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Joe Pranevich -- Wonderful World of Linux 3.0 (10/18/00) "AWE Edition"

Oct 20, 1999, 19:47 (39 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Joe Pranevich)

It's been a hectic couple months (what, with life as we know it ending and all), but as anyone here at the Expo. can tell you, Linux 3.0 should be ready sometime before Christmas. Over the last several years, Linux has steadily improved as an operating system for everyone's computing needs. What once worked only for the hardy geek hackers who knew the innards of every one of their drivers, gradually became usable to the masses until even "Saint Nicholas" Petreley could use it and we finally emerged as real competition to the Microsoft behemoth. And then, of course, the Y2K bug hit and we were all back at square one looking for something to occupy our time with. (Mushroom farming. Yummy.)

So, here we have it. My (somewhat incomplete) laundry list of the new and improved features in Linux 3.0, the abacus system. As I have been forced to use my last printed copies of Linux Weekly News as fuel for the fire, I could be missing your favorite feature. If I were a nice guy, you could send me a mail about it and I'd include it. But I'm not. It's hard enough to get this stupid thing typed the first time... it's amazingly hard on these damned manual type-writing machines.

In the beginning, there was Linux 1.x and it was good at doing things and multitasking but really wasn't scalable. Linux 2.x came along and it was and that was pretty neat for a while. Some of the kernel developers thought that maybe the next step was clustering and some thought that we need a kernel that works under 64k of RAM. Those people were generally laughed at, of course, but you'll soon see that the Linux 3.x series (still in development as 2.5) is even better than it: it can even work without a computer. (Which is good, because I threw my last Pentium into the fire last week.) Linux 3.x isn't even an operating system! It's an open source "abacus system" which means that you can trade it with your friends and improve your abacus techniques and tell people or even sell your new ideas. (Just so long as they follow RMS's updated AGPL.)

Now, I hate to keep you all waiting so this draft is subtitled the "Abacus World Expo Edition" and may be followed by a later draft or two but maybe not. Typing is hard work! (Which is why this is so short. And besides, how much can you write about an abacus?)

Joe - (formerly at jpranevich@linuxtoday.com but now residing in the red house in the woods three miles west of Sharpers's Pond by the CVS)

--

Linux Internals

Linux 3.0 is amazing in that it doesn't even have internals. It has been streamlined to the point that it probably really doesn't exist except as a bizarre 6th dimensional concept. Fortunately, this concept has been released under the AGPL and can be applied for all of your abacus-computing needs. Unlike previous Linux's which maxed out at 8 or 9 processors, Linux 3.0 has been tested and proven to scale to as many as 30,000 beads in production systems but works reliably in systems with as few as two (provided you only need to add in binary). Linux 3.0 is ideal for embedded tasks and has been installed and used successfully in countless carriages, pocket abacuses, and has even been successfully implanted into old Mr. McGregor. (He mistook my beads for his pills. Imagine my surprise when I discovered Linux 3.0 could even work while still in his stomach!)

It's hard to tell at this point exactly what new features will be included in Linux 3.0. I think we'll see however that Linux 3.0 is shaping up to be the best Linux yet to run on abacuses!

Bead Types

I get asked questions about Linux 3.0 by the media all the time and I have to say that the question that I am most frequently asked is: will Linux 3.0 work on my abacus. I have to say that the answer is a resounding "YES!" Or, well, probably at least. Linux 3.0 has been probably most tested with brown beads (the primary port) however various developers have managed to port Linux 3.0 to a number of different colors including red, orange, black, and purple. More colors are being added every day. (If your color isn't supported, I recommend picking up an oil-based paint from your local art supply house. That generally does the job nicely.) Linux 3.0 has been tested to work with beads ranging from as small as a grain of rice (if you happen to have very small fingers) to as large as a beach ball in size. As always, the kernel developers believe that you'll get the best performance out of beads that are approximately 1.5 times the diameter of your bead-finger.

One often overlooked portion of the kernel is its support for different bead mesh types, including the "copper wire" type that until so recently was the sole domain of the Microsoft abacuses. (As the underlying properties of the copper wire were not open source, kernel developers had some difficulty in porting Linux to properly handle the beads on the racks. Linux 3.0 does not currently include support for "floating beads" (racks that permit beads to be moved from one row to another) but support is progressing and it may be added in time for release.

Unlike previous versions of Linux, Linux 3.0 will not run on any computer or computer-like product unless that product has been chopped into little bits and correctly painted and mounted on a rack. Instructions for doing this can be borrowed from your local geek friend who, if he/she doesn't have it him/herself, may be able to borrow it from one of his/her friends, etc. If you still can't get a copy, just stop by my place and I'll show you how in exchange for some dry goods.

Linux and Plug-and-Play

Linux 3.0 does not yet include PnP features such as hot-swapping of beads or extensible racks without user mode assistance. This is not to say that Linux 3.0 cannot support these devices, only that they will not be supported in the kernel.

Block Devices - EXPERIMENTAL!

Linux 3.0 includes experimental-only support for block devices, commonly known as square beads. These new-design beads are more efficient in space than their spherical counterparts and many can be retrofitted into a geometric tile set. Special features on these beads, for example their ability to have multiple colored "faces" and assorted uses in games of chance, are not and will not be added before Linux 3.0's release.

--

I appreciate any comments that you may have, especially changes that you feel are important that I missed. Comments about how shoddy this is will be ignored, I did it at 5:00 AM while waiting for synthetic load tests to finish up. It's a joke, get it? It's dry humor. It lacks all wit, but may still amuse. As for me, can someone pass me the firewood?

And read After Y2K!