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Re: Improving Hurd

From: Alfred M. Szmidt
Subject: Re: Improving Hurd
Date: 20 Apr 2002 20:27:48 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.2.50

* Jan Atle Ramsli writes:
> Ognyan Kulev wrote:
>> Marcin Wyszomierski wrote:
>> > On Sat, Apr 20, 2002 at 01:48:10PM +0200, Jan Atle Ramsli wrote:
>> >> The Hurd v1.0 BETA (C) 1989-2009 > The Hurd v1.0 unstable (C)
>> 1989-2005 > The Hurd v1.9 testing (C) 1989-2021 > The Hurd v2.0
>> stable (C) 1989-2053
>> I wonder why so many people talk that Hurd will not be able to do
>> anything sensible soon instead of improving it.

> I think you may find that this will improve with the change from
> Mach to L4.  But imagine if the first year had been used to analyze
> and specify it.

Why? The Hurd is not Mach, or L4, it is just a bunch of translators and is
quite independent of Mach. Yes, we do use drivers and such from it, but I
don't see why it would change anything if we change to L4.  Sure, we might
get some speed, but until I see some numbers that the Hurd runs faster
on L4 I won't believe it. :)

> I don't think anyone really doubts that the Hurd sooner (?) or later
> (??) will produce superior functionality.  It is just such a shame
> to see so many be put off by the lack of justification behind design
> decisions.

The Hurd is already superior. I haven't seen any questions lately about
why something was designed the way it was lately..


> I spoke to Neal about it, and he is one of the few who is really
> knowledgeable about the Hurd.  He told me I would not be able to do
> it: 'It is non-trivial'.

And Neal is correct that it is a non-trivial thing, I believe that Roland
or Thomas are working on this right now.  If this had been a trivial fix
it would have been fixed a long time ago.

> So, after 10 years, the system is still being built.  If it was a
> car, it would start to rust at the back where the tailfins are while
> you were replacing the V8 with a more powerful and economic V6.  If
> it were a house, it would be in need of repair in the areas that
> didn't have a roof yet.

> If today it was decided to throw away every line of code, delete it
> all and use the gained experience to specify a new Hurd, write down
> everything, and when finished, spend 6 months building a
> specification documents, oulining the system as a whole, what
> modules it consisted of, what the pupose of each module was to be,
> and specify each modules' functionality as an ADT, the Hurd would
> probably be in beta one year after the ducument was published.  The
> next year if would probably push Linux back, then Solaris, and who
> knows, we might all conquer the Kingdom of Redmond, dethrone the
> Evil reign and see the dawn of a new Era.

Why should we throw away every line of code because _one_ translator doesn't
work according to silly 1GB limit?  All other parts of the Hurd are quite
robust, and documented, if you read the code.  I don't think that Thomas
just designed the Hurd without thinking and spending some time designing it
(unless he has some super natural powers of course).  Yes, a nice manual
with all functions and libraries documented would be nice, but we don't have
that right now, and the only place to point to is the source code.  Would
you like to work on this?

Right now all I see is people trying to figure out what slogan they would
like on a t-shirt, which is quite irrelevant to the Hurd other than for
promotion. Instead of volunteering to work, and doing this work!

Personally, I couldn't care if we dethrone "the Evil reign", push Linux and
Solaris back or whatever.  The goal is and was to bring the missing piece
to the GNU project.  And I think that we have done a great job.

I hope that I didn't sound to flame-ish. =)

Alfred M. Szmidt

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