Re: [dev] Suckless operating system

From: David Tweed <>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2010 00:16:32 +0100

On Sun, Jun 13, 2010 at 11:09 PM, Martin Kopta <> wrote:
> Some philosophical questions..
> What does it mean for an operating system to be suckless?
> What features should (or should not) an OS have in order to be suckless?
> Are there suckless or close-to-be-suckless operating systems out there?
> What does suckless thinks about Plan9, *BSD, GNU/Linux, MS Windows, ..?
> Is it possible to have an OS for desktop/laptop everyday use (multimedia, web,
> programming, research, ..) which is actualy usable, not rotten inside and alive?

One of the issues to consider is that what computers are used for
changes with time, and decisions that one may classify as "the
suckless way of doing things" at one point in time may mean that it's
not effectively useable in some future situations. For instance,
around about 20 years ago you wouldn't have considered multimedia as
something you need on a computer, so the complexity required for
reliable low-latency scheduling might be regarded as being needlessly
complex 20 years ago, by now it's pretty essential for audio
processing. The fact Linux is being used in smartphones and smartbooks
is suddenly pushing kernel developers who've only worked on PCs
face-to-face with hyper-agressive suspending ideas for power-saving.
If cloud computing (where you want to keep the decrypted data you have
on any individual remote computer to the minimum required for the
given task) takes off (and given that Plan 9 was based on running
intensive tasks on a server, I hope I'm safe from a Uriel rant)
functionality that seems pointlessly complicated and "non-suckless"
today may become apropriate. (For instance, I'd imagine that
cryptographic key management will probably become more integrated into
the kernel simply because you'll want to have such fine-grained
permissions and decrypting of entities that anything in userspace will
probably be too slow and easy-to-attack.) If implanted-in-the-body
devices get complex enough they may warrant a general purpose OS...

Of course, part of this comes from the tendency to try to use some
configuration of the same base OS (Linux, Mach, etc) for a wide range
of uses. Time will tell if this will continue to be a reasonable
development strategy. But if it is, a given design may be "suckless"
only for a period of time.

cheers, dave tweed__________________________
computer vision reasearcher:
"while having code so boring anyone can maintain it, use Python." --
attempted insult seen on slashdot
Received on Sun Jun 13 2010 - 23:16:32 UTC

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