Linked by David Adams on Mon 4th Oct 2010 19:32 UTC, submitted by Idefix
OSNews, Generic OSes Once upon a time, operating systems used to matter a lot; they defined what a computer could and couldn't do... Today, there's only one operating system: Unix (okay, there are two, but we'll get to that). This is why I contend that the OS doesn't matter - or that we need to take another look at the word's content, at what we mean when we say 'Operating System'.
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JLG is right
by Eugenia on Mon 4th Oct 2010 19:49 UTC
Eugenia
Member since:
2005-06-28

What matters is the experience you get, the high level stuff, not what's under the hood. The OS, as a part of the system that a consumer needed to know before buying, died a few years ago. As we move towards a new age, these things won't matter. Integration to Facebook will matter more.

Reply Score: 2

RE: JLG is right
by No it isnt on Mon 4th Oct 2010 20:25 in reply to "JLG is right"
No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

Blah, blah, consumer. No, nothing else matters. Really.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: JLG is right
by malxau on Mon 4th Oct 2010 20:45 in reply to "JLG is right"
malxau Member since:
2005-12-04

What matters is the experience you get, the high level stuff, not what's under the hood...

As a user, this makes complete sense. However, JLG seems to contradict himself when he mentions the steady movement towards a particular "under the hood" implementation - if what's "under the hood" really didn't matter, why would Apple or Palm incur such disruptive expense to change it all?

One could suggest that what's "under the hood" matters a whole awful lot, and individual companies can no longer compete on building a solid OS implementation, which forces them to use technology developed externally. User expectations about the capabilities of an OS are just too high to have a zillion competing reimplementations. The UX story, valid as it is, relies on having a complex OS with a large number of functions to expose to the user.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: JLG is right
by tony on Mon 4th Oct 2010 20:59 in reply to "RE: JLG is right"
tony Member since:
2005-07-06

"What matters is the experience you get, the high level stuff, not what's under the hood...

As a user, this makes complete sense. However, JLG seems to contradict himself when he mentions the steady movement towards a particular "under the hood" implementation - if what's "under the hood" really didn't matter, why would Apple or Palm incur such disruptive expense to change it all?

One could suggest that what's "under the hood" matters a whole awful lot, and individual companies can no longer compete on building a solid OS implementation, which forces them to use technology developed externally. User expectations about the capabilities of an OS are just too high to have a zillion competing reimplementations. The UX story, valid as it is, relies on having a complex OS with a large number of functions to expose to the user.
"

The underlying complex OS has pretty much been conquered in terms of the needs of a complex UI/UX. Take Android: It's based on Linux, but assuming the drivers were there, would it be a different platform if it ran on top of FreeBSD? What about iOS versus Android. Threading, schedulers, I/O, etc., that's all pretty much been conquered. What low-level feature does iOS have that Android doesn't, and vice versa? What about Windows 7? It's all the higher level stuff that's the big differentiation.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: JLG is right - To A Degree
by BlueofRainbow on Mon 4th Oct 2010 21:48 in reply to "JLG is right"
BlueofRainbow Member since:
2009-01-06

It depends entirely on the perspective.

As a media consumer-user, the underlying OS to the applications means nothing. Beyond the original activation/configuration and the features/security updates, the only visible layer is that of the applications.

As a social networking butterfly, as long as browsing and Java applets are kept constrained for security of my machine/network, the underlying OS is also secondary.

As a thought experiment, one could imagine the same applications we like today being run on DOS - if the graphical drivers and file systems support existed to enable a similar and secure user experience. On the other hand, the complexity of achieving this would be fully enthrusted to the application developers - a point alluded by JLG in reference to the APIs and development tools.

The suggested return to the root UNIX (whether via QNX, OS X, or even its distant half-cousin Windows) when a speciality OS can no longer leap through its legacy to enhance the user experience is what disturbs me. This severely limits the freshness or wow factor of the applications created. Retrofiting the use of metadata to organize the bits of information on a drive and the web over a hierachical folder structure leads to inconsistencies in the intent and use.....often with frustrations from the users.

I simply wished a new foundation could be established which would lead to a higher consistency and simplification.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: JLG is right
by zimbatm on Mon 4th Oct 2010 22:02 in reply to "JLG is right"
zimbatm Member since:
2005-08-22

True and false.

When running OSX, I'm often hit by the poor IO scheduler. I assure you that it DOES matter that my multitask operating system can't write a big file and switch windows smoothly.

But when back on linux, I miss tons of small details that makes OSX what it is. For some reason I'm more productive in OSX. Is it emotional or all the small things that gets in the way ? I don't know.

Sure, when I'm on the web, what matters is the browser. And it's so complex, it's almost an operating system :-p

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: JLG is right
by Neolander on Tue 5th Oct 2010 06:15 in reply to "JLG is right"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

The first sentence of your comment pretty sums up what I think of the article : I rode the first part...

What matters is the experience you get,

...and thought it was a good start. After all, an OS is an interface between human users and a complex machine. Then something horrible happened : the second part.

the high level stuff, not what's under the hood.

The implicit transition going on there basically says that user experience is all about high-level components. And THAT is shocking.

Because saying that is basically saying that...
-Responsiveness of the system (depending mostly on low-level components and especially the scheduler) does not matter to the user. Clicking a button and waiting for minutes before something happens because a random background backup task eats all I/O and CPU time is okay.
-The security model (enforced at kernel level) does not matter either. The user/admin model is perfect for desktop and mobile space applications. If an application has access to all of the user's precious data or only has to ask for an extremely vague "privileged access" to get access it, it's okay as long as the UAC window is nicely designed.
-Reliability doesn't matter. Losing all data when a random awfully done low-level layer crashes, as on most Linux desktops with Xorg, is a fact of life. So does enduring a lengthy reboot as a consequence of a random crash, like on many smartphones today. Spending hours of work making self-healing OSs like MINIX that can endure almost every single low-level component crashing without the user noticing is a waste of time.
-Flexibility doesn't matter. Portability of OSs across multiple platforms, while taking the need of each platform (power management, imprecise pointing devices, screen size...) into account, having for that to recode only a small part of the OS and no applications, while keeping performance near-optimal, would surely not give manufacturers a major advantage against their competitors.
-Performance does not matter. Phones that take minutes to boot and last less than one day on battery are something perfectly normal. Why waste time on optimizing low-level code that gets called all the time when we can spend that time implementing laggy kinetic scrolling (laggy because we didn't take the time to fix our touchscreen input driver's insane latency) ? What's the problem with people needing top-notch hardware in order to use Word and the file explorer ? And waiting so long before applications dare to start up after being clicked (because very poor performance hurts responsiveness too in the end...) ?

It's true that people don't *see* other OS layers than the UI and programming tools directly. But they experience their success and failure everyday, without being able to tell exactly what went right or wrong inside "the computer".

Because of this, and because low-level layers affect all the system, it's also very hard to diagnose a low-level problem before fixing it. If button positioning is not done properly by the GUI library, you know right away who the culprit is and where to have a look in its code, but if a deadlock between the mass storage driver and a graphic driver that occurs only when launching a specific game and pressing a specific button at a specific time causes the whole system to crash, go and reproduce the bug, then find out what's going on ;)

Work on low-level OS components is hard, and not very rewarding because people only see it in an indirect fashion, and only geeks will ever tell you "thank you for fixing file I/O". Higher-level components are much more funny to work on. But no matter how much ecologic house design is an interesting subject, building them on solid ground and in a flood-protected way remains important, and it's the same with personal computers...

Edited 2010-10-05 06:23 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[2]: JLG is right
by oinet on Wed 6th Oct 2010 12:06 in reply to "RE: JLG is right"
oinet Member since:
2010-03-23


-The security model (enforced at kernel level) does not matter either. The user/admin model is perfect for desktop and mobile space applications. If an application has access to all of the user's precious data or only has to ask for an extremely vague "privileged access" to get access it, it's okay as long as the UAC window is nicely designed.


A warning is due; be prepared when discussing application capabilities (rights) in the churchs (some channels) of IRC servers, as any idea deviating from the traditional model of applications (processes) having unrestricted access to the home directory of associated user, is the sign of the anti-christ.
Galileo, watch out !

Reply Parent Score: 1