2020: Will BSD and Linux be relevant anymore?

C. P. Ghost cpghost at cordula.ws
Thu Jul 21 08:52:29 UTC 2011

On Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 2:05 PM,  <perryh at pluto.rain.com> wrote:
> Gary Gatten <Ggatten at waddell.com> wrote:
>> ... can a HAL be developed that runs on BSD that "emulates"
>> Winblow$ such that any driver written for Winblow$ will "work"
>> on *BSD?
>> ...
>> Something in the back of my head says there was / is something
>> along this line already available or in the works, but I can't
>> recall for sure.
> I _think_ we may already have something along these lines for
> NDIS (network) drivers, but I don't know how well it works.

Not using it today, but it helped me in the past for some exotic NICs.

Regarding the "Windowsulator", I'm wondering if such a compat layer
would be possible. Don't Windows drivers all get created by some kind
of DDK/WDK, against a stable kernel-ABI?

I'm not familiar with Windows, but I don't think a typical windows
driver as written by a hardware vendor would manipulate the windows
kernel internals (data structures) directly, right? If that's correct,
we "merely" need to catch the ABI up- and down-calls from and to the
windows driver, and translate them into regular FreeBSD syscalls
(maybe augmented by a compat helper library?).

Since this is exactly the approach taken by the Linuxulator, I fail to
see why a similar method hasn't been tried for those windows kernel
driver (binary blobs). Maybe some artificial restrictions like, say,
patents are standing in the way? Or a technical restriction like such
binary blobs being encrypted with a public key, and only usable from
Windows kernel with their own secret key?

Only windows kernel hackers can tell.


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