[erlang-questions] Go vs Erlang for distribution

Alexei Sholik alcosholik@REDACTED
Mon Jun 23 15:34:15 CEST 2014

Thank you all for the answers!

I personally agree that Go would be most suitable as a complement to
Erlang, not as a primary tool for building reliable systems. However, that
goes in disagreement to Go authors which have claimed its design to be
tailored to building large-scale projects.

One little nitpick I have is about zxq9's first reply which mentions:

Google is a huge company that is spending a *lot* of effort in an attempt to
> prevent yet another of their expensive toys winding up in the rubbish bin
> of
> digital history.

I have been following the Go community (not too closely) since 2012 and I
haven't seen any indications of Google pouring monetary or marketing
resources into promoting Go. Obviously, it has been paying salaries to the
core team (of some ~5-8 members), but apart from that, unless it is also
paying blog authors and companies to adopt Go, it is fair to say that most
of the praise Go is continuously receiving comes from the word-of-mouth and
talks given by its authors.

TL;DR: there is no massive campaign carried out by Google to promote Go
like Sun did with Java or MS with C#. This is already offtopic, but I feel
I had to point that out.

Getting back on Erlang track, I'd like to thank you all again for the
answers. My curiosity has been satisfied, so I'm not going to trouble you
with any more Go-related discussions.


On Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 12:02 AM, Tristan Sloughter <
tristan.sloughter@REDACTED> wrote:

>  I wrote a post about this recently because I found the idea of Go being
> an alternative to be ludicrous, especially after working with Go:
> http://blog.erlware.org/2014/04/27/some-thoughts-on-go-and-erlang/
> --
>  Tristan Sloughter
>  tristan.sloughter@REDACTED
> On Sat, Jun 21, 2014, at 03:43 PM, Alexei Sholik wrote:
> Hi,
> Let me say from the beginning that this is not meant as a flame post. I'm
> genuinely interested in some issues related to Erlang's adoption and how
> people outside of its community see its fitness for the domain where the
> insiders know it shines – building distributed systems.
>  My questions have been prompted by the apparent appeal of Go as a
> suitable tool for that exact domain. I have noticed the appeal being
> expressed both outside and _inside_ Erlang community (will explain soon).
> The reason for my asking on this particular list is twofold:
>    1. After discovering Erlang (not just the language, but in the wider
> sense: Erlang VM, OTP, its founding principles) I see it as a great fit for
> building distributed systems that can survive and auto-recover from various
> kinds of failures. It has also been proven over the years of being used in
> production. Erlang experts are the kind of people to go to when looking for
> an advice in this area.
>    2. In his recent talk at EUC Garrett Smith showed us an interesting
> slide[1] where Go appears to be one of the primary alternatives to Erlang,
> as chosen by _Erlang programmers themselves_. To me this implies that
> Erlang programmers have found in Go some of the principles Erlang builds
> upon, the fact I'm going to dispute below.
>   [1]: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bqr9xJJIgAIUewQ.png:large
> So now comes the question: what do Erlang programmers think about Go
> stealing some of the mindshare (and job-share) in the area of building
> distributed systems? Why would if be a good option? Or not an option at
> all? Just professional opinions based on your experience with Erlang please.
> Let me explain what suggests Go might be a viable alternative:
>   * the slide mentioned above
>   * Go has been used for teaching distributed systems at the Carnegie
> Mellon University since 2011. (Go 1 was release in early 2012) See this
> blog from the teacher:
> http://da-data.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/teaching-distributed-systems-in-go.html
>    * increased activity on projects such as libswarm[2], libchan[3],
> there are more.
>   [2]: https://github.com/docker/libswarm
>   [3]: https://github.com/docker/libchan
> If you haven't been keeping up with Go, here's a brief overview of its
> principles:
>   * imperative, statically typed, garbage collected, lower level than
> scripting languages, but higher level than C
>    * builtin concurrency with lightweight processes (called goroutines)
> which are scheduled cooperatively
>   * single address space for all goroutines (modifying shared data is
> discouraged, but possible); hence no isolation
>   * goroutines have no identity, communication between them is only
> possible through channels; hence no ability to monitor or link to
> goroutines, so no supervision
>   * writing to a channel is always synchronous; it is possible to make a
> buffered channel, but once the buffer is full, the next goroutine trying to
> write to it will block
>   * all errors must be handled explicitly; can be done at goroutine level
> by setting up a catch-all handler. But crashing in the catch-call handler
> will crash the goroutine. And crashing a goroutine crashes the whole
> program. No Erlang-style "let it crash" or "let someone else handle errors"
> From this short survey Go looks more like the ultimate antagonist to
> Erlang, or at least its philosophy. What could justify its being chosen as
> an _alternative_ to Erlang?
> Sorry if it turned out a bit too long. Ultimately, I'm curious about the
> reasons Go appears in a huge font on Garrett's slide. Also, finding out why
> Go has seen a tremendous growth in just 2 years since initial stable
> release and is already seen as a good fit for tasks Erlang is considered
> the best tool in these circles might shed some light on which steps Erlang
> community could take to increase the awareness about its merits (especially
> in the light of a few recent threads on this list).
> This ended up rather convoluted, I know. If it was the wrong place to
> bring up this topic, I apologize. Feel free to ignore this thread in that
> case.
> Thanks for reading this far.
> --
> Best regards
> Alexei Sholik
>    *_______________________________________________*
> erlang-questions mailing list
> erlang-questions@REDACTED
> http://erlang.org/mailman/listinfo/erlang-questions

Best regards
Alexei Sholik
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