Pennell's pennell at tiac.net
Sun Dec 27 00:29:27 UTC 1998

[Dredging into my memory, and anecdotal from a friend of mine...]

I think Sun uses (or at least used to) something like this.  
It is based on Forth and is called OpenROM or something like that.
I believe that all the adapters had enough of a driver stored onboard
to support booting.  It was supposed to be able to run on any of the
platforms they supported.  I just did a quick search and found
references to OpenROM and OpenBoot.  I believe that the guy
that wrote this is a pretty well know Forth personage.

Now the buzzword is I2O.  Some believe this to be a plot by Intel
to sell more 960's since most (all) I20 adapters have a 960 onboard.
There is a lot of controversy over I2O in the Open Source camp.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Bottorff <janb at pmatrix.com>
To: squeak at cs.uiuc.edu <squeak at cs.uiuc.edu>
Date: Saturday, December 26, 1998 7:11 PM
Subject: Re: SqueakOS

>At 09:32 AM 12/26/98 -0500, Paul Fernhout wrote:
>>I would imagine the big issue isn't getting something to boot -- it is
>>having a knowledge base for interacting with the variety of graphics
>>cards, ethernet cards, modems, SCSI adapters, HD drives, etc.
>I've recently had some interest in development of what I'd call a universal
>device driver spec. This would be a language or mabey just a framework for
>some current language that would allow hardware developers to specify
>Pretty much ALL device divers are currently written with the OS unique code
>mixed in with the device unique code. A very large part of developing a
>driver is understanding the hardware and the subtle ways to interact with
>it. I don't see any good reason why this knowledge can't be stored in a
>form that was totally platform/OS independent. 
>The fantasy is the manufacturer of a piece of hardware could include a
>universal driver (in ROM or on disk). This driver would gurantee your
>hardware at least worked, on any OS that supported the universal driver
>model. This also would not stop companies from developing drivers highly
>tuned to specific device/OS combinations. 
>It seems silly that a large amount of hardware is becoming unusable because
>the manufacturer is not expending software development effort to rewrite
>drivers for each new OS release. For example, many Win95/98 drivers will
>not work with Win 2000, and a BUNCH of hardware will become obsolete. It
>also seems like there is some real possibility of multiple OS's being
>significant on commodity hardware (Windows 98, Windows NT/2000, Linux,
>embedded OS's). Currently, each of these requires very different drivers.
>It occurs to me that Smalltalk might be an excellent tool for modeling this
>OS independence, either as some sort of compiler from universal driver
>format into OS/platform specific format (a driver source code generator) or
>as something more exotic (universal driver virtual machine or even
>compilation of universal driver source code into something executable on
>the fly).
>Right now, I'm in sortof a strategy phase, as in; am I crazy; could this
>actually be made to work; what is the very basic framework to make it work.
>On the plus side, I have lots of experience writing drivers and exotic
>run-time environments (like virtual machines). On the minus side, I don't
>believe anybody has done something like this (mabey there is a good
>reason), and I have to spend a large part of my time doing work for clients
>with better defined projects. 
>It had occured to me hardware manufactures might be interested in funding
>the R&D effort, as it could bring enormous benefits to them down the road.
>Say forty hardware manufacturers put in $25k each, this would provide
>sufficent funds for a small team to make a very serious run at the problem.
>My sense is $25k is a drop in the bucket if your primary task is designing
>a new peripheral device. I'd think the R&D costs for a single printer from
>somebody like HP must be millions of dollars.
>The issue of device drivers is a serious problem across many projects, from
>Windows to Linux to embedded Smalltalk. I personally believe solutions much
>better than are currently available would be possible.
>Jan Bottorff, President
>Paradigm Matrix, Inc.
>            Paradigm Matrix Inc., San Ramon California
>   "video products and development services for Win32 platforms"
>Internet: Jan Bottorff janb at pmatrix.com
>          WWW          http://www.pmatrix.com
>Phone: voice  (925) 803-9318
>       fax    (925) 803-9397
>PGP: public key  <http://www-swiss.ai.mit.edu/~bal/pks-toplev.html>
>     fingerprint  52 CB FF 60 91 25 F9 44  6F 87 23 C9 AB 5D 05 F6

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