[clug] Systems Software Research Irrelevant

Martijn van Oosterhout kleptog at svana.org
Thu Jun 17 12:41:58 GMT 2004

Hmm, I think the guy has an axe to grind.

He seems to be annoyed that the basic systems have been standardised
(ie POSIX) and thus constrains ideas. I think whats changed is that
there is far more invested in IT and you can't go around rearranging
the world every few years.

But to dismiss Linux as a mere reimplementation of Unix is weak. Look
at all the VM systems being tried, scheduler stuff, etc. TCP stack
tweaks for high-performance or high-latency links. To say there is no
research is just not true, it's just not done in areas that have been
sorted out years ago. The everything-is-a-file metaphore is
extraordinarily powerful. I'm sure some of the stuff going into gcc
optimisation and NUMA architectures is genuinely new.

Besides, I think portability for the operating system makes it *easier*
for competing architechtures, not harder, since you don't have so many
things to change. It's easier to port a Linux/i386 program to Linux on
a Mac than it is to port it to Windows.

In any case, I imagine his point about not being able to get truly
radical ideas funded is true. But if it's really useful, maybe some PhD
student procrastinating will make a go of it :)

Anyway, I'm stopping now :)

On Thu, Jun 17, 2004 at 05:41:12PM +1000, Stephen Jenkin wrote:
> http://cm.bell-labs.com/who/rob/utah2000.pdf
> Have many of you seen this piece?
> Do you think any/all/some of it is still valid??
> Is it just sour grapes from someone who's pet project (Plan 9) didn't do
> as well as they wanted.
> For more on Rob Pike: http://cm.bell-labs.com/who/rob
> cheers
> sj
> Steve Jenkin, Unix Sys Admin
> 0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
> PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

Martijn van Oosterhout   <kleptog at svana.org>   http://svana.org/kleptog/
> Patent. n. Genius is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. A patent is a
> tool for doing 5% of the work and then sitting around waiting for someone
> else to do the other 95% so you can sue them.
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