Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 3rd Jan 2017 22:47 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

Me, almost seven years ago (2010), about the dearth of news about alternative operating systems:

OSNews has moved on. As much as it saddens me to see the technology world settling on Macwinilux (don't flatter yourself, those three are pretty much the same), it's a fact I have to deal with. It's my job to fill OSNews with lots of interesting news to discuss, and even though I would love to be able to talk about how new and exciting operating systems are going to take over the desktop world, I have to be realistic too. Geeks (meaning you and I) have made a very clear choice, and it doesn't seem like anything's about to bring back those exciting early days of OSNews.

Me, almost four years ago (2013), about why there are no mobile hobbyist operating systems:

So, what is the cause? I personally think it has to do with how we perceive our smartphones and tablets. They are much more personal, and I think we are less open to messing with them than we were to messing with our PCs a decade ago. Most of us have only one modern smartphone, and we use it every day, so we can't live with a hobbyist operating system where, say, 3G doesn't work or WiFi disconnects every five seconds due to undocumented stuff in the chip. Android ROMs may sound like an exception, but they really aren't; virtually all of them support your hardware fully.

With people unwilling to sacrifice their smartphone to play with alternative systems, it makes sense that fewer people are interested in developing these alternative systems. It is, perhaps, telling that Robert Szeleney, the programmer behind SkyOS, moved to developing mobile games. And that Wim Cools, the developer of TriangleOS, moved towards developing web applications for small businesses. Hard work that puts food on the table, sure, and as people get older priorities shift, but you would expect new people to step up to the plate and take over.

So far, this hasn't happened. All we can hope for is that the mobile revolution is still young, and that we should give it some more time for a new, younger generation of gifted programmers to go for that grand slam.

I sincerely hope so.

I don't know, for some mysterious reason I figured I'd link to these seven and four year old stories.

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There's Redox, and the new world
by thesunnyk on Wed 4th Jan 2017 01:48 UTC
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There's still a lot of exciting stuff going on in OSes, but more and more I'm reading about it from outside of OSnews. For example, I get more of my info regarding Redox OS from Phoronix (a "Linux" site) than I get from OSnews, and I would have thought that I would get blow-by-blow accounts of Redox development. Maybe the thing that's changed is... Thom? Maybe his heart's just not in it any more (or maybe it was never in it, just in BeOS / Haiku). The thing is that back in the day, an "OS" was basically just a kernel and a couple of supporting tools. This means that anyone could "compete" by writing a fairly small amount of stuff. Today, by contrast, you need a desktop, applications, and cross-platform compatibility.

If there's anything that Linux and BSD has taught us, it's that even with putting all our eggs in that one Linux basket, what we end up with is 1% desktop market penetration, and a very timid upgrade cycle by the enterprise. There's an order of magnitude more software, and making it all work is orders of magnitude more difficult. If that's the bar for entry as an OSNews article, then frankly it is a very high bar.

I feel like OSnews could help in championing these burgeoning OSes, perhaps encouraging people to set up VMs or having regular reviews of these tiny OSes. That's going to take some extraordinary effort from Thom, but certainly the OS "market" is not dead.

As for Mobile OSes, there's also been a bunch of stuff happening, though it's died again, with Sailfish, Firefox, Ubuntu, etc. I don't believe the issue here is what Thom believes, however. I (and I bet many others here) have a bunch of older phones sitting around which I could shove new OSes onto. It's not that we don't, it's that we can't.

Unlike the IBM PC, which is largely hardware compatible with other PCs, save for some drivers, the mobile phone is not. Even the boot process is not standard, much less drivers, most importantly video drivers. Even getting mainline Linux running on a nexus device is a huge pain, and getting OSS drivers for Qualcomm stuff seems to be an impossible feat. How would this translate to a standard "OS distribution" which can be packaged and run without creating binary packages for each individual model of phone, like Cyanogen does? The closed nature of mobile phones makes mobile OSes harder. There needs to be a better solution.

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