Saturday, February 03, 2007


Every now and again, you meet people who are as completely reasonable as you are. Stan is one of them.

I was just going to comment about how he should just go ahead and do the Linux thing but then I realised that the caveat that you should stay with XP is perfectly justifiable. If you're not of a techie bent, moving to an OS that has the following commands, you're a tad buggered:

fsck whatever
kill -9 whatever
rm -rf /*
1,$s:Kenny/Self-righteous git/g

I happen to agree with Stan on this one. The security holes are one thing, but the biggest problem with it is that you need a bloody super-computer to run it. God knows how many gigabtyes of memory and oodles of disk space.

Microsoft, in 2001, realised that Sun were going to be a big problem when they released a 64-bit Solaris. So, a little known fact, is that there's a switch that you can use where XP boots into a simulated 64-bit environment. In reality what that means is that you can actually access what a 64-bit OS will be able to address. 32-bit OS's can address 2 gig of memory. After that, it's, to coin a Blackadder phrase, like a broken pencil: pointless. Microsoft missed the boat again.

This whole thing amuses me no end. I am one of the people who suffered from when Microsoft
simulated a 32-bit OS back in whenever via a "thunk" layer that mapped 32-bit calls to their 16-bit OS. At the time, TCP/IP was provided by third party suppliers like FTP, Wollongong, Banyan, DEC etc. We had a support contract with Microsoft at the time that allowed us access to third line support immediately. I called them saying that Windows for Workgroups broke DEC's Pathworks. They hung up and never called back. I eventually worked out what the problem was called to tell them -- gratitude was not exactly overflowing.

The problem is that if you have a bunch of celever academics and give them a problem, there's a kind of puritanist approach to it. I'm not saying that a "thunk" layer is a bad idea, just that if you're going to do it, do it right. And understand what you are doing.

And while you're at it, watch those buffer overflows. That is schoolboy stuff. Stan's warnings should be heeded.

1 comment:

Stan said...

There are two things I want from an Operating System :-

(1) Run applications securely

(2) Securely run applications

Pretty much in the same way that I could care less what kind of "diff" is used in my car's steering - all I care about is turning corners without crashing and dying.

If Vista can't do the basics, it's no use to anyone.

Also the point about OS obesity is well-made.