[TUHS] tangential unix question: whatever happened to NeWS?

Larry McVoy lm at mcvoy.com
Tue Jan 26 03:25:31 AEST 2021

On Mon, Jan 25, 2021 at 11:37:25AM -0500, Dan Cross wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 25, 2021 at 11:05 AM Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:
> > On Mon, Jan 25, 2021 at 10:55:34AM -0500, Richard Salz wrote:
> > > Osterhout's Tk was beyond amazing.
> >
> > Still is, really.  So far as I know, nobody has come up with anything
> > better.
> The Inferno operating system that was essentially a commercialization of
> plan9, implemented Tk with the Limbo programming language (which in many
> ways is perhaps the most direct ancestor of Go). That was neat to play
> with. Too bad it didn't have a lot of success.

We did something similar, I hated Tcl so much I paid a friend to make
a compiler for a very C like language that compiled to Tcl byte codes.
It's really what I'd like to see C evolve to:


> > It had no XDR because it was "reader makes it right" and datatypes
> > > were tagged.
> >
> > That's the first I've heard of that and I really like it.  Most of the
> > time, you are on a network of machines that are the same, so why have
> > a network byte order, reader makes it right will just work.  Neat.
> I guess I don't quite understand that. I can get how it works for simple
> data types (integers, floating point numbers, perhaps strings) but it seems
> like it breaks down pretty quickly for anything with a more complex
> representation (structures with multiple members, for instance; how does
> one deal with padding, etc?). 

Yeah, good points and I suppose that is why Sun did network byte order.
It's still appealing to have reader make right if you can do it, though
with todays out of order CPUs providing a pretty high instructions
per cycle maybe it just doesn't matter.  There is a paper waiting to
be written.


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