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freshmeat: The Evolution of OS Design

Mar 24, 2001, 22:00 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by James Williams)


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"The Object Operating System, OOS (pronounced "ooze") is an attempt to create a new operating system architecture. It's designed to use the filesystem to achieve a large number of tasks which would normally be done through different mechanisms. Much of the design philosophy was inspired by Unix and Plan 9, but OOS attempts to do things in its own way, trading compatibility for a simpler design. The most significant departure from its predecessors is a new type of filesystem in which files, directories, and libraries have been replaced by a unified entity known as a container. In addition to being unified, containers are also event driven, so that operations like reading, writing, copying, and deleting files are considered events whose default actions can be overridden. This allows a container to perform arbitrary operations on files as they are copied in and out of the container, or to provide virtual namespaces."

"When you log onto an OOS machine, you are essentially logging onto the network, and your workstation is simply a node connected to it. As such, the filesystem is structured so that the root directory contains a list of the machines on the local network. It's also possible for a user to mount remote machines or even networks here. The root directory is multiplexed; that is, any changes a user makes to the directory are visible to only that user. Other users will be unaffected. Any directory/container can be multiplexed, and doing so is a convenient way to provide a private namespace to each login."

"Because files and directories in OOS are the same thing, you are able to cat a directory and cd into a file. Being able to embed objects inside a file makes them act somewhat like resource forks on OSes such as MacOS. In this way, meta-information like icons can be embedded directly inside a file. However, OOS files are much more powerful, since the inside of a file can contain a full directory hierarchy. Because files and directories in OOS can contain data inside them, they are referred to as containers."

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