GPL not encouraging new technology

Marcus Brinkmann Marcus.Brinkmann at
Sun Dec 1 20:44:05 UTC 2002

On Sun, Dec 01, 2002 at 08:48:44PM +0100, Niall Douglas wrote:
> On 1 Dec 2002 at 20:20, Marcus Brinkmann wrote:
> > > Daemons no but plugins yes. The NT kernel is quite extensible eg; it
> > > uses a unified namespace of which parts are provided by plugins eg;
> > > pipe manager, file system etc. Technically one could do much of what
> > > GNU Hurd can in NT - it's just Microsoft have chosen not to and
> > > indeed seem to actively have prevented anyone knowing much about it.
> > 
> > So there is your misunderstanding.  The innovation in the Hurd lies in
> > the fact that users can do this extension, without asking Microsoft,
> > or even the system administrator, and without compromising the
> > security of the rest of the system. 
> But that's not innovation - that's merely a consequence of the Hurd 
> being "free" software. On a technical level, the two are capable of 
> similar functionality.

Another misunderstanding.  "user" above means unprivileged user of the
system, ie a user that has not the user ID 0.

See, I am not on a mission here.  If it's important for you to believe
that no innovation is possible in free software, you are entitled to your
opinion and I am not interested in challenging them (I will be interested
to see your upcoming proposal).  I don't even care if you consider the
Hurd to be innovative, ex-innovative or not innovative at all.  But, and I
insist on so much, on a technical level, it's different from Windows NT.
That all operating systems are capable of similar functionality is a trivia
(you only need to define "technical level", "capability", "similar" and
"functionality" conveniently enough).

[About the Hurd succeeding...]
> However, the whole thread of this point from me is why this didn't 
> happen and I feel there are fundamental sustainability flaws in the 
> "free" software ideology.

If you want to know why the Hurd didn't happen earlier, you also have to
look at the history of operating system development.  Mach was only the
first generation of a microkernel, and it's far from perfect.  That led to
a situation where the whole world turned away from microkernels and focussed
on monolithic kernel approaches, or at least single server systems.  This
meant that microkernel research went into a depression, as well as its
application in industry.  In fact, some people claimed that operating system
research is dead (
Now that the hype is over, hardware is a lot faster and
cheaper, and features that are naturally included in a well-designed
multi-server operating system become important for users, we have the chance
to take another look and "do it right".  It's really a very classical hype
curve, and has nothing to do with free software at all.


`Rhubarb is no Egyptian god.' GNU    marcus at
Marcus Brinkmann              The Hurd
Marcus.Brinkmann at

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