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David, I was quite intrigued by Tao/Intent but never got a chance to play with it.

Where is it at these days?

Do you think it might ever get released like Plan9/Inferno did as an open-source project?


On Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 7:23 AM, David Given <> wrote:
Hash: SHA1

On 22/12/09 14:41, Jorge wrote:
> This reminds me of another direction: distributed computing. Moving
> programs as if they where data around fits the platform pretty well. The
> people at PUC themselves have a few papers on this.

I used to work for a company called Tao Group that did this: our
operating system, intent, was written entirely in portable bytecode that
was translated into machine code at load time.

What's more, internally the OS worked by message passing over abstract
links that could be flattened to a serial stream. This meant you could
build clusters of machines connected by high-speed links; you'd run the
filesystem on the machine closest to the storage, for example. And
because machine code was only generated at load time, the machines could
all be different architectures.

One of our standard test tools when porting to a new architecture was to
hook up the board via a serial link to an intent session running on a
PC. The board would access file system, keyboard, graphics etc via the
link. At 115200 it was pretty slow, but it beat trying to debug on a
serial console.

We had one demo which was a nine-CPU cluster running on a Pentium PC
with an 8-way transputer node. It drew Mandelbrots. Unfortunately, the
transputers were so slow that by the time the 8 transputers had drawn
their rows, the Pentium had done all the rest...

The biggest problem we had is that nobody actually wanted any of this.
We had all this cool technology and no market, which is why neither I
nor anyone else is now working for Tao Group.

(And yes, I *did* port Lua to it. Worked really well, too.)

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