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Dividing the Linux desktop
LWN.net Weekly Edition for June 13, 2013
A report from pgCon 2013
Little things that matter in language design
The Dawn of Haiku OS (Spectrum)
Posted Apr 30, 2012 7:44 UTC (Mon) by Pawlerson (guest, #74136)
Posted May 3, 2012 7:45 UTC (Thu) by Comet (subscriber, #11646)
There are a number of strong similarities between AmigaOS and both OS/2 and BeOS. Mostly because the AmigaOS was just ahead of its time. When I talked with the owner of a BeBox or the local OS/2 fan, they acknowledged the links and the homage. Once upon a time, fans were able to not be completely condescending about something just because it was different. (Er, except some Amiga fans, but it really was ahead of its time).
32-bit fully re-entrant preemptive multi-tasking microkernel message-passing OS; alas, it lacked memory protection, because back in the days it was released, those CPUs cost a lot more.
Oh, notify events, I remember when I was learning Unix being told that I was silly for wanting them and they just caused security holes by making race conditions easier to exploit. My, how times have changed.
While I would have to wait for a word processor program to load from HD on an Amiga, once it was running it was significantly more interactive, with lower latency, than I see even today on MacOS / Linux / Windows. Less prone to freezing. Just, er, more prone to complete system crashes (see above, re lack of memory protection) but even those were comparatively rare.
(See, "when I were a lad", programmers had to actually understand systems and programming concepts, instead of just glueing together a bunch of open source components and talking about how hip and skillful they are. "Youth of today" ...)
Seriously, interactive latency today just does not compare. But this seems to be an attribute confined mostly to word processors, as everything else seems to have gotten better.
The integrated media handling system which came later, DataTypes, was way ahead of anything else for letting an external library just handle the picayune details of media types (pity that it wasn't too efficient). Even the original media handling, with the IFF format, lives on in the strong influence of IFF on the design of PNG.
Dear me. HAM8 ...
Posted May 3, 2012 11:22 UTC (Thu) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
While I would have to wait for a word processor program to load from HD on an Amiga, once it was running it was significantly more interactive, with lower latency, than I see even today on MacOS / Linux / Windows. Less prone to freezing.
Yes, but wasn't it then "locked" into RAM? No demand paging or anything like that? I used Acorn RISC OS back in the day and you could have said the same things (although hard disk performance wasn't that bad and you could run the program from a floppy disk and wait for it to load, too, at least for most applications), and the latency was low because the foreground tasks were given priority to respond to UI events as they occurred (total priority, as RISC OS had cooperative multitasking and thus completely favoured interactivity over throughput).
What we see with Linux (and with Unix traditionally) is a compromise that trades guaranteed low latency for the ability to handle workloads that are actually larger than the resources available to process them all at once. When images and other kinds of data started to grow significantly in volume in the early 1990s, microcomputer operating systems started to struggle with it all, and various extensions were bolted on to provide crude virtual memory features just to make certain tasks possible, given that the alternative solution of adding more RAM only went so far on machines that could only support a few megabytes. It's no surprise that the dinosaurs of the microcomputer era went extinct, very nearly including Apple and of particular relevance to this article, of course.
Just, er, more prone to complete system crashes (see above, re lack of memory protection) but even those were comparatively rare.
Despite the instant UI updates (at a cost of other applications being more or less suspended), I wouldn't want go back to that era where an errant application could hang the system, leaving only the mouse pointer working because it was a hardware sprite updated by an interrupt routine. The only remotely similar thing I've seen on Linux is the graphics hardware freezing due to a driver issue, and even then the system had not technically hung.
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