Techworld

Syllable chalks up new release

Syllable 0.6.7 clears barriers to quicker releases

Syllable, an attempt to write a desktop-focused operating system from scratch using best practices, has notched up a new milestone, with its developers releasing 0.6.7 today.

The open source OS takes a lot of inspiration from the Amiga operating system, and although focus has largely been on the desktop distribution, a Linux-based server flavour is also available.

Syllable OS developer interview: Building a better operating system

Syllable release notes state that the scope of 0.6.7 is "limited". "It is not based on the latest source code in CVS, but on the previous development build, which had been tested for a long time, with many fixes and additions made to it. Building from the latest source would have meant a series of extra issues to fix and test."

The most visible change in this release is the addition of 3D support for the first time, lead developer Kaj de Vos told Techworld Australia. However, de Vos added that for the developers the most important developments are under the hood and clear away barriers to future development of the OS.

"We took several steps in our integration of the REBOL family of programming languages," de Vos said. "So far, only ORCA was included, one of the first open source REBOL clones. Our package manager is still written in it. Boron is ORCA's successor, and it's now included. We also added REBOL 3, the first and only REBOL version that can run on Syllable Desktop. Although it isn't even really ported yet, because we can use the binary interpreter library for Linux. This is a unique ability of Syllable, owing to its high level of compatibility with Linux."

The Fossil distributed version control system is now also included in Syllable. "To enable that, we not only had to port it, but we also had to get the latest versions of the SQLite database to run," de Vos said. "That was already ported to Syllable in the past, but newer versions didn't run due to a file locking bug in Syllable. That was fixed in the Syllable kernel, so the latest SQLite is now included. We are still testing Fossil on top of it, but if it turns out to be reliable we finally want to migrate to a modern distributed version control."

In the past developers wanted to use Arch, but it was abandoned. Other systems were too hard to port and the team considers Git "too bloated."

"In general, this is the first release we are making with a new release engineer and new release management," de Vos said. "There were many hurdles to accomplish that, but having overcome them, the next releases will progressively get much easier to do."

One of the strategic goals of 0.6.7 was to prepare for an upcoming high-level version of the Red programming language. Red support will make cross-development of applications easier for programmers.

"It is currently being created on top of the low-level Red/System language, but we already know that the memory allocator uses the mmap set of functions on POSIX systems. This is now implemented in Syllable, with a series of positive effects, including that we should now be prepared for Red. We could also modify the Red memory allocator to use native Syllable functions, but it's nice for expediting development that this is not necessary now."

"Red/System is already such a nice language that we can potentially do a lot with it in Syllable, including at the low system level," de Vos said. "Red will expand that reach to make it suitable for any possible use case. Currently, Red/System allows us to do a lot more in REBOL style than Boron and even REBOL allow. Red will also cover the range of expertise of REBOL and Boron, so we expect to replace both with Red eventually.

"Currently, the situation with the REBOL family of languages is admittedly a bit chaotic, but Red will bring back order to the land and will extend it all over Syllable over time."

Currently the Syllable team's plans hinge on releasing a new version "When It's Ready". "We do think that with this release, we have overcome the biggest hurdles to make more regular releases again," de Vos said. "The main hurdle left is to fully build from source code again. The current release is partly built manually from binary parts. The next release should be built integrally from source again in one build process.

After that, we have our hands free again for more innovations. In general, we are aiming for what we discussed in our interview last year. Most importantly, we need more applications. This release has a good level of support for SDL programs. We will be trying to port other classes of third-party programs, but we will also keep trying to advance our own system frameworks."

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11 Comments

caro

1

1) Can we get more details why syllable doesn't build from source code anymore?

2) Why is GIT considered as blooted? (And why would cvs be better than GIT)?

Kaj

2

Syllable does still build from source code, but compiling an entire operating system is a huge operation. Many things break between releases. The last release was a long time ago, so we decided to speed up the process this time by using the last well-tested development build. To reach the same quality level for the next release, the latest source code needs to be equally well tested. There are many changes in it that take time to stabilise.

It's easy to say that something is slim or bloated: even the Git designers think Git is elegant. :-) You need something to compare. For example, we say Windows is bloated by comparing it to Linux, and we say Linux is bloated by comparing it to Syllable. Git is bloated compared to Fossil, which we now include in Syllable:

http://www.fossil-scm.org

That's not to say that we don't think Fossil could be even simpler. :-)

caro

3

Yes, but as I understood the last development build is also not build from cvs source, it is built up on an much older development build.

To me something seems wrong with your argumentation, because if you would have cared just about "testing", then I see no reason why your development build was also not built from cvs source.

And I don't understand at all why you make a new release if you dont have a cleanly built syllable. Why didn't you wait till you are able to built it cleanly, then test it, and then release it.
This release you could have called a "development build" too, and use it for further development.

Kaj

4

You're talking about the release candidate of two months ago. I'm talking about the development build that the release and the release candidate are built on. That one has been tested for two years, and now enhanced to become the release. We didn't want to postpone the release further, and we don't want to leave such a stretch of time again to develop the latest source code into the next release.

caro

5

"You're talking about the release candidate of two months ago."

no, I'm talking about the development build of two month ago. You wrote yourself on osnews, that it's a "new development build", and there was no word about "release candiate".

The last release version of syllable took about 3 years, if i'm correctly. One or two month longer, would have been insignificant and instead you would have had a clear build, built from cvs.
It's interesting that suddenly after about 3 years you need to hurry up, and you dont find the time to build from cvs , because you want to release soon. Somewhere in that cain of argumentation seems to be a problem.
To me it seems you intentionally try to avoid saying the real reason why you suddently hurry up and then later change the name of "development build" into "release candidate" so that it looks more like a planned release cycle.

Kaj

6

The very first sentence in our release announcement on our own site and on OSNews mentions the release candidate. It was already called release candidate in its announcement two months ago.

All the rationale for the release is in the release notes. You asked for my further explanation, and I offered it to you. I'm sorry if you don't want to accept it. What's you reason for being unhappy with a new Syllable release?

caro

7

here is the link where you call it explicitely "a new development version"
http://www.osnews.com/story/25716/Syllable_gets_Red_System_bindings_with_C_cURL_SDL_SQLite

can you show me the link on osnews, where it is called a "release candidate"?

Kaj

8

The release candidate wasn't published on OSNews. Here's the announcement on our site:

http://development.syllable.org/news/2012-02-15-04-08-Syllable-0.6.7-release-candidate.html

Why is this so important to you?

caro

9

sorry, i checked again, also your link of your own site, and there it is also written "development version". Not "release candidate".

Kaj

10

I don't see the point of answering more paranoid questions. I advise you to just download the release and enjoy it.

caro

11

you said initially that it was not a "deveopment version" but a "release candidate" and that it was announced on osnews and on your site.
I checked os news, and it was declared ad "development version".
Then you changed, saying that only on your own site it was announced as a "release candiate" and you gave me the exact link.
I went to that link , and there it is also called "development version" and not "release candiate".

So, there are two options. You were making a mistake all the time intentionally or unintentionally.

I don't understand why you insinst on your mistake and not simply admit to have made a mistake/confusion or whatever.

Comments are now closed

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