[Beowulf] small-footprint MS WIn "MinWin"

Joe Landman landman at scalableinformatics.com
Mon Oct 22 14:53:05 PDT 2007

Jim Lux 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 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)

It is, from what I am told, possible to run windows entirely from the 
command line.  I have not been able to myself (haven't tried in the last 
few years).

It is possible to run sshd via cygwin (and I think through the unix 
services bit).


> 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.  Inside the guts, a lot of the work is in deciding where 
> (to which process) to send those events (e.g. a mouse move or click, or 
> whatever).

If every VM needs a virtual KVM device ...  :(

"Give me a serial port, and give me bits ..."


> I would imagine that this is the case.  Certainly, when NT first came 
> out, there was great emphasis put on the Hardware Abstraction Layer (so 
> you could run essentially the same OS on Alphas and x86s).  The 
> challenge faced by MS for Windows (as opposed to Linux) is that they 
> need to have well defined hardware abstraction and the VM to real 
> hardware layer tightly controlled, because it very important for digital 
> rights management (to make sure that nobody can put a shim layer in and 
> tap off the protected content).  What is perceived as a virtue in the 
> Linux world is viewed as a terrifying hole in the MS Windows DRM world.

  I am fairly sure that DRM wasn't on the mind of the designers around 
the time of the Windows NT Alpha.  It was serendipity (for them) that 
they were able to use minor display architectural shifts to enable this 
"needed" functionality.

I remember seeing the NT-Alpha version on some DEC boxen at SC95 or 96 
or something like that.  Someone was trying to convince me then that NT 
was the death of Unix in supercomputing.  I didn't hear much about 
digital media rights management.

Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics LLC,
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
web  : http://www.scalableinformatics.com
phone: +1 734 786 8423
fax  : +1 866 888 3112
cell : +1 734 612 4615

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