hurd.

    (*) Although reliability for Linux is pretty good, judging by the uptimes of my boxes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @10:23AM (#3148643)

    I am happy to see so much interest in the Hurd, even though most of the comments seem to be negative. Let me try to clear up some facts, that hopefully make it clearer what the Hurd is about.
    The Hurd was started before Linux was started. So, the Hurd was not a knee-jerk reaction to Linux, GNU/Linux or whatever else. Linux steadily grew, and many people contributed to it, but few contributed to the Hurd. And everybody is happy that we have a very reliable and high-profile free operating system, GNU/Linux, today.
    But there are still reasons to continue development of the Hurd. First, it is not, like Linux, an reinvention of Unix, it is a complete redesign. From scratch, essential system services were identified as independant from the rest of the system and put as a seperate program into user space. Care was taken not to force system code to the user. And care was taken to allow the user to replace system services with his own implementation, or extend the system by new services.
    So the Hurd consists not of a single kernel, or a single microkernel plus a monolithic server (like Darwin), but it consists of a microkernel plus a dozen and more system servers, plus an independant number of user servers. The authentication model allows the servers and client applications to communicate without prior mutual trust. This design is what makes the Hurd technically enthralling and _completely_ different from any other free operating system kernel in existance. (There are some other systems build like that VSTa and sawmill for example, but they are much less developed than the Hurd).
    The Hurd system has thus a mroe complex design than the Linux kernel, for example. Sure, the Linux kernel is not easy to understand. You have all the scheduling, memory management, the driver framework, the virtual file system layer. In the Hurd, you have all that plus a lot more. Many interfaces that are internal in the Linux kernel are external in the Hurd, and accessible by the user. So much more care had to be taken in the design of the Hurd, so it is much harder to get to usable results, because the design had to come before the implementation.
    Also, the many concepts, and the new way to think about operating system services set forth consequently in the Hurd, make up a higher barrier to entry for new developers, who have to learn a lot more things before they can make significant contributions than in other software projects. I will not go into the technical advantages of this design here, because that would take too long, but there are many interesting things you can do (as an unprivileged user) in the Hurd you can't do in other systems (or can't do that easily and naturally, eg profitably).
    But there are other reasons beside technical advantages that can draw your attention to the Hurd, and they are not related to naming GNU/Linux GNU/Linux. The Linux kernel consists of code from an unknown number of developers, and an equal number of copyright holders. This means two things: The license for the copyright, GPL version 2, can never, ever be changed anymore. Now, you might think of it as a great thing. But licenses need to be changed to adopt to new laws and new technical developments. Software will be used in areas it was never used before (like web services). So, sometimes it is important to update the license of a program, just as you update the software itself. The GPL version 3 is in preperation, and the Linux kernel will not be able to take advantage of its protection.
    There is another problem with many copyright holders: Depending on the country you are in (definitely in the US), it becomes very difficult to defend the license in front of the court. I am not a lawyer, but Eben Moglen is, and he has told us before about the difficulties to enforce the GPL 2 on the Linux kernel. So far he has succeeded, but as the FSF is not the only party that has copyright on parts of the Linux kernel, it is much more difficult to enforce the license than, let's say, for gcc. Add to that the fact that Linus explicitely allowed binary-only modules, and you are in muddy water.
    A complete operating system, of which the FSF is the only copyright holder, with the FSF's commitment to free software, is a huge strategic advantage for the upcoming battle against world's IP exploitation.
    So, the Hurd does exists for two reasons: First, it does something that no other free software does, for which there is a real need. And, it cannot be done by building on other free software, for both technical and legal reasons.
    For more information, please visit, and checkt he FAQ and the introduction material in the Documentation section.

    Marcus Brinkmann (
    • by praedor ( 218403 ) on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @01:12PM (#3149975) Homepage

      So, since binary-only drivers and such are not allowed with HURD (that is what I take from the above, informative posting), there will be much less supported hardware, to say the least, then is possible with linux. If the HURD just MUST stick to some politically correct position no matter what, then kiss your nvidia cards goodbye on it. Kiss a lot of very desireable products and services goodbye.

      If the whole HURD thing will have some leeway for non-GPL stuff in certain circumstances, then maybe no problem but right now, from where I sit, you get a largely crippled system and you will simply NOT get all the makers of the truly DESIRED hardware to release their drivers to GPL.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Support for all your proprietary 'gee whiz' hardware can be placed in the User layer, instead of the Kernel layer.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hurd will see the light of day this year.

    Which is more than can be said for most of the people reading this ....

  • I am aware of the licensing, blah blah blah, on the HURD, but can someone summarize the technical advantage of HURD or Linux or Darwin? Are there any comparisons between this kernel and other POSIX-standard OSes?

    In short, aside from licensing and feeling good about themselves, why should one use this?
  • That's great, I'm always interested in something new. But my concern is that in all these comments and articles, I haven't heard (or should I say hurd) of any software, a windowing system? Can unix apps be compiled for HURD? What's the story on this?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      We have currently compiled 2000 source packages from Debian, which result in 4000 binary packages (or 3 and a half CD full) of software for the GNU/Hurd system.
      You can install the Debian GNU/Hurd just as you install Debian GNU/Linux (with more edges, I suppose). As the standard windowing system you get XFree86 of course (and I use Window Maker as the wm on my GNU/Hurd system).

      Marcus Brinkmann
  • Correct use of the word "loose"! Rejoice!

  • We have here, to my knowledge, the first software to be named by a pair of mutually recursive acronyms.

    Need I say more?

  • I'm just asking.
  • by cduffy ( 652 ) <> on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @01:59PM (#3150461)
    Seriously -- VSTA [] has a much cleaner design than the HURD and far superior runtime speed. It's based on some rather different design decisions (favoring being Right over being backwards-compatible where the two conflicted strongly), but is just generally Good Stuff.

    If the HURD increases interest in microkernel-based OSen, good for it -- I *like* my drivers running in userspace! (heckuvalot easier to write and debug that way, no? heck -- that means one can write a prototype driver in Python before putting together the final version in C; let's see 'yall do that in Linux!)

    Admittedly, it's not nearly as close to being end-user-ready as the HURD, but for folks doing embedded systems work (or who want a cool OS to play with), it's seriously worth looking into.
  • by kcbrown ( 7426 ) <> on Tuesday March 12, 2002 @10:55PM (#3154262) know you've been reading Slashdot too long when you see the word "loosed" and your first attempt at interpretation yields "lost", even though you never make the mistake of confusing "lose" and "loose" in your own writings...


VMS must die!