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GNU Hurd To Develop SATA, USB, Audio Support 274

Posted by timothy
from the ear-to-the-ground-gets-you-trampled dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Hurd, the GNU micro-kernel project that was founded by Richard Stallman in 1983, may finally be catching up with Linux on the desktop... Plans were shared by its developers to finally bring in some modern functionality by working on support for Serial ATA drives, USB support, and sound cards. There are also ambitions to provide x86-64 CPU architecture support. GNU Hurd developers will be doing an unofficial Debian GNU/Hurd 'Wheezy' release this year but they hope for the Debian 'Jessie' release their micro-kernel in Debian will make it as part of some official CDs."
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GNU Hurd To Develop SATA, USB, Audio Support

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  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2013 @11:25AM (#42850091)

    Finally, 2013 is the year of Hurd on the desktop!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      GNU/Slow down, first we need the year of GNU/Hurd on any GNU/hardware from this GNU/century...

      • by Kwpolska (2026252)
        s|GNU/Hurd|GNU Hurd| There should be no / here, as this is a 100% GNU project, not a 0.0000000000000001% GNU project, iike KDE/Python/Haskell/TeX/LibreOffice/Blender/Wine/Linux*. * the biggest packages and package groups on my system, in a random order.
        • by unixisc (2429386)
          Actually, saying GNU Hurd is okay - or redundant, since Hurd is all GNU - GNU Mach plus drivers plus whatever GNU userland they put on it. Only thing - X11 is not GPL in the collection of things they'd want absolutely have to use - unless they were going w/ the configuration that had only Emacs on it. So I wonder what they could use in place of it, which could then have GNOME riding on it. Will there be a GPL version of Wayland?
    • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Funny)

      by AchilleTalon (540925) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @04:22PM (#42852299) Homepage
      Just when everyone is dropping the desktop for the smartphone/tablet.
  • Absurd (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2013 @11:32AM (#42850135)

    Its fucking absurd that USB support and sound cards and SATA support is news in an operating system today.

    • Re:Absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2013 @12:18PM (#42850375)

      Any user oriented system in development (as HURD clearly is) has to add support for USB, sound cards and SATA at some point. That is no reason for ridicule.
      This particular project does development in an openly visible way, so you can see the daily progress. That is still no reason for ridicule.
      This particular project progresses ... "very" ... slowly. That may or may not be a reason for ridicule, depending on your character.

      • Re:Absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

        by smash (1351) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @12:35PM (#42850489) Homepage Journal

        Yeah, but "some point" is usually fairly promptly. HURD has been in development for decades. USB has been out for over a decade. SATA has been out for about 8 years?

        They can't expect people to support/develop/test it if it won't run on anything.

        • They can't expect people to support/develop/test it if it won't run on anything.

          Perhaps they should pick a virtual machine runner (e.g. VirtualBox) and make sure the emulated hardware it presents is well-supported by hurd, and then get back to doing microkernel R&D.

      • Re:Absurd (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Chris Mattern (191822) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @12:40PM (#42850527)

        Any user oriented system in development (as HURD clearly is) has to add support for USB, sound cards and SATA at some point. That is no reason for ridicule.

        Yes, and for a system that's been in development as long as HURD has, that point was over five years ago. The fact that they're only doing it now is very much a reason for ridicule.

        • by unixisc (2429386)
          Not only that, the question is - what is HURD targeted at? OpenBSD is pretty much targeted at routers, FreeBSD is pretty much targeted at servers, Linux is pretty much targeted at servers & embedded devices. While on paper, they've been 'targeted' at the desktop, that's not been the story for a while, although that may change w/ the Windows 8 fiascos. But it leaves the question - who does GNU expect to be the biggest adaptors of HURD? Servers? Desktops? Tablets? Networking gear? What exactly? A
          • by cupantae (1304123)

            While on paper, they've been 'targeted' at the desktop, that's not been the story for a while, although that may change w/ the Windows 8 fiascos.

            Are you still talking about the HURD in that sentence? That's pretty funny. Ever since Linux became a viable kernel for the GNU system, the HURD has been targeted squarely at dreamers and unemployed kernel developers.

            • by unixisc (2429386)
              I am talking about it from the POV of the HURD devs. As far as the market goes, Linux itself is a long way from becoming mainstream on the desktop, much less the BSDs and Minix. Forget about HURD.
      • by macs4all (973270)

        Any user oriented system in development (as HURD clearly is) has to add support for USB, sound cards and SATA at some point.

        Yes, and that "point" came about a decade ago.

        That is no reason for ridicule.

        Sure it is. If ANY other OS was just now adding support for those things, they would be laughed right off of Slashdot.

      • Re:Absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DrXym (126579) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @04:03PM (#42852131)
        I think it's fair game for ridicule. Hurd is the Duke Nuke'em Forever of kernels. It's incredible to think that it has been in development for 23 years. On the plus side the glacial pace of development, the lack of pragmatism, and the large dose of politics did have the positive benefit of motivating Linux into existence.
    • by unixisc (2429386)
      Well, it is, when the OS in question is made by an organization for whom 'libre' is more important than functionality of the software. Speaking of which, will they have network support for both Ethernet & wi fi, or will there be a new saga here over something or the other not being 'free'? Incidentally, this will be the first GPL 3 or later OS that they'll be coming out w/.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why should I bother to use this kernel? What benefit would it give me over using just the regular Linux kernel or *BSD?

    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @11:55AM (#42850263) Journal

      Why should I bother to use this kernel? What benefit would it give me over using just the regular Linux kernel or *BSD?

      Its name is a mutually recursive acronym!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2013 @12:11PM (#42850345)

      It's a microkernel, check Wikipedia.
      Basically you will get clearly slower performance, but possibly much more reliability/stability, security, and all the benefits that go with modularity.
      The point is that
      a) computers will get so fast that the performance hit doesn't matter in standard programs
      b) people hope to find ways of improving performance somewhat more into the direction of monolithic designs (=all the major platforms in use)
      c) some application areas simply put additional stability over performance, so if we had a working microkernel... (no, Minix isn't good enough)

      For now, best take it as a research project.

      • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Sunday February 10, 2013 @12:22PM (#42850401)
        Isn't one of the "benefits that go with modularity" supposed to be that it's easier to write new kinds of modules (say, to support new hardware)?
      • Do we get any benefits when we run on multi-core systems?
      • by unixisc (2429386)

        Microkernels have progressed a lot since Mach 3, but HURD is, from what I understand, still based on Mach 3. OS-X is based on Mach 3, but it is not a microkernel design in that things that are normally in the kernel in monolithic OSs, such as device drivers, are still built into the kernel. There has been a lot of advances in microkernels, but after trying 3 of them, GNU reverted to Mach 3.0 just b'cos development on those alternatives had frozen. But like I mentioned above, they could have tried Minix 3

      • by Kaldaien (676190)

        OS X has a hybrid micro kernel, that mostly powers a desktop platform (true server implementations exist). I did a year's worth of research on kernel-level memory allocation in the context of real-time systems, and OS X's kernel design surprisingly came out head and shoulders above Linux and (not surprisingly) Win32 and in many scenarios, better than specialized kernels such as VxWorks.

        Unfortunately I never had a chance to extend my research to QNX, which has a true microkernel. But microkernel performance

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Just to get things straight:
          XNU (the Darwin kernel) utilises modules and message passing (signals), which is indeed a feature first pioneered in microkernels (by design). The current WinNT kernels do the same, and also call themselves "hybrid". Linux is almost there with modules and IPC signals.
          All of this is, starting from a monolithic approach, 3% of the distance towards a microkernel (the 3% is arbitrarily thrown out, but you get the point: they are basically monolithic), and calling them "hybrid" is jus

  • Really, who cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NReitzel (77941)

    I think Poor Richard has lived in an ivory tower far too long. Ideals are laudable, but the world moves on and reality trumps pedantry every time. Bill Gates didn't get to be, well, Bill Gates - by trumpeting Basic and DOS until people started saying, "Who?" He cut corners and compromised and, ahem, borrowed good ideas. It made him a gazillion dollars. And Richard, for all I agree with your ideals, and for better or worse, Bill Gates influenced the course of development of the personal computer more th

    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @12:02PM (#42850301) Journal

      I think Poor Richard has lived in an ivory tower far too long.

      But hey, he may get lauded by Tanenbaum for staying with a microkernel design.

    • by lkcl (517947)

      mr reizel: if you've ever sat down and thought out a set of principles, then decided to stick to them no matter what happens, then you will understand. forget that it's about "software freedom" for a moment: just sit down and think, "have i ever actually come up with some principles, and am i prepared to dedicate my life to those principles and ethics"?

      if the answer is "no" then for fuck's sake please stop criticising people who *have* decided that their principles are more important to them than any amoun

      • by turgid (580780) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @12:51PM (#42850619) Journal

        back to the story: one of the individuals, a norweigan major, was then tasked to go off and "groom" any individual that he could find who had the potential to create a full "Free" operating system. the person he found: Linus Torvalds. you should be able to work out the rest of the picture.

        I used to work there too. This is complete and utter hogwash. We already had operating systems 50+ years ahead of even Solaris that we got from the Aliens in return for mending their crash-landed flying-saucers.

        And that was at RAF Fairford in 1980, running on a special secret version of the Motorola 68000. To this day all NATO supercomputers run this hyperkernel on a military-spec 68k emulator on the bare metal.

      • O.o so let me get this straight, you're claiming that Linus is a united states military/nsa figurehead and made Linux because both organizations somehow knew. That some time over a decade after the first windows release, that it would be so easy to break into.
        . . . .
        Please do everyone a favor, step away from the keyboard.

      • by bmo (77928)
        there's a little-known story that the linux kernel was first conceived by a small group of individuals in a military environment.
        ...
        one of the individuals, a norweigan major, was then tasked to go off and "groom" any individual that he could find who had the potential to create a full "Free" operating system. the person he found: Linus Torvalds. you should be able to work out the rest of the picture.

        Wut.

        --
        BMO

    • by ciotog (1098035) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @12:20PM (#42850389)
      Actually RMS has said that development of the Hurd stalled largely because of the introduction of Linux, but that there was enough work already put in to it that that they didn't want to cancel it altogether.
      http://www.gnu.org/software/hurd/hurd-and-linux.html [gnu.org]
    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday February 10, 2013 @12:21PM (#42850391) Homepage

      I think Poor Richard has lived in an ivory tower far too long.

      I hate to interrupt your Stallman bashing, but RMS isn't involved in Hurd development. He has been content to use Linux for many years now. Hurd development is driven mainly by other developers who are in it purely as a hobby, a way to play around with microkernel design, and they are not striving to reach a mass market.

      • by unixisc (2429386)
        Are Debian & Arch developing HURD distros purely as a hobby?
        • by CRCulver (715279)
          Yes. Hobbyists want to offer Debian Hurd in order to make it easy for more hobbyists to contribute to the project.
    • mr reizel: i did a prior post covering the software freedom aspect of what you wrote, but it's just as important to recognise that the linux kernel is a one-man show, effectively. if you don't like what mr linus has to say, then tough shit.

      the GNU/Hurd project is therefore a fall-back - a safety net, so to speak. unfortunately it deviates from even what FreeBSD does, in its layout and presentation at userspace level [because it uses RPC message-passing between kernel and userspace], so they've given thems

    • I think Poor Richard has lived in an ivory tower far too long. Ideals are laudable, but the world moves on and reality trumps pedantry every time. Bill Gates didn't get to be, well, Bill Gates - by trumpeting Basic and DOS until people started saying, "Who?" He cut corners and compromised and, ahem, borrowed good ideas. It made him a gazillion dollars. And Richard, for all I agree with your ideals, and for better or worse, Bill Gates influenced the course of development of the personal computer more than you ever will.

      Well said. I think it's about finding the right balance between academical correctness and practicality. For example the Linux kernel vows to GPL, but is also rather promiscuous regarding taking patches and new code from people.

      What I also have observed lately is that at the end of the day, money makes quality software. Thus I wish also open source projects could find some kind of good funding models to accelerate their progress.

      • by silanea (1241518)

        [...] What I also have observed lately is that at the end of the day, money makes quality software. [...]

        Which is why Microsoft, SAP, Adobe and other highly lucrative companies only ship perfectly stable and solidly secure software. Oh, wait! They don't.

        What makes quality software is a clear-cut development process including all phases from the drawing-board to QA as equal priorities. Which for commercial software translates to spending shitloads of money and for everyone in the industry including FOSS to kicking out the amateurs and employing proper software engineering from top to bottom, left to right.

    • by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @12:40PM (#42850539)

      Bill Gates didn't get to be, well, Bill Gates - by trumpeting Basic and DOS until people started saying, "Who?" He cut corners and compromised and, ahem, borrowed good ideas. It made him a gazillion dollars. And Richard, for all I agree with your ideals, and for better or worse, Bill Gates influenced the course of development of the personal computer more than you ever will.

      What a shallow comparison! There are people whose main motivation does not come from how much money they can make or how much power they can gain over others. RMS's motivation does not even remotely have anything to do with Bill Gates' motives or 'comparing of penis length' type rituals such as 'Who has had most influence on PCs?'

      People who are mainly motivated by power and greed tend to ridiculde and diminish the achievements of these people. But in the long run, their rantings doen't count. In two hundred years from now people will very likely still read the novels of Thomas Pynchon, but absolutely nobody will give a fuck about the iPhone 5. (Apple and Microsoft will probably not even exist any longer in 200 years. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that the free software movement will be alive and well in 200 years from now, even if it might have been outlawed by then.)

  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by IWannaBeAnAC (653701) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @11:34AM (#42850155)
    Is this a joke? I had to look at the date again, I thought it was 2003 again for a bit.
    • No kidding (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @04:22PM (#42852301)

      Seriously, the Hurd guys either need to get with it, or just quit. It is stupid to have something this completely out of date and keep pretending like it'll be relevant. No, if you want your kernel to have any chance at relevance it needs to support modern features. Yes, that means SATA, x64, and so on. None of these are new things, by any stretch of the imagination.

      If they lack the resources or drive to get this kind of thing done in a timely fashion, then just let it go. There is no point to releasing a kernel 10+ years out of date (as the parent points out, SATA hit in 2003) particularly when there are plenty of options that ARE up to date.

  • MINIX (Score:5, Funny)

    by chill (34294) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @11:41AM (#42850191) Journal

    At this point, they may give Minix 3 a run for their money. Yee haw!

  • Not in Debian (Score:5, Informative)

    by KiloByte (825081) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @11:49AM (#42850229)

    they hope for the Debian 'Jessie' release their micro-kernel in Debian will make it as part of some official CDs.

    Sorry, but Hurd is being demoted to a second-class (ie, unofficial) port. The rules [debian.org] say that a port that fails to be included in two subsequent releases, gets moved to the debian-ports [debian-ports.org] ghetto, with shining neighbours like hppa (long dead) or sh4 (never has been).

    In some ways, that's a pity -- like, improving other code by forcing removal of buffer overflows/asinine truncations related to PATH_MAX. In others, well, it's Hurd...

    • by unixisc (2429386)

      Has Debian already decided to do that? The scenarios are different - the reason hppa is dead is that the PA RISC has been dead for years. That's different for HURD.

      Also, another question - is HURD going to be somewhat portable, if not as widely ported as Linux is? Will it be there on Alwinner, Loongson & other such CPUs?

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @11:49AM (#42850233) Homepage

    It is good that Hurd is a live project regardless of how much production use it sees. It explores kernel design theory; valuable work in itself.

    Still, I can't help a little ribbing.

    founded by Richard Stallman in 1983,

    Duke Nukem? Feh. Only took 15 years to go gold. Hurd is 30 and they just started working on sound cards.

  • Misguided (Score:5, Funny)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @11:54AM (#42850255)

    I don't believe it's wise to spend scarce resources trying to add support for every new johnny-come-lately PC technology that may or may not pan out in the end.

    Instead, it would be better to keep focused squarely on how to more perfectly isolate each functional element of the kernel from the other functional elements. There's always room for improvement in abstraction and isolation of intra-kernel services. This is what the Hurd needs to take the time to make sure they get right before they start adding random features.

    • Re:Misguided (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wvmarle (1070040) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @11:59AM (#42850287)

      Being able to run on a somewhat modern computer (they all come with SATA drives and USB ports nowadays - no support for those two basic technologies means your kernel just won't work on any hardware that's not totally obsolete by now), and being able to actually use all the hardware in that computer, is a fairly important feature of a useable OS, imho.

    • by Bomazi (1875554)

      Or you could just use Minix 3 and let it die.

  • use (Score:5, Interesting)

    by e**(i pi)-1 (462311) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @11:56AM (#42850267) Homepage Journal
    Why does anything always have to do with practicality or use. Tinkering with new or old operating systems can be compared with learning and messing with new or old math or physics. I guess that when developing some USB drivers for hurd, you learn more than improving a given drivers for linux. The later is like reading and understanding and improving on a paper which is "well known", the former like breaking new grounds.
    • by Shavano (2541114)

      Why does anything always have to do with practicality or use. Tinkering with new or old operating systems can be compared with learning and messing with new or old math or physics. I guess that when developing some USB drivers for hurd, you learn more than improving a given drivers for linux. The later is like reading and understanding and improving on a paper which is "well known", the former like breaking new grounds.

      Because software is engineering, not science.

      • Because software is engineering, not science.

        Says who? Maybe some purely experimental projects (and I'm not necessarily saying Hurd is one) can be very useful too.

    • Maybe but Hurd is a lot different than Linux or Mach. While Hurd theoretically is a good design, the practical considerations of a kernel have kept it behind. Just like a good technology to reduce auto pollution is to use hydrogen fuel cells instead of gasoline combustion. Practical limitations of using hydrogen as a fuel have it the use limited.
  • by paroneayea (642895) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @12:01PM (#42850299) Homepage
    HURD wasn't started till much later, in 1990: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurd [wikipedia.org] The operating system of GNU was started in 1983, work on the kernel wasn't till much later.
    • So instead of being 30 years old it is only 23 years old?

      No disrespect.

      • by Xtifr (1323)

        Hey, this is slashdot, and geeks are obsessive about details.

        Someone complaining about your post because it's really 23 years, four months, and six days, in...three...two...one... :)

  • by smash (1351)
    Roll on 2004!
  • HURD vs QNX (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dr. Spork (142693) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @01:05PM (#42850747)
    I know that HURD has been the butt of our jokes for a while. Even if you get it to run, it's painfully slow. However, these problems are not inherent to the microkernel architecture, since QNX is lightning fast and is very much microkernel-based. The downfall of HURD was that the processes kept the CPU occupied with message passing rather than actually running programs. QNX figured out how to minimize these overheards. I can be done. RIM (now "Blackberry") bought QNX and closed the source code, which is sad, but it hasn't destroyed the sound rationalle for microkernels.
    • Re:HURD vs QNX (Score:5, Informative)

      by Animats (122034) on Sunday February 10, 2013 @02:29PM (#42851357) Homepage

      I know. QNX does a lot of things right. The company, though, is notorious for driving its customers and employees nuts. It's been sold twice, one to Harmon (car audio) and then to RIM (now Blackberry). The code went from closed source to open source to closed source to open source to closed source. During the latter part of the Harmon period, you could download the entire kernel source.

      The developer community was fed up by this. During the open source periods, there were QNX builds for many major open source products, like Firebird (what Firefox was first called) and GCC. Those are no longer maintained.

      The QNX kernel is only about 60K bytes on x86 platforms. All it does is message passing, CPU dispatching, memory management, and timers. There's also a built-in process called "proc", which is a few hundred K. All device drivers, file systems, and networking are in user space. One of the great things about having such a tiny kernel is that it can be fully debugged. It needs to be changed very rarely. It can be put in ROM and stay unchanged for the life of the machine. In many embedded applications, it is. If the Hurd kernel is much bigger than that, they're doing it wrong.

      You can still get QNX for free [qnx.com] for non-commercial purposes. Few people do.

  • by master_p (608214) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:43AM (#42856435)

    At first, my excuse was "I'll do it when we have a black president mom", believing that we will never have a black president.

    Then Obama came along, forcing me to change my line to "I'll do it when Duke Nukem Forever is released, mom".

    I was sure DNF was never going to be released. Then one day, I saw the headlines: "DNF is on stores". WTF? this too, after Obama?

    But now I got a 100% certain thing: "I'll do it mom, but when HURD is released!"

    Come on HURD devs, do not dissapoint us. Don't you ever dare finish it!

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