Monthly Archives: February 2024

gardenOS Update 1

(This is a random collection of thoughts around my new operating systems project, “gardenOS”.)

What’s up with the “gardening” terminology?

This is a phrase that I feel perfectly describes the ethos of this project. In the same way people have gardens as calm places to express themselves, learn things, and have fun doing work, I want to create an analogous place for exploring my interest in operating systems.

Some key tenants of the approach:

  • No stress
  • Have fun
  • Pursue whatever interests you

I don’t have particularly strong OSdev skills at the moment, so I’m especially focusing on doing small, easy tasks, such as cleaning up the build system. I do this in the same way you might spend an afternoon picking weeds in your little garden. It’s easy, well understood, not too complicated, no large decisions to be made — and it concretely improves the project. It’s a concrete win you can lock in, in a fixed amount of time, with fairly little work.

Disclaimer: I’m almost apprehensive to even give this project a name

I’m worried that even naming this project (“gardenOS”) will put too much pressure on me. I am deeply aware that OS’s take monumental amounts of time and energy to even get to basic states. And at my current rate (~2 hours a week), it’s unlikely we will get to even basic levels soon.

I wasn’t expecting things to get this philosophical this quickly. My focus above all, is to have fun, learn things, and make some small progress each week in the stream. Each week where I do a stream or do some work, any any of that happens, is a win.

I explicitly hold very few expectations around a future “goal” of the project or where I want it to end up. I just want to have fun and learn things about operating systems.

The loose vision I have is to create a minimal OS for play and experimentation. It should be a high quality codebase, and I should work on it as if I wanted to present my best self as an aspiring pro systems programmer.

The ethos of the project

Even though the project is in a maximally nascent stage, I already feel a certain ethos evolving. In the project, we emphasize:

  • Relaxed, casual, kind attitude
  • Learning mindset
  • Ambition to use programming best practices, and aspiring to become pro systems programmers
  • Portray an accurate “slice of life” of systems programming. Meaning: Show the day to day, which is not always thrilling tasks (like adding a syscall), but simply just working on the build system or refactoring some code.

My experience after doing four streams

I’ve done four streams so far (2 live, 2 recorded). My big worries are that I’ll run out of stuff to do and have to scramble to find something to do, live.

This has never happened — I’m always surprised at the adventures “we” find ourselves going on

The use of “we”

The project is just me at the moment, but there’s something about using “we” to describe it that makes me feel good.

It’s not just to make myself seem more impressive, or feel less alone. When I use it, I think of the handful of enthusiastic people that have joined me in the live streams, or left comments with questions or encouragement.

Even in these earliest of days, there is some tiny, microscopic community feel forming. So when I say “we”, I speak for this community.

The astonishing cost/benefit asymmetry of a four-day work week

Work update: I reduced to working 4 days/week and the cost/benefit asymmetry is astonishing.

Just one extra free day might not sound like much, but I feel like I gain >100% more high quality free time (Friday off is even better than Saturday; Sunday is not high quality free time for me – too much adulting to do).

And I lose only 20% of my productive work capacity (Well a bit more; Friday would be a more productive day than average for me b/c it’s quieter & less meetings).

I’ve constantly felt squashed the last few years, but always convinced myself it was a me problem, rather than a possibility that even “normal” working hours didn’t actually leave me with enough free time for everything I had to do*. (Maybe some of both)

But my energy and mood are way better than in a long time, so maybe it goes to show that the latter was the case, and one extra day can go a long way. (But that’s less surprising when you frame it as 100% more time).

I do need to be a bit more conscious of how I use my work week, and I have noticed a tendency to try to fit 5 days of work into 4… but overall it’s going well. I’m curious if I end up filling up the extra personal capacity and end up just as stressed, but I somehow doubt that will happen.

*You might ask, well why are you so busy anyway? Are you just piling on voluntary responsibilities?

I’ve thought about this at length and I think my answer is glibly, “expat life”.