The Marketing of LispOS?

Reginald S. Perry
Tue, 31 Mar 1998 18:23:55 -0800

>"Ahmed" == cosc19z5@bayou uh edu <cosc19z5@Bayou.UH.EDU> writes:

> I keep seeing messages on this list which hint toward somehow convincing large 
> numbers of users to use LispOS. 
> Whatever happened to doing something because:
> 	 It would be way cool to hack to the metal in Lisp.

> This may be one of the motivations for some.  Not that I'm all that
> fond of using Lisp to hack into the metal.  I prefer more elegant
> abstractions... I think the term used was "Platonic Programming".

> 	 Wouldn't it be cool to have your virtual memory be Lisp aware?

> Only if I can percieve it.  Otherwise, what would the point be?  For
> me, what matters is what I can see and observe directly, which is
> why I'm content for a CL Shell in lieu of a full fledged O/S.

Let me attempt to explain a little better here. There is this
perception that Lisp is slow. Now current Lisps that run on stock
hardware interact with an underlying OS. This os, probably written in
C, has a lot of built in assumptions. I would like to know how much
these assumptions affect the Lisp system and how much difference, if
any, would you see from having Lisp assumptions there instead of C

I would rather work at the application level, but if the foundation is 

> 	 Wouldn't it be way cool to have OS MetaObjects? What would
> 	 they look like?

> I'd have to think about this.

I was looking at the Inside NT book and noticed that they had an
Object Manager. I was thinking that if you took the object concept all 
the way down to the kernel, there are some things you would like to be 
objects, but for performance reasons, they probably shouldnt have the
full CLOS machinery. But you might want a portion of that
machinery. This would probably take a couple of passes to get right.

> 	 How fast would that dusty 486 sitting in my closet be running 
> 	 LispOS?

> Since I don't have a 486 in my closet, I really couldn't care less.


> What makes you think that trying to get LispOS to be accepted
> commercially has anything to do with profit, or that it
> automatically discounts people enjoying the project for other
> reasons?

> It just so happens that getting LispOS in a position to be used by
> others for profit helps its chances to succeed that much more.

It looked to me as if some people were starting to use "popularity"
and "acceptance" as design criteria. I think that there are a lot of
interesting ideas that have been presented. Most of them look like
they will be portable to other Lisp environments and do not need a
from-the-metal LispOS. Implement things that fulfill a need or is very 
interesting. Just like the mainstream wasnt really interested in
another Unix clone, its not interested in another OS written in
Lisp. But it would be cool to do anyway.

> As far as I'm concerned, the state of computing can be summed up as
> follows: 1) All mainstream operating systems suck.  2) All
> mainstream programming languages suck.

> Having a LispOS can help address these two points by providing a
> good operating system (or at least O/S interface) for a change, and
> since the programming language will naturally be Lisp based, Lisp
> will get to ride on its coattails.

> For me, this is Lisp advocacy, the attempt to bring a better O/S
> (both working to further the sorry state of computing), and the
> chance for me to work on a project that is both fun and potentially
> significant.

I cant disagree with this. I think that there are two perspectives
here. One is to design from the top down. We develop the interfaces
and envrironment on top of Windows/Unix that allow us to interoperate,
embrace and extend. I like this idea, I have Harlequin LispWorks for
Unix and Windows so this would work for me.

The other is to work from the bottom up we build a small, tight kernel
of primitive lisp objects, define a device driver model,
interrupt/exception model, memory management model, object and
resource management, and other basic OS tidbits. We know this is
non-trivial. The question is, is it worth the effort? If I were doing
this, I would have initially an Intel version and later an Alpha
version (would probably need to abstract the hardware). Now initially
I was not interested in this, but I started thinking about memory
management and wondered what primitives I would need to define to
work on the processor page tables from Lisp. Ive never thought about
these things before, so the bright shiny object distracted me. :-)

> [...] Don't expect one red cent from anything relating
> to LispOS or the applications developed to support it. That way, if
> something does happen, which I doubt, it would be a plesant suprise.

> Getting others to use LispOS in a commercial context does not imply
> that we will be making money.

> My attitude is to make LispOS free, and make the license flexible
> enough to allow commercial use.  No monetary gain for me.

I agree with this but only in the sense that if commercial interests
think I am doing something thats interesting to them, then, and only
then, would we have to talk about it. Until that time, I toil on my
pet project, ignored by the mainstream. That way my priorities are in
the correct order.