View Source question

Alex Belits abelits at
Mon May 19 11:26:15 EDT 2008

Yoshiki Ohshima wrote:
>   If there is any real operating system researchers around, they would
> "raise eyebrows" when they hear the idea of letting the kids learn
> Linux as *the* example.  Remember the discussion between Linus
> Torvalds and Andrew Tannenbaum, and Tannenbaum was right about Linux
> has nothing great in regards to its technology.  Linus was great at
> forming the community by listening people, but its success wasn't
> about its technology.  (There are arguably better systems like
> OpenBSD.  And, it wasn't conceivable to actually do in that short
> time, an OS-less system would have made more sense for the target
> system; as you know, Ivan was thinking the possibility of "full Python
> machine".)

1. It's very unlikely that kids will have any inclination to look at the 
kernel source.

2. Tannenbaum complained about Linux not being a microkernel. So far 
there is STILL no evidence that microkernels are better as a design -- 
certainly not if you look at the quality of operating systems 
implemented as microkernels.

3. Kernel code may not always look nice or straightforward (though I 
wouldn't use OpenBSD as an example of something better than Linux in 
that respect), however Unixlike systems' interface between kernel and 
userspace, and standard set of libc functions (more or less what POSIX 
is supposed to define) is at this point in history the greatest, 
unsurpassed achievement among all APIs made for any purpose. That 
includes all subsequent attempts to "improve" it in an incompatible way.

Consistently designed system of file descriptors and operations on them, 
clear separation and mapping between userspace and kernel primitives, 
security tied to attributes of a very small set of objects are the 
reason why all open source systems that went anywhere, implement this 
interface, and not something else. Constant attempts to continue 
development of a system without using those principles are the reason 
why Windows requires such an enormous amount of effort for each version 
to be released.


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