A new Lisp-based OS that hearkens back to the old days of comprehensible computers

Sean Caron scaron at umich.edu
Wed Sep 30 12:40:21 CDT 2015

You can still have a useful machine without it being connected to the
public Internet. Network access is indeed very important, Internet
connectivity, less so.

I too rue the loss of simplicity ... and this has been voiced by many
people much more luminous than I ... Ken Thompson, for one, has commented
about the size and complexity in contemporary UNIX implementations ... This
is one reason why I love Plan 9 so much ... it takes you back a little bit
to when it was a pleasure to bang out a little code and you don't have to
deal with so much nonsense to get a little application that actually does
something, built.



On Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 11:08 AM, Noel Chiappa <jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu>

>     > From: Liam Proven
> I am _very much_ in sympathy with the complaints here; I too feel that
> modern
> computers are too complex, etc. (Although some of it, like the entire
> computer
> turning into a single chip, were/are inevitable/unavoidable.)
> I like the functionality of modern system, but I feel they are _more
> complex
> than they need to be_ to generate that level of functionality.
> However, one thing I am going to quibble with:
>     > This is a nice explanatory quote:
>     >  The main reasons TempleOS is simple and beautiful are because it's
>     >  ring-0-only .. Linux wants to be a secure, multi-user mainframe. ...
>     >  It was simple, open and hackable. It was not networked. ... It was
>                                                 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>     >  simple and unsecure. If you don't have malware and you don't have
>     >  bugs, protection just slows things down and makes the code
> complicated.
> Note the part I highlighted. If you want to have a system that's
> network-capable, which is pretty much mandatory for a _really_ usable
> system
> in this day and age, i) that means Web-capable, and ii) if it's Web-capable
> today, it has to be able to handle what I dub 'active content' (JavaScript,
> etc) - i.e. content coming off the network which contains code, which runs
> in
> the local machine.
> To paraphrase a certain well-known SF work, IMO active content is probably
> the
> worst idea since humans' fore-fathers crawled out of the mud. It's
> _potentially_ a giant, gaping security hole - one that in today's OS's is
> responsible for a huge share of security issues. (There _is_ a way to have
> systems which aren't as vulnerable, but it means having military-grade
> security on everyone's machine - and no, I don't mean crypto; probably not
> likely, alas.) I mourn the early days of the Web, when there was no active
> content - just text, images, etc, etc. But no, they had to add all sorts of
> flashy eye candy - and did so in a way that makes basically all modern
> machines horribly insecure. But let me dispense with the soap box...
> Anyway, the inevitable consequence is that if you want a networked machine,
> it's _not_ going to be simple. Alas.
> You're basically sharing the machine with _lots_ of other people -
> effectively, every Tom, Dick and Jane out there in the Internet. In other
> words, you need everything one normally saw/sees in a time-sharing machine.
> (And I'm not talking about wimpy ones like Unix/Linux. I mean industrial
> strength ones like Multics.)
>         Noel

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