Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 10th Feb 2007 18:41 UTC, submitted by maverick
OSNews, Generic OSes "Lines that once seemed clear are being smudged. Perhaps we delude ourselves to think that we once knew the difference between a 'big' operating system and a 'little' one, but today the biggest operating system ever written runs on desktop personal computers, not mainframes, and desktop operating systems are migrating to telephones and other consumer devices, while there is a trend for the "little" operating systems developed specifically for those devices to take on many of the capabilities of desktop operating systems as those devices themselves become more like computers. And, as further evidence that the apocalypse is upon us, you can, with Apple's blessing, run Windows Vista natively on your Macintosh. What are operating systems coming to?"
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I very much agree to butters’ ideas. The days when operating systems were bootloaders for applications are pretty much long gone, and there are two main ”ways” in which they’re gone.

# The operating system has integrated a lot of other features (some of them *ahem* choosing to integrate a graphics subsystem so closely you just can’t get rid of it)

# The operating system integrates (necessary/convenience) features. A lot of features could probably be provided in userspace (like network connectivity), but right now we pretty much have drivers for them.

# The operating system has ”pushed it”: either talking about hybrid language-OS (the likes of Forth-based operating systems, Java-based OS-es) or various research ideas like exokernels.

If we were to reduce the operating system to a state where it only has a bootloader and launches a shell, we would get some sort of a CP/M, and really, even with a GUI, 3D acceleration and serious multimedia support, if anyone would use it, I can hardly believe anyone would be so crazy to *develop* for it today, in any other way than for the sake of hobby. [No hard feelings. I liked CP/M in its time.]

KDE is a great example of integration, indeed, but I do believe it suffers from a notable lack of applications. Some of them -- like Amarok or Kile are very good, and there are some others which are worth mentioning, like Kdevelop or Kopete. But coming to Windows, it would need to have the same degree of integration with native Windows applications. I know little about how this is (or is going to be) handled though.

As for Linux being the same on regardless of the distribution, well, yes, as in the kernel stays the same, but this is hardly the point. The software context can be radically different between distributions. There were at least three or four occasions when one application would run perfectly on most distributions but quirk on another due to some strange decision by the distribution developers. If it was indeed the same thing, I can hardly see the point of having more than 10 distributions.

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butters Member since:

Thanks. You'd think on OSNews that a story entitled "Where are Operating Systems Headed" would receive a lot of comments, so I tried to really put some thought into that post. I guess there's just not a lot of interest if there's nothing superficial to argue about.

As for KDE, and KDE on Windows in particular: KDE has a whole boatload of applications, covering about 99% of standard desktop functionality plus nifty hobby apps like the one for astronomy buffs. No set of software is 100% complete for everybody, but KDE comes pretty close. On Windows, KDE will sit atop the Explorer shell, so it will integrate on a basic level with non-KDE apps. You might not be able to drag and drop rich content like RTF or ODF, but I'm not sure you can do that on Windows anyway. Note that I am a GNOME user at the moment, but that doesn't mean I can't be impressed with KDE's recent progress.

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