essential Erlang

Joachim Durchholz joachim.durchholz@REDACTED
Wed Sep 24 16:06:52 CEST 2003

Vlad Dumitrescu wrote:
> After describing this architecture, it begins to look like a OS kernel (I think)
> and I am pleased to notice that :-) In the future maybe this will be *the* OS...
> [...]
> Is this only an utopia, or could there be something that will work in real life?

Yes, it is an utopia.
An OS is much more than processes. It needs device drivers, and unless 
you want to port all application software, it also needs a Posix layer 
(and probably Linux and/or Windows compatibility, since Posix isn't 
enough to run most application software). All of the above are moving 
targets, which means it is a *huge* amount of software to be written, 
tested, and (worst of all) maintained.
Well, you said "OS kernel", not "OS". So the question becomes: would 
Erlang-as-an-OS-kernel be attractive for OS developers? I wouldn't hold 
my breath for that: most existing OSes already have kernels and don't 
want to plug another one into their software ("never touch a running 
system" after all). Any OSes that would use Erlang as a kernel will have 
to be written in the future.
And doing design decisions for the off chance that Erlang will look 
useful the next-generation open-source OS makers? I doubt that this 
would be helpful... after all, Erlang is an application programming 
language, not a systems programming language.

I'd find it more interesting if there were a way of making Erlang 
interface better with C programs. I've been interfacing Windows with a 
non-C language, and it's been a pain even though it was a direct-call 
interface - I'm wondering how much worse it will be to write a driver 
program for Erlang... (semiautomatically generating drivers from C 
include files would help a lot)


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