TUNES Update

M. Edward (Ed) Borasky znmeb at
Tue Mar 20 08:44:19 PDT 2007

Tom Novelli wrote:
> New major versions of Python, Ruby, Perl and Javascript are in the 
> planning stages, probably for the next 2-4 years.  They're all talking 
> about static typing, native compilation, real GC, and so on -- and 
> borrowing heavily from one another.  These languages won't give up 
> their individuality yet, but a "common core" is entirely possible.  
> This has the potential to make TUNES a reality, in large part.  If we 
> do our homework, this could be an opportune time to weigh in.
There are three "existing" common cores, and all three were represented 
at the Ruby implementors' summit. They are the Java Virtual Machine (now 
GPL, IIRC), Microsoft's Common Language Runtime, which I think is still 
proprietary, and Parrot, which has some open source license but I've 
forgotten which one. As I noted in my blog post, I think Parrot is a 
long shot -- unless they get some industrial-strength support and soon, 
we'll get to watch a phenomenon described aptly by Damon Runyon: "The 
race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong -- but 
that's the way to bet!"

I personally don't like virtual machines. We have over five decades of 
evolution of hardware, architectures, compiler technology, operating 
system technology, language design, theoretical computer science, etc., 
under our collective belts and *still* people find it necessary to put 
one extra layer between the user and the solution to his problem -- an 
"ideal virtual machine" that "simplifies" the porting of software from 
one type of hardware to another at the cost of speed of execution. 
*Real* users have *real* problems, so they need *real* machines!

At the language level, I think there already is a common core. And I 
think it's Smalltalk. At least that's the impression I get from hanging 
out with Ruby hackers -- they seem to think Ruby will be Smalltalk when 
it's done. :) I'm not sure there's a common core at the OS level yet -- 
the Windows kernel and all the Unix-alike kernels are fundamentally 
different in a number of non-trivial ways. So that's the level where I 
think there's the greatest opportunity for innovation -- a microkernel, 
if you will, that can efficiently support Windows and Unix. To some 
extent, the Xen hypervisor with the Intel hardware assists is close, as 
is some of the work related to Dresden's DROPS project.

M. Edward (Ed) Borasky, FBG, AB, PTA, PGS, MS, MNLP, NST, ACMC(P)

If God had meant for carrots to be eaten cooked, He would have given rabbits fire.

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