TOSP Quarterly, issue 1

Back in January, after observing that I failed at providing TOSP with a big enough stream of work, I decided to try out two things. First one was to save up half an hour every morning for TOSP work, second was to write progress reports more frequently, so as to notice problems and react to them more quickly. This is the first occurence of the latter.

January started by noticing that the TOSP kernel, like most others, was relying heavily on text data, and that I was making the common mistake of using ASCII characters for that purpose. Before disasters happen, I decided to fix that by switching to Unicode for the bulk of my text management needs. To this end, I got myself a printed copy of the Unicode Standard, got a hold of how things were working and what was needed at the kernel level, and sketched out a migration plan, with an appendix on the tricky notion of string equivalence in Unicode.

Starting to work on the implementation side of things, I subsequently realized that a clean way to transmit data files to the kernel before mass storage access is available would come in handy. I called such files modules, and started working on a concrete module management design and interface.

Smaller highlights of the quarter also included a proposal for immutable page flags, a visual redesign of the kernel boot screen, and a thoroughly justified rant about UEFI Secure Boot’s design.

The most important thing of note, however, is a more negative consideration: starting around the middle of February, I started to have issues keeping work on TOSP at a good pace again. Things became irregular, then slowed down, then work pretty much stopped. I don’t know why this happened, I’m not sure how it happened, but it is part of an overall drop of motivation in everything, of issues convincing me to do anything on my spare time. It’s not first time I experience this, and I am getting tired of fighting against myself periodically, so I guess that once again, like last year, I’m going to look for some medical help. Hopefully, things will go somewhere on this front this time…

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