Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 21st Nov 2011 11:25 UTC, submitted by moondevil
OSNews, Generic OSes You all know MINIX - a microkernel operating system project led by Andrew Tanenbaum. The French Linux magazine LinuxFr.org has an interview with Andrew Tanenbaum about MINIX' current state and future. There's some interesting stuff in there.
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Tanenbaum again is wrong
by allanregistos on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 02:41 UTC
allanregistos
Member since:
2011-02-10

The single biggest issue with microkernels - slight performance hits - has pretty much been negated with today's hardware, but you get so much more in return: clean design, rock-solid stability, and incredible recovery.

But as we sadly know, the best doesn't always win. Ah, it rarely does.


Thom, I need an evidence: Give me an example of a pure, microkernel OS (not hybrid: as per Tanenbaum's design)that was in use in production systems.

If you can't provide that, then Linus' stance on microkernel is true: "Good in paper, rarely usable in practice." We have an evidence for this, just download Minix and install it anywhere you like, and tell us the usability experience with it.

I will bookmark this date, and then wait for five years or more if the Minix will become the next big thing in smart devices.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Tanenbaum again is wrong
by Alfman on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 06:08 in reply to "Tanenbaum again is wrong"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

allanregistos,

"If you can't provide that, then Linus' stance on microkernel is true: 'Good in paper, rarely usable in practice.' We have an evidence for this, just download Minix and install it anywhere you like, and tell us the usability experience with it."

Linus may or may not be right, but it is a fallacy to suggest that just because microkernels have a small market share, then microkernels are unusable.

The biggest reason independent operating systems out of academia don't have much to offer in general usability is because they don't receive billions of dollars in investment every single year. It's somewhat of a catch 22, but it really doesn't mean the technological underpinnings are bad, some of them may be genius.


Now I can't deny that Tanenbaum appears to be extremely jealous, but I do think he is correct when he said that non-technical attributes have far more to do with a project's success than technical merit.

(For the record, I don't know anything about Minix in particular).

Reply Parent Score: 2

allanregistos Member since:
2011-02-10

[/q]

allanregistos,

"If you can't provide that, then Linus' stance on microkernel is true: 'Good in paper, rarely usable in practice.' We have an evidence for this, just download Minix and install it anywhere you like, and tell us the usability experience with it."

Linus may or may not be right, but it is a fallacy to suggest that just because microkernels have a small market share, then microkernels are unusable.

The biggest reason independent operating systems out of academia don't have much to offer in general usability is because they don't receive billions of dollars in investment every single year. It's somewhat of a catch 22, but it really doesn't mean the technological underpinnings are bad, some of them may be genius.

Now I can't deny that Tanenbaum appears to be extremely jealous, but I do think he is correct when he said that non-technical attributes have far more to do with a project's success than technical merit.

(For the record, I don't know anything about Minix in particular).

This might be true with respect to Windows vs. Unix on servers, a success of any OS deployed in production might include the factor of non-technical attributes and ignore the importance of technical superiority. But for kernel design, I think many factors comes to play, since I am not an expert in any of this, this is just my opinion.

Yes, Linus could be wrong. But philosophically, I find Linus' stance to be more acceptable than the professor's.

Visiting minix3 site with a confusing statement:
"Ports to ARM and PowerPC are underway. Various programs and device drivers are being ported, and so on"

While there are lots of work for developers at: http://wiki.minix3.org/en/MinixWishlist
which is more important than porting the kernel to different architectures. I might be missing something here.

Reply Parent Score: 1

allanregistos Member since:
2011-02-10

Alfman:

I considered myself an inexperience desktop developer.
I am also an audio/multimedia user and uses applications such as Ardour and jack.
If you are a microkernel expert or any of you here reading this, I have a question.
Can a microkernel-kernel designed OS such as Minix3 be good enough to scale to real-time demands of audio apps similar to what we found in Linux kernel with -rt patches?

Since I believe this is where the microkernel's future holds. Regardless of the efficiency, stability and security of a microkernel system, if it isn't useful to a desktop developer doing his work, to an Ardour/jack user, or any other end user, it will become useless but a toy.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Tanenbaum again is wrong
by Neolander on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 08:43 in reply to "Tanenbaum again is wrong"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

QNX ? Symbian ?

Tanenbaum has a longer list on his website, although it takes some tricky moves to reach it : http://www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/reliable-os/ (section "Are Microkernels for Real?")

Edited 2011-11-23 09:01 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Tanenbaum again is wrong
by Alfman on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 12:14 in reply to "RE: Tanenbaum again is wrong"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Neolander,

That's an excellent link.

I'm not entirely in agreement with everything he says, but he makes some strong points.

I disagree with him quite strongly that microkernel IPC should be limited to byte/block streams. I'd strongly prefer working with objects directly (ie being atomically transferred). Object serialization over pipes is inefficient and often difficult, particularly when the encapsulated structures need to be reassembled from reads of unknown length. I find it ironic he views IPC pipes to be the equivalent of OOP. Sure they hide structure, but they also hide a real interface.

I know Tanenbaum was merely responding to Linus' remark about how microkernels make it extremely difficult to manipulate structures across kernel boarders. In a proper OOP design, one shouldn't be manipulating structures directly. Arguably, linux components wouldn't break as often if they didn't.

There are good arguments for either approach. But I do think microkernels have more merit as systems become more and more complex.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Tanenbaum again is wrong
by allanregistos on Thu 24th Nov 2011 08:00 in reply to "Tanenbaum again is wrong"
allanregistos Member since:
2011-02-10

The single biggest issue with microkernels - slight performance hits - has pretty much been negated with today's hardware, but you get so much more in return: clean design, rock-solid stability, and incredible recovery.

But as we sadly know, the best doesn't always win. Ah, it rarely does.


Thom, I need an evidence: Give me an example of a pure, microkernel OS (not hybrid: as per Tanenbaum's design)that was in use in production systems.

If you can't provide that, then Linus' stance on microkernel is true: "Good in paper, rarely usable in practice." We have an evidence for this, just download Minix and install it anywhere you like, and tell us the usability experience with it.

I will bookmark this date, and then wait for five years or more if the Minix will become the next big thing in smart devices.


I concede that I might be wrong here.
I am interested to test Minix as an OS hobbyist(I am not a OS developer or any of that low-lever language user).

Reply Parent Score: 1