View Source question

Edward Cherlin echerlin at
Mon May 19 15:22:56 EDT 2008

This is a great thread. It is bringing out a lot of useful information
from many points of view. You ask good questions, Yoshiki, which is a
more important skill than giving good answers. It's a pleasure to work
with you.

On Sun, May 18, 2008 at 8:29 PM, Yoshiki Ohshima <yoshiki at> wrote:
>> Indeed, that is one of the virtues of Squeak. Python was somewhat of a
>> compromise in this respect, but it has the virtual that opens up ready
>> access to most of the rest of the GNU/Linux world.
>  I'm not sure if Python has that edge over Squeak, but probably it
> does.

>From which point of view? A significant fraction of the world's
software infrastructure is now implemented in Python, and Python is
clearly a more appropriate language for the novice than BASIC, C,
Pascal, Java, or the other languages usually favored in education and
commerce. Very little commercial software is in Smalltalk, but the
Smalltalk community has influence entirely out of proportion to
numbers of users or projects implemented. Remember that the Mac GUI
comes from Smalltalk just as a side effect, and Windows from the Mac,
and so on. Consider also the influence of Extreme Programming, created
by Smalltalk programmer Kent Beck. And now the realization of Alan
Kay's Dynabook, the biggest effect of all.

>> Alas, this is a feature that, as has already been mentioned, hasn't
>> had enough time and attention yet. It'd be nice to "architect" what
>> view source means in these different environments to provide a
>> starting point for developers as per the original post in this thread.
>  "Yes" in one sense.

Architecting is frequently overrated in software. View source is a
part of the emerging Open Source ecology, and one that will be
developed in accordance with the evolving needs, interests, and skills
of the community. It is true that some thought, and perhaps even
money, today could move this concept along a bit faster, but not
necessarily more effectively. It needs ripening.

>  ...  But, here I'd like to change the topic a bit (and it would be
> more suitable for the mailing list).
>  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.

Although I disagree with Stallman's insistence that the name should be
GNU/Linux, it is quite true that the existence of GNU tools and,
perhaps more importantly, the GPL is what created the Linux community.
The issue is not technical superiority on some measure. It is about
View Source and Modify Source and Republish Source, with or without
buttons. Enforceable Software Freedom.

> (There are arguably better systems like
> OpenBSD.

BSD has considerable technical merits, but not enough to overcome the
essential defect in its licensing policy. I say this not from the
point of view of software purity, but from the point of view of market
analysis. The community that buys into GPL is far larger and more
effective than the BSD License community, for good reason, from the
members' points of view.

> 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".)

Eh, LISP machine, Smalltalk machine, FORTH machine, APL machine. All
great technical innovations, all market flops, if they were even
implemented fully. Computers should be general-purpose.

Now if somebody wants to design and implement a Parrot machine that
will support dozens of languages, we can talk. But Parrot isn't ready.

>  If we are trying use the OLPC XO as the trojan horse of
> disseminating a better idea of computer including operating system, it
> is unfortunate that we needed to use Linux.  It is the most practical
> system to use in the short term, but basically we are using it because
> it is the de-facto standard.  (And people are rather thinking it
> better because it is not Windows.  Strange.  Without real education
> content, neither is good enough.)

Linux is, of course, way better than Windows. Not least in supporting
better education software and content, because we can integrate
security, collaboration, and fantastically low power consumption into
the kernel.

> -- Yoshiki
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> Devel at

Edward Cherlin
End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay

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