[Aboriginal] i cannot believe how much you've done.

Rob Landley rob at landley.net
Sun Jun 26 15:25:00 PDT 2011

On 06/25/2011 06:29 PM, Paul Kramer wrote:
> On Jun 25, 2011, at 3:55 PM, Rob Landley wrote:
>>> ok... i'm just talking here.... but WindRiver and MontaVista
>>> environments are nothing to write home about... speed is so valuable
>>> today...
>> Speed is valuable but so is engineering time, and Moore's Law only helps
>> with one of those.
> Yeah I should be more clear. Sadly... I see little effort on helping the individual 
> contributor be more productive... and I think that is the sweet spot. Generally
> speaking: an engineering organization... should do everything possible to
> empower the developer and put the money on their desk, not in a server room

I do all my development on a laptop, currently a ~$300 netbook I'm
pretty happy with.

I'd be a bit more productive with a fire breathing 4x laptop with 8 gigs
of ram, but I carry it everywhere with me and weight to keyboard comfort
ratio is an important consideration.  Plus: 4 hours of batter life under
heavy use, vs maybe an hour if you tax the CPU on those "desktop
replacement" laptops.

I have a machine I can ssh to if I need cpu-intensive stuff.  It was
about $800 when I bought it last year.

> For example... back in 95, when I was on Sun's OpenGL team.. we had a lab
> with a ton of systems... sitting idle. Why? most teams dedicate specific machines
> to specific projects/releases' and tasks... So I'd see a bunch of developers queuing
> up to use a few machines, while 90% of them sat idle...

And thus people are doing "cloud" stuff, and linux containers, and...

> So... what I did is said screw the lab, and we put 2 to 3 machines in each developers
> office. sparc, x86, ppc and put just enough machines the in lap to crank builds
> and tests

At home I have an arm system, a coldfire system, a blackfin, and a mips
box.  But I don't use 'em: I have qemu and it emulates everything I
need.  I need the hardware for driver development, benchmarking, or
occasionally to test qemu's behavior vs what real hardware does.

> The way I got more use of the lab machines... I had each machine disc reserve
> different disk partitions for different builds (operating systems), and test.. and
> could recover or load from jumpstart... 
> In the last few years... companies are giving engineers $700.00 laptops... this is bullshit.
> Ever since I've left Sun in 1998... I bring my own machine to work... 

You can get a lot for $700 if you do it right.  But yeah, given how much
you pay the people, how much you pay for the office...  Maybe they're
reluctant to put money into assets that depreciate on an expoential
curve?  Dunno...

> Conceptually that is what I'm into.
>> A quarter-century ago on 80386 processors we needed every ounce of speed
>> we could get out of the build.  Today on quad xeons we need every ounce
>> of speed we can get out of the build, except that our resources have
>> Look at the system Linux started on circa 1992.  16 mhz 386, 4 megs of
>> ram, 40 megabyte hard drive that didn't even do DMA.  The 386 was a
>> single execution unit, multiple clocks per instruction, not even
>> pipelined, and no L1 or L2 cache.  Now we have processors clocked 100
>> times as fast, with tens of kilobytes of L1 and megabytes of L2 cache,
>> pipelined with hardware prefetch and instruction reordering and register
>> renaming and branch prediction/speculative execution and so on, three
>> execution units per core, up to four cores per chip in _laptops_.  A
>> system with only 1 gigabyte of ram is _dinky_, and a terabyte of disk is
>> $100.
>> Screaming about this being NOT FAST ENOUGH says to me "hang on,
>> somethign is wrong with your development process".  Trust me, it's not
>> the hardware.
> YES! 100% with you!!!
> Since 2002, every gig I've had... the VP or Director would tell me one
> thing in the interview, and then when I started... automate this, automate that...
> and I'd say, hold on here... you are asking me to automate bad process, bad
> infrastructure... you want me to bring in new engineering tools without fixing
> the underlying issues... we are just putting nice paint on a pig

They always want to do that.

Open source is very good at "fixing stuff that already works".
For-profit corporations consider cleanup a waste of money, but the open
source guys know that just because you made a prototype do a trick DOES

>>> I interviewed at XXX... there environment is brutal
>>> and has always been brutal... so brutal == no speed. seems like there
>>> is room for you to compete at some level against these companies
>> I'm doing it because it's the right thing engineering-wise, not because
>> I get paid to.  I've had 3 or 4 jobs where I got to use Aboriginal at
>> work (it was always my suggestion to do so, bringing in the toolkit I
>> was familiar with).  Nobody ever approached me to sponsor it, although
>> sometimes they appreciated it enough to give me some paid hours to
>> expand it to do Thing Du Jour that they found useful.
> I am of the same mindset. I believe many of the issues that exist in 
> engineering can be eliminated, many can be simplified. 

Technology matures.  Cars used to be  hand cranked with a clutch pedal,
now they're not.  Once upon a time you needed an operator to patch your
telephone call though.  Then you dialed a number yourself.  Now you
speed dial.

Computers have gone through 4 "Model T" reinventions: mainframe,
minicomputer, microcomputer, smart phone.  The current laptops descend
from the Mits Altair in 1975, and current smart phones descend from
either the iPhone or the Apple Newton depending on how you want to look
at it.

I wanna go to the Wikipedia[citation needed] page on the newton, find a
random word in there, and add [egg freckles] after it, in square
brackets, just like that.  But I'm not a fan of Wikipedia[citation
needed], and don't edit it.  (You will never find a more wretched hive
of politics, bikeshedding, and delete wars about "notability" due to
senior editor biases.)

> Just what little time I've had to spend on your site I've learned 
> some things, and I'm really looking forward to learning more.
> I'd like to make a contribution to the engineering community such that
> our day jobs can be a much more productive environment. 

I have a strange view of all this stuff, I mentioned the 7 articles I
wrote on the three waves linked from landley.net/writing

What counts as a "productive environment" is a bit more complicated than
it appears. :)

>> At Qualcomm I bought a USB to serial adapter on my lunch break.  I just
>> didn't TELL anybody.
>> My current gig is at polycom, and one of the managers there has a
>> company credit card which he's happy to use to order stuff from amazon
>> and such (and even pays for overnight shipping).
> I saw a post for a build engineer in Austin at Polycom... If I were younger,
> I'd move out there... but I have folks I've known for 30+ years living
> in Northern Calif... hard to leave

I've been in austin, on and off, for 15.  They're about a half-hour
commute each way down a reasonably major road, not too bad.

Enjoying it so far... :)



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