Running Unix programs under LispOS

Chris Bitmead uid(x22068)
Fri, 02 May 1997 16:52:51 +1000

>I may be talking through my hat here, but it seems plausible to me to
>support a mini-unix environment *within* our lisp universe, but keep
>it isolated from the world that we're running.  What I imagine is a
>subsystem which can run ELF binaries in their own protected memory.

>Basically, there would be an object which contains enough Unix
>environment to run an elf binary.  This environment could be
>controlled from the lisp world, but the Unix program would think it's
>on a real Unix machine.  If a Unix program forked itself, it would
>create a new object for the child.  The scheduler would be handled in
>Lisp (or at a lower level until we got a working lispVM).

>I could also see running DOS or Windows binaries in a similar fashion.

All very well, in theory, but it will never happen. After who knows
how many years we still havn't got WINE - the Linux windows emulator
up to snuff. When it is ready we'll probably have Window NT 2000 to
deal with.

The only realistic way to implement backwards compatibility is not to.

Allow the option to run the LispOS on top of other operating
systems. I don't see why all the debate on this. It's not like it's a
difficult thing to do. Those die-hards who want lisp all the way down
to the device drivers can do that if they want, but that's not what
will change the world.

What will change the world is something which gives a radical
improvment in productivity, but inter-operates with what is there
now. That is why Windows 3.0 took the world by storm. It brought
something radically new, yet it worked with DOS. Very soon DOS will be
gone and we'll still have Windows. (BTW Windows 3.0 did not take the
world by storm because of performance or stability)

Change the world first, THEN force everybody to chuck out the old OS.

It must be possible to build a LispOS which has 100% of the features
that you want, 98% of the stability and 85% of the performance on top
of the operating systems we've got now. And someone using such an OS
will be none the wiser that there is a UNIX or NT or MacOS or whatever
hidden underneath.

That is, they won't be the wiser, except they can still run all the
legacy stuff.