a good volunteer

Ray Dillinger bear@sonic.net
Tue, 29 Sep 1998 11:35:38 -0700 (PDT)

On 29 Sep 1998, David Tillman wrote:

>  I was originally pursuing a hardware platform
>  for the OS based on something not quite so brain-damaged as
>  Intel. Hopefully a multiprocessor Motorola based system, but
>  more likely something based on either the StrongArm or IDT
>  chips.
>  The reality is that current PC platforms are too cheap to make
>  a custom solution worthwhile unless some real performance wins
>  can be demonstrated. (Hey Kragen, how about a Beowulf-in-a-box
>  running LispOS?)

My opinion is this:  If we make custom hardware necessary for
the LispOS to run on, then it won't be possible for people to
get the first taste of it that could result in widespread
implementation and support. Custom hardware puts you in the land
of an elite or a purely hobbyist crowd that's willing to spend
largish amounts of actual money on this. 

The Linux crowd had it right:  you produce something manifestly
better than the existing major OSes, that can run on the
hardware they've outgrown.  People can justify spending money to
get a new box for the next version of a major commercial OS, or
the next round of major commercial fatware.  And once they've
done that, they can justify using their old box to try out
something different, experimental, or untested, or something
they're not used to.  

They're just not going to rush out and buy a brand new box for
an OS they're not sure about yet, so if we want to get anywhere,
we should be targeting existing hardware.

We should take care to make the thing easy to port, of course,
so that whenever new, fundamentally different, and better
hardware comes into the people's hands, (like the PPC) we can
quickly exploit it.

But until all the primary utilities and primary applications
exist on this OS, it's going to get the hand-me-down boxes or
second hard disk partitions, if it gets anything at all.  We
contemplate writing on an OS which will be, at best, sixth-
banana (behind Windows, MacOs, Linux, Other Unices, and OS/2)
for several years and we're going to have to live through
those years with sixth choice of hardware. 

				Ray Dillinger