Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How wrong we are to foresee future

As I was wandering in internet from one article to another, I stumbled upon a very interesting discussion between Andrew S. Tanenbaum
and
Linus Torvalds. Here is the discussion. Discussion took place early 92 and it is about Tanenbaum attacking the new kid on the block (read Linux) and Linus defending his brain child. I am quoting some excerpts from that discussion because it depicts how wrong Tanenbaum was to foresee the future.

"While I could go into a long story here about the relative merits of the two designs, suffice it to say that among the people who actually design operating systems, the debate is essentially over. Microkernels have won. MINIX is a microkernel-based system. LINUX is a monolithic style system. This is a giant step back into the 1970s."

"MINIX was designed to be reasonably portable, and has been ported from the Intel line to the 680x0 (Atari, Amiga, Macintosh), SPARC, and NS32016. LINUX is tied fairly closely to the 80x86. Not the way to go."

"I still maintain the point that designing a monolithic kernel in 1991 is a fundamental error. Be thankful you are not my student. You would not get a high grade for such a design :-)" -> I guess Mr. Tanenbaum would be more than proud to find such a brilliant student. Alas!!!

"When MS-DOS was written specifically for the 8088 ten years ago, this was less than brilliant, as IBM and Microsoft now only too painfully realize. Writing a new OS only for the 386 in 1991 gets you your second 'F' for this term. But if you do real well on the final exam, you can still pass the course." -> How wrong, how wrong?

As you can see how wrong his predictions were. He developed a portable system but what did he get? x86 is the clear winner and all those SPARC and other architecture are nowhere. His boasting about micro-kernel is also short lived because Linux is one of the major OS out there having monolithic kernel. As another fact most popular OS (read Windows) on planet is hybrid-kernel based OS which is closer to monolithic kernel.

All this wrong predictions remind me of a quote by Bill Gates-

"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction."

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