[Oberon] DARPA takes aim at IT sacred cows

John Drake jmdrake_98 at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 15 16:35:36 CET 2004

--- danforth at greenwoodfarm.com wrote:
> Hmm,
> Does this hint at applications for Aos and parallel
> processing?
> -Doug

Well anytime an organization with this big of a
budget (they just sponsored a robotic SUV race)
and this much influence (launching of the 
Internet) is considering alternative ideas it's
an opportunity for alternative computing
paradigms.  However, as much as I like BlueBottle
(latest version is SWEET!) there some other things
that are needed IMO to really take advantage of
this.  That's the bad news.  The good news is
that some of what I'm thinking of has already
been researched at ETH!  But the bad news is that
some of the best projects seem to be dead.  Ok,
here's what I see missing:

1) Security: I've not seen this built into Oberon
at all.  There was a "digital signing" packages
some years back, but that's about it.

2) RPC: Well, it doesn't have to be "remote 
procedure call" exactly.  But some way to run
processes remotely is essential.  I'm 
surprised someone hasn't taken the "message 
passing" architecture of System 3 and extended 
it to the network.  XMLRPC (Aos client 
exists at this time) can do this, but I'm not
sure if the overhead is worth it for some
applications such as multimedia.  XMLRPC is
great for powering web apps.

What I would love to see would be some
combination of Aos and Switcherland.


Switcherland could handle "remote execution"
part of this puzzle (with some added security).
I asked one of the P.I.s of the Switcherland
project about this some years ago and he said
he'd love to see something like that.  (Hint
guys, please work together! :) ) I'm not sure
if the Switcherland project is still even active

That brings me to:

3) Advances in hardware.  It sounds like even
hardware is up for discussion from this quote:

> What military networks
> need, Gosh said, is a 
> way to isolate software programs at the hardware
> level.

Early in the FPGA revolution Oberon had a lead 
with the Lola and Trianus packages.


Indeed, from my understanding, the Switcherland
nodes were designed with this software.  But alas
it seems nothing's been happening with Lola 
lately, and the Trianus download link is dead.  

I think Aos has some great potential, and is
already to the place were it's useful for today's
Internet.  I think items #1 and #2 are essential
for moving to tomorrow's Internet, and item #3
opens up many more possibilities.


John M. Drake

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