Mini interview: Syllable's project leadTo gain more insight into Syllable's development status and future plans, I asked project lead Kristian Van Der Vliet for his thoughts on various matters. Like the rest of the team, Vanders is confident about what can be achieved but he's still realistic about the problems ahead -- good to see at a time when hype and vapourware stalk the planet like colossal marketing stick-insects. My questions are in bold, with Vanders' responses underneath.
What's planned for the next release of Syllable?
Vanders: "The new desktop, Dock and Registrar will be the major features in the next release. Arno has already released several Alpha versions, and they're very cool. The desktop is obviously one of the most important pieces of a desktop operating system, so it ties together a lot of the features we've been working on for quite some time.
There will also be the usual clutch of new drivers, including a 3dfx Voodoo driver, USB 2 driver and updates to the ATAPI (CD-ROM) driver. The next release will also be the first to support localisation, and Henrik [Isaksson] is busy updating and translating a lot of applications."
In the longer-run, what are your goals for future releases (eg 0.6.x, 0.7.x) and what do you really want to see in 1.0?
Vanders: "Once 0.5 is completed we'll have a stable codebase to start adding features to. Support for ACLs, PPP, libnet, printing support, multi-head displays, TV out, video capture, CD/DVD burning, better OpenGL support, more applications, utilities and games are all on the list for 0.6. I'm sure that at some point we'll add proper support for AMD x86-64. We'll also be spending a lot of time working on the look and feel of the GUI.
There's too much that we intend to have completed for Syllable 1.0 to list here, but we have a complete list at http://wiki.isaksson.tk/cgi-bin/zwiki.pl?id=ToDo/0.5.0."
Which aspects of Syllable do you feel are strongest at present, and which could do with more work?
Vanders: "Our kernel, GUI and hardware support are all excellent. The media framework is great and only continues to get better although we still need to add support for things like AC-3, multi-channel audio and DVD playback. The new desktop will begin to bring the sort of usability you would expect from a desktop system.
I think at this point in its life Syllable is beginning to become more useful as an every-day operating system, so we need applications. However, before we can really start to port and write large codebases we need better debugging tools. We need to work on stability."
And lastly, can you guesstimate roughly when 1.0 will arrive? :-)
Vanders: "If I could do that, I'd have won the lottery already! Sadly I can't, not with any accuracy. We're now into the second year of Syllable with 0.4 completed and we're over half way through completing everything we have planned for 0.5, so I would expect us to be thinking about 0.6 at the beginning of next year. At worst, that is if the development team stays the same size, 1.0 will probably be 2 or 3 years away."
So, there we have the low-down on what to expect over the next year or two. Here's hoping Vanders will win the lottery, so that he (and the team) can devote more time to this up-and-coming OS. As it stands, though, Syllable is jam-packed with potential to become an ideal desktop system; it already has a smart design and featureset that just might propel it into the mainstream one day. Whether you're an end-user, kernel hacker or app developer, it's definitely worth checking out -- and the team would love to hear your questions and suggestions in the comments section.
About the Author:
Michael Saunders is a freelance journalist living in the UK, and has worked for Linux Format, PC Plus and PC Format magazines (among others). Alongside his main Slackware 9.1 box he runs an Amiga, Acorn 5000 and Atari ST, and passes the hours installing esoteric OSes and playing Animal Crossing.
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