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2003-10-24 , ,

Last summer there was a used book sale in Poughkeepsie and among the other sub-$1 treasures was a copy of the Digitalk Smalltalk/V tutorial and programming handbook. The paperback shipped with the first widely available commercial Smalltalk for IBM PC and Macintosh in 1986. Smalltalk was the first object-oriented language I used so I popped the buck and thought I’d get around to looking through it to refresh my memory. It ended up on my bookshelf, unread.

Smalltalk, for the unintiatated, is the first pure object-oriented language and the first graphical integrated development environment (IDE). It was developed at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the late 1970’s. PARC later licensed Smalltalk-80 through PARCplace/Digitalk and then, when Xerox cut it loose, became the commercial entity Cincom. Fast forward to Squeak. Squeak is a free, liberally licensed (though maybe not strictly OpenSource or DFSG free), actively developed Smalltalk released by one of the original Smalltalk authors, Alan Kay. I’ve been aware of it for a while but have not had the inclination to play with it.

Last week I saw another reference to Squeak. It was Sunday and I was on-call, so sort of confined to the house, and I figured I would download the virtual machine (VM) and image to take a whack at Smalltalk again. You know what? It’s fun. It’s not what I do at work. It’s different and in lots of ways better than I remember. I’m having a good time. I bought a used copy of Chamond Liu’s Smalltalk, Objects and Design and, for nostalgia, one of Adele Goldberg’s Smalltalk 80: The Language (aka the purple book). I found EMACS key bindings for squeak. I’m digging into the class libraries and really liking it. Even if I don’t do a damn thing with it the exercise feels worthwhile and, I might add, it’s not work.


Comments [1]

2003-10-28 22:32 , Nikolas Coukouma

Mmmmmm, smalltalk. What finely aged OO goodness it is.

Actually, I\'m writing about laptops, which is rather off-topic - it\'s just that I couldn\'t figure out another way to contact you. I just recently acquired a Portege 7020CT and am generally pleased with it and have had little trouble with it. The only thing that\'s persistently a problem is getting ACPI to work. When I compile support into the kernel (v2.4.22, with ck patch set) it\'s automatically disabled since the BIOS is from 1999 and assumed to be too old. Passing the kernel option acpi=force makes it load, but then it freezes shortly after detecting the usb hub (usb.c: registered new driver hub is the last thing printed).

Looking at dmesg, it notices a problem with the BIOS\' ACPI implementation, namely implicit return, but it should be recoverable, though. In the hopes that the problem lay there I went through the trouble of pulling the dsdt table out of the BIOS, correcting it, recompiling it, and patching acpi to load my modified table (per directions here: but that doesn\'t help. I tried downloading and using the dsdt on the ACPI4LINUX page ( and the system boots normally, but stops responding to keyboard input (at the very least) within roughly 30secs. It\'s all very frustrating and I was wondering if perhaps you had gotten it working. I know that FreeBSD ignores the implicit return stuff and runs just fine because the previous owner used that.

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