The main idea of the Hurd design is giving users the ability to easily modify/extend the system's functionality (extensible system). This is done by creating filesystem translators and other kinds of Hurd servers.

However, in practice this is not as easy as it should, because creating translators and other servers is quite involved -- the interfaces for doing that are not exactly simple, and available only for C programs. Being able to easily create simple translators in RAD languages is highly desirable, to really be able to reap the advantages of the Hurd architecture.

Originally Lisp was meant to be the second system language besides C in the GNU system; but that doesn't mean we are bound to Lisp. Bindings for any popular high-level language, that helps quickly creating simple programs, are highly welcome.

Several approaches are possible when creating such bindings. One way is simply to provide wrappers to all the available C libraries (libtrivfs, libnetfs etc.). While this is easy (it requires relatively little consideration), it may not be the optimal solution. It is preferable to hook in at a lower level, thus being able to create interfaces that are specially adapted to make good use of the features available in the respective language.

These more specialized bindings could hook in at some of the lower level library interfaces (libports, glibc, etc.); use the MIG-provided RPC stubs directly; or even create native stubs directly from the interface definitions. The lisp bindings created by Flavio Cruz as his 2008 GSoC project mostly use the latter approach, and can serve as a good example. In his 2011 GSoC project, Jérémie Koenig designed and began implementing an object-oriented interface; see his Java status page for details.

The task is to create easy to use Hurd bindings for a language of the student's choice, and some example servers to prove that it works well in practice. This project will require gaining a very good understanding of the various Hurd interfaces. Skills in designing nice programming interfaces are a must.

Anatoly A. Kazantsev has started working on Python bindings last year -- if Python is your language of choice, you probably should take his work and complete it.

There was also some previous work on Perl bindings, which might serve as a reference if you want to work on Perl.

Possible mentors: Anatoly A. Kazantsev (anatoly) for Python



IRC, freenode, #hurd, 2013-12-19

<antrik_> teythoon_: I don't think wrapping libtrivfs etc. for guile
  bindings is really desirable... for the lisp bindings, we agreed that
  it's better to hook in at a lower level, and build more lispish
<antrik> trivfs is a C framework; it probably doesn't map very well to
  other languages -- especially non-imperative ones...
<antrik> (it is arguable whether trivfs is really a good abstraction even
  for C... but that's another discussion :-) )
<antrik> ArneBab: same for Python bindings. when I suggested ignoring
  libtrivfs etc., working around the pthread problem was just a side effect
  -- the real goal has always been nicer abstraction
<anatoly> antrik: agree with you
<anatoly> antrik: about nicer abstractions
<teythoon_> antrik: I agree too, but wrapping libtrivfs is much easier
<teythoon_> otherwise, one needs to reimplement lots of stuff to get some
  basic functionality
<teythoon_> like a mig that emits your language
<braunr> i agree with antrik too
<braunr> yes, the best would be mig handling multiple languages

open issue mig.

<antrik> teythoon_: not exactly. for dynamic languages, code generation is
  silly. just handle the marshalling on the fly. that's what the Lisp
  bindings are doing (AFAIK)
<teythoon> antrik: ok, but you'd still need to parse the rpc definitions,
<antrik> teythoon: yeah, you still need to parse the .defs -- unless we add
  reflection to RPC interfaces...
<antrik> err, I mean introspection