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Re: [feyerabend-project] Systems Software Research is Irrelevant

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  • Glenn Vanderburg
    ... I remember reading this when he first posted it. I think it is sadly accurate. One thing Pike mentions is that every project feels the need to first
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 14, 2001
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      > Here is a URL to the homepage of Rob Pike, and I have found his slides
      > about "Systems Software Research is Irrelevant" very interesting. What
      > do others think about it?

      I remember reading this when he first posted it. I think it is sadly
      accurate.

      One thing Pike mentions is that every project feels the need to first
      demonstrate compatibility with the huge weight of existing software,
      or else nobody will take them seriously. I think of four OS research
      projects that were all interesting in different ways -- Mach, Sprite,
      Amoeba, and Plan 9 -- and yet they all established Unix compatibility
      very early. Think how much more innovative they might have been if
      they hadn't all had as a goal the ability to run Unix programs. (Mach
      researchers made much of its ability to support multiple OS
      "personalities" atop its microkernel core, but so far as I know the
      only personalities that were ever produced were variants of Unix.)

      I actually thought of Pike's talk last week while rereading --
      strangely enough -- _A Deepness in the Sky_, a science fiction novel
      by Vernor Vinge. There's a passage where he talks about the many and
      ancient layers of software in the systems on their spaceships, and it
      culminates with this:

      Take the Traders' method of timekeeping. [...] down at the very
      bottom of it was a little program that ran a counter. Second by
      second, the Qeng Ho counted from the instant that a human had
      first set foot on Old Earth's moon. But if you looked at it still
      more closely ... the starting instant was actually about fifteen
      million seconds later, the 0-second of one of Humankind's first
      computer operating systems.

      The novel takes place "thousands of years from now," and the Unix
      epoch is still in place as the basis for a computer's notion of time.

      It's just a novel, but I have a hard time convincing myself that
      Vinge's wrong about that.

      ---Glenn
    • Richard P. Gabriel
      Pike s talk basically is reiterating Kuhn s normal-science/pre-paradigm or paradigm-in-crisis dichotomy. -rpg-
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 14, 2001
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        Pike's talk basically is reiterating Kuhn's
        normal-science/pre-paradigm or paradigm-in-crisis dichotomy.

        -rpg-
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