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Name: Brian Gaeke
Member since: 2000-06-22 21:18:01
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I am the principal author of VMIPS, which is a free software MIPS virtual machine simulator. I also used to hack on NetBSD/mac68k. From time to time, I submit bug fixes to my favorite free software programs. I follow the development of mutt closely. I got my start a long time ago writing shareware for the Mac; then I fell in love with the Unix programming environment. I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002; these days I am at the University of Illinois, studying compilers, programming languages, architecture, and virtual machines.


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I've managed to get another major release of vmips out. It doesn't sound like much, but there are many important bug fixes and new features in the new stable (1.2) branch.

Aside from the usual LLVM bug fixes, that's all the free software work I've done lately. I'm concentrating on school work, which I have far too much of. I am starting to think it is time to leave school for good.

What can I say about myself in terms of a status update... well, I've learned SmallTalk. It's a nice piece of engineering. I don't plan to use it for anything. On the other hand, I've also learned wxWindows, and I am actively using it for real work. My work on vmips is creeping along at a glacial pace due to my "real work" workload; my to-do list, as always, can be viewed on the web. But here's something I've wanted to rant about:

(rant "

In praise of Debian stable

Don't listen to those who say that Debian doesn't need to make stable releases. I think there is a vast "silent majority" of people like me out there who run Debian stable machines and spend most of our time not worrying about them. That's the key point: Debian stable actually lets me reduce the amount of time that I spend babysitting my computers. I think that's awesome. So, to all the people out there who are Debian developers and have worked hard to squash bugs in your packages before a release, to make the system more, well, "stable" -- you know who you are -- I just wanted to say, thanks! I appreciate it.

14 Jan 2004 (updated 14 Jan 2004 at 22:02 UTC) »

I've made a lot of progress since September in getting vmips to boot Linux 2.4; in fact, I think the only missing piece now is proper interrupt-driven I/O support in my DZ11 serial chip emulation.

These days I spend the bulk of my time (at work, that is) working on a very nice compiler system called LLVM. It has recently been released under the U of Illinois/NCSA Open Source License. Anyone who's interested in compilers should have a good look at it; it makes writing program transformations a lot nicer than with traditional systems.

I've been messing around a little bit with Objective-C and Apple's Xcode and Interface Builder systems. They're pretty impressive. I worry a bit about Objective-C though; I get the feeling that its various implementations may have diverged more than is appropriate. This year I think I will try to learn SmallTalk.

The vmips 1.1.x releases have come and gone. More recently, I have been working in my spare time on making it possible to boot an operating system on vmips. The testing this effort has required has unearthed many interesting bugs along the way. The NetBSD "dec-docs" archive has been immeasurably helpful. (I expect to make a new major release based on this effort before the year's out.)

I haven't worked on Lisp at all lately. I've too much else to do, and I'm paid to code in C++. More's the pity; many times I've wished for mapcar or remove-if-not and had to make do by hand, using C++ iterators...clunky, but I can appreciate that they're type-safe.

vmips has been on the back burner for a while, stuck in release-candidate limbo while I tend to more pressing (i.e., school, bleh) issues. I should learn to keep my mouth shut and not make, er, "forward-looking statements" I think the prospectuses call them, about when my releases are supposed to come out. :-)

Lately I've decided I need to learn how to do type inference and compile Lisp down to low-level code. I am searching for appropriate papers to read.

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