Wikipedia:Reference desk/Computing

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February 24[edit]

The chip or the OS, the chicken or the egg[edit]

How can it be that an OS is compatible with so many architectures (for example, see the list of Linux supported architectures, ). Do the OS developers design it to be compatible, or do the chip manufacturers make chips that are compatible with OSs? Or, is there a standard in-between which both, chip manufacturers and OS developers, aim to?--Hofhof (talk) 15:06, 24 February 2017 (UTC)

The operating system is made compatible to the chip. Using Linux as an example, I have Linux running my computer here with a standard Intel CPU. I also have it running at home on a Sparc chip. I also had it running on the PS3. Each of those were Linux. I could run XFCE, open Chrome, and surf the web just fine. But, I cannot run the Sparc version of Linux on my Intel box. I cannot run the Intel version of Linux on my Sparc box. The OS is an abstraction of the hardware. It lets me write a program for Linux and then Linux does the dirty work to make what I wrote work on the hardware. Of course, hardware has standards that must be followed. So, they do engineer the hardware to work with the OS that works with those standards - but that is really looking at it a bit backwards. Since the beginning, the purpose of the OS is to abstract the software developer from hardware specifics. (talk) 15:39, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
We have a Wikipedia article on the subject, called Porting. It doesn't go very deep, but it's worth reading. Jahoe (talk) 15:51, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
There are examples of chip design being customized to higher-level software, though not on the GUI level, but on the high-level-language level. See High-level language computer architecture for more about that. I happen to be the proud owner of a (barely) functional Lisp machine, so this is something I find quite interesting. The IP's answer is a good one. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 15:56, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
(ec) One of the big innovations of UNIX was that it was written (well, early-on rewritten) in C, a relatively portable language, with only very small critical parts in assembler. Thus, porting a UNIX or UNIXoid operating system (like Linux and the BSDs) to a new architecture is relatively easy. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 15:57, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
POSIX is an important article on that topic. If it is POSIX-compatible, it will run on any POSIX compatible OS, regardless of the underlying hardware ... in theory. (talk) 17:12, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
Yes, but POSIX specifies the user-facing part of the OS. For porting, we need to port the machine-facing part. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 19:55, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
Is there a name for the standard that a machine has to meet to be able to run an OS or some other code written in C? Hofhof (talk) 01:24, 25 February 2017 (UTC)
No, it works the other way around. Specifications for hardware are released, and OSes are written to interface with the hardware according to those specifications. For instance, here are the Intel Software Developer Manuals for the x86 architecture. Some OSes are written to expect certain features of the underlying hardware, most commonly, these days, support for virtual memory and a memory management unit. For example, see the Linux kernel release notes. The whole point of high-level programming languages and operating systems is to abstract away the underlying hardware, so you can write a text editor or Web browser without having to write directly in machine language or assembler and manage all the hardware yourself. If you're interested in low-level hardware hacking, you'll probably need to read some books and/or take classes to get a firm grasp of all the concepts. We probably aren't going to be able to do a good job of teaching them all on the Ref Desk. -- (talk) 03:34, 25 February 2017 (UTC)
The two can be done concurrently. The largest single contributor to the Linux kernel is now the Intel corporation, Contributing about 11% of new additions to the kernel.[1] (Runners up : Red Hat, Linaro, Samsung) I can't find an easy breakdown of those contributions, but it's safe to say that a large part of them are to better support Intel chipsets. ApLundell (talk) 16:05, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
(Incidentally, that document also debunks the myth that the Linux kernel is maintained by hobbyists. Only 16.4% of contributions were sponsored by "none" or "unknown". ApLundell (talk) 16:08, 24 February 2017 (UTC))
Statistics, harrummphh. The correct statistic would be, what percentage of content has been attributed to "none" or "unknown". Akld guy (talk) 19:59, 24 February 2017 (UTC)

Another aspect of this is the fact that when Intel plans a new CPU, one of the early steps before they make any actual chips is to use a supercomputer to (slowly) emulate a PC using the new CPU and have it boot to the BIOS screen. Then they see if it boots MS-DOS, followed by Linux, then Windows. IIRC, we are talking about boot times measured in months. And of course before a new version of Linux or Windows comes out it obviously gets tested on multiple CPUs. --Guy Macon (talk) 03:29, 25 February 2017 (UTC)

There's not an all-encompassing standard, nor is one needed, but there are tons of little standards that apply to the relevant bits. If the temperature reporting is done by the LM75 chip, say, then the kernel will have code to talk to that chip and to the bus controller chip it hangs on. The hardware interfaces of those chips are then the "standard." Asmrulz (talk) 17:30, 25 February 2017 (UTC)

As in all human endeavors, yes they do try to meet one another halfway. CPU manufacturers maintain some degree of backwards compatibility (you can run XP on a Pentium II, III and 4, after all) and OSes on their part are written with portability in mind (some more than others.) Ideally, porting an OS to a some new architecture would involve hardly more than making a C compiler for it (or rather retargetting an existing compiler to support it) and rewriting the few machine-dependent bits in assembly. Asmrulz (talk) 17:30, 25 February 2017 (UTC)

Portable also means configurable, for example you likely won't find a 8253 timer chip (or its emulation) in a non-Intel architecture. It's an ecosystem. The build process needs to be flexible enough to cover the ways in which one architecture is different from another apart from the machine language (which is taken care of by the compiler.) Asmrulz (talk) 17:48, 25 February 2017 (UTC)

February 26[edit]

Remote Desktop over Ethernet Cable[edit]

I have a computer running Windows Vista, and one running Mac OS Yosemite. I want to use Remote Desktop to connect to the Windows computer from the Mac. The Windows computer has no need to access the Internet, so I'd like to just connect the two computers with an Ethernet cable, but I'm not sure how to go about setting up the connection (I seem to remember that there used to be a way to set up a Point-to-Point connection, but Windows isn't offering me that option now.) Google has lots of advice on setting up file sharing, but I need this to work with Remote Desktop. OldTimeNESter (talk) 00:16, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

You just connect the two computers and use manual configuration to set up the network connection (i.e., assign IP addresses). If the Vista computer is older there's a small chance you'll need a crossover cable or adapter in case its Ethernet adapter doesn't support autonegotiation (most manufactured after the early 2000s do). But are you going to also disconnect the Mac from the Internet, or does it have multiple Ethernet ports? Otherwise you'll need an Ethernet switch, and then you just plug everything into the switch and you have yourself a LAN. -- (talk) 05:53, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
Note that the last option, using an Ethernet switch, will not isolate the Windows computer from the internet. Jahoe (talk) 13:04, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

Personally disabling Wikipedia's custom media player[edit]

Is there a way of blocking the TimedTextHandler script from loading? I don't like its custom media player at all. It's been five years since its introduction, and I'm fed up with looking at its terrible interface. —suzukaze (tc) 05:06, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

Guess your question would make a better chance to get answered on the help desk. They have experts on the many Wikipedia settings. Jahoe (talk) 22:21, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
Thank you, I'll try that. —suzukaze (tc) 08:11, 27 February 2017 (UTC)


Discussion on this topic is at Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities#ICANN. clpo13(talk) 20:09, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

What are the effects of ICANN shifting to international control? Benjamin (talk) 10:05, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

Please do not ask the same question on more than one desk. The discussion is already underway at the Humanities desk. Matt Deres (talk) 19:28, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
Sorry, I wasn't sure which was more appropriate. Benjamin (talk) 02:23, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

GEFS issues[edit]

Since around 2015/16 GEFS-Online in Firefox on my laptop horribly slows down to unplayable level, both the animation and controls (back in the Google Earth era it was playable). Does it now consume more resources? Running Win 7, AMD Athlon II P320 dual core 2.10 GHz, RAM 2 GB, graphic card AMD ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4250. Thanks. Brandmeistertalk 15:21, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

That's not much RAM, so it may be running low on memory and go to paging space, which does slow things down horribly. As to why it worked before, perhaps something is running in background now that takes up more memory. Some type of malware is a possibility. I suggest you monitor memory while running the app, to see if this is the problem. If so, then you can figure out what the memory hog is, using the Task Manager. StuRat (talk) 17:58, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
It uses a different API now. This is probably the cause. Ruslik_Zero 19:57, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
Now seems playable in Google Chrome, but with disabled quality shadows, rendering and multiplayer. Brandmeistertalk 20:13, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

February 27[edit]


[2] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:27, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

As near as I can tell, "hack" = ride and cob (horse) = small horse. With that in mind, is this a gelding ? If not, he's more apt to fight with the males and try to mount the females. But, in any case, riding a horse out onto a busy road, when he's not used to traffic, sounds extremely dangerous, for both rider and horse, and pedestrians and drivers, too. StuRat (talk) 02:53, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
Question removed as likely copyvio of above link. Last time we had this happen, the OP kept posting questions from different people on the forums strongly implying they aren't the original author which seems to be repeated here. I have left the replies as I don't want to get into an argument with those who argue against deleting good faith responses. Nil Einne (talk) 12:04, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
And despite the seeming appropriateness of the title, what the heck is this doing on the Computing RefDesk? Rojomoke (talk) 13:26, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
And not the only one. I deleted another one as the only reply was pointing out it was OT. I think both behaviours add up to something obvious but am sure there are going to be those who disagree. Nil Einne (talk) 14:39, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
Not exactly related, but the term "hack" reminded me of another term for London taxis: Hackney carriage. clpo13(talk) 18:55, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

Type of software in bitbucket and github[edit]

Is there any difference in the type (size, purpose, community based vs. corporate backed, and so on) of software that you can find in bitbucket and github? Are the differences between both platform just a question of how developers prefer to interact with code? Dikipewia (talk) 18:35, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

In terms of features, they're pretty similar, though Bitbucket offers Mercurial in addition to Git and unlimited private repositories for free accounts, whereas GitHub only does Git and free accounts are limited to public repositories. However, there is a perception that GitHub is better for open source projects while Bitbucket is better for enterprise projects ([3], [4]), especially since Bitbucket, owned by Atlassian, offers integration with Atlassian's other enterprise-oriented services, like Jira, Confluence, Bamboo, etc. ([5]). Ultimately, I'd say it's a matter of preference for the developers. You can just as easily host open source projects on Bitbucket, and GitHub offers paid plans that work for enterprise projects with proprietary projects. More comparison links: [6], [7], [8]. clpo13(talk) 18:49, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
<hangs head in shame and mutters> I've been using TFS at my workplace... ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 21:45, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

March 1[edit]