[self-interest] Re: Only one SELF?

Marko Mikulicic mmikulicic at full-moon.com
Tue Nov 23 00:41:46 UTC 1999

Hello folks!

I have started a new implementation of the Self VM for linux more than six
months ago but I ran into a busy period. When I looked at the Self 4 sources
I understood that a port was difficult and that continuing the evolution and
improvement to the code was even more difficult. So I begun to write a small VM
implementation. The program runs but it's very limited (parser,compiler(to
asm),primitives, no gc, no maps,no blocks...). I'm now rewriting it from
scratch.  As for C/C++, I think that the VM should be small, very small, and
as possibly close to the machine. Obviously a big part of the VM can be done in
a portable way and the architecturial difference can be abstracted. The other
parts can be written either in Self of in a mix of Self and extern libraries
(that already come with that platform) using a flexible interface. Even the
parser can be written in Self (the bootstrap parser can be linked when needed).
  Splitting is not a real problem if only VM is concearned, as long as source
(of better binary) compatibility is mantained. The problem may arise if we will
split in the application framework (Self 4). The amount of code written in self
is more than the VM. Creating an interface/framework could be very interesting
but running the already existing code it would be great.
  Fortunately we have already a "standard": the Self 4 release, so anyone who
doeas a VM and mantains a compatible parser and runtime is not fragmenting 
the Self community but's adding more experience and differetiation of
implementation, wich can be very productive (if the code amount is relatively
small) because experimental project forks (like egcs) are difficult to mantain.
One project can have some nice memory handling or compiler that can be
integrated in the leading (bigger) project but it would be difficult to develop
within him.
  I think that a intermediate layer of primitives can be extracted from the
Self 4 VM and shared between other self implementation. I, personally, don't
like much the X11 interface implemented through primitives, but changing the
GUI code would be a too big work.
  As for portability, I'm currently working for linux/x86 and atari/linux/m68k,
just to force me to keep my design portable :-)
   I someone is interested I can release my old code.
  I will be setting up a web site soon at http://openself.seul.org
  They provide also CVS support. If someone is interested for developing from
scratch (this does not mean to reinvent warm water) this is the opportunity to
begin at the very beginning, like Mozilla people did.
  I'm pleased to see that someone likes the idea of starting all over.

Marko Mikulicic

you wrote:
> No.  I really appreciate Gordon's work on porting Self to Linux (and of
> course Dave's work on doing the Mac port) but at least for me, this system
> isn't want I want right now.  So there's the need for more than one system.
> I also see the danger of splitting up too few people, but I see no better
> way and to at least share the knowledge of about implementing such systems
> which is nearly as good as sharing the code.
> I like the comparision of Self and Mozilla.  I agree with who wrote that
> Self suffers from the same problems as Mozilla.  Open source projects tend
> to work out only if enough developers follow the project from shortly after
> the beginning so they can learn the code.  Self is too big.  I looked into
> the code a few times - mainly to find all primitives defined by Self and
> reading that code isn't easy.
> C or C++ aren't the right languages to write large pieces of code.  It's
> better to use a high level language (at least pure C is just a portable
> assembler IMHO) and then automatically transform the code.  The reduces the
> amount of code and helps people to get an understanding.
> So if we want to go for one SELF, I dare to say that we'd basically have to
> do the same as the Mozilla people did - starting all over.  Perhaps, if we
> come up with a modular and portable base architecture, it's worth a try.
> bye
> --
> Stefan Matthias Aust  //  Bevor wir fallen, fallen wir lieber auf.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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