Why LispOS?

Martin Rodgers mcr@wildcard.demon.co.uk
Sun, 29 Mar 1998 13:59:22 +0000

At 12:19 28/03/98 -0800, "Henry G. Baker" <hbaker@netcom.com> wrote:

>I think that the statement "an operating system is a collection of
>things that don't fit into a language" actually goes back further than
>Dan Ingalls -- perhaps Dijkstra (??) said it??  I agree with Dan's
>ironic conclusion, however!

I'm not at all suprised. Until now, my only information about it came
from the Byte article. That's why I mentioned it here. ;) Thanks,

>The 'classic' defn of OS is that which deals with 'resources' rather
>than 'values'.  A 'resource' is something that can't be copied and
>'shared' like a 'value'.  (The phrase 'sharing a resource' is a
>contradiction in terms; of course, the whole point of an OS is to
>guarantee that the resource is used mutually exclusively in time.)

The terminology that most people use to describe such things is not
always approriate. I still enjoy reading comp.os.research, of course.

>When languages acquire 'linear'/'unique' types as 'first-class'
>elements, then the distinction between language and OS can disappear.

It would certainly be a good start. Perhaps this is the place to make
it happen, but I suspect that not everyone here will agree. (There do
seem to be some unsettled issues.) When this can be done, and
enough of us agree that we wish to use it, and some of us actually
create it (not necessarily in that order), we can move beyond the
starting point.

Meanwhile, I'd be happy if there was an OS written in, say, Clean.
I don't know if (or how much) I'd use it, but I'd love to see it happen.

I'd also love to see a LispOS happen. I'd love to use it, too. This,
to me, is what distinguishes the hypothetical LispOS that we're
discussing on this list from any existing LispOS, like Genera. It's
possible that _this_ LispOS might run on a machine that I use.

Martin Rodgers
Enrapture Limited
London, England
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