Message from discussion LINUX is obsolete
From: torva...@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
Subject: Re: LINUX is obsolete
Date: 29 Jan 92 23:14:26 GMT
Organization: University of Helsinki
Well, with a subject like this, I'm afraid I'll have to reply.
Apologies to minix-users who have heard enough about linux anyway. I'd
like to be able to just "ignore the bait", but ... Time for some
In article <12...@star.cs.vu.nl> a...@cs.vu.nl (Andy Tanenbaum) writes:
>I was in the U.S. for a couple of weeks, so I haven't commented much on
>LINUX (not that I would have said much had I been around), but for what
>it is worth, I have a couple of comments now.
>As most of you know, for me MINIX is a hobby, something that I do in the
>evening when I get bored writing books and there are no major wars,
>revolutions, or senate hearings being televised live on CNN. My real
>job is a professor and researcher in the area of operating systems.
You use this as an excuse for the limitations of minix? Sorry, but you
loose: I've got more excuses than you have, and linux still beats the
pants of minix in almost all areas. Not to mention the fact that most
of the good code for PC minix seems to have been written by Bruce Evans.
Re 1: you doing minix as a hobby - look at who makes money off minix,
and who gives linux out for free. Then talk about hobbies. Make minix
freely available, and one of my biggest gripes with it will disappear.
Linux has very much been a hobby (but a serious one: the best type) for
me: I get no money for it, and it's not even part of any of my studies
in the university. I've done it all on my own time, and on my own
Re 2: your job is being a professor and researcher: That's one hell of a
good excuse for some of the brain-damages of minix. I can only hope (and
assume) that Amoeba doesn't suck like minix does.
>1. MICROKERNEL VS MONOLITHIC SYSTEM
True, linux is monolithic, and I agree that microkernels are nicer. With
a less argumentative subject, I'd probably have agreed with most of what
you said. From a theoretical (and aesthetical) standpoint linux looses.
If the GNU kernel had been ready last spring, I'd not have bothered to
even start my project: the fact is that it wasn't and still isn't. Linux
wins heavily on points of being available now.
> MINIX is a microkernel-based system. [deleted, but not so that you
> miss the point ] LINUX is a monolithic style system.
If this was the only criterion for the "goodness" of a kernel, you'd be
right. What you don't mention is that minix doesn't do the micro-kernel
thing very well, and has problems with real multitasking (in the
kernel). If I had made an OS that had problems with a multithreading
filesystem, I wouldn't be so fast to condemn others: in fact, I'd do my
damndest to make others forget about the fiasco.
[ yes, I know there are multithreading hacks for minix, but they are
hacks, and bruce evans tells me there are lots of race conditions ]
"Portability is for people who cannot write new programs"
-me, right now (with tongue in cheek)
The fact is that linux is more portable than minix. What? I hear you
say. It's true - but not in the sense that ast means: I made linux as
conformant to standards as I knew how (without having any POSIX standard
in front of me). Porting things to linux is generally /much/ easier
than porting them to minix.
I agree that portability is a good thing: but only where it actually has
some meaning. There is no idea in trying to make an operating system
overly portable: adhering to a portable API is good enough. The very
/idea/ of an operating system is to use the hardware features, and hide
them behind a layer of high-level calls. That is exactly what linux
does: it just uses a bigger subset of the 386 features than other
kernels seem to do. Of course this makes the kernel proper unportable,
but it also makes for a /much/ simpler design. An acceptable trade-off,
and one that made linux possible in the first place.
I also agree that linux takes the non-portability to an extreme: I got
my 386 last January, and linux was partly a project to teach me about
it. Many things should have been done more portably if it would have
been a real project. I'm not making overly many excuses about it
though: it was a design decision, and last april when I started the
thing, I didn't think anybody would actually want to use it. I'm happy
to report I was wrong, and as my source is freely available, anybody is
free to try to port it, even though it won't be easy.
PS. I apologise for sometimes sounding too harsh: minix is nice enough
if you have nothing else. Amoeba might be nice if you have 5-10 spare
386's lying around, but I certainly don't. I don't usually get into
flames, but I'm touchy when it comes to linux :)