[TUHS] core

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Tue Jun 19 00:56:21 AEST 2018

On Sun, Jun 17, 2018 at 1:33 PM, Theodore Y. Ts'o <tytso at mit.edu> wrote:

> On Sat, Jun 16, 2018 at 09:37:16AM -0400, Noel Chiappa wrote:
> > I can't speak to the motivations of everyone who repeats these stories,
> but my
> > professional career has been littered with examples of poor vision from
> > technical colleagues (some of whom should have known better), against
> which I
> > (in my role as an architect, which is necessarily somewhere where
> long-range
> > thinking is - or should be - a requirement) have struggled again and
> again -
> > sometimes successfully, more often, not....
> >
> > Examples of poor vision are legion - and more importantly, often/usually
> seen
> > to be such _at the time_ by some people - who were not listened to.
> To be fair, it's really easy to be wise to after the fact.  Let's
> start with Unix; Unix is very bare-bones, when other OS architects
> wanted to add lots of features that were spurned for simplicity's
> sake.

Amen brother.  I refer to this as figuring out and understanding what
matters and what is really just window dressing.​  That is much easier to
do after the fact and for those of us that lived UNIX, we spent a lot of
time defending it.  Many of the 'attacks' were from systems like VMS and
RSX that were thought to be more 'complete' or 'professional.'

> Or we could compare X.500 versus LDAP, and X.400 and SMTP.
​Hmmm. I'll accept X.500, but SMTP I always said was hardly 'simple' -
although compared to what it replaced (FTPing files and remote execution)
is was.​


> It's easy to mock decisions that weren't forward-thinking enough; but
> it's also really easy to mock failed protocols and designs that
> collapsed of their own weight because architects added too much "maybe
> it will be useful in the future".

> ​...
>  Adding a database into the kernel and making it a
> fundamental part of the file system?  OK, stupid?  How about adding
> all sorts of complexity in VMS and network protocols to support
> record-oriented files?
​tjt once put it well:  'It's not so bad that RMS has 250-1000 options, but
some has to check for each them on every IO.'

> Sometimes having architects being successful to add their "vision" to
> a product can be worst thing that ever happened to a operating sytsem
> or, say, the entire OSI networking protocol suite.
​I'll always describe it as having 'good taste.'  And part of 'good taste'
is learning what really works and what really does not.​  BTW: having good
taste in one thing does necessarily give you license in another area.  And
I think that is a common issues.   "Hey were were successfully here, we
must be genius..."   Much of DEC's SW as good, but not all of it as an
example.  Or to pick on my own BSD expereince, sendmail is a great example
of something that solved a problem we had, but boy do I wish Eric had not
screwed the SMTP Daemon into it ....

> > So, is poor vision common? All too common.
> Definitely.  The problem is it's hard to figure out in advance which
> is poor vision versus brilliant engineering to cut down the design so
> that it is "as simple as possible", but nevertheless, "as complex as
> necessary".

​Exactly...   or as was said before:  *as simple as possible, but not

*​  *But I like to add that understanding 'possible' is different from 'it
works.'* ​*
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