January/February 2018 issue of acmqueue

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Kode Vicious


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Originally published in Queue vol. 14, no. 1
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(newest first)

Pittsburgh Mike | Mon, 18 Apr 2016 12:57:09 UTC

I strongly disagree with the entire "Home Depot/House" analogy. Linux is useful precisely because it is a decent kernel extended with some good utilities and tools. Those utilities and tools are GNU's.

While the Linux is built with the GNU tools, it is also shipped with them (I know of no Linux distro that doesn't include the "rm" command, for example). These tools provide a great deal of Linux's functionality, far more than "just" a compiler and linker. For example, GNU provides virtually every user space command, some of the command shells, and some of the network protocol servers, as well as good compilers, a linker and a debugger.

Doing any work whatsoever on Linux requires those tools. You can live in a house without using a Craftsman circular saw, but you can't really develop anything useful on Linux without tools such as rm, ls, yacc, the command shell, compilers, linkers and debuggers.

Ironically, you write about condescendingly of "kernel envy" and then dismiss all of the operating system, no matter how sophisticated, that runs in user mode. Physician, heal thyself.

Bragging rights | Fri, 15 Apr 2016 06:27:51 UTC


Your jibe about bragging rights struck a chord with me. I have bragged to my son about this, but I feel it deserves a wider audience.

In 1986 I was writing embedded software for the Royal Navy, to run on our 8086 based hardware under a commercial RTOS, when my h/w opposite number came up with a very restricted platform using an 8088, with 32KB of eprom and 8KB of ram. There was no way we could fit the commercial offerings on this thing, so I wrote a task scheduler for it, in ASM86. Tasks were written as Pascal 86 procedures with a do forever loop, making calls on my "OS", dubbed Minos for Minimum OS. (I was reading Minoan history at the time.) It implemented message passing via ports, with primitives put (msg to port), get (msg from port), wait (for msg on port) with or without a timeout, and delay.

My brag is that the code segment of Minos occupied all of 485 bytes! As far as I know it was used in several applications after I moved on into avionics.

Bill Keen

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