Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Aug 2008 23:33 UTC, submitted by Charles Wilson
Editorial GoboLinux is a distribution which sports a different file system structure than 'ordinary' Linux distributions. In order to remain compatible with the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard, symbolic links are used to map the GoboLinux tree to standard UNIX directories. A post in the GoboLinux forums suggested that it might be better to turn the concept around: retain the FHS, and then use symbolic links to map the GoboLinux tree on top of it. This sparked some interesting discussion. Read on for more details.
Thread beginning with comment 327343
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
RE[2]: Inertia and stupidity
by wdeviers on Tue 19th Aug 2008 14:05 UTC in reply to "RE: Inertia and stupidity"
wdeviers
Member since:
2008-08-01

You seem to be assuming (and I may be wrong) that because something is "old" it's also inherently broken. The UNIX-like model is "old" (ancient, really, in terms of computer science) and therefore broken? The reason developers consistently go back to UNIX-like systems is because Unix was wildly successful and solves a number of "paradigm problems" without much effort. Multi-user support is built in. Simple backup systems are built in. A massive code-base that can be accessed with scriptable compiling systems are built in.

What you're asking people to do, essentially, is re-invent the wheel simply because the "wheel has been around for a long time." In terms of general computing, there are a surprisingly small number of design models that work well.

For instance, remember light pens? Remember how light pens were supposed to replace the mouse because they're much easier and intuitive to use? But ultimately they didn't, because the mouse is much *lazier* to use. The light pen design model doesn't work because users are lazy and, frankly, don't want to deal with having to move around an ungainly device attached to a wire, point it at a monitor all day long, and look stupid.

There's a small number of operations that you have to be able to handle to develop a general purpose OS. You have to take input; it could be CLI only, or you could use a keyboard/mouse combo. Or a light pen, or a digitizer tablet, a touch pad on the screen, etc. Ultimately, though, it all comes down to 1) a character stream and 2) an x-y(-z?) coordinate system. UNIX has had that licked for years.

The UNIX model also has a proven history for stability, low barriers to programmer entry, and modular design. All three of those things lead people to want to use it as a base design.

However, when you ask "why don't good developers create a new operating system paradigm from scratch" you're framing the question wrong. First, there's a limited number of models for GPOS's available...all of which have basically been exploited at this point (pending advances in neural or motion interfaces). There's a limited number of ways, for instance, that you can move items around in memory. There's only three archetypes of kernels, all three of which have been implemented as UNIX-like (Mach/OpenStep as a micro, Linux as a traditional mono, and various hybrids and other examples.)

There's a very limited number of people in the world that are qualified, dedicated, and obnoxious enough to write a successful kernel for general computing. The majority of them have determined that the UNIX-like paradigm is the way to go, especially considering that through the history of computing, other paradigms have tried and failed.

So Linux isn't UNIX-like because Linus lacked creativity or was conceptually limited; Linux is UNIX-like because UNIX-like is one of the few design paradigms that have survived 70 years of computer scientists being elitist snobs about kernel design.

Reply Parent Score: 2