Linux Kernel, Meet Windows Kernel. Behave. - InformationWeek
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5/28/2009
11:34 AM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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Linux Kernel, Meet Windows Kernel. Behave.

Here's one for the "only in the Linux world" folder: an attempt to place the Windows NT kernel mechanisms directly in the Linux kernel. Am I the only one who thinks, outside of extremely specialized use cases, this isn't such a hot idea?

Here's one for the "only in the Linux world" folder: an attempt to place the Windows NT kernel mechanisms directly in the Linux kernel. Am I the only one who thinks, outside of extremely specialized use cases, this isn't such a hot idea?

To be fair, as a programming project, it's "dash clever", as one of my friends from England used to put it. (OSNews.com has some more technical details.) It's a perfect example of Linux's bend-me-shape-me-any-way-you-want-me ethos. It's sort of like a polar opposite of the Cooperative Linux project, where the Linux kernel is compiled as a native Windows binary.

But it's ultimately also the wrong approach, the wrong kind of clever, because it encourages that much less truly native Linux development -- not just the software itself, but the kernel's own progamming interfaces.

The best thing to do with the Linux kernel right now is to make sure it has a stable programming interface that makes writing binary applications for Linux itself as appealing as possible. That's up to the kernel team, of course, but the more they can be encouraged to include things that benefit Linux directly -- instead of Windows indirectly -- the better of Linux will be as a whole.

One very good thing this would allow -- and I cannot dispute this would be genuinely useful -- is allowing native Windows drivers to be used in Linux. But I have to balance that against the amount of work involved, and whether or not the same net effects can be garnered by making the stock Linux kernel that much better a place to write native drivers for in the first place.

I'm not against the mere idea of running Windows software on Linux. I just think it's the wrong solution to the wrong problem. You can do it if you have no other choice, but given how much software there is out there -- especially how much open source software that runs natively on both platforms anyway -- it's a disingenuous approach. Doubly so when virtual machines, dual-booting and the Wine layer already provide many different ways to skin that particular cat.

So: color me skeptical. I want to see this particular tree bear fruit before I go a-picking.


InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis of the current state of open source adoption. Download the report here (registration required).


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