This week, KernelTrap has been honored by an exclusive interview with the elusive kernel hacker, Renaldo Esp. Living adjacent to the largest contiguous wilderness area on this planet, Renaldo describes himself as a "Wilderness Alaskan".
"Renaldo has had a profound impact upon the face of kernel hacking, though with his typical modesty he expresses his surprise that we've taken notice. He offers insights into a number of current events in the open source world, including with Linux, *BSD and the GNU/Hurd. From questions in licensing, to the BitKeeper drama, to the name GNU/Linux, to the timeless issue of flossing after hacking... It's all here.
Jeremy Andrews: Can you please share a little about yourself and your background?
Renaldo Esp.: Doning the appearance, I was told recently, as one who seemed to be coming and going at the same time, like the "pushme-pullyou" of Dr. Dolittle, from that standpoint I hope to push and pull the appearance of these questions until I get to a deeper understanding, possible in their answers. That answers are neatly provided within most questions, I, as a questioner myself, anticipate fondly these questions. In essence, I question things, have a BA, an MA in Philosophy and another degree which may eventually surface; I graduated from the educators career way back in '94.
JA: I'm surprised you don't list a BS in there too... In any case, how does one graduate from an educator's career? Do you mean you graduated from college with your above degrees?
Renaldo Esp.: Thanks...glad you notice the scientific bent that would imply the BS degree. BA, MA from college; graduated from educator's career = 'retired' from teaching in '94.
JA: When did you first start working with computers?
Renaldo Esp.: Working with...playing with is more to the point. I presume that one can really love their work and by logic, if one works with computers and loves it, it becomes playlike and, as such, my 'play with' could be my work with...and, in those terms, I began working with computers around 1981.
JA: What happened in 1981 that fortuitously brought computers into your consciousness, be it work or play, or both?
Renaldo Esp.: Exposure happened in 1981; I saw, I used, I conquered, I played with and we began the giggly relationship from that point on. "I think, therefore I am", in this case was: I directly perceived, therefore I played.
JA: When did you begin hacking on computer kernels?
Renaldo Esp.: On one occasion, around 1984, while playing (you say, 'working') with my computer and trying to finish my corn on the cob ( hereafter: CotC),I did hack on some kernels. How did you know? Do you have one of those computer "anywhere" programs where, at any time, anywhere, you can view what's going on in my computer? Incredibly insightful of you.
JA: Your efforts in kernel hacking are less well known than some. Could you elaberate a little on what you've been working on lately?
Renaldo Esp.: I would expect that those who have never attempted to consume CotC while computering would have the experience more like kernel non-hacking, whose efforts would then be likely not only to be less well known but likely also to be non-existent. As to my specific efforts to hack kernels, which I agree are potentially less well known, I would have to say that I am both gratified as to the relative sanctity of the lack of known effort on my part and the attendant embarrassment-less gustatorially epistemological problem that essentially denies that problem. Yes. I've been working on empty sets, quasi untrapped kernels,or free radicals of pre-primordial metaphysical presuppositions attainable at transcendent direct experiences. Thanks for asking.
JA: I suspect this may be quite interesting, though I confess to being still but a child in comprehending all of what you refer to. Quasi untrapped kernels sound suspiciously offtopic for this web page, but perhaps you could offer more detail regarding your experiences with the other, uh, stuff, for lack of a better word?
Renaldo Esp.: It's all about direct experience. Oddly or not, all topics are off topic, except those experiences that impose themselves on us. The difference is counting birds for a bird count and directly experiencing birds.
JA: Some people think the word 'hacker' has too many negative connotations in the media, and thus that the term 'kernel hacker' should be replaced with something else. What do you think?
Renaldo Esp.: Sure. Probably 'kernel trapper' makes more sense in a direct perception approach. Why, I believe your own inspired site alludes to the experience itself, in calling it kerneltrap. Sly question, 'eh what. You are searching for a compliment and you got one...jolly good! I would need to know more about the nature of the traps set for the kernels, however humane though I trust they would be. I find the teeth do a pretty first rate job and, if for whatever reason, one could save them once they were discreetly removed with pick or floss...there's the rub. How to integrate pre-primordial metaphysical transcendent presupposed directly experienced empty sets with discreetly removed kernels. An a priori removal might be a hint here, phenomenologically speaking, of course.
JA: Your descriptions of the traps afflicting kernels leaves me to wonder just how it is that you'd define a computer kernel? What is it, and what does it do?
Renaldo Esp.: More like traps aflicking kernels, once trapped. A CotC direct experience while computing promotes the definition: a computer kernel is a trapped kernel while computing.
JA: How then, would you define a kernel trap, other than it being the name of this website?
Renaldo Esp.: A kernel trap is any kind of trap that would trap kernels; how many traps would a kernel trap trap if a kernel trap would trap kernels? A kernel trap traps as many kernels that it traps as kernels are there to be trapped.
JA: When writing kernel code, do you prefer to release it under the GPL, the BSD license, or another license?
Renaldo Esp.: I've never neither licensed nor released, nor advocated the licensure nor release of written nor even expressed kernel code, though I realize your question presupposed licensing has already occurred. If you are adamant about the structure imposing itself upon the direct apprehension through licensure, I would recommend the BSD, though the removal and or release of the kernel and or its code (whatever that word inspires) does not gain my confidence. BullShitDentist (BSD)...I've never. Besides, if your kernel was a direct experience, referred to earlier, you would certainly not need a code, nor license and definitely not a BSD to remove it (or your word, 'release it')
JA: Insightful, the thought that there may not be a need for licenses at all, though to not even need the code is a little too large of a leap for me at this time. How could one have a kernel, or a kernel trap, without the code?
Renaldo Esp.: Directly experience the kernel; directly experience the kernel trap until both the kernel and the kernel trap eidetically present themselves, phenomenologically speaking and there they are, 'in themselves.' The code degrades them, like a label, that once labeled can be put on the shelf and forgotten. Label the bird and put it on the shelf and that's it. Spend the day in the bird's haunt, watching, observing, noting its action, the day, the warmth and breeze on your cheek...the interaction of everything seen, heard, felt, imagined...until no labels suffice...until no words count...until the bird experience is your experience. No separation. No space between. Direct experience instead of labeling, codifying.
JA: Having defined BSD for us, could you also define GPL? I'm beginning to conclude that perhaps nothing is as it once seemed...
Renaldo Esp.: Nothing is ever as it seems, since seeming is illusion. The only way to the 'real' is through direct experience. Back to the last question, if you can have a direct 'code' experience, if that is possible, then you are no longer codifying, you are code itself. GPL, something I have no degree in, is nevertheless definable, but, of course defining itself is nothing, if not labeling, depriving us of direct experience. GPL, let me say, stands for "Good Purpose Labeler." It comprises those folks who need to justify their labeling intentions, even though honestly there are no good purposes for doing such labeling. Kind of like going to church each Sunday, in case there is a God. Good intentions, but mislead motivation. Reality check reveals unreality.
JA: Richard Stallman leads a campaign to have Linux as a whole be officially referred to as GNU/Linux in an effort to acknowledge history. Which side of this debate are you on?
Renaldo Esp.: Sorry to be so contrary, but, I am on neither side of the debate at exactly the same moment. At pennies per share, Linnux should not be had at all and is more a hole than a whole. History, as an eidetic reduction and as an amorphous, but potentially empty pre-perceived etheric bond contributes nothing, perhaps even meta no-thing. Meta no-thing and hole at exactly the same moment is akin to spatial black holeness, discussable, but also definitely flushable. As well, the word "campaign"...'nuff said.
JA: Having read this three times, I'm compelled to ask if you've ever run, or plan to run, for political office?
Renaldo Esp.: You are extremely astute. Part of my discovery, mentioned above, that you read three times...is a segment of my actual campaign. As a graduated educator, if what I said caused you to read it three times, perhaps it would cause others to read it at least once. I would be known as the "Reader's Politician."
JA: You mention "Linnux" being at pennies a share. By this I assume you are referring to some company's position on the stock market? Do you then consider Linux to be a product owned and trademarked by a public company?
Renaldo Esp.: Certainly not. Yet, Linnux itself, behaves as if it was merely a stock. Its holes are vast and open to even greater holes; thus, the name, open source; some refer to it as open sores, but that's not a label I would extend. Besides, such a label would inhibit the possibility of my directly experiencing it.
JA: Linux is often looked upon as being the flagship of the open source movement. A little over a year ago, Linux creator Linus Torvalds began using a proprietary tool to manage kernel source development. A debate has been ongoing ever since between those that think it's always a good idea to use the best tool for the job, and those that think it's morally wrong to use anything except free software when developing Linux. Can you offer some insight into this situation?
Renaldo Esp.: "Always" and "best" are the problem words there...as are "morally wrong." Absolutes expressed in a transient atmosphere of putrefying intentions and befuddled concepts will never get us beyond good and evil. Read your Nietzsche and your George Shrub and ask that question again, if you must.
JA: Bleary eyed after a long night of reading "The Birth of Tragedy", "Thus Spoke Zarathustra", "Beyond Good and Evil", and "Oil, Worth Dying For", I still feel a little hollow, wanting an answer to my earlier question. What do you think of Linus using a proprietary tool to manage the development of free software?
Renaldo Esp.: So proud am I of you, bleary eyed and all. You are also very persistent. For each job, you need the right tool. If Linus thinks he's got the right tool (proprietary tool) for the job he wishes to do, by all means, he should use it. Asking me that question causes me to think that you, yourself, wonder if Linus actually has the right tool yet. Especially since the question is about 'a' tool rather than 'the' tool. Does 'the' tool exist? By what standard would you be able to recognize 'the' tool? Only a direct experience of 'the' tool would allow one to suspect that one had 'the' tool...have you had such an experience? "Oil, Worth Dying For"...indeed, this is the argument of 'the' tool over 'a' tool; dollars and spigots vs. bayonettes.
JA: There are currently three IO schedulers being worked on in Andrew Morton's -mm development tree. Which of these three do you prefer, the "anticipatory scheduler", the "complete fair scheduler", or the standard "deadline scheduler"?
Renaldo Esp.: While "complete fair scheduler" is noteworthy, it just isn't ontological, ie, its beingness is not essential and worse, inexistent, as we know it. Folks maintain it, but no one believes or acknowledges it as an existent reality. "Anticipatory Scheduler" is not good, but true. That's the dude who likes to schedule, can't, but at least anticipates doing so, at some point. Slimy, juicy, unfortunate, but, indeed real. Never realized there were three IOs. Only knew two...either you go 'inside' or 'outside.'
JA: Fortunate that you've pointed out the nonexistance of the third IO scheduler, as this is a key component of the Linux kernel, and up until now I'd always believed it existed. This is obviously an important realization, as kernel developers will be unable to release 2.6 without an IO scheduler. (Unless we go back to your earlier idea of a licenseless, codeless kernel. But we're not there yet.) Which then, of these two existent IO schedulers would you say should become the default?
Renaldo Esp.: 'Outside,' since, despite the risks inherent of habitat intrusion and survival, the humanoid has, at least, the opportunity of an environmentally relevant direct experience, as opposed to the other leg of IO, 'Inside'.
JA: As I understand it, among your many other accomplishments, you have an extensive background in BSD unix. Three of the better known open source BSD kernels are FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD. Can you talk about the differences you perceive between each, and what advantages each holds over the other?
Renaldo Esp.: Wow. BSD again. Okay, if you like. FreeBSD is free BullShitDental work, which you wouldn't expect it to be otherwise. OpenBSD is merely a directive and integrates with the free. Open wide and get your free BullShitDental work. NetBSD is, worse case scenario, what happens when the BullShitDentist tries to charge you for his service...ie, net BullShitDental charges, less costs. Basically NetBSD is bottom line profit. The advantage of each over the others is obvious...but the major advantage is to avoid the whole experience (or hole experience) and just do your own flossing. I prefer waxed peppermint.
JA: I appear to have momentarily lost focus, suddenly finding us talking about dental floss. Is this perhaps an activity that you find beneficial to your thought process when you're hacking away on computer kernels?
Renaldo Esp.: Absolutely. The Heimlich Maneuver in severe cases of kernel hacking and flossing only for residual kernels, post hacked, you might say.
JA: The GNU/Hurd has been under development for over a decade, started in 1990. For the reader's that are unfamiliar with the GNU/Hurd, I'll offer some quick definitions from the Free Software Foundation's home page. 'GNU' stands for "Gnu's Not UNIX", while 'Hurd' stands for "Hird of Unix-Replacing Daemons" and 'Hird' stands for "Hurd of Interfaces Representing Depth". The project is making progress, but still seems to have quite a ways to go. When do you expect we'll see a stable release of the GNU/Hurd, and what are some of the remaining obstacles?
Renaldo Esp.: Sorry to blow the testtube, but there are no stable releases now, nor will there ever be, at least in our spherical realm. No matter how you spell it, "hurd, hird or herd," not only would I not welcome any in my barn, I wouldn't even know what to feed them. Although, perhaps a scoop of empty setted direct experience presuppositions might contain some hunger until we could anticipate their true feeding schedule. Perhaps, if that were accomplished, it would be a "completely fair scheduler."
JA: What do you enjoy doing when you're not graciously giving interviews and being the quintessential kernel hacker?
Renaldo Esp.: I enjoy direct experiences of all types. It energizes everything: breathing, flossing, computering, manure scraping, moon gazing, poker playing, bird watching, haikuing, tooth brushing, shovel tossing, practicing being here:
the great horned, pygmy
two owls mixing winter breaths
watching mouse shadows
JA: What pearls of wisdom can you share with aspiring kernel hackers, drawing on your own personal experience?
Renaldo Esp.: Don't eat CotC while playing at or working at computing. Stay away from empty sets and likely emptiness itself. Since emptiness, like a slippery pig, cannot be grasped and pinned down, we turn to substitutes that we can hang onto. If you have enough kernels and since pigs are omnivorous, if you also have enough kernel hackers, (poor devils), you can solve the problem of emptiness and slippery pigs all at once. Place the kernels and the kernel hackers into the trough, stir vigorously and the pigs will fill the emptiness with their munching. A void a day filled keeps the BSD away; heah, this is coming together nicely. There is a God. Oh yes, read your Nietzsche...and since 'wisdom' comes from the greek word, 'sophia,' find a girl, named Sophia and give her a necklace of 'pearls'.
JA: Thank you very much for sharing with us all these profound insights.
Renaldo Esp.: Most gracious Sir. One of my most enjoyable experiences is the direct experience of this serious interview and interviewer on this sacred auspicious first day of April, 2003.
Keep the trap empty!!
To any confused KernelTrap readers, perhaps you should follow this link and learn more about 'April Fools Day'.
Mark Twain, the same man who said, "Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed", describes this day as, "The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year".
In a different light, poet, author, and artist William Bake offered simply, "A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees."
And not to be left out, from Ambrose Bierce's timeless "The Devil's Dictionary":
"FOOL, n. A person who pervades the domain of intellectual speculation and diffuses himself through the channels of moral activity. He is omnific, omniform, omnipercipient, omniscient, omnipotent. He it was who invented letters, printing, the railroad, the steamboat, the telegraph, the platitude and the circle of the sciences. He created patriotism and taught the nations war -- founded theology, philosophy, law, medicine and Chicago. He established monarchical and republican government. He is from everlasting to everlasting -- such as creation's dawn beheld he fooleth now. In the morning of time he sang upon primitive hills, and in the noonday of existence headed the procession of being. His grandmotherly hand has warmly tucked-in the set sun of civilization, and in the twilight he prepares Man's universal grave. And after the rest of us shall have retired for the night of eternal oblivion he will sit up to write a history of human civilization."