posted by Thom Holwerda on Thu 5th Jul 2007 09:19 UTC
IconAfter interviewing Axel Dorfler yesterday, in this second installment of Five Questions, we interview Robert Szeleney, the main driving force behind SkyOS. SkyOS has been in development since the late '90s, but for the past few years, it has seen rapid development. Read on for Robert's answers to the Five Questions.

1. What are SkyOS' strong points?

Robert: This is always a tricky question to answer in any single way, because really, when answering this for any operating system, the response will change depending on what type of user is using your system.

First and foremost, for those that have not used SkyOS before, one major strength is obviously the LiveCD function that is currently being developed and tested, which allows users to run SkyOS directly from a CD or DVD as a read/write system, and give them a taste of what exactly SkyOS is all about.

From a desktop computer user's perspective, the biggest strength that SkyOS brings to the table is probably that it does a good job of being flexible. By flexible, that means trying to lower the barrier for entry for a new user, while still remaining flexible and powerful for a more experienced "power user".

From a developer's standpoint, one of the major strengths would be integration. SkyOS uses a system of "services", such as the ISS (multimedia), SpellChecker, Indexing, etc. and all of these various services are at the developer's disposal through a fresh, modern, consistent API. The fact that it is fresh is important, because there are no legacies, no relics, that cripple the power at the developers' fingertips.

More holistically, and borrowed from the desktop perspective, as SkyOS moves forward and matures, it will prove itself to be a very flexible system that can be used on platforms not necessarily limited to the traditional computer desktop. For instance, the development team has already looked into and designed early concepts for an application that would function in a way that would turn SkyOS into a media center, for use in a home theater setup. Similar to this, efforts have been made to allow SkyOS to function in "kiosk-mode", for use in locations such as a shopping mall to provide information.

As time continues to move on, it is conceivable that SkyOS could even be engineered to run on devices not limited to a computer at all...

2. What are SkyOS' weak points?

Robert: Obviously at this point, the fact that it is still in development. While SkyOS is currently very capable, and is even close to being at a state where it could be used for simple everyday desktop purposes, there are still many bugs left to work out, and simple features that need to be added and tweaked. Thanks to the efforts of the 1,000+ member beta team, many thousands of bugs have already been fixed. Without the efforts that they have provided in diligently provided, SkyOS would be much further behind than where it is today!

3. What applications are sorely lacking from SkyOS?

Robert: At this point, SkyOS has most of the applications necessary to provide at least limited functionality for a desktop user. These include a web browser, e-mail client, photo editing (Pixel), 3D creation suite, simple text editor, media player, etc. If someone wanted to use SkyOS today, with a defined set of hardware and the debug information stripped out, it could certainly provide for a generally positive experience.

That said, some of the more powerful tools that users have come to expect would be nice to have available. An office suite such as OpenOffice is the obvious first application that would be good to see. In the future, more powerful multimedia tools would also be great to see, though already, the Pixel image editing application has been ported to SkyOS, and does a great job providing users with a more powerful image-editing capability within the system.

These are all applications that we certainly would love to see 3rd-party developers or development teams pick up and bring to the system. Though we have recently closed the beta developer program for the time-being, if any developers or development teams are sincerely interested in bring software to SkyOS, feel free to contact us and we will find a way to get SkyOS to you. We love to see what our community is able to come up with!

4. If there were two features you could magically get from other operating systems, what would they be and why?

Robert: Drivers, for an obvious reason, and if there was something like a "convert Windows DirectX to a native fully integrated SkyOS Framework"...

5. What project, feature, or application currently in development for SkyOS excites you the most, and why?

Robert: First let me say that everything excites me about the development of SkyOS, if this wouldn't be the case I would be definitely the wrong person for it.

Definitely the new System Profiler. Normally whenever you watch an Operating System in action you have no idea what is going on in the background. From time to time there are situations where you just wish to be able to hold the System and see whats going on.

This is what the Profiler is for. With more than 300 different kernel measure points and a full application/library/kernel sample profiler you can virtually look into the system and see what it is doing exactly.

Every action, be it a simple interrupt, an exception, a system call, a thread switch, etc. is recorded and can be visualized in a graph with a microseconds time resolution in the X and a thread list in the Y axis. In this graph you see every process state transition, thread changes, application call stacks and many more.

In contrast to a normal profiler where you just see a call stack like Function A -> Function B -> Function C, you can now also see what happened inside this functions, which thread interrupted you, and more important, why did it interrupt you?, how long did the interruption take, what happened right inside the kernel in this time? Etc..

As you can see this Profiler has a lot of potential, making it rather easy to identify system and even application bottlenecks, which should allow developers to perfectly optimize their applications.

Thanks to Robert for taking the time to answer the five questions.


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