The other day, I came back [to Japan] after giving a speech about TRON at the French Open Linux Association (l'Association Francophone des Utilisateurs de Linux et des logiciels libres [AFUL]). First, let me introduce the situation in France. In Europe at present, Linux, which is an open operating system in the UNIX lineage, is spreading remarkably. There is also the fact that Linux was created in Finland, but this is taking root in feelings of distrust for commercial operating systems, which although they are expensive have not had good support and have had many bugs. In comparison to the instability of the product, the price is high. Even so, if data were made public, it would also be possible to analyze things on your own, but when things are made in the form of black boxes, it invites anxiety and dissatisfaction. On that point, UNIX has been open from the past. And then, with Linux, which has open source code, there is the sense of security that the support is fine even though it's a freeware operating system.
For reasons such as these, the popularity of the Linux open architecture is on the increase. I'm not joking that in Europe there is enthusiasm for unifying UNIX with Linux. What is being most influenced by this movement, incidentally, is [Microsoft Corporation's] Window NT, I believe. AFUL has launched a massive campaign that Linux is competing with Windows NT and about how Linux is the superior operating system. What's also surprising is that the movement has advanced to attempting to employ Linux even in applications that it hasn't been used in, such as the fields of banking and communications where reliability is demanded. The French government also has a great interest in it.
Although the target range of Linux is different, there is also great interest in TRON as an open architecture. The specifications are open, and if the developer gives his okay, the source code can be made public. Actually, ITRON is like that. There was also an enthusiastic question and answer [session] concerning TRON. It seems like the micro-ITRON3.0 specification published by the IEEE Computer Press is playing a role in promoting the TRON Project overseas.
Well then, who will dominate computing in the 21st century? In divining that, the importance of the keyword open architecture is something that will remain steady. To be open does not mean everything is fine if just the contents are made public; for compatibility, standardization is important. On top of that, as for rules, weak standardization in which we decide the minimal rules by making them as loose as possible will become important.
Linux originally designated only the kernel, but calling an entire operating system that utilizes the Linux kernel Linux has come into general use. The topic of Linux has also come to be seen here and there not just in computers magazines, but even in business magazines and ordinary publications. If large numbers of people come to use just this, how to decide the small peripheral specifications will come to be a problem. When we look at things such as the device drivers or the user interface to turn the operating system power supply on and off as an operating system specialist, exactly those places that do not matter will become worse. This, I think, is a point on which the 21st century differs from the 20th century. In the 21st century, the fundamental parts will become unseen, and it will come to pass that we will have to standardize even the parts that do not matter. That accumulation will become the public computer infrastructure.
The above opinion piece by TRON Project Leader Ken Sakamura appeared on page 1 of Vol. 55 of TRONWARE. It was translated and loaded onto this page with the permission of Personal Media Corporation.
Copyright © 1999 Personal Media Corporation
Copyright © 1999 Sakamura Laboratory, University Museum, University of Tokyo