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## New GNU Hurd Kernel Released419

Anonymous Coward writes "I don't know if there is much interest out there, but GNU Mach Kernel 1.3 was just released a couple days ago. (May 28)." Looking forward to that 2002 release...
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## New GNU Hurd Kernel Released

• #### Get it right (Score:5, Funny)

<gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday May 30, 2002 @10:51AM (#3609703) Homepage Journal
Its called the GNU/GNU Hurd, because its part of the GNU/System
• #### Re:Get it right (Score:2, Funny)

Its called the GNU/GNU Hurd, because its part of the GNU/System

Well, since GNU is already recursive, obviously it should be used recursively as well. You should probably add a "GNU/" for each compile since it was compiled with gcc. So by now it's (\Pi_0^{\infty} GNU/)Hurd, that's GNU/GNU/GNU/GNU/[...]/GNU/Hurd...

Of course, you can probably run a (or any number of) virtual hurd(s) on a hurd system, so it would be GNU/GNU/[...]/GNU/GNU/Hurd/Hurd/[...]/Hurd/Hurd.

Oh, and microkernels seem to be out of fashion again...but who really cares about technical details when we can poke fun at RMS instead!

• #### Re:Get it right (Score:2)

I hate to mention it, but a certain fruit-like top-10 computer manufacturer is shipping a microkernel-based OS RIGHT NOW. There are some that might argue that the number of units they're shipping makes them the largest UNIX vendor right now.
• #### Re:Get it right (Score:4, Interesting)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @01:29PM (#3610965)
NT's kernel32 is also a microkernel, though obviously not a *nix one. While Linus in particular has been pretty harsh on microkernel architectures, the vast majority of PCs out there run on them. I personally think the microkernel is the only way to go for closed-source kernels since a recompile is out of the question. I'm not sure what the advantage is with open-source though. Anyone care to tell me?
• #### Re:Get it right (Score:2, Funny)

Why not just save time?

[GNU/]+GNU HURD[/HURD]*

• #### Re:Get it right (Score:2)

IIRC it's known as "positive" and "kleene" closure. I can't really envision multiplying a string.
• #### Re:Get it right (Score:5, Funny)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @11:40AM (#3610054) Homepage
My math skills are far from what they used to be, but something divided by the same thing becomes one. Hence Gnu/Gnu = 1, so it should be 1 Hurd. And who cares about that 1 anyways? So it's should be Hurd.

Ok, I'm dumb. So reply me ^_~
• #### Re:Get it right (Score:5, Funny)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @11:46AM (#3610099) Homepage

My math skills are far from what they used to be, but something divided by the same thing becomes one. Hence Gnu/Gnu = 1, so it should be 1 Hurd. And who cares about that 1 anyways? So it's should be Hurd.

But if there's only 1, it's hardly a Hurd. It's probably just one Bison. But GNU bison has been around forever, so why is any of this news?

-Rob

• #### Re:Get it right (Score:2)

My math skills are far from what they used to be, but something divided by the same thing becomes one. Hence Gnu/Gnu = 1, so it should be 1 Hurd. And who cares about that 1 anyways? So it's should be Hurd.
Unless Hurd = 0. In which case the result is undefined.

sPh

• #### This doesn't mean (Score:2, Funny)

That RMS will stop bugging everyone about calling it GNU/Linux though
• #### Question... (Score:3, Interesting)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @10:54AM (#3609727) Homepage
Has anybody hurd of any possible gold releases of the HURD and/or any existing Linux vendor support (RH, SuSe)?
• #### Re:Question... (Score:3, Informative)

Go to kt.zork.net [zork.net] and follow the updates on building a Hurd version of Debian... I believe there's been stuff on there about ISOs.
• #### I'm going going to use any kernel that... (Score:2, Troll)

Takes until May 2002 to support larger than 10gig hard drives, sorry.

Quote:
28 May 2002
We are pleased to announce version 1.3 of the GNU distribution of the Mach kernel, featuring advanced boot script support, support for large disks (>= 10GB) and an improved console.
• #### Re:I'm going going to use any kernel that... (Score:4, Insightful)

<vidar@hokstad.com> on Thursday May 30, 2002 @11:06AM (#3609830) Homepage Journal
This is a microkernel. It's not supposed to be full of features, only support a minimal set of functionality to write servers for to implement a full kernel. Stuffing all kinds of extra driver support in there would be completely counter productive, as the servers running on top of it would most likely provide their own drivers for most hardware anyway.
• #### Re:I'm going going to use any kernel that... (Score:3, Insightful)

Being a microkernel does not mean that it should only support ancient hardware. If GNU Mach did not support reasonable sized disks until now, it means there is a problem with GNU Mach and not that this is a "feature" of a microkernel - most likely, the GNU Mach people got an abstraction wrong somewhere. Example: old versions of the HURD diskfs server would mmap the entire disk: this lead to a 1 GB partition size limit (see here [debian.org]).

Mac OS X (and Darwin) is based on a Mach derivative, and it has always supported large hard disks. It also supports booting off a network or a firewire- or USB-attached hard disk. If GNU's Mach microkernel can't do these things, it leads me to question the viability of GNU Mach (and I don't know if GNU Mach can do these things - it very well might, but I'm willing to bet karma that it can't).

• #### Re:I'm going going to use any kernel that... (Score:3, Interesting)

Sheesh, and they're on version 1.3? It just looks a little suspect to me when the size difference between version 1.1.3 and 1.2 is over a megabyte of compressed code.

What's that about commercial software being rushed out the door incomplete?
• #### excellent (Score:3, Funny)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @10:56AM (#3609747) Homepage Journal
I have been looking forward to this. Last quarter I migrated our entire server farm from a Linux/BSD/Windows ME combination (talk about support nightmares!) to Hurd, and I haven't looked back. The changelog [gnu.org] promises new drivers (yum!) as well as support for files > 17MB and protected memory. It doesn't get any sweeter than this.

For those still using legacy systems, a little background: the GNU Hurd is the official GNU microkernel. Because it's smaller than Linux, you get faster I/O at the cost of greater instability, a tradeoff most sysadmins are quick to take.

I've used it in a production-level enterprise environment, at home on the desktop, and even on my palmtop. Even my grandmother can do the base install. This is truly the wave of the future.
• #### Clues for the clueless (Score:3, Insightful)

Here are some aspects of the parent post that, if you would think about them for a fricking second, clearly indicate it is a joke (although not super funny):

entire server farm from a Linux/BSD/Windows ME
even on my palmtop
faster I/O at the cost of greater instability, a tradeoff most sysadmins are quick to take.
Even my grandmother can do the base install.
• #### Also let it be known... (Score:3, Funny)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @11:00AM (#3609779) Homepage
...that the numbers given for each release (1.0, 1.3, 1.4, etc.) aren't version numbers. It's actually the average number of kernel panics per minute for this particular release.

But seriously, I've tried the Hurd, and while I can appreciate the work that's being done on it and its goals and aims, it's just not stable enough for everyday use. I'll just stick to 2.2.16 for the time being until I am convinced that there is a more stable kernel or until the Hurd matures a bit more.
• #### Re:Also let it be known... (Score:2, Insightful)

I agree. It is nice to see the *nix methodology re-thought with modern day software engineering techniques such as high modularity. It is also wonderful to see the unix tradition of complete user freedom and vast system customization options be taken to a new refined level with pluggable services and kernel modules. Linux is a nice final chapter in the long 30 year history of a kernel designed by true pioneers in the field, but it is nice to get some fresh insight and thought in OS design.
• #### Re:Also let it be known... (Score:2)

Talking of stuff like this, please check out Plan9 if you haven't already done so.

graspee

• #### Compared to OS X (Score:2, Troll)

How does this compare to the Darwin Mach kernel?

• #### Bitte können sie den Mach kernel OpenSource machen (Score:2, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward
I don't understand for the life of me, why they didn't make the Mach kernel Open Source. Don't they realize that with the help of the Open Source community and the envied work ethic, this kernel can be used in a lot of systems.

I can see this being used in embedded banking systems that process mortgage planning calculations. That's the way of the future!

• #### Hurd: Still not ready after 10 years! (Score:3, Informative)

<erc@po b o x.com> on Thursday May 30, 2002 @11:20AM (#3609939) Homepage
I find it amazing that Hurd still isn't even close to being ready for production use after 10+ years of development! Even in the current release, there are a *lot* of features missing, incomplete, or just plain don't work. No character device suport, no shared memory, no dynamic library support, etc. Hurd is still very much incomplete, even now.
• #### Re:Hurd: Still not ready after 10 years! (Score:3, Interesting)

If you haven't provided and support or code to the project,I hardly see how you have a basis for mocking/complaining about the progression.

The issue here is that they aren't just making another version of a monolithic Uni*xy kernel, they are re-inventing much of the way the applications/kernel/u-kernel/hardware layers interact. It's not as easy a task as reverse engineering what already exists.
• #### Re:Hurd: Still not ready after 10 years! (Score:2)

no dynamic library support, etc.
are you sure this is a requirement for a modern OS?
• #### The real question is (Score:4, Funny)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @11:42AM (#3610078) Homepage
do you think rms would be pissed if people started using HURD, but kept calling it linux?
• #### Hurd makes a fun toy OS (Score:4, Interesting)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @11:51AM (#3610151) Homepage
I have been fooling aroung with it for a couple years now. I have my little 1Gb Hurd partition which I occasionally boot up and experiment with. I must say that I have learned a lot by trying to compile programs under Hurd, and I actually succeded in patching Pth [gyrodynamic.net] (Gnu Portable Threads) to get it to compile. It provides a rudimentary pthread compatibility lib while the main pthreads are still in development for inclusion into the c-library.

Even more fun is rolling your own OSKit-Mach microkernel and then running it on a serial debugger. It is fascinating to be able to single step through a running kernel, set breakpoints, view the source as it executes, look at the CPU registers, etc. I wholeheartedly recommend it to all the compsci students and future kernel hackers out there.
• #### finally! (Score:5, Funny)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @11:51AM (#3610153) Homepage

Support for the terminal speeds B57600 and B115200 has been added.

Now I can use my new 56k modem! Pretty soon, every ISP will be using this fast new speed of modem, it will be cool! Gopher's gonna FLY on this baby!

Okay just kidding, glad to see HURD is still alive. I remember first reading about it long ago and thinking, hey, finally a modern OS. But here I am still using a monolithic kernel after all these years, and it works just fine. Good luck to the HURD folks, maybe my kids will use it. :-)

• #### Helpful info (I hope) (Score:5, Informative)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @12:01PM (#3610268) Homepage
Anyone willing to try out the Hurd can download some .ISO's at ftp://ftp.gnu.org/iso/hurd-H4/. They're based on Debian, and so apt-get and all that works in them.

As mentioned before, this version of Mach is about to be dropped in favor of OSKit-Mach. I don't know what the H4 CD's have (I haven't installed 'em yet) but the H3's didn't use OSKit-Mach. OSKit Mach has all the drivers that Linux 2.2 has, which is better than Mach 1.3, which iirc only has Linux 2.0's drivers.

In my brief experience with the HURD (you can only have so much fun without network card drivers) I liked it even more than Linux - using servers instead of using the kernel itself makes it more logical to, say, integrate an FTP directory into your filesystem (and indeed, this server has already been set up). settrans is lots of fun.

It's got X. It has pretty much everything you need - I could convert to the Hurd and barely lose productivity. What it's missing mostly are drivers (though OSKit should help with that, I haven't tried it).

Anyway, if you have a weekend to kill, it's a lot of fun.
• #### Linus on the HURD (not whoring) (Score:5, Funny)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @12:28PM (#3610472)
This always makes me laugh... oh that Linus. Anyway, no karma whoring have 50 anyway.

Which is a completely idiotic idea, and which is only just another example
of how absolutely and stunningly _stupid_ Hurd is.

Later on...

Trust me. The people who came up with MAP_COPY were stupid. Really. It's
an idiotic concept, and it's not worth implementing.

And this all for what is a administration bug in the first place.

In short: just say NO TO DRUGS, and maybe you won't end up like the Hurd
people.

All by Linus found here lkml [216.239.33.100]
• #### Can RMS be taken seriously? (Score:2, Insightful)

After reviewing the moderated comments on this thread, I have come to the conclusion that RMS has become the joke of the Open Source movement like Milli Vanilli became the joke of music industry. Everyone of the higher modded posts was "Funny".

But I guess when you release a kernel that has 8 years of development and it can barely keep a machine running, you are a joke. I am sure Bill Gates is laughing his ass off.

• #### Re:Can RMS be taken seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

<doom@kzsu.stanford.edu> on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:14PM (#3611326) Homepage Journal
toupsie wrote:

After reviewing the moderated comments on this thread, I have come to the conclusion that RMS has become the joke of the Open Source movement like Milli Vanilli became the joke of music industry. Everyone of the higher modded posts was "Funny".
Actually, the attitude of the average slashdot commentator towards RMS says a lot more about slashdot than it does about RMS.

The slash crowd seems to be a bunch of "technical" guys who can't get beyond personalities.

Hey guys, written any good C compilers lately? Come up with any revolutionary social institutions, like the GPL?

On those two grounds alone, you would think that RMS would be revered at least as much as Linus Torvalds, but no... "RMS, he's that nasty guy with a beard who keeps talking about politics. Let's go get him."

• #### Re:Can RMS be taken seriously? (Score:2, Insightful)

Any competent computer science grad student should be able to write a servicable compiler. Thousands of people are capable of doing this, and the only remarkable aspect of GCC is that it was released under the GPL. The GPL was revolutionary, and for that he deserves great credit.

But he hasn't done anything except rest on his laurels for a long time now. Perhaps if he stopped scheduling/cancelling talks and getting involved in petty naming disputes, and sat down and actually _wrote some code_ for Hurd, he'd regain some of the respect that most of us have lost for him (perhaps this is why Torvalds is still respected?).

Anyway, I don't think anyone cares about his facial hair or hygiene. I don't think anyone would disrespect him for his advocacy of Free software (no matter how much they may disagree with him). However, his 'GNU/Linux v Linux' crusade is petty and ego driven and is worthy of contempt.
• #### Re:Can RMS be taken seriously? (Score:2)

Any competent computer science grad student should be able to write a servicable compiler. Thousands of people are capable of doing this, and the only remarkable aspect of GCC is that it was released under the GPL

Then why do the BSD people still use it? It seems instead of being dependent on the GNU project for the compiler, they would have written their own. Or maybe a good optimizing, multi-architecture compiler is a non-trivial thing to write, eh?
• #### Re:Can RMS be taken seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

But he hasn't done anything except rest on his laurels for a long time now. Perhaps if he stopped scheduling/cancelling talks and getting involved in petty naming disputes, and sat down and actually _wrote some code_ for Hurd, he'd regain some of the respect that most of us have lost for him
Do you understand the RMS has some bad RSI injuries? He was one of the first people to come down with this. He pretty much trashed his hands cranking out code for the GNU project.

However, his 'GNU/Linux v Linux' crusade is petty and ego driven and is worthy of contempt.

There's a certain kind of person who always seems to be putting down activists as just being merely out for ego gratification. What other motive could they possibly have, eh? No one could possibly care about that idealistic stuff, right?

A suggestion: If you think the "GNU/Linux" thing is trivial, symbolic bullshit, then just ignore it. If it's so trivial, what's the point of bringing it up over and over again?

• #### Re:Can RMS be taken seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

I agree. You'd think that if RMS was really ego-driven about this OS, he'd just alter his first name a bit and call it that.
• #### Re:Can RMS be taken seriously? (Score:2)

After reviewing the moderated comments on this thread, I have come to the conclusion that RMS has become the joke of the Open Source movement like Milli Vanilli became the joke of music industry.

Sadly, this seems to be true. I'm not sure why; I've never had the sense that he deserves it, and no one's ever been able to explain to me why they think he does.
But I guess when you release a kernel that has 8 years of development and it can barely keep a machine running, you are a joke.

You've never written a stable kernel, I'll wager. Are you a joke? Or, to put it another way:

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points our how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the people who are actually in the arena, who's faces are marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strive valiantly, who errs and come up short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who know the great devotion, who spend themselves in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the high achievement of triumphant who at worst, if they fail while daring greatly, know their place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt
• #### Wake me when HURD runs on top of L4 (Score:5, Interesting)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @12:53PM (#3610675) Journal

MACH is an old and flawed u-kernel implementation. Until HURD ports itself to a better one, HURD will always be slower than Linux and a more bug ridden OS. u-kernel OS implementations have proven to work with products like QNX, but HURD can only embarrass u-kernel advocates with its current foundation.

Its more annoying when advocates bitch and moan that "Linux is a 40 yr old design". So is about everything that is sucessful on the market. Do these guys really expects us to drop what works to what cannot work well in its current state? As is, HURD is an embarrassment to O/S purists. Its the "portable" O/S that can't even work well on ONE hardware architecture!

Its sad that HURD lacks interested, talented programmers, but its strategic stewardship is its downfall. Or the difference between a Torvalds and an RMS. I don't think HURD announcements deserve to be put on the front page of /. until HURD has addressed its u-kernel situation.

• #### Re:Wake me when HURD runs on top of L4 (Score:4, Insightful)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @01:28PM (#3610958)
As is, HURD is an embarrassment to O/S purists. Its the "portable" O/S that can't even work well on ONE hardware architecture!

You're a glass-is-half-empty kind of person, aren't you? Here's how it looks from my perspective: HURD runs equally well on many architectures!
• #### MACH is an old and flawed u-kernel implementation? (Score:3, Insightful)

MACH is hardly flawed. Last I checked, NeXTStep, OpenStep, as well as that obscure new operating system you may have heard of, MacOS X, are all based on a MACH microkernel.

I always thought MACH was THE microkernel. Either elaborate and convince me, or put down the crack pipe ;)

• #### Re:MACH is an old and flawed u-kernel implementati (Score:2)

NeXTStep, OpenStep, MacOS X run on a u-kernel based on MACH. They do not run on the publicly available MACH kernel. And if you haven't noticed, OS X hardly runs like greased lightning either (except to a Mac evangelist).

• #### Re:MACH is an old and flawed u-kernel implementati (Score:2)

Any performance issues with OSX probably have more to do with admittedly slow Apple hardware combined with the Aqua rendering layer. I used to run OpenStep on a pentium and it was as performant as any other UNIX on Intel hardware.
• #### But seriously, folks... (Score:2)

If you're a budding kernel hacker, or a wannabe approximation to one, look it over as an example of another way of doing things.
• #### What gets me... (Score:4, Insightful)

<stillyet@googlemail.com> on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:12PM (#3611298) Homepage Journal

Back in 94 I started using Linux because the HURD wasn't ready. The HURD still isn't ready. That's OK, things take time. But what's not OK is for RMS to write [linuxworld.com]:

If you can ignore the facts and believe that Linus Torvalds developed the whole system starting in 1991, or if you can ignore your ordinary principles of fairness and believe that Torvalds should get the sole credit even though he didn't do that... Just consider: the GNU Project starts developing an operating system, and years later Linus Torvalds adds one important piece. Now envision the mindset of a person who can look at these events and accuse the GNU Project of egotism.

Huh?

Well, no, Richard, I'm sorry. This is like saying 'this is out bridge, because we built the handrails'. Linus did the hard bit, the bit you couldn't do; and he did it brilliantly well. In fact he did three entirely different hard bits, all of which you couldn't do. The first is, he wrote an operating system kernel which worked. Now you're entitled to say that a kernel is not in and of itself an operating system, and that's true. But it is the critical structural element without which a heap of assorted parts don't constitute an operating system. So that's Linus' first achievement: a technical achievement, and a big one.

The second hard bit that Linus did which the Free Software Foundation has clearly failed to do is to evolve a development methodology which allows - encourages - very many people to take part, and which manages to integrate and exploit the fruits of all their labours. That's Linus' second achievement: a social achievement, and a big one.

But Linus third achievement is the key one, and it is key to your project of making Free Software available to ordinary people all over the world. He has brought the system to critical mass, where it's robust enough and stable enough for many people to use it, and in consequence many people are motivated to port many programs to it. This is Linus' third achievement. It's a cultural achievement, and it is an absolutely critical one without which any Free Software movement is ultimately vacuous and solipsistic.

Yes, Richard, my system is a GNU/Linux system. But it is also and equally a KDE [kde.org]/Linux system and an Apache/Linux [apache.org] system. Your contribution - the Free Software Foundation's contribution - is critical; but so is that of the Apache crew and of the KDE crew and the Debian crew and many others. And although I agree that your contributions - especially on the issues of licenses and of the underlying social principles of what we are doing - are critically important, without Linus achievement your achievement would be a footnote on the eccentric fringe of history.

Disparaging Linus not only does you no credit. It actually undermines what you are setting out to achieve. It not only distracts from the important work you are doing on defending the information commons on which we all depend: it undermines your authority to speak on our behalf.

I know that you are a great hacker. I use Emacs every day, and appreciate it greatly; much of what I do depends on things compiled with GCC. But you must realise that your philosophical work is much more important - much more critical - than your software. You were prescient in seeing the assault on the information commons and in making a stand against it, and that will be the contribution for which you will be remembered.

I have no doubt that one day the HURD will be usable. I have no doubt that the HURD, when usable, will be an interesting opererating system kernel. But the critical issue is that you, and your team, could not deliver it when it was needed, and that Linus could. It does you no harm - it diminishes you in no way - to recognise and give honour to that achievement. And it is peurile and childish to pretend that the conrtibution of the Free Software Foundation is any more important to the operating system on my desktop, on my servers, than the contribution of the Apache Foundation and its contributors or of the KDE project and its contributors. It is mean spirited to pretend that without the critical, fundamental contribution of Linus Torvalds, there would be a usable free operating system for ordinary people around the world to use.

Life is not fair. It isn't fair that the Debian KDE/Apache/GNU/Linux operating system on my desk just gets called Linux, when it comprises 796 packages by literally thousands of different authors. After all, forty or so of those packages are GNU softare. Roughly one tenth, or to put it differently, 60% of the KDE project's contribution. But, I say again, the single, critical component that welds the work of the KDE project, and the Apache foundation, and the Free Software Foundation, and hundreds of other contributors contributions into a usable whole is Linus Torvald's contribution and it's only reasonable that he should get top billing.

Grow up. Give credit where it is due, and concentrate on the parts of your work which are really critical - not just to you but to all of us. Concentrate on articulating the principles which allow an information commons in software to exist, and defending that commons from all encroachments. That is your task to do, which you do uniquely well. The honour which Linus has earned does not diminish or detract from the honour which you have earned. It is your carping, your disparagement, your evident jealousy, which detracts and diminishes your honour. Grow up and stop it.

• #### Re:What gets me... (Score:2)

Well said. Well enough said that I think you should post it to slashdot as an article, titled "An Open Letter to Richard Stallman", and cc it to rms@stallman.org

Got that address from his home page [stallman.org], and after reading it, I must say, I do have new respect for him ... his ravings about the GNU/Linux thing are still scary in a "watch someone you care about go nuts" sort of way, but that page has *lots* of news and articles written by him about various socio-political issues, most of which don't even have to do with technology. Definitely not the work of a monomaniac.
• #### hear hear! (Score:2)

(or is it here here? I've never seen it explained.)

Anyway. Well fuckin said. I second your oppinion and put forth that my linux box is also comprised similarly.

I call it linux, because the GNU is implied.
Everyone who uses linux probably knows this. Also, if I had a Hurd system, I would likewise call it 'Hurd' and not GNU/Hurd because the GNU is also implied in that case.

I deeply respect RMS and furthermore agree with much of what he says. This is one issue I DISSAGREE with him on. I wish he would listen to what others have to say, especially others who like me agree with 99% of his other stances. It would make him a better representative for the FSF, better liked and would not diminish his philosophical goals one iota. People who never listen to anyone else's oppinions may one day find their oppinions lacking.

• #### Re:hear hear! (Score:2)

It's hear hear. [straightdope.com]
• #### Re:What gets me... (Score:5, Informative)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @05:56PM (#3613491) Homepage Journal
Just to correct the record:

This is like saying 'this is out bridge, because we built the handrails'. Linus did the hard bit, the bit you couldn't do;

No, it's the bit he didn't do soon enough, because his focus was putting together a widely portable operating system, mainly focusing on tools, that could (and did and still does) run on a variety of kernels, most of which were (at the time), sadly, proprietary.

Another way to view it: from RMS' point of view circa 1989, a "free" kernel was a lot like a "free" device driver, only bigger and more complicated, in that it enabled use of free software on certain hardware (CPUs). Compare that to writing more free OS utilities, which would be portable to all hardware that could support GNU software (regardless of kernel), and you can see why he might have made the choices he did at the time.

Now, did Hurd, once he focused GNU resources on creating it, prove to be an overly ambitious ivory-tower-type project? IMO, yes. In the meantime, Linus and others scratched an itch by evolving (moreso than designing a la Hurd) a kernel for a specific CPU family, which meant that the resources GNU might have used for such a project were used for other, more portable or widely useful, GNU tools -- or, at least, that was a plausible likelihood.

How do I know all this?

Because, in 1988 or 1989, I volunteered my "talents" to RMS for GNU, and specifically asked him if he wanted me to take over the job of writing the OS kernel for GNU, something that was dead-center down my area of expertise. (I'd been doing OS kernel and related work since, oh, about 16 years of age, in a professional sense anyway; since earlier as an "amateur hacker".)

He declined the offer and asked me if I knew anything about Fortran. Since I'd recently learned some things about compilers, specifically Fortran compilers, I said yes, and the upshot was that I wrote GNU Fortran (g77).

RMS's main point at the time was that he believed he'd be able to get some existing portable kernel "freed" for use with GNU, so why throw sparse resources trying to create a free copy out of whole cloth?

Now, you can argue that he should have had me write the kernel instead, and, personally, I would have loved doing that, especially since I'd have been an actual end user of the product (compared to g77, which I don't use). I wouldn't have been nearly as successful at Torvalds when it came to project management though, as can be easily verified from studying g77's history. But my kernel wouldn't have been the ivory-tower-style Hurd, either, and I probably knew more about OS kernel design and implementation as of 1988 than did Linus as of 1991, if technical competency is an important issue. (Not so much a boast as a natural result of having been born so much earlier that I'd had about a two-decade head-start getting into kernel development.)

But, had I undertaken that task, what role might Linus and the others have played? Would they have written g77? I don't think so. They might have scratched some other itch, of course, but, in the end, I think the results are better the way they actually worked out than if I'd been the author of the GNU kernel.

As to your other claims: I agree with most of them, except you do seem to be unaware of the fact that, unlike with Apache, KDE, even BSD components, there is, today, no such thing as a GNU-free Linux kernel, given the kernel's (IMO overly-aggressive) dependency on GNU-specific extensions to the C language.

Linux developed, and remains, much more like a potted plant with GNU as its soil than like a mere partner that happens to use GNU.

Indeed, without that plant, few people would be interested in the "special" soil that is GNU. It's the plant that makes the whole thing worth having, to most people anyway. But GNU soil had been, and continues to be, widely and portably used without a shred of Linux code involved, whereas there is no Linux system without GNU.

(I use "Linux system" to mean a Linux kernel running an OS that provides the means to change the kernel code and recompile the kernel, since that's an important aspect of what makes Linux special. I assume the Linux kernel itself can boot up and run on a given CPU with no GNU code present, but it can't, or at least couldn't, be compiled in the first place without GNU C.)

And, in case anybody's wondering, if it's simply a "small matter of programming" (aka SMOP) to replace the GNU components with some other, thus "demonstrating" that GNU/Linux is really just Linux with a lot of other stuff including GNU, then, by all means, try it.

But, also for the record, there has been, to my knowledge, no shortage of technically competent people who have declared publically that they will write a replacement for GCC that isn't a) GPL-licensed (say, public domain instead) and b) considered a GNU project.

These "threats", as some might view them, go back to maybe 1992 or so -- well before the "GNU/Linux", or "lignux", debacle started by RMS -- yet, last I knew, nobody had actually converted their anger at RMS, the GPL, the GNU project, whatever, into actual code that provides a usable GNU-free Linux.

If and when somebody does write a useful replacement for GNU (for licensing and/or political reasons), that'll be all the more reason to distinguish their Linux variant from the current one, which I have already gotten into the habit of calling GNU/Linux partly in breathless anticipation of that long-awaited event!

;-)

• #### Not willing to admit defeat? (Score:2)

Just look at this letter [gnu.org] from RMS, here's a few choice quotes:

We heard about Linux after its release. At that time, the question facing us was, Should we cancel the Hurd project and use Linux instead?''

We heard that Linux was not at all portable (this may not be true today, but that's what we heard then). And we heard that Linux was architecturally on a par with the Unix kernel; our work was leading to something much more powerful.

Um, yeah. More powerful... hmm. And now that Linux has been ported to everything from Pocket PCs to the Dreamcast... What's the point?

But we did start the Hurd, back then, and now we have made it work. We hope its superior architecture will make free operating systems more powerful.

Well, here's to finally supporting 56k modems. You've only got a little further to go till you revolutionize the industry with your superior architecture *g*

• #### Re:Not willing to admit defeat? (Score:4, Informative)

on Thursday May 30, 2002 @03:57PM (#3612352) Homepage
You obviously don't know much about the architecture of the Hurd. Go read up on it (http://hurd.gnu.org/) and come back.

The architecture of the Hurd (not to be confused with the implementation) gives users a lot more freedom than any UNIX-based system. For example, UNIX will not let you mount a loopback encrypted filesystem unless you are root (or without bugging root to frob /etc/fstab, which he/she probably won't want to do), even if the encrypted file is owned by you, in your own directory and you want to mount it within your own home directory. This is something that the architecture prevents you from doing, so no UNIX implementation will ever let you do that (without a heavy dose of magic). Allowing stuff like that is one of the architectural features of the Hurd.

Porting, and supporting 56k modems are just implementation details, and have nothing to do with the architecture, which is what RMS is talking about.
• #### Re:Not willing to admit defeat? (Score:2)

The architecture of the Hurd (not to be confused with the implementation) gives users a lot more freedom than any UNIX-based system. For example, UNIX will not let you mount a loopback encrypted filesystem unless you are root (or without bugging root to frob /etc/fstab, which he/she probably won't want to do), even if the encrypted file is owned by you, in your own directory and you want to mount it within your own home directory. This is something that the architecture prevents you from doing, so no UNIX implementation will ever let you do that (without a heavy dose of magic). Allowing stuff like that is one of the architectural features of the Hurd.
>>>>>>>>
Praytell, exactly what architectural features (technical reason, please) does Hurd have that allow it to allow users to mount encrypted filesystems? It seems to me like its a policy decision in UNIX kernels, not a technical one.

Porting, and supporting 56k modems are just implementation details, and have nothing to do with the architecture, which is what RMS is talking about.
• #### Microkernel vs Monolithic (Score:2)

Here's a commentary [linuxjournal.com] recently run by Linux Journal on a comparison between monolithic kernels (e.g. Linux) and microkernels (e.g. Mach, Hurd).

Obviously it's biased towards monolithic, but it's an interesting read nontheless.
• #### Slashdot losers (Score:5, Insightful)

<komarek.paul@gmail.com> on Thursday May 30, 2002 @04:18PM (#3612610) Homepage
IF YOU AREN'T INTERESTED IN THE HURD, THEN SHUT UP.

Can slashdot posters quit talking out of their rear-ends for even one article?

A long-running project in the open source world just made an announcement. The /. editors decided to carry the story. The comments are filled with jokes about how stupid RMS and the HURD are. I dearly wish there was a "strip all comments labeled "Funny" button.

I'm very interested in how the HURD is progressing, and in TECHNICAL OPINIONS on the HURD. Where are the technical opinions among the comments? Damn few and far between. This is the sort of nonsense that makes slashdot look worse than USA Today (hell, slashdot doesn't even have color barcharts on the front page!).

At one time, I learned a lot about computers and socioeconomic factors surrounding computing by reading slashdot comments. Several years ago, comments included information from computer scientists, sysadmins, and knowledgable hobbyists. Eventually there was a problem where you couldn't find those comments in between the 50 copies of "First Post!". Moderation came, and I could usually find the good posts again.

The comments on this article, however, demonstrate just how stupid the slashdot population has become. My theory is that the huge popularity of slashdot in the US has attracted a readership which closely mirrors the average intelligence of the general US population -- you know, the same population that elected GW Bush for president (motto: "What we need is a clear policy in the Middle East"). The moderation system that once worked well is failing miserably because almost all moderators are as stupid as the posters.

As anyone can tell, I'm pretty pissed that a bunch of whiney losers in diapers, who couldn't spell "algorithm" if they had a copy of CLR on their desk, or explain why CISC was a natural choice for microprocessors in the 1960s, have drowned out any hope of interesting discussion on a technical topic. The comments attached to this article provide some sort of slashdot corrolary to the bikeshed axiom [freebsd.org]: Since a moron reading slashdot feels compelled to make authoritative posts on every article (to increase their karma?), they will post about the bikeshed color if they have nothing to say about the bikeshed. God help us when the discussion turns to nuclear power plants.

Beyond technical comments, why does everyone feel a need to deride RMS and the GNU project all the time? It seems natural to have some social discussion of RMS and the GNU project attached to any article about the HURD. I can understand why RMS is unpopular. I can understand why some people dislike RMS' campaign to use the name "GNU/Linux" when discussing operating systems which use the GNU foundation but replace the GNU kernel (I guess my feeling on this is clear). What I can't understand is why people put so damn much energy into making RMS a laughing stock.

At this point, it no longer matters what RMS does or says; the slashdot readership seems hell-bent on destroying RMS just because they heard that he was unpopular in some circles. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd suggest that Microsoft had a pool of RMS-trolls trying to change public opinion of RMS, GNU, and Free Software via slashdot comments.

I'd like to encourage everyone reading this to do the following:

1) Think for yourself
2) Listen careefully to what people say, in comments and otherwise
3) If you don't have anything useful to contribute, then keep your mouth closed.
4) Be careful with the "funny" moderation tag -- we all need humor, but there's more (or should be) to slashdot than (rightly or wrongly) smacking people down

1) discussions of microkernel history, strengths, and weaknesses,
2) which microkernels are still in use
3) how the Darwin kernel design differs from the HURD design
4) a reasonable, well-thought-out debate about whether the long term benefits of the HURD justify the current HURD effort in the Free Software community
5) how changes in hardware might affect the expected future value of the HURD, given the HURD's extremely slow development
6) alternatives to monolithic and microkernel designs in principle and practice (I'm not aware of any, but surely someone has something in-between, if not totally different)
7) whether the Free Software and Open Source communities should really be involved with basic software research, or lower its ambitions and simply copy existing, working software

Maybe this post can at least spawn an intelligent discussion of whether it violates the rules it proposes (it probably does, but I'm not going to fix it because I'm still seeing red).

-Paul Komarek

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