[Oberon] BB Kernel Size

Paul Reed paulreed at paddedcell.com
Fri Jan 20 17:42:11 CET 2006

> Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2006 10:27:25 -0600
> From: "Aubrey McIntosh" <Aubrey.McIntosh at ridgewater.edu>
> Subject: Re: AW: [Oberon] USB Boot

> With the kernel size growing, does it make sense to produce a boot loader
> that writes into protected mode memory?  Perhaps this could be an Oberon
> language application that has modules such as Modules0 and Files0
> according to the pattern published in the Oberon operating system book,
> and uses the BIOS Int 10H for rudimentary file I/O.  That is, put an
> additional boot layer between the OBL and the Aos<driver>.Bin

Indeed.  A many-stage boot loader system is what all the
other OS's have had to use, as a sensible response to
the PC's brain-damaged architecture.  I have built a
BIOS-based version of the original Oberon which could
be pared down to do exactly this.

On the other hand, Linux stayed with loading into
conventional (real-mode) memory by using a compressed
kernel, so that's another possibility.

But come on guys, where's the justification for having
such a big, monolithic kernel anyway?  Didn't Oberon
preach small and simple?  And that, surely, is what
attracts people (like those on this list) to BB and
other Oberon-type systems.

I know that extra functionality is required to support
the many different hardware configurations out there,
but I can't help feeling that the baby has been thrown
out with the bathwater again - I think that BB's drift
towards self-inflicted complexity* is, to say the least,

Paul Reed

* Wirth, N. (1995), A Plea for Lean Software, IEEE Computer,
February (Vol. 28, No. 2) pp. 64-68

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