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Re: global full-text search for NetBSD

On Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 09:36:15PM +0200, Jukka Ruohonen wrote:
> Secondly, the "core" operating system (i.e. NetBSD as we now understand it)
> is quite barebone, lacking sufficient support to pull something like this
> through.  You need good libraries to parse PDF files, you need libraries to
> sort out MP3s, you need integrated e-mail clients, ...  -- you get the
> picture. Thus, a much better "platform" is the desktop system running on
> top of the "core" operating system.

Sure.  And that's one of my basic points as well.

If you make the core small, building up is still relatively easy.  But
if you make the core very large, paring back can be extremely hard,
because of dependencies between modules that are all part of whatever
chunk of the system you designate as the notionally indivisible core.

Supposedly if you have good packaging of your system, this problem does
not exist.  To that, all I can say is "try it".  Try to get any modern,
desktop-oriented (or for that matter server-oriented) Linux distribution
as small as a base+etc NetBSD installation for the same platform.  You
will be trying for a while.  And note the presence of very successful
commercial businesses -- first Lineo, then MonteVista -- whose product
is, essentially, Linux slimmed down to look an awful lot like NetBSD
base+etc.  If it were easy to do, they'd be out of jobs.

One major advantage NetBSD has in one of the major markets for NetBSD,
embedded devices, is that NetBSD starts out at a moderate size, with
a comparatively very small number of inter-module dependencies between
parts of the userland system, so it is pretty easy to make it even smaller.
It's still nontrivial to make it small enough to fit on a wristwatch, but
it is very easy to make it small enough to fit on a fixed configuration,
moderately priced embedded device like a firewall, access gateway, DNS
server, or router, and not tremendously hard to slim it down for something
like a wireless access point without producing a result that is almost
unrecognizable as the distribution one started with.

There are other places to get a full-featured desktop with a Unix
shell included -- OS X, Linux, even Windows with Cygwin.  But there
aren't a lot of places to get that fundamental slimness and elegance
you will find in a minimal NetBSD distribution, and it would be nice
to not give that away by mispackaging features we would like to have
available on NetBSD _somehow_ in the service of catching up with
others on the desktop.

Thor Lancelot Simon                          
  "All of my opinions are consistent, but I cannot present them all
   at once."    -Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On The Social Contract

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