Joined: 17 Oct 2007
|Posted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 1:09 am Post subject: Interview with Avie Tevanian excerpt (1991-1992 I think)
|This was around 1991-1992. At that time I did some freelance journalism and this was part of an interview I had with Avie. I am posting it here just for fun.
Q: You are the original inventor of MACH. What do you see as the future of MACH?
A: Mach was designed to address issues in parallel and distributed programming. We ended up building a kernel that was actually of very general utility! I'm still in reasonably good contact with the Mach team, although it is getting fairly dispersed. We're all friends. I think the future of Mach is a real microkernel based system (commercially supported). This is still a little bit off, but will happen.
Q: There have been some research projects on distributed computing. Like the Amoeba project and Plan 9. What are your views on distributed computing and will Unix (and MACH) in time be replaced with such an environment in your opinion?
A: I don't think these systems will displace Mach (or UNIX). It takes a lot to get people to use an OS, and we seem to have plenty of them available already (big smile).
Q: Let's talk about standards. NeXT has been criticized often for being very non-standard. Like using Objective-C instead of C++, or not using X. Are you not interested in standards?
A: We are very interested in standards --- especially the ones that make sense. We enthusiastically support TCP/IP, NFS, ANSI C, Postscript and many others. Soon, we will be adding support for other standards such as Novell networking and Appletalk. We also support C++ and several ISV's support X; we just don't use them in house. If we could get our work done using them, we would, but we can't. I think criticism for being non-standard is very misplaced.
Q: Suppose that say, DCE from OSF, becomes a standard in the Unix world for doing distributed computing. Would that mean that NeXT was going to support it too?
A: There are several ways that DCE can be supported. Depending on its importance, we could take the X approach with a 3rd party providing support (a la Pencom). If its REALLY important, we could just support it ourselves. As you know, our product already goes far beyond anything DCE offers, so it would have to be very important for us to support it.
Q: Will NeXT supply POSIX compatibility libraries? One would expect so, because of NeXT's large sales to government institutes.
A: Yes, we are working on this. No release date yet.
Q: What is your opinion of the POSIX standard?
A: It's largely irrelevant. The POSIX standard gives you a way to write UNIX-like terminal based programs. These types of programs aren't very useful in the NeXT environment (smiles). It is a published standard though, and there is a certain amount of its API that is useful, and as you mention, the government wants it, so we're working on it.
Q: Is the NeXTSTEP protocol publicized, like X is? For instance, would it be possible for a third party to write NeXTSTEP compliant client/server stuff, or build NeXTSTEP terminals, without running into licensing troubles?
A: The protocol is simply Postscript (Display PostScript to be precise)! I assume anyone can get the specifications from Adobe. We usually use the binary representation, but ascii would work just fine too. I'm not sure Adobe would like a 3rd party writing this stuff though.
Q: NeXTSTEP has been ported to the Intel 486. How difficult was it to port MACH and its BSD interface to the 486?
A: It was pretty easy to port. Mach is easily ported and has been ported to many machines. We were able to leverage off some 486 work that had already been done by CMU and Intel.
Q: What are the things that give the most problems when porting NeXTSTEP?
A: We need to port the compiler, kernel (write device drivers), write a little bit of optimized code for the Objective-C runtime and write some fast graphics code. That's about it.
Q: Will NeXTSTEP 486 run DOS-,Windows-, protected mode 386/387 programs?
A: We expect to have some type of compatibility mode for both DOS and Windows, not sure how it will work out yet.
NeXT Collection pictures: http://bit.ly/wdltRI