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GNU is Not Unix

Stallman/Torvalds Story, definition of 'Hacker' 168

/dev/random writes "I found this quaint little story by David Warsh about GNU, Linux, Opensource, and "hacker"s in the Globe today. I suppose it can pay off to read the business section. "
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Stallman/Torvalds Story, definition of 'Hacker'

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The writer has a nice style, but is very
    confused regarding the events.

    > But first there would have to be tools. His first big achievement was EMACS, a compiler
    and text editor that rendered possible
    more ambitious programming. Other
    programs followed.

    The lisp thing not withstanding. I think he is
    confusing emacs and gcc. gcc should be mentioned.

    > decided to try an alternative
    approach - a ''monolithic kernel,''
    simpler, but far faster and already ...

    Far faster is overstating the case.

    > ... common denominators between them. Once he had a design
    for a certain task - for memory management, say - that would
    be on the most popular chips, he put it out to an extensive list
    of correspondent hackers to see how it could be improved. At
    first it was written to suit just one architecture: the Intel 386.


    > So Torvalds read up on the systems in use, in search of
    common denominators between them. Once he had a design
    for a certain task - for memory management, say - that would
    be on the most popular chips, he put it out to an extensive list
    of correspondent hackers to see how it could be improved. At
    first it was written to suit just one architecture: the Intel 386.

    > Gradually a kernel emerged that could control the most
    popular microprocessors - the 68K, the Sparc, the Alpha and
    the Power PC. Torvalds then combined his kernel with a good
    bit of the GNU programs Stallman and his friends had
    written, and presto! The operating system that has become
    known as Linux - similar in spirit to AT&T's Unix system
    but not based on it - was ready to be distributed and more or
    less continually improved.

    This is confusing. It makes it seem as if the
    kernel were designed piece by piece, and then
    assembled. Perhaps he is thinking of new designs being worked
    out before replacing older ones.
    The kernel was not developed for several
    architectures and then released along with
    GNU software. It was intimately bound with
    GNU software from the beginning (first bash and gcc). Furthermore
    complete distributions were available before
    any ports were even considered. And the ports
    were not gradual, of course, but were projects
    that had definite beginnings.
    The "linux is obsolete" thread, and
    retrospectives by Linus are much more accurate
    and informative than this piece. And some of
    Linus's statements are rather brief (not this
    brief, however)
    To be fair, this piece is fairly typical.

    John Lapeyre lapeyre@physics.arizona.edu
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There is so much to admire in Linus Torvalds that one hardly knows where to start. His handsome Nordic visage, his easy charm, his cheerful laughter. Those of us who have had the honor to know Linus and to work with him will forever be changed by the light and warmth of his blazing genius.

    This tribute in the Boston Globe does not even provide a shadow of how great Linus is, and what he has accomplished. Linus succeeded in a field of battle still littered with the decaying corpses of those who tried and failed. Where other groups were torn appart by bickering and acrimony, Linus sowed strength and peace. He unified an army of like-minded programmers with his cool headed omniscient wisdom. He paved the road where none had gone before, with a success unlikely to be duplicated by any other in our time. He is as a crusader of old, retaking the sacred places from the Saracen horde.

    The millenium is upon us, a millenium made less frightening and more hopeful thanks to this mighty self-effacing Scandinavian. This December, in the waning seconds of the old millenium, the genius of Linus Torvalds will be in the hearts and minds of millions upon millions of celebrators welcoming in a new dawn. He has given future generations a taste of what love and cooperation on a grand scale can achieve. He has given us more than the most successful operating system of all time. Linus Torvalds has given us a blueprint for a nobler society itself.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Oh for Pete's sake, stop wallowing in this BS. And learn to spell it the thousand-years way, not the thousand-assholes ways.
  • As a matter of fact, emacs does have two tiny clones of vi... :-)

    ---

  • Back when I read alt.hackers on a regular basis (early 90s) the general consensus seemed to be that it involved not necessarily programming, but pretty much any clever solution to a given problem. Sometimes it might involve rewiring power tools, sometimes writing/changing code, maybe even just pounding pieces of wood together...

    Well, I'm shure tons of people here have heard the term "hardware hacker" (hey, there even was a column in Popular Electronics I think called like that), so there is certainly a big prcedence for a type of hacking that involves things other than software.

    ---

  • That was also one of the things that drove to Python. The languages I've learned, each with an increasing degree of satisfaction, are in this order: BASIC (ugh), Java (I don't like bloated VMs), C (too barebones, no GC), Scheme (very nice and elegant, not enough libraries for it), and Python (very nice, tons of third party libraries to help you).

    So I'd say that my languages of choice would be the last two (or another LISP, maybe Common), depending on the app. Personally, I'd go with Python first, but a nice module system and tons of libraries in Scheme would level the field for me..

    ---

  • Not that too many people really care, I think... I know that when I want the vi command set, I type 'vi' at the prompt; and when I want the emacs command set... you get the idea.

    ---

  • He is happy people don't bother him anymore to add new features to Miniz he doesn't want to. To quote from Operating Systems: Design and Implementation, Second Edition (1997), pp. 14-15:
    Shortly after MINIX was released, a USENET newsgroup was formed to discuss it. Within weeks, it had 40,000 subscribers, most of whom wanted to add vast numbers of new features to MINIX to make it bigger and better (well, at least bigger). Every day, several hundred of the offered suggestions, ideas, and snippets of code. The author of MINIX successfully resisted this onslaught for several years, in order to keep MINIX small enough for students to understand. Ever so gradually, it began to became clear that he really meant it. At that point, a Finnish student, Linus Torvalds decided to write a MINIX clone intended to be a feature-heavy production system, rather than an educational tool.

    I think the "MINIX clone" part is a bit pretentious, though.

    ---

  • Actually, machine code is an interpreted language too. The hardware does the interpretation part...

    Really, a compiler is a device that associates a source program (in some language) to a semantically equivalent target program in another language (semantically equivalent == the two programs are "mean" the same thing, perform the same actions).

    An interpreter is a device that directly associates a program in some language to its "meaning", that is, actually performs the actions that the program "means".

    For example, Python is (has?) both a compiler and an interpreter. Source code written in the python language is compiled into semantically equivalent byte-code. Byte-code is interpreted.

    ---

  • I'm not shure if we can have a definition of what is a compiler that does no include some degree of arbitrariness.

    For example, is TeX a compiler? I personally think not; however, it is built very nearly like a compiler is. Lexical analysis, syntactic analysis, semantical analysis, and then synthesis and code generation (I don't know if some analogue to optimization is present; I think not).

    The difference is in the "meaning" of the sources processed by TeX; they specify boxes in a page, rather than actions. But technically speaking, it is not different from a compiler.

    ---

  • Well, I _do_ envy Perl's thosands of library modules. The language just hasn't felt right to me. I know it's a very useful language, but the syntax just seems insane, and I'm quite happy with Python anyway.

    Though I still plan to look harder at Perl; maybe next year.

    ---

  • Don't worry, I certainly know C is useful. How much of my system software is written in it? :-)

    I think I dind't make the implicit explicit on my original post. There is a certain range of programming tasks that fall under my interests. I am not a programmer or computer scientist, after all; I am a computer-savvy linguistics student. If I'm gonna write a program myself, and it's not performance-critical, Python is an optimal tool. If it is performance critical, well, though I did learn C, I was never too good at it; but I can try finding good C programmers to help out, and I can understand their code, so the end result is not a black art to me :-)

    ---

  • I keep coming up with this thing about the (supposedly silly) French Language Academy and their silly measures to stop loanwords from coming into French.

    Any frenchmen out there can tell me how much of it is true and how much U.S. urban legend?

    From my experience with the Spanish Language Academy, if the French one were to be similar, I would conclude that the stories are mainly legend (or at the very least exagerations, or citing a few kooks or reactionaries as an example). However, I know very little about the French Academy.

    ---

  • See, indenting lisp is even easier. You put parens around the blocks and then hit TAB and it indents for you. If it indents in a way you weren't expecting, add and remove brackets until it does.

    Yeah, I've used lisp too (scheme), so I've tried it. It's good, but somewhat messier than just using the indentation, IMHO. For example, when you are deleting/replacing code, it's not easiy to see right away which parenthesis goes with which one when you have a string of them. Though I would just delete the whole bunch of them and reenter them, trusting emacs match-paren feature.

    ---

  • There are two communities who apply the same word to themselves. The American leftists call themselves liberals and so do the European libertarians. Big deal.

    I think you hit the point far more precisely than you seem to show. The fight over the meaning of the word 'hacker' is not semantical, but political. It is not about what words actually mean (as ascertained by looking at the use of words in communities), but about what words whould mean.

    Personally, I support not calling computer criminals 'hackers', no matter how much some people reply (correctly, but not satisfactory, IMHO) that it is usage that determines meaning, and that in general usage 'hacker' by now means 'computer criminal'. So what. There is a certain outlook on life, a certain world view, in general, a certain set of values that hackers attach to the word 'hacker', that I don't want to be silenced by a mass of script kiddies who have taken over the word, with the aid of a sensationalist and ignorant press.

    I won't lose sleep over this, anyway.

    ---

  • I've heard good things about Python, but I just can't get past the fact that horizontal whitespace is syntactically significant. That's just insane.

    It isn't. When I first heard of such a feature, it was in another language, and I though the exact same thing about it. But when I tried it with Python, it felt just right. Actually, it felt better than having to match braces or forgetting semicolons. What I experienced, simply, was having one less thing to worry about. You just indent your code uniformly (which is good practice, anyway). If you need an expression to span more than one line, you just put it in parenthesis. Python figures out what goes with what.

    ---

  • The original Emacs WAS written by RMS, as a set of macros for the TECO editor.

    Something of an oversimplification, as the original EMACS didn't run in stock TECO -- it required a special version of TECO that had the ability to address the full screen. Also, Guy Steele reportedly had a lot to do with that first version.

    Gosling came laong after and didn't have a true LISP, only "mock" lisp.

    What does "true lisp" mean? Mocklisp was definitely a lisp dialect, albeit an even crummier one than elisp.

    Gosling's contribution was the first version of Emacs that ran on Unix. It was also, I believe, the first version that was extended by a language other than the one in which it was written (C, Mocklisp.)

    The first Emacs that was extensible using Lisp was Multics Emacs, by Bernie Greenberg.

    I wrote up an Emacs timeline a while back, that I posted to comp.emacs. You can find it in DejaNews at http://www.deja.com/%3Ddnc/%5BST_rn%3Dps%5D/msgid. xp?MID=%3C36E42FA1.46F8E7B8@mozilla.org% 3E . (I don't know why Slashdot is changing that HREF to point to a different place -- anyway, if the URL above doesn't work (looks like it wrapped too, arrrgh!), search for ``emacs timeline.'')

  • I've heard good things about Python, but I just can't get past the fact that horizontal whitespace is syntactically significant. That's just insane.

    I just wish Sun hadn't screwed the pooch with Java. It's a good language; if only they hadn't saddled it with so much other baggage (political and technical.)

  • Lisp is among the worst languages ever invented for medium or large programs, due to the inability of humans to read and write it easily.

    On what do you base this insane statement? What is your basis for comparison? C?

    Lisp is the single easiest language to learn, teach, or write. And this is in large part the reason for its bad reputation -- since it's easy to write, it's easy for people who have no clue to come up with something that barely works. (Whereas someone of a comparatively low skill level, faced with accomplishing the same task in C, probably won't ever get it to compile -- so you don't get to even see how crummy their C code is.)

    Java is interesting in that it slips under the radar of the anti-Lisp bigots by being, essentially, a Lisp dialect with C's abhorrent syntax and bondage-and-discipline approach to data typing grafted on. An interesting hack -- giving up ease-of-use in order to get the rest of what Lisp brings to the party to be more widely accepted.

  • (I've never seen /. eat an HREF before. Wierd. The link (obviously) doesn't work, and Deja can't the post. The Gods of computing seem to be cranky today.)

    Well it seems to be (mostly) fixed now. There is still a length limit, but it's higher. For the record, that Emacs timeline I mentioned is "> here .

  • I wouldn't count the lisp psuedocompiler as a "real" compiler, either.

    Then you have some funny definition of the word "compiler" that the rest of the world doesn't share. You seem to think that compilers targetted at virtual machines are not "real" compilers, but that compiler targetted at hardware machines are.

    Ok, so I've got gcc, and it's emitting x86 code. Now I execute that code in an x86 emulator. Is gcc suddenly not a "real" compiler?

    Now turn it around: I've got a compiler targetted at a virtual machine (the Emacs byte-code engine, the Java VM, whatever.) You say it's not a "real" compiler. Now someone builds a chip that executes that instruction set directly. Now suddenly, magically, it's a "real" compiler again?

    Shades of Schrodinger's Cat! You can't know whether it is or isn't a compiler until you open the box?

  • | I haven't seen a program in elisp that wasn't just meant for extending emacs.

    Given that elisp only runs inside emacs, that's trivially true. I haven't seen a program using xlib that wasn't `just meant' for extending the X Window System

    In the _interesting_ sense, though, how do you claim that a mail reader, a news reader or a web browser are extensions of a text editor?

    I won't address your other comments about Lisp, as they're either flamebait or chronically ill-informed. If anyone else is more interested in learning things than pissing on them (someone mentioned 'hackers'?) could do worse than start at the ALU [elwoodcorp.com] web pages

    -dan

  • Well, almost anything is Turing complete (including, I believe, sendmail rewrite rules), so that's not a terrifically interesting basis to compare things on.

    More interesting? Object-orientated, functional, imperative, reflective, introspective, non-deterministic - all these styles of programming and more are supported, and many were pioneered using Lisp as a prototyping vehicle. Incremental compilation, interactive debugging, native code, the first ANSI standard OO language ...

    And it's not that slow either. I'll race my CMUCL against your Java any day. In fact, I'll race my CMUCL against your C and expect to see same order of magnitude times for the same problem.

    Nor is it especially bloated by today's standards:


    26214 dan 5 5 24976 23M 12236 S N 0 0.0 25.0 1:21 lisp
    18935 dan 15 5 54096 18M 3944 S N 0 2.3 19.8 14:16 navigator-sm
    219 root 8 0 13992 12M 1116 R 0 2.5 13.7 33:34 XF86_SVGA
    26107 dan 5 5 10608 9M 2124 S N 0 0.0 10.6 7:47 emacs


    One of those top two is a fully-programmable web server (comparable to apache/mod_perl except for the native code aspect) and the other is a glorified help browser with a sockets interface

    I'll stop ranting now.

    -dan

  • Actually, it felt better than having to match braces or forgetting semicolons. What I experienced, simply, was having one less thing to worry about. You just indent your code uniformly (which is good practice, anyway).

    See, indenting lisp is even easier. You put parens around the blocks and then hit TAB and it indents for you. If it indents in a way you weren't expecting, add and remove brackets until it does.

    Wrapping a section of code in a conditional becomes a complete no-brainer

  • No, you are trivializing here; we can all agree that compiling takes some source code and translates it into another form and that this kind of translating process will eventually lead to code that can be executed. Things like word processors and spreadsheets, including bloated and flaky ones like Word and Excel, do not qualify.
  • by Freed ( 2178 ) on Sunday July 25, 1999 @11:23AM (#1785380)

    There must be only a few people on /. who appreciate true hackers. To take an example from the Levy classic Hackers (p. 426):

    ...A virtual John Henry of computer code, RMS had singlehandedly attempted to match the work of over a dozen world-class hackers, and managed to keep doing it during most of 1982 and almost all of 1983. "In a fairly real sense," Greenblatt noted at the time, "he's been outhacking the whole bunch of them."

    For the clewbies out there, Greenblatt is also one of the greatest hackers of all time.

    One of the other great hackers, Gosper, noted at that time:

    "But wait a minute--Stallman doesn't have anybody to argue with all night over there. He's working alone! It's incredible anyone could do this alone!"

    Yes, I am appealing to authority here, and if you cannot appreciate the likes of Greenblatt and Gosper (you can read about them in Part One and the Epilogue of Hackers), then you you certainly cannot appreciate any hacker, including Linus.

    Finally, this ignorant bashing of LISP is so typical of clueless folk. To take a seldom-mentioned example of its performance feats, the STALIN scheme (variant of LISP) compiler has outperformed even FORTRAN on some numerical tasks.

  • With all do respect, you are dumb.

    Lisp is every bit the real programming language. It is Turing Complete, and extremely powerful. Much software has been written in it. The flip side is that Lisp code tends not to be very fast at all, nor is it applicable to a lot of problems, thus it is less used than C.

    That, however, does not make it "not a real programming language".

    Furthermore, let it be pointed out that Lisp predates things like C by a number of years, and along with Fortran (and perhaps Cobol, though after Jan. 1 it won't be on the list) is really the only language from that era that I can think of still in use.

    Lisp laid a lot of the foundation for the paradigm of functional programming.
  • javac stands for java-compiler. Have you ever tried to write a compiler Mr. Coward. It doesn't much matter if you output bytecode or machine code, unless optimization is what you're talking about.
  • I'd tend to disagree with the statement about Java. Java's more of a derivitive of Smalltalk, IMHO with the horrors of C syntax slaped on. As for the the person who thought Perl was Lisp derived, I'd tend to disagree with that too, since I find perl to be an extremely disorganized and poorly laid out, although useful, language.

    I would agree, however, that lisp is one of the nicest languages around, sytactically and otherwise. I'm more partial to scheme out of lisp's children languages than elisp, but that's neither here nor there.

    As for lisp being easy to learn, teach, and write, as someone who learned to program first in scheme, I'd agree that it works very well for getting people to think the right way about approaching programming. As for people of low skill writing ugly code in lisp, I used to grade that same course the semester before the course went from scheme to java, and the semester after. Let's just say, it got a lot more painful to read that code.
  • Languages aren't compiled or interpretted. Implementations do compilation or interpretation. Some perl implementations so it one way some other. All the Perl 5 implementations I've seen do runtime compilation, IIRC most of the Perl 4 ones I saw didn't. Could be wrong though, since I don't like perl particularly much. I know tcl/tk changed its implementation recently from interpretation to runtime compilation (not that I like tcl either).
  • Yes, as you may recall, Newton and company called themselves "Natural Philosophers" for lack of any other term.

    And even today the word "scientist" hasn't been totally defined -- some people limit it to people in the big three natural sciences (physics, chemistry, and biology) and others define it more broadly to include basically any field in which the goal is to publish papers in overpriced journals.
  • Back when I read alt.hackers on a regular basis (early 90s) the general consensus seemed to be that it involved not necessarily programming, but pretty much any clever solution to a given problem. Sometimes it might involve rewiring power tools, sometimes writing/changing code, maybe even just pounding pieces of wood together..

    wow, you just described Richard Feynman there...

  • Actually, Perl is compiled.

    Every time you run it, anyways.
  • Actually I'd take out the "solutions to a given problem" and just define hacker as "anything clever." Aren't the stunts at MIT and CalTech called "hacks?" They certainly weren't solutions to any problems. And the more clever it was, the greater the hack. Just my $0.02.

    FRB
  • Columbia Concise Encyclopedia entry:

    Scandinavia

    region of N Europe, consisting of NORWAY and SWEDEN (on the Scandinavian Peninsula), DENMARK, and usually also including FINLAND, ICELAND, and the FAEROE ISLANDS. Its people share similar histories and cultures, and most, except for the Finns and Lapps (see LAPLAND), speak closely related Germanic languages.

    I don't know where you learned *your* geography, Coward, but keep your mouth shut if you don't know what you're talking about...

  • Warsh is savvy. I really like the guy's take on things, especially Monicagate and comparing the assertions that polticians make about the economy to what has actually happended in the past.
  • Lisp gets no respect from the clueless.

    Unfortunately, that cruel truth made it hard to sell even during the AI-mania of the 80s. I worked for one of the MIT-spinoff Lisp Machine companies (LMI, the other was Symbolics), and while commercial AI was overhyped, I beleived (and still do) that Lisp is a great purpose for building and maintain all kinds of complex systems, "intelligent" or otherwise.

    And, by the way, I actually worked a bit with Stallman in those days. First, at MIT, trying to bring some sense to the MIT (non-Symbolics) branch of the system software would do network file access (it was fine for its "native" network system but was awkward for adding the new TCP-based access methods that were coming out), and at LMI, doing TeX and other document-processor hacking (a long story). Some of the latter work might still survive as texinfo -- are the TeX macros still there or is everydone done in elisp now ?

    Anyway, the joke at LMI had to do with the way our workstation competitors at Sun, Apollo, and so on would refer to Lisp processor as "special" purposes machines. Poppycock ! Their CPUs and memory systems were only good for modular arithmetic and chasing pointers, while Lisp processors could dispatch on byte fields (useful for dynamic type checking), support generational garbage collection, and in general support all kinds of data structures easily, not to mention numbers that behaved like mathematical entities instead of PDP-11 registers.

    So there !

  • Well, you can compile e-lisp code (EMACS's dialect of lisp) into a sort-of e-lisp bytecode. Check your site-lisp directory; it probably has a mixture of .el and .elc files - the .elc ones are precompiled.

  • Wow!
    Did it really take them that long to #define the word "scientist"?
    Perhaps we still have a realistic chance to get "hacker" into the mainstream, in thirty years to come...


    --
    "The use of COBOL cripples the mind.
    Its teaching, therefore, should be

  • Anyone ever read Schrodinger's Plague? Short story by Greg Bear?

    JG
  • Am I the only one who caught the bit about portability? Didn't Linus himself say that it probably couldn't be ported to other archetectures due to it's inherent dependence on i386 archetecture?

    Yes, we know we overcame that a long time ago, but it wasn't in the original design.

  • I think the author needs some remedial metric training. Gates is the first centi-billionaire? Hmmm, 1/100 of a billion is 10 million. I'm sure one or two others came before him.

    Most amusing.

    --

  • Hee hee! For those of you lucky enough to have the Globe's dead-tree edition handy, check out the article. There is a HILARIOUS caricature of Stallman on the front page. I especially like the bird sitting on his head }:-D
  • Ditto almost any other licensing scheme.

  • *almost*. Considering the amount of licensing schemes out there, my statement is still correct. In some cases, the BSD with advertisement clause demands this. The licenses that don't require rewritting, often have their own disadvantages.

    The GPL isn't viral if it's used inhouse.

  • With the GPL, their code used in the GPL product can also be used in proprietary products, provided the GPL'd code isn't, or a waiver is made.

  • Excel and word are compilers. They "compile" data into different formats.

  • Considering that the current internationally used calendaring system is man-made, you're right. I just hope to be around for the beginning of the 3rd millenium in the muslim calendar.

  • I know! That's why I'm hoping to see it.

  • I like the advertising clause, It would just be easier if it allowed a text file recognition.

  • Well, lets not forget that emacs can be used to call gcc, but thats hardly saying that compiler is built-in.

    I wouldn't count the lisp psuedocompiler as a "real" compiler, either. That would be like saying that MS Excel or Word are "compilers." (Think VBA)

  • LOL! Don't forget the built-in Web browser, e-mail client, oh...wait...those ARE in there... :-)
  • Oh absolutely. Even in computer technology, there are people who are referred to as "hardware hackers." In fact, I had a buddy of mine modify an old video board (before they were multisync-capable), to use an even older monitor. We considered the board "hacked."

    Even my dad, who is totally clueless about technology, pronounced the modification another friend of mine and I made to my car a "hack." (We diked-out a sensor that controlled the fan and replaced it with a toggle switch as the sensor was like $300 and the car wasn't really worth it...)

  • No, non-monolithic kernels are not far faster. But on average, they do perform at least a little faster than their microkernel counterparts because they are one big program, as opposed to a bunch of independent components talking together through tightly-controlled communications.

    The article is right in its main advantage, though and that is monolithic kernels are easier to implement than microkernel systems.

  • And Vice Versa:
    swear AT them as well
  • Lisp is among the worst languages ever invented for medium or large programs, due to the inability of humans to read and write it easily.
    On what do you base this insane statement? What is your basis for comparison? C?

    Since this is Slashdot, I would assume that he's talking about Perl, which of course is famous for its straightforward syntax and elegant readability.

  • Did emacs once contain a compiler? I know it's big, but THAT big? :-)
  • Indeed. This link's definately going into the "Give to everyone who want's to /do/ linux" section of my bookmarks.
  • Yeah, and elisp gave us the chance to do all that wonderfull software? :-)

    I haven't seen a program in elisp that wasn't just meant for extending emacs.

    Lisp basicly sucks, elist doubly so, except for customizing emacs.

    (Don't get me wrong I love emacs, but I don't think elisp is a /real/ programming language (Heck, I don't think LISP is a /real/ programming language :-) ))
  • I never denied that there was lots of standalone software in lisp. I said there was no standalone software (AFAIK) in e-lisp.
  • >Given that elisp only runs inside emacs, that's trivially true. I haven't seen a program using xlib that wasn't `just
    >meant' for extending the X Window System

    True... But If you recall, this discussion started with the article claiming that emacs contained a compiler with which a lot of software was written.....

    >In the _interesting_ sense, though, how do you claim that a mail reader, a news reader or a web browser are
    >extensions of a text editor?

    I can just imagine it now... What OS do you run? Me? Emacs...

    >I won't address your other comments about Lisp, as they're either flamebait or chronically ill-informed. If
    >anyone else is more interested in learning things than pissing on them (someone mentioned 'hackers'?) could do
    >worse than start at the ALU web pages
    I'll admit, I have very little experience with lisp, and definately not enough to properly compare it to other programming languages. This was not meant as a serious criticism of lisp. Note the lack of arguments and the smiley.

    Nonetheless, I'd like to apologize to all the lisp fans out there who took it so seriously....
  • I know that Emacs is a very powerful piece of software, a Lisp interpreter in a text editor disguise, but a compiler, it ain't :p
  • For instance, before a road trip 5 years ago, my friends muffler was draggin on the street. So we got a thick piece of wire, and looped around the muffler to an anchor point under the frame, and were able to stabilize the muffler up. It worked great, though it wasn't necessarily clever.

    Technically speaking, that's a Kludge, not a Hack. A kludge is a fix that does the job effectively, but not necessarily elegantly. The terms are often (incorrectly) used interchangeably. Had it been a true hack, the manufacturer would have given you both engineering jobs upon your return. : )
  • Okay, I'll bite: Where is the compiler in EMACS that is refered to in the article? How does one use it? Does it really have a compiler, or can you simply call GCC os EGCS from EMACS after hacking on your code? Could someone clear this up please?
    "I have no respect for a man who can only spell a word one way." - Mark Twain
  • Take out all the glitter in the language and you've really said something right on about Linus. He, and RMS too, really have done something exceptional whether or not people agree with their politics, coding or choice of projects. They have made an impact. Beat that you critics.
  • oh, GOD, please! shut this idiot boy up!
  • Ah, yes...c/c++ are rather bare, and c standard libraries are marginal (c++ are much better), but the close(r) mapping of language to hardware is quite handy for a large segment of power software applications. It's a language with 'incredible cosmic powers... and an itty-bitty living space.'

    Lots of languages, lots of uses...don't knock it until you've learned it, and learned to hate it.
  • Emacs includes a LISP compiler which compiles LISP into some byte code to execute it faster. Have a look at those .el and .elc files on your system.
    --
    Weasel
    --
  • Yes, but what if you want to multithread in a parallelizing system?

    In that case, monolithic won't really cut it...
  • The author got a few details wrong (e.g. Linux wasn't initially portable, GNU Emacs doesn't have a compiler), but the general thrust of the article was spot-on.
    -russ
  • It is written in the holy books that Linus himself (all praise Linus) said that the memory management system was written around LDT/GDT and was not particularly portable.

    If the author meant that emacs has an elisp "compiler", then I can claim that Freemacs has a MINT "compiler".
    -russ
    p.s. it doesn't, and it doesn't (you get to figure out which it means what).
  • The centi thing if the fault of the French. I just checked OED, and "centi-" means one-*hundreth*, but apparently only when it is attached to a metric measurement or alone; English uses it as one-hundred. Interestingly, the root of 'centi-' means hundred also--apparently whoever made up the metric prefixes took some liberties with the language.
  • I believe that RMS wrote the first set of functions, but it was Steele who gathered them together into a single package. (Hmm, doesn't make much sense, but that's what I've read...)

    (I've never seen /. eat an HREF before. Wierd. The link (obviously) doesn't work, and Deja can't the post. The Gods of computing seem to be cranky today.)
  • I'm pretty sure that origionally 'hacker' and 'hack' related solely to programming, but as with many words it got spread about and applied to all sorts of things both computer related and otherwise.

    Personally I've always thought of the nouns 'hack' and 'hacker' not necessarily being related.. a 'hack' is, to me anyway, anything done to take care a problem that isnt the accepted solution. In programming this usually tends to be a kludge that works for now and will eventually need to be fixed.. but i've also seen cases that would defenitly qualify as a hack that were Better than the accepted solution. In other things it varies as well.. as another poster mentioned, tying the muffler back onto your car is a hack in the 'kuldge that works for now' sense.. but then were you to throw together something that replaced the muffler and did as good or better a job, i'd probably call it a righteous hack.
    The word 'hacker' however, i view as not being applicable to any specific type of person. One may be a programmer.. most likely they'll know a programming language or two no matter what, but it may not necessarily be their main occupation. A 'hacker' to me is anybody with a thirst for knowedge above and beyond that which is considered normal. Computers tend to draw them because there's so Much knoweldge to be had.. that's why I said they would likely know a language, because they couldnt resist knowing how the thing works. Anyone who calls themself a hacker shouldnt Just know computers though.. i've never found a person that's generally known as a hacker (in the good sense) who didnt know a reasonable amount of philosophy, theology, literature, and a smattering of all the sciences. A hack isnt necessarily clever or simple.. but a hacker is defenitly clever, quick-thinking, and has a desperate thirst for knowledge.

    So my idea of the conclusive defenition?
    Hacker: ha-kur n. One who desires to know the inner workings of everything he surveys and has the ability to apply that knowledge.

    Dreamweaver
  • When I was 12 years old, I got a 16K RAM extension to my Zx81. However, it turned off the 1KRAM that was already present. So I cut the PCB and rewired it including adding some off-PCB chips to put the 1K RAM at 8192-8192+1K which was unused. I put the fast-tape-loader in there because the "OS" didn't reset that part of RAM when restarted (through my own added reset-button). Does that qualify me for the term "hacker" :)

    Hey, cmdr taco & friends, can we start a ZX81 and ZX spectrum hardware hackz thread ;)

  • As for myself, I rather like the inclusive definition of doing something clever.

    I agree. I couldn't sit here and say I'm a hacker, that's for sure, but I'd like to think that hacking extends far beyond the world of programming. There are billions of things in this world that can be hacked, taken over, changed, and dominate, only for the same thing to be done the next moment.
  • Heck, I think there must be a 3D rendering engine and a few early versions of the HURD in there too! And, deep in its inner core, there is a tiny clone of vi that does the text editing. ;-)
  • I know not of one OS that fits your discription for you to have been able to draw this conclusion from the usage of.

    If you are just randomly pulling this conclusion out of your @ then please don't be bothering us with your baseless opinions

  • That article hit the Linux scene pretty dead on, or at least it seemed to... Hats off to that author!


    Canar
  • Actually, "hacker" comes from "to hack," as in hacking wood with an axe. Can't you see lumberjacks sitting around discussing "good hacks"? The rich ones would surely be the elite hackers!
  • So what is a hacker, after all? Eric Raymond offers this definition in the third edition of his New Hacker's Dictionary: ''A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary.''

    If this is actually true, then even I could qualify for the title to a small extent...I think a lot of us could. ;-)
  • by keefer ( 60778 ) on Sunday July 25, 1999 @08:18AM (#1785439) Homepage
    Back when I read alt.hackers on a regular basis (early 90s) the general consensus seemed to be that it involved not necessarily programming, but pretty much any clever solution to a given problem. Sometimes it might involve rewiring power tools, sometimes writing/changing code, maybe even just pounding pieces of wood together...

    So basically, are we changing the definition of "hacker" again? Or was it always meant to just relate to programming? One thing is for sure, the denizens of alt.hackers certainly agreed that any negative connotation it had was the fault of the press, and wasn't what they were about.

    As for myself, I rather like the inclusive definition of doing something clever.
  • Ahem... The "waning seconds of the old millennium" are next December - the new millennium begins in 2001.
    Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.
  • I'm guess I'm one of those silly practical people that say that the common use of the word is the meaning of the word. I mean you can yell all you want that barbecue is a verb and grill is a noun but I'm still gonna say, 'You guys want to grill up some hot dogs at my barbeque on sunday?'

    As a aside, one of the silliest things about the French is how they have committee to stop words like CD from infecting the purity of the language. How far away from that is this overly pendatic assertion that 'hacker' must never mean 'cracker'?
  • I go back to the 70s, the AI hype and all that.

    My use of the term 'hacker' during the 80s was someone who codes fast to get something done quickly without necessarily doing a good job of design or thinking through all consequences of the hack.

    Real programmers don't hack -- they design, then they implement. :-)

    However, that being said, hacking is fun and sometimes necessary. But most programs have far more hacks in them than they should.

    Oh, by the way, the recent pejorative use of the term 'hacker' to describe people who hack into systems via devious means is a perfectly normal evoluation of lanaguage. Most words in English have several meanings, some of which end up having little to do with one another. The is no single meaning for the verb 'to hack' or the noun 'hacker', rather there are two or three current usages.

    Cheers,
    Dennis
    http://oceanpark.com [oceanpark.com]

  • Good luck. Its not even 1500 in the Muslim calender. And our years are only 11 days shorter than in the Gregorian.


    ..................................@ @
  • I agree. Its a shame it was moderated down.
    ..................................@ @
  • Wrong.

    If it compiles the source at runtime (Python also does this), then it's a compiler. An interpreter 'interprets' every line of code while the program is running. Run-time compilation gives you the flexibility of code you can change 'on the fly' during debugging, but the speed of a compiled language (granted, not optimized the way a modern C compiler is.)
  • Wow, they actually got the definition of hacker right.

"There are some good people in it, but the orchestra as a whole is equivalent to a gang bent on destruction." -- John Cage, composer

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