Linked by Kroc Camen on Thu 5th Nov 2009 21:05 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y There's no right way to do it, only ideas that are better than others in certain situations. But if you had the opportunity to head up the design of a new OS, one to Put Things Right, one that could be radical enough to varnish out those UI/X bumps that have clung on for years, but practical enough to be used every day, what would you design? How would you handle application management? What about file types and compatibility? Where would you cherry pick the best bits from other OSes and where would you throw away tradition? I've tackled this challenge for myself and present (an unfinished idea): KrocOS (warning: HTML5 site, will display without CSS in IE/older browsers). OSnews Asks: What would make your perfect OS?
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"Text Editor - vi or emacs or notepad? Wait, what about Wordpad? Or is that Word Processor? But what about Word? No, what about ooo-writer?

Again, just purely ideas and I never designed it to be a solution to 3rd parties disagreeing with each other. If I could make an OS that regular people could accomplish everything they ever needed, easily, then it would still be a success—even if you couldn’t install Word on it.

There are ways to solve this problem. It could be as simple as a simple priority list: Text Editor would not be a single app, but any app that implements Text Editor. It might be possible to create an easy UI that allows the user to know that there are multiple options and toggle between them without requiring specific names. Or, perhaps a creator code type system could be used to select a preferred one if many are available.

I never for a moment thought about my design as a 'desktop metaphor'. I just personally like my devices on the desktop picture, like we have on OS X, Amiga OS and even as I was doing so in the 1980s with GeOS. It’s one less screen to go through to get to something, unlike Windows—I hate the clunkiness of “My Computer”.

Several of the things you describe, most notably any talk about folders, suggests a desktop metaphor. Sorry if this is not what you intended.

I don't have a problem with icons on my workspace indicating devices, although I don't prefer it, but don't call it a desktop (-:

"You could not guarantee an ability to understand every kind of file that exists

File filters would be centralised like Amiga OS, so they could at least be easily plugged in and all apps would gain the ability to understand new file types.

Doesn't BeOS also do this? I do like it, it's the correct answer as far as I'm concerned, but in the real world you have to have an answer for what to do with unknown file types (or file types where splitting information out of the file is not feasible).

Ideally all files would be in some kind of nice format (I rather liked IFF and its friends) but in the real world legacy formats must be accommodated.

1. this is contrived because these things would have to be ported, and that would be unlikely, the built in editor would be as good as GIMP to begin with, and those needing something even better could swap out the built-in editor with a new binary (keeping the same verb), or use a new verb of their choosing ('Photoshop' ;) ). Maybe “Edit (Pro)”, or have the simple editor as “Modify” and the complex editor as “Edit“.

The situation is contrived for this specific case, but in general an answer is needed. I am not against removing specific names but there are some problems with doing so. Another example: Grandma doesn't need something as complex as the GIMP or an editor of similar power, she just needs to remove red eye. Is it still a good idea to make the default editor so powerful? This is a less contrived reason why you might need two programs that can do the same thing (retouch photos).

"The way to avoid minimize/maximize, etc, is to use a modal interface and multiple desktops/modeviews.

Haven’t done much about this, but one idea I had was perhaps a workspace manager could minimise / maximise entire sets of windows into an icon on the desktop. Instead of virtual desktops, you would have groups of windows that could all be hidden or shown together when you wanted, and this information stored as a file that you could name and move around. Thus you can setup a screen full of windows for a particular task (like debugging) and save this session to a file that you can open at any time.

I like it. It would be especially useful if I could store iconified work-sets like this on my dock, which I like to keep as an ever-present 64px sidebar on the right hand of my screen. The only thing at that point would be to make some good keybindings for rapidly toggling between them.

It would solve my need for 32 virtual desktops fairly well, without the clutter of always having 32 desktops.

You could even throw in session/state management features. When iconified the entire work-set could be unloaded and saved to disk, then copied to another computer and restored. Maybe.

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Kroc Member since:

Also, I would expand on this, and add that if window and program session state were transient enough that we could freely move it around (like something from Plan9), then I would like the ability that I could drag a file into someone else’s computer across the network, but instead of seeing just a folder hierarchy of that computer, I would see the actual computer’s screen with its session. In fact, I could just freely use any computer’s session on the network (if I had permissions to do so), like a super virtual desktop.

This would reduce the disconnect regular users feel with the difference between accessing data when in front of a computer, and accessing the same data from another computer. It’s not like-for-like enough IMO.

Reply Parent Score: 1