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NewsForge: Zeta project is porting Linux to a virtual architecture

Mar 06, 2002, 22:04 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tina Gasperson)
"On February 8, a terse announcement to the LKML list stated: "A quick note to tell anybody interested that zeta-0.1 is out. It may be of interest for those who are trying to understand the kernel internals, and don't want to bother big kernel guys. Best wishes, Thomas." Curious? We were. What we found is an interesting education exercise that perfectly illustrates the "itch-scratching" principle at work in the Open Source development community.

When Linus Torvalds posted to the comp.os.minux newsgroups on August 25, 1991, he said of his new creation Linux: "It is NOT portable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have." Yet today, Linux has been ported to nearly every platform: ARM, SPARC, MIPS, IBM 370/390, embedded processors, Motorola and Compaq chips, RISC, AS/400, Beowulf clusters, and so on.

It appears Linus was wrong. So what's an industrious would-be kernel hacker to do? Engineer a totally new architecture just to be able to port Linux to it? Not practical. So Thomas Capricelli did the next best thing: He created a virtual platform called Zeta. Now he's working on porting the Linux kernel to it. Why? Because he wants to dig into the kernel internals. "Porting Linux to a new platform has always been one of my dreams," he writes at the project Web site."

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