[Haskell-cafe] OS design & FP aesthetics

Creighton Hogg wchogg at gmail.com
Mon Jun 18 16:46:12 EDT 2007

On 6/18/07, Andrew Coppin <andrewcoppin at btinternet.com> wrote:
> Creighton Hogg wrote:
> > Well, since we're on the subject and it's only the Cafe list, what is
> > it that you find messy about Linux that you would want to be solved by
> > some hypothetical Haskell OS?
> This is drifting off-topic again, but here goes...

Yeah, so I'll just split this off into a different thread.

There are lots of things to like about Linux. It doesn't cost money.
> It's fast. It's reliable. It's flexible. It's secure.

Okay, I'm not sure if I'd agree with the reliable & secure points.  I mean,
relative to what could be done.  I'm a rank amateur when it comes to OS work
but when I've looked at recent papers Linux really isn't that cutting edge.
I mean, it may be reliable in comparison to Windows 98 & has less known
exploits than any Windows system, but in terms of how good it *could* be I
think there's an awful lot of room for growth.

> unfortunately it's still Unix. In other words, it's a vast incoherant
> mess of largely incompatible ad-hoc solutions to individual problems
> implemented independently by unrelated hackers over the 40+ years of
> history that this software has been around. New software has to emulate
> quirks in old software, and client programs work around the emulated
> quirks in the new software to get the functionallity it actually wants.
> One vast tangled mess of complexity and disorder. Exhibit A: Package
> managers exist. Exhibit B: Autoconf exists. I rest my case.

Okay, but these don't seem to really be design flaws so much as the
inevitable results of age and the need for backwards compatibility.  I'm
looking more for technical problems that you would want to see fixed in our
magical UberOS.

An operating system should have a simple, clear, consistent design. Not
> unlike a certain programming language named after a dead mathematition,
> come to think of it...
> (Have you ever programmed in C? You can certainly see where Unix gets
> its features from - terse, cryptic and messy.)

This is another thing we're just going to disagree on.  I think C++ is a
pretty messy language, but feel that straight up C is rather simple and
elegant.  I had only used C++ before, but a friend rather easily convinced
me that C is in fact a very sexy language when used in its intended design

Still, I don't have the skill to write a functioning operating system -
> much less one that's "ready for the desktop" - so that's that I suppose...
> (I did seriously investigate the task once. Indeed, I got as far as
> writing a bootloader. It worked too!)

Would you mind sharing the code?  I'd be interested.
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