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js4all 991 days ago | link | parent

It would be much better for Windows, if it would be based on a BSD kernel instead of using a newly developed kernel. Legacy apps could then be executed using virtualization. Doing so Microsoft would have a lot of capacity to improve their windowing system and desktop on top. This would also open Windows for serious software development.


daeken 991 days ago | link

This is not a new kernel, and there is absolutely no way in which moving to a BSD kernel would solve anything at all.

The NT kernel in and of itself is very small, simple, and remarkably well designed. The Win32 subsystem is what is horrid, and that's 99.9% in userspace. There's no reason that they can't create a whole new subsystem along side Win32 where they improve everything, but I don't see that happening.

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rbanffy 991 days ago | link

> The NT kernel in and of itself is very small, simple, and remarkably well designed.

Is there current documentation on that? I remember NT3 had a very microkernel-ish design, but I have also read that a lot of its elegance was compromised since NT4.

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daeken 991 days ago | link

As said in a sibling comment, Windows Internals is a must-read. However, you are correct -- NT4, 2000, and XP saw the addition of lots of stuff inside of ring0. However, most of that was independent of the actual NT kernel, and since Vista the trend has been reversing in a huge way. There's more in ring0 than there was back in the day, but a lot of stuff has been moved out, e.g. many drivers, even video drivers. The new (relatively speaking) usermode driver framework makes it trivial to write drivers that don't run in ring0, and the kernel now has fewer dependencies than ever.

NT has had some growing pains architecturally speaking, but it's been handled remarkably well. Probably the best thing to ever come out of MS, especially when you contrast it to the mess that is the Win32 subsystem.

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runjake 991 days ago | link

The best documentation are the Windows Internals books by Russinovich/Microsoft Press. This book is the "Design & Implementation of BSD" for the Windows (NT-lineage) OS.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963901

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MarkPNeyer 991 days ago | link

a bsd kernel would make a lot of devs happy to switch back to windows.

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daeken 991 days ago | link

Why? The vast majority of developers never touch the kernel. If you believe a BSD kernel would get you better compatibility with other OSes, I suggest you look at the subsystem model in NT.

There's absolutely no reason for Windows to switch kernels.

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rbanffy 991 days ago | link

ZFS support would be a huge improvement over NTFS.

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daeken 991 days ago | link

Totally, totally agreed. I wish the patent situation weren't such that an interested party (e.g. me!) can't go and implement this. ZFS and DTrace (the ultimate reverse-engineering tool) on Windows would make me the happiest man on earth.

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js4all 991 days ago | link

MinWin is a new kernel and the old NT kernel has nothing to support virtualization.

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daeken 991 days ago | link

MinWin is NOT a new kernel. It is a subset of NT. Drop the binaries into IDA and look at it yourself, or dig around for Russinovich's talk on the subject of how they disconnected all the dependencies to build MinWin. Even Wikipedia disagrees with you: "MinWin is not, in and of itself a kernel, but rather a set of components that includes both the Windows NT Executive and several other components that Russinovich has described as "Cutler's NT"."

As for virtualization support, you're wrong on two counts: 1) with the creation of Hyper-V, a number of facilities were added to NT to support something akin to paravirtualization, and 2) MinWin has absolutely nothing here that NT doesn't have, being a subset.

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politician 991 days ago | link

Links to Russinovich's explanation and a summary thereof:

http://channel9.msdn.com/shows/Going+Deep/Mark-Russinovich-I...

http://www.windows-now.com/blogs/robert/mark-russinovich-exp...

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js4all 991 days ago | link

Thanks politician, that is the link @daeken was taking about. I have to say, that I was wrong.

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runjake 991 days ago | link

Some points regarding your comment:

1. Some of us have the preposterous notion that the NT kernel is superior and more modern than the BSD kernel.

2. The NT kernel architecture is not new by any means. It's mature and robust.

3. Whats wrong with their windowing system? The DWM is pretty speedy, efficient, and stable.

4. "This would also open Windows for serious software development"?! It's currently the number one consumer (some, including me, might argue iOS actually is), and the number one business and server OS. How much farther ahead of the pack does it need to be before you'd consider it "serious"?

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