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SubjectRe: Topic for discussion: OS Design
I'll explain my reason for this rant.

The Amiga was my second computer, and the one I spend most of my computing
life on. I've grown up noticing all the things the PC/Windows did wrong while
the Amiga did it right (mostly UI stuff).

Later, I got my own PC, running Windows 95. Horror. Win95 is an absolutely
bug-infested piece of you-know-what. However, at that time, I believed that
Windows==PC, so I thought it was the PC hardware that was at fault.

Then, I heard of Linux, and installed it. What a difference! Much faster,
and sooo stable! I loved it. It was still clunky, and slow (compare a
P120MHz to an Amiga 7.14Mhz -- should be 16x as fast, but it's not), but I
still thought it was because of the PC hardware. Executable code sizes bugged
me a bit (usually 10-100x larger than Amiga).

Then I got the QNX demodisk. It was amazing what they could fit on that disk!
It was also smooth and fast, too. I started to doubt that the PC hardware was
solely at fault for the inefficiency of the software running on it.

Later, I downloaded the actual QNX RTOS CD (go try it: http://get.qnx.com/),
and this confirmed my suspicions that PC hardware was capable of relatively
efficient operation.

So, then, I was asking myself: WHY is Linux so slow and clunky in comparison?
I knew that GCC was not the most efficient compiler in the world, but it
wasn't that bad.

Then I start hearing about khttpd, something that (ideally) should go in user
space, hardware drivers are rejected (PCSP is my example, but what if some
other device is as kludgy as the pcsp? Will it be rejected too?), and
software-suspend mysteriously disappears from Alan's -ac patches. X (a
hardware driver) is in user space, and so is svgalib. It all looks very
messy. The atyfb still doesn't work for my Rage Pro (2.2.x, anyway. Never
tried 2.[34]). Patches for features I want are a nightmare.

My complaint is from a user's point of view. This particular user wants
software-suspend, pcsp, reiserfs, USB, and agpgart. This user also wants a
smooth GUI, a mouse pointer that doesn't flinch under load, and a small enough
system that he won't have to be swapping all the time (not entirely kernel's
fault). All these things are reasonable.

Somebody here with a bit more knowledge should really take an hard look at
QNX. From a user's standpoint, it's a very clean and efficient (fast) OS. Is
it possible to have something that is as clean as a microkernel, while
minimizing the overhead?

I must apologize for saying what seemed to be another "Linux should be a
microkernel". That was not my intent. I indended to start a discussion
(!argument) about looking for the best of both worlds (or a new idea
altogether) of monolithic and micro- kernels.

--
Dwayne C. Litzenberger - dlitz@dlitz.net

- Please always Cc to me when replying to me on the lists.
- Please have the courtesy to respond to any requests or questions I may have.
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