Re: [WinMac] Re: Linux

Glen Martin(glenmark[at]
Tue, 19 Jan 1999 13:14:52 -0600 (Danny Thomas) wrote:
> micro vs monolithic kernel is not a big issue in terms of portability. It
> how well the system is written for portability. While UNIX has had a
> long-held reputation as being a portable operating system, that really was
> by way of comparison with the existing commercial offerings which were all
> written in assembler (eg IBM's, DEC's VMS).

Straying wildly off-topic here to set the record straight, VMS was
written in a large variety of languages. SOME of VMS was indeed written
in assembly (or more specifically, a language called MACRO), but large
portions were also written in BLISS, Pascal, and with the transition to
the Alpha platform, C and C++. At least that is what a cursory perusal
of the OpenVMS source listings CD several months ago told me...

> at one point MS were talking of NT being microkernel-like. I believe NT was
> derived from Dave Cutle's work at Digital which was a true micro-kernel. NT
> has a monolithic kernel, eg for performance reasons,

You are correct about NT having a monolithic kernel, but as for Cutler's
work at DIGITAL, I can only assume that you are referring to the
Mica/Prism* project, since VMS has certainly never had a microkernel

*For those who are unaware of the history of NT, Mica/Prism is a
hardware/OS platform which DIGITAL was developing as a successor to
VMS. David Cutler, who was a membor of the original VAX/VMS development
team (not the leader of the VAX/VMS team, as is often erroneously
stated), was one of the leaders of this promising project.
Unfortunately DIGITAL's bean-counters axed the project, making Cutler
quite upset.

Bill Gates, who at the time was wanting to update OS/2 (which was
developed jointly by Microsoft and IBM) as a portable (in the sense of
being deployable on a variety of platforms) replacement for DOS/Windows,
caught wind of this and offered Cutler a job leading the project.
Cutler accepted and brought many of his fellow DIGITAL programmers with
him. The idea of updating OS/2 was scrapped, and NT was written from
scratch. All of this is described in the book _Showstopper_, including
the friction which existed between Cutler and Co. and the

The rumor mill has it that Cutler and his cronies used some of the
Mica/Prism code in NT, leading DIGITAL to threaten a lawsuit against
Microsoft if NT support for Alpha did not continue. I don't lend a
great deal of credence to this rumor, though. If NT had such code in
it, it would actually have a chance of being the scalable, secure, and
robust Enterprise OS which MS advertises it to be (which would tend to
explain why Microsoft recently licensed several OpenVMS-specific
technologies from DIG--, er, Compaq...).

-- (Opinions expressed herein are strictly my own, etc...)
                                   _/ Glen Mark Martin _/
                                  _/ University of Texas at Austin _/
                                 _/ ACITS OpenVMS/NT Services _/

* Windows-MacOS Cooperation List *
* FAQ: <> *
* Archives: <> *
* Subscribe: <> *
* Subscribe Digest: <> *
* Unsubscribe: <> *

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b2 on Tue Jan 19 1999 - 11:22:38 PST