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Boot-to-Guile (gnu.org)
81 points by zoowar 1698 days ago | hide | past | web | 17 comments | favorite

I see they say they can't use the ffi [1] as libc is not in the initrd which is kind of unfortunate as it makes it a lot more work. Issue is that glibc is insanely big for an initrd. For my similar project based on LuaJIT [2] I use the ffi and Musl libc [3] which is a sane sub 600k shared library (all in one file). Will put up a bootable system soon.

[1] http://git.savannah.gnu.org/cgit/guix.git/tree/gnu/packages/...

[2] https://github.com/justincormack/ljsyscall

[3] http://www.musl-libc.org/

AFAIUI libc is in the initrd, but it's a statically linked libc. Guile's dynamic FFI uses dlopen/dlsym to get its function pointers, so it can't do that in a statically linked libc. (Or could it? I suppose there's no reason why a statically linked library wouldn't expose symbol tables, whether via dlsym or some other means.)

Your point about size is well-taken though. Besides libc in this case, Guile's build products are much larger (and slower) than LuaJIT's images because we've been trying to write the compiler in Scheme from the very beginning. We can't even think about doing a nice JIT until we have a good AOT compiler, because otherwise the JIT written in Scheme would be too slow.

I believe that LuaJIT's ffi can use symbols that are statically linked in, but I haven't tested it myself so I could be wrong. You can't use dlsym though in a static binary, so it might need some work. My plan to port ljsyscall to straight Lua without ffi though is to generate C bindings rather than writing them by hand. But I have done all the ioctl stuff in Lua not C so all I need is all the syscalls and structs defined and then all the ffi code for ioctls, netlink etc will just work; all the constants and so on are define on the Lua side (that has other issues like dealing with the ABI directly in Lua).

I might be tempted in your case just to use a huge initrd for now, it will be freed after boot anyway.

LuaJIT's "running" page http://luajit.org/running.html suggests linking with -E (gcc -Wl,-E) to make all your global symbols visible to dlsym() even when you statically link.

That's what we're doing in Snabb Switch http://snabb.co/snabbswitch/ to create a statically linked executable that heavily uses FFI. (Currently don't statically link libc though so I don't know if there is a particular gotcha there.)

I think it won't work if you statically link LuaJIT too. I think it still uses dlopen, which with glibc still needs the dynamic libc available at run time, and might not work with other libcs. But you could fake it all with a statically linked table of function pointers quite easily I guess.

Modulo the bug at http://sourceware.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=15022 it's possible to dlopen symbols from the static binary.

However, all libc symbols not used by Guile are omitted from the resulting static binary, which is why the FFI is not an option. (This is independent of Guile or the libc brand.)

As for the size, the initrd is less than 5 MiB (the 'guile' binary is less than 4 MiB).

If you dynamically linked it would be quite a bit bigger, libc alone (none of the other libs like libm libdl etc) is 1.8MB on my system. But it should be manageable. Or you can force the symbols to be linked in by adding a structure with the symbols in.

This brings back great memories of embedding guile into practically every piece of software I wrote from 1997 to 2000. At the time Guile sported a very simple-to-use embedding API and it was lovely to use Scheme for scripting my web server, for building the logic for Braitenberg vehicles, etc.

Any chance you wrote about it somewhere ?

Bmote: This is part of the Guix project and will bring a official bootable system from GNU, one with Linux-libre and one with HURD.

I had to google "linux-libre". So they actually rip out all the proprietary code? Must have horrible driver support. Every piece of hardware on the market is proprietary... Where do you draw the line then. I'd rather draw the line above the kernel, so at least you get to run your free software!

Well, I don't actually know since I don't probably gonna use it. But it's still nice to see that GNU is getting their own distribution.

Disappointingly, they're still booting Linux — this is not a standalone Guile running on bare metal (even emulated), but rather Guile running on top of the Linux kernel, loaded from an initrd.

It's not that disappointing. Guile as a kernel would be interesting as well, but this is still useful.

Not sure if kidding or not, but it's still an interesting step. Maybe someone will be inspired to write a scheme os after that.

You may find this interesting.


Thank you very much, despite all my digging I don't think I've ever even heard of this.

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