The Compatibility Struggle Looming Over the Horizon

It’s been nearly 20 years since Rob Pike’s infamously won the “Best at saying what we’re all thinking” prize with his talk about how systems software research is irrelevant. And, while systems software research is doing slightly (though not glamorously) better than in 2000, it’s still mostly circling the drain.

That being said, it’s not a field that’s devoid of challenges. But I think the main challenge of the next 10-15 years is going to be even less glamorous than we like to think.

I think the main challenge of the next 15 years will be to keep existing software and, more importantly, existing programming models, up and running.

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Disk Space Isn’t Meaningless

It’s impossible to discuss Electron without the topic of space being brought up, and once that happens, you have to survive the talk about how storage is cheap today and space just doesn’t matter anymore.

Here is why I think all that is bogus — for bonus points, without any unironic use of the terms “engineering”, “real programmers” and “web developers”

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Computers, Programming and Free Information

I just read that the Max Planck Society discontinued its agreement with Elsevier and this sent me whirling back to a time when I was involved in research — and that was the time when I gained even more of an appreciation for the programming community.

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How Relevant are C Portability Pitfalls?

An article about C Portability Lessons for Weird Machines has been making the headlines on the Interwebs lately. It’s full of interesting examples, though none of them are from machines relevant to the last two decades of high-end computing.

I think these lessons are still relevant today, though, and that you should still pay attention to them, and that you  should still write “proper” code. Here is why.

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DMA-based SPI on SHARC ADSP-21489

If you have resorted to Google after having uselessly pored over AD’s reference manuals, hoping to find at least a proper hint about how to approach this, if not a bit of code, it’s OK, you can stop now. It’s right here. Your quest is complete.

In the hope that no poor soul will have to bang his head against the desk trying to piece together the countless pieces of this puzzle, I did a quick write-up to show you how to do SPI communication with DMA on ADSP-21489. This should probably work (with obvious adaptation) on any DSP in the same family, and it should be easy to adapt if your DSP is the SPI slave, not the master, as below.

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Design for Debuggability

There is a part of writing a Linux BSP that I dread profoundly, and it’s among the most trivial ones. Specifically, I’m talking about that part where you’ve written a new device driver, or modified something in an old one, or you just need to configure it. You’ve added the right incantation in the device tree, you boot, and nothing happens. The module isn’t probed, or your changes are silently ignored.

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