November 5th, 2008

Binding python to v8

Google's v8 virtual machine (part of Chrome) is really great, from a virtual-machine-implementer's perspective. It would be a fantastic backend for Python, because of the way that object mutation and method dispatch is handled. I thought of hacking together a proof-of-concept, but decided that my work at OLPC wasn't really benefited by my going off to spend a year writing a fast Python runtime.

Luckily, I don't have to: pyv8 is a proof-of-concept implementation of just such a thing! And it's ten times faster than standard interpreted Python -- although it should be noted that this is for a strictly toy benchmark.

What's missing is bypassing pyjamas and working directly from python bytecode, and a better attempt at providing python standard library support. Hopefully other bright minds are hard at work on this!

Two questions and a link

Question #1: why doesn't OLPC have any sound theme support in its GUI? Are sounds considered distracting in a classroom environment? Methinks we should look at libcanberra.

Question #2: I wonder if we could merge our funny OLPC activity-and-base-system upgrade mechanism with PackageKit? It seems it was explicitly designed to be tolerant of weird back ends like ours. We could make installing user-local fonts, etc, much more robust and "standard", as well as provide a standard backdoor into RPM for tasks which simply must modify the root filesystem.

Link: a few weeks ago, I put together some screencasts of next-generation Journal prototypes for OLPC. If you're curious what I'm working on, here's part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 at about 5 minutes each (created with recordMyDesktop).

But that's not what I'm working on right now, which is another proof-of-concept prototype of "click to translate" functionality for GTK apps. I'll screencast that as soon as I've got something to show.

Joy

Incidentally, I feel compelled to note that, based on Massachusetts ballot question and general election results, the majority of Massachusetts residents agree with me completely.

And the country as a whole agrees with my preference for the American presidency. Go, us!