[Haskell-cafe] OS design & FP aesthetics

Brandon S. Allbery KF8NH allbery at ece.cmu.edu
Mon Jun 18 17:54:36 EDT 2007

(someone else's quotes are scattered through here, my mailer lost the  
nested quoting)

On Jun 18, 2007, at 16:46 , Creighton Hogg wrote:
> 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.

As someone who was involved with early Linux development but  
eventually bailed to FreeBSD for personal use, and who currently  
supports Linux in his day job, I'm somewhat dubious about "reliable"  
and "secure".

> One vast tangled mess of complexity and disorder. Exhibit A: Package
> managers exist. Exhibit B: Autoconf exists. I rest my case.

Erm, package managers should exist regardless.  That *multiple*  
incompatible package managers exist can be argued as a flaw.

The real problem indicated by your exhibits (assuming the preceding  
adjustment) is that "Unix" is not a monolithic entity; it's the  
result of dozens of companies extending the original research OS in  
multiple incompatible directions, then multiple standards committees  
"harmonizing" them more or less by legitimizing every incompatible  
spec for which they couldn't get people to agree on a single path.   
The development of the "pax" utility by the POSIX committee is a  
particularly horrifying example.

That said, autoconf also deals with some monstrosities nobody should  
have to deal with these days.  (Ancient Eunice, anyone?  Domain/OS?)

> (Have you ever programmed in C? You can certainly see where Unix gets
> its features from - terse, cryptic and messy.)

Heh.  Actually, Unix is terse because it was developed and originally  
used on 110-baud teletypewriters.  I've *used* a KSR33; you quickly  
come to appreciate the fact that Unix commands are terse.

C has its issues, but the original K&R C was quite simple and  
elegant.  (And IMO preferable to its predecessor BCPL.)

brandon s. allbery [solaris,freebsd,perl,pugs,haskell] allbery at kf8nh.com
system administrator [openafs,heimdal,too many hats] allbery at ece.cmu.edu
electrical and computer engineering, carnegie mellon university    KF8NH

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