How to get more developers (was: Mailing List traffic and...)
> That's interesting, but what I'm more interested in is the reason
> why the number of developers doesn't increase, even though so many
> people subscribe to the list. This is not ironical but a purely
> academic interest for me.
first of all, we need some kind of early release (or pre-release, if you
prefer to call it so) that could be burned on a CD-R! Getting all those
.debs over a modem link is not only awful, but in some countries really
expensive. And I'm not yet talking about the difficulties in getting
accurate and actual informations about the needed packages.
Marcus' tar-balls are here a real good starting point for first-time
users, but it would be even better to provide splitted files for users
with flaky connections (Marcus?). Actually, with Marcus' help, it is
much more easy to get the pieces of a working Hurd together and I also
mean the .debs. Thank you! You're doing a extremely valuable job at this.
Another important missing point is PPP. We really need PPP in the first
place, so that it is possible to cvsup (or cvs update) current sources
directly from a running Hurd system. One (probably quick) way to get PPP
would be to use FreeBSD's _user-level_ ppp(8), which works through a
tunnel device of the FreeBSD Kernel (an excellent, highly configurable
and very user friendly tool, IMHO). A fix may be to provide a tunnel
translator in the sense of FreeBSD, on which ppp(8) could dock. This
approach may be even compatible with Mach's and the Hurd's philosophy.
Once we get PPP up and running, it may be a good idea to start
thinking (and experimenting) with some kind of installation over the
'Net (be it PPP or Ethernet). Here again, FreeBSD is a good example of
how it can be done. Software that just needs one or two boot floppies
to be downloaded manually and which then pulls itself off the 'Net is
not only easy to setup, but also very practical in case of catasrophic
Of course, PPP would then allow us to CVSup actual packages and
sources in the same way as (again) FreeBSD, so we can easily keep our
trees sync'ed to the -CURRENT or (maybe soon) -STABLE branch of
development (please forgive my FreeBSD centrism here, I'm not trying
to convert anyone to a special way of proceeding. It just happens to
be the way I'm tracking the current state of my system here which works
very well for me...).
One unfortunate point is currently IMHO that the docs are suggesting,
that a Linux system may be necessary to install the Hurd (you know,
mke2fs etc...). This stopped some non-(Debian)-Linux people that are
coming from the Solaris or *BSD world, or even the non-Unix world, to
seriously consider installing the current version of the Hurd on their
boxes. Many people reading this would certainly refrain from having to
first get and install Linux, just to be able to add the Hurd in one
free partition. The ext2fs tools could be easily added to a first or
second boot floppy in the first place!
And yes, the docs... Although things start improving now, we still need
a lot more of tutorial-like materials. "Hello worlds" for misc. parts of
the system may be one way to introduce newbies to the internals of Mach
and the Hurd(-libraries). I'm thinking here especially of small dummy
translators, dummy filesystems and other simple user-level programs.
The docs could also be expanded by links to (or mirrors of) papers about
Mach research, issues of OS-Design (here especially the microkernel vs.
monolithic approaches) and the original CMU- and OFS-1 Mach documentation.
If someone knows about a link of this kind, please mail it to me. I'll
gather all I can and will summarize later.
A very good book about Mach is Boykin [et al]'s "Programming under
Mach". Is this book out of print? If so, how about talking to
Addison-Wesley so that they provide a PostScript copy of this book to
all of us?
If that is not possible, how about a volunteer willing to write
his/her own introduction to Mach (and probably even the Hurd) and make
this publicly available? I'm thinking here about some kind of (clean
room) rewrite of Boykin's book for the first part of the intro,
followed by Hurd specific issues in a subsequent part. Another way may
start with a tutorial on programming with the Hurd, introducing Mach
later on. Lots of pics would help visualize the communication flows
between misc. parts of the system (Hurd and Mach alike). The
introduction should contain many small tutorials and example programs,
which should be ready to run on the Hurd.
Of course, this is a major undertaking and it may be a good idea to
coordinate our work in some CVS repository. If we do it right, this
could even become the first virtual GNU book of its kind ;-) I already
have an outline of a possible introduction to Mach and the Hurd in
mind. If there are no objections, I can volunteer to coordinate the
efforts in this direction.
Farid Hajji -- Unix Systems and Network Administrator | Phone: +49-2131-67-555
Broicherdorfstr. 83, D-41564 Kaarst, Germany | email@example.com
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