Let's begin SchemeOS

Kragen kragen@pobox.com
Fri, 27 Mar 1998 21:44:25 -0500 (EST)

On Fri, 27 Mar 1998, P. T. Withington wrote:
> >I suggest that a Lisp-based OS -- either a la the old LispMs, or a la
> >the super-fancy-new single-level-store global-garbage-collected ideas
> >that are being thrown around -- will be light-years ahead of any other
> >commonly available OS.  Except possibly EROS.
> I'm not familiar with EROS.  Reference?

EROS is an OS similar to KeyKOS.  It's got security based on the same
capability model, which allows very fine division of privilege, and
which requires that programs state by what authority they request some
action taken when they take the action.  This prevents confused-deputy
problems, which have been a fair majority of the problems reported on
BUGTRAQ while I've been reading it.

This sounds awfully slow, but KeyKOS is supposedly quite efficient; a
Unix emulator built atop it in the late 80s was comparable in speed to
real Unix on the same hardware, and much faster in some areas.

EROS also does transparent checkpointing persistence (like KeyKOS), and
has a single-level store (which means virtual memory *is* the

EROS pages are at <URL:http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~eros/>.  It will have some
features that LispMs didn't have.

> I think the biggest thing that could distinguish a LispOS would be 
> support for garbage collection in the VM system.  

That, and the Babel-free characteristic: every part of the system could
be programmed in the same way.  Input conversions?  Lisp.  Output
conversions? Lisp.  Command-lines?  Lisp.  Scripting? Lisp.  GUI
development? Lisp.  Application development?  Lisp.

Of course, you could write other languages that compiled into Lisp, or
other syntaxes for Lisp, but the Babel-free characteristic would mean
that it would be possible to use them -- possibly with reasonable
performance -- for anything you could use Lisp for.  So the user would be
in control of what language they used.