[coyotos-dev] the GNU system design

Kragen Javier Sitaker kragen at pobox.com
Wed Nov 1 09:44:28 CST 2006

I was just rereading http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/stallman-kth.html
and I guess I must have not read it since before I heard about EROS
(perhaps in 1998?) because it has this bit that I didn't remember:

    Now, for the kernel I am planning to use a system called TRIX (it
    doesn't stand for anything that I know of) which was developed as
    a research project at MIT. This system is based on Remote
    Procedure Call. Thus programs are called domains. Each domain is a
    address space and various capabilities, and a capability is none
    other than the ability to call a domain. Any domain can create
    ``capability ports'' to call it, and then it can pass these ports
    to other domains, and there is no difference between calling the
    system and calling another user domain. In fact you can't tell
    which you have. Thus it is very easy to have devices implemented
    by other user programs. A file system could be implemented by a
    user program, transparently. It's also transparent to communicate
    across networks. You think that you're directly calling another
    domain, but really you're calling the network server domain. It
    takes the information that you gave in the call, and passes this
    over the network to another server program which then calls the
    domain that you're trying to talk to. But you and that other
    domain see this as happening invisibly.

    The TRIX kernel runs, and it has a certain limited amount of UNIX
    compatibility, but it needs a lot more. Currently it has a file
    system that uses the same structure on disk as the ancient UNIX
    file system does. This made it easier to debug the thing, because
    they could set up the files with UNIX, and then they could run
    TRIX, but that file system doesn't have any of the features that I
    believe are necessary.

This was on 1986-10-30, so I guess we can backdate our efforts to
supersede Unix with a free-software capability-secure system by
another decade.  Maybe we'll make some progress one of these days.

Kragen Javier Sitaker in Caracas  kragen at pobox.com

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