[Beowulf] small-footprint MS WIn "MinWin"

Peter St. John peter.st.john at gmail.com
Mon Oct 22 14:01:59 PDT 2007

I think we agree on some things (e.g., modular design is not conducive to
Digital Rights Management) and I must defer to your expertise on most of
what's left, but I have to speak up on a couple.

On 10/22/07, Jim Lux <James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov> wrote:
> ...
> I don't know that Windows (at least since NT) isn't actually already
> a small kernel surrounded by (dare I say "embraced and extended by")
> a lot of utilities.  Sure, they're not command line utilities with
> cryptic 2 letter names

It's trivial to overlay aliases on any cryptic two-letter commands you like.
Fortune offered a menu-driven user interface for folks who didn't like
"creat" or "su" in Sys V, in '81 ish.

and a man page full of switches.  However, an
> awful lot of what people talk about as "Windows" isn't the kernel (a
> lot of the GDI, for instance, has been separate from the "kernel",
> per se, since pre WinNT)

I misread that, at first, as "GUI". I see that MS has the term "Graphics
Device Interface" and I'll allow that is separate from the "kernel".

>   If they really do create a
> >minimal kernel, it perforce will look and behave a lot like the linux
> >kernel ...


It does all this now. The question is whether you can get rid of a
> lot of the other stuff, since at a very fundamental level, windows
> follows an event driven model, where the events are largely from user
> interaction.

Ding. The "event driven model" that is "fundamental" in MSWin (since W95 or
W98) comes from the GUI (but not the GDI) being integrated with the OS.
Which is not conducive to interoperability.

For a long time, the only way to remotely administer a NT box was with a
third party application pushing the pixels of the remote GUI over the phone
line to the troubleshooter's client. To me, using MSW as a server was ...not
efficacious. Programs don't talk to each other using bitmaps and mouse
clicks, unless there is a layer of OCR in between. Imagine replacing every
occurance of "|" is a shellscript with a call to OCR AI.

Unix is great for development, because of it's modularity and the design
intent of interoperability. VMS, in contrast, was designed for data
processing, was not so great for development (e.g. DCL) but, with a thick
filesytem and low-level shared memory etc, beat unix at OLTP by many years
(for example).

MS is designed for market share. All 3 of those systems are good at what
they were designed for.

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