1. What are the main obstacles today in the development of Syllable? Participation, tools, something else?
Kristian Van Der Vliet: Time and organisation. I spend about 20 to 25 hours a week on average working on Syllable and it just isn't enough. Just answering email and questions on the forums can take an hour each evening. Coding then takes up as much time as I have spare. I'm lucky to have that amount of time, the other guys working on Syllable tend to have even less time to spare. Rick has just completed his freshman year; thats a lot of work on its own, but he's doing an excelent job with the desktop too.
The knock on effect of not having much time is that I cannot keep track of everything that is happening. People often mention on the mailing list that they are working on a peice of code, a driver for example. I've usually forgotten who they are and what they were working on after a day or two! I'm also pretty good at saying that I'll do one thing, and then going off on a tangent and doing something else. The ATA driver was a tangent, for example.
2. You recently introduced an ATAPI driver and booting from the CDROM. How successful this was so far? Does the code works with most cd devices, did it push more users to try out Syllable?
Kristian Van Der Vliet: It has not only brought new users to Syllable, it brought back a lot of old hands, too. Before we released 0.4.4 you only had to spend a day or two on the mailing list before it became very clear that people really, really needed to use their CD-ROM drives. People had been asking for it since the very earliest days of AtheOS. Hopefully it will attract a lot more users and developers. Any OSS project always needs more developers!
The driver itself is working just about well enough, and we have work arounds for a lot of common problems. For a first pass at a driver, it is working a lot better than I had hoped! ATA drivers are usually the most problematic peice of code in any operating system. If you look at the Linux or FreeBSD ATA drivers they change very, very often when compared to something like a NIC driver. There is always a bug or a new chipset to support or some other advancement in hard drive technology that means you're kept on your toes.
3. Comparing your project to other hobby OSes, like SkyOS, MenuetOS and TriangleOS, where do you feel that your project excels and where does it lack?
Kristian Van Der Vliet: I should make it clear that I have never used any of these OS's so I can't really compare Syllable to them!
What we excel at though is that we are always designing Syllable with an eye towards the end user. The mantra is that it has to be easy, it has to be comfortable and it has to be robust. I think we all have an eye for detail. I find myself criticising the look and feel of an application more than anything else. I can only speak for myself here I am fed up with systems like Linux, where nothing quite works the way you would like and as soon as you attempt to fix the problem you create two more. I've been put off upgrading Linux here for the past year because I know that I'll spend the next month re-installing and reconfiguring applications that have become broken.
Then again it isn't always as good as should be in Syllable. We're still planing and developing infastructure that will enable us to do a lot of the things we would like to do, but in the meantime we have to use stopgaps or people invent their own solutions. There are also things that should work but don't, for example "man" has never worked in any Syllable release, and there are some bugs with the ATA driver in this release. We are very poor at testing before we release things, partly because I don't stick to a proper release schedule and partly because by the time I get around to building the release I'm very tired and people are screaming for a new version and I just want to get it out there and be done with it.
I'll admit that this is odd as I spent the past two and half years working as a QA Tester and I should know better. If my old manager knew I was releasing untested builds, I'm sure she would shoot me :)
- "Interview with Vanders, Part I"
- "Interview with Vanders, Part II"