FreeBSD Most wanted

Daniela dgw at
Fri Mar 5 07:17:00 PST 2004

On Friday 05 March 2004 06:43, Willie Viljoen wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Daniela" <dgw at>
> To: "Johnson David" <DavidJohnson at>;
> <freebsd-advocacy at>
> Sent: Friday, March 05, 2004 8:15 AM
> Subject: Re: FreeBSD Most wanted
> > On Thursday 04 March 2004 23:12, Johnson David wrote:
> > > On Thursday 04 March 2004 02:40 pm, Daniela wrote:
> > > > Cross platform applications are slower than apps that are optimized
> > > > for one particular platform. I know what I'm speaking of. What are
> > > > the extended features of a platform good for, when you can't use them
> > > > because another platform doesn't have them?
> > >
> > > Not necessarily true. You won't be able to perform any platform
> > > specific optimizations, but in general cross platform code is not any
> > > slower than platform specific code. Three examples: NetBSD, Linux
> > > kernel, Qt. Neither NetBSD nor Linux are considered "slow" by any
> > > stretch of the imagination. Qt is impresively fast, and is only called
> > > "sluggish" by biased trolls.
> >
> > I'm not speaking of your average code, I'm speaking of high-speed
> > assembly language programs.
> True, assembly language, you will generally find, differs for each seperate
> platform. This presents a unique hurdle to cross platform development, but
> it is not one that cannot be overcome. Again, my favourite new jargon term,
> the abstraction layer, can come in to help us get around this problem.
> The first step in getting to an environment where every application works
> with almost every computer is to begin designing the ultimate abstraction
> layer for your program. Yes, you will have to move away from assembly, to
> something slightly less low level, but C would be more than sufficient.
> Better yet, if you take the time to make your code ANSI C compliant, you've
> already crossed one hurdle, any recent C compiler on any platform should
> now be able to compile your code.
> Next, you want to look at all the different optimizations available for
> each platform. The trick here is to identify similarities between
> extensions on each platform. Now, writing your abstraction layer, in each
> of your drivers, you want to make full use of the extensions in each
> platform, also, you want to write compatibility "kludges" for every single
> feature you use. In this way, you can write the program to talk to the
> abstraction layer only. Then, your abstraction layer can be written to take
> full advantage of an extension if it is present, or kludge around it if it
> isn't.
> Furthermore, your application can be seperately compiled on each platform.
> The possibility has long existed to compile code selectively, even
> conditionally compiling only certain parts of individual files. Compiling
> on each platform in this way will only use extensions native to that
> platform. The program will only talk to its abstraction layer and won't
> notice the difference. The abstraction layer will be compiled with
> optimizations for each platform. As all C compilers do not actually compile
> into machine language, but generate an assembly dump which is then
> optimized and compiled to machine code, this will get you as close as you
> can be to rewriting the program in assembly for each platform.
> What you will end up with is a program that can move almost effortlessly
> between platforms, without sacrificing on performance or the use of
> features. If you want a good case in point here, you need only look at
> NetBSD, which runs on more platforms than any other operating system, and
> can not be accused of being slow or unoptimized. A good demonstration of
> writing code in this way can also be found in the Linux kernel. When
> compiling Linux, the target platform is one of the first choices you face.
> When an appropriate platform is selected, conditional compiling builds the
> kernel in such a way that all available extensions for that platform are
> made use of.
> Writing applications to do the same is not that hard, and the payoff is
> better integration and compatibility for everyone.

That's exactly what I like to do, except that I do the low-level thing, and 
let other people write the high-level stuff that talks to my abstraction 
layer. Sometimes I even write a user interface myself, but only when I have 
time. I hate the idea of being locked into using one particular interface, so 
I also want my users to have the choice.

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