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How many people are interested in designing the OS interface? Lassi Kortela (09 May 2019 08:35 UTC)

How many people are interested in designing the OS interface? Lassi Kortela 09 May 2019 08:35 UTC

Thanks to John for editing our sprawling conversation :)

Before starting detailed technical discussions, could we get a head
count on how many people are here, and whether they are interested in
shaping the overall design or having particular interests taken into
account? This would give us a better idea what kinds of goals to pursue
within the 60-90 day SRFI time frame.

I have lots of general and specific suggestions, but I will curtail them
if they turn out not to be a good fit for the group's goals. My approach
would be based on three general principles:

1) Wide cross-OS portability, not limited to Unix/Posix. This means we
should choose more general abstractions where possible. Unix-only stuff
should be clearly labeled as such.

2) Successful portability is achieved by having tested support for a
large set of particular operating systems. An OS interface is all about
environmental dependencies and those are devilishly difficult to
standardize for a variety of subtle reasons. The only way to prove we
have a good design is to compile and run actual code on as many OSes as
we can find. Taking a shortcut by relying only on standards usually does
not work well. I have a long-standing interest in this kind of work and
willing to go out of my way to ensure we get a good outcome.

3) Details matter. We should try to be as comprehensive as possible in
covering the interfaces that we do cover. We should not support
broken-as-designed facilities (like some file-locking, terminal and
date/time stuff) or things that are so complex/unstable they are likely
to break, but with everything that we include we should aspire to do a
thorough job. When in doubt, I would rather leave out a particular
interface than specify something incomplete that may be problematic to
extend later. If we leave things out now we can always follow up with
another SRFI when we are wiser.

Eager to hear all comments.