Home > OS News > Operating System Comparisons by ESR Operating System Comparisons by ESR Submitted by JBQ 2003-02-27 OS News 51 Comments Older document, but interesting read. ESR is comparing VMS, MacOS, OS/2, WinNT, BeOS & Linux. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 51 Comments 2003-02-27 6:15 pm ESR is Eric S. Raymond. He wrote a book a few years ago, called The Cathedral and the Bazaar. It helped jumpstart the whole open-source movement. I can’t seem to find his homepage, but I know you can download his book over at oreilly.com (it’s free, obviously). 2003-02-27 6:28 pm more inhouse fighting from the OS camps coming soon right here 2003-02-27 6:34 pm I’ve so many issues with this article, that I don’t know where to begin. Instead, I’ll just sit here and grumble. I just ask that those reading the article, take it with a grain of salt. 2003-02-27 6:36 pm It seamed to be good till he got to windows NT, man does he have some insane beef with windows. He makes it sound like it’s barely capable of running. His Beos bit could have used some work to. But it was obvious that anything that wasn’t linux was in need oh having problems and badness inserted into them. Why can’t anyone ever for one moment stop and write a accurate comparision of all the OS’s (major ones) and get things right, not attack them on personal beliefs and not make their favorite OS sound like the second Jesus? 2003-02-27 6:41 pm 🙁 2003-02-27 6:44 pm “It seamed to be good till he got to windows NT, man does he have some insane beef with windows.” All penguinistas do. 2003-02-27 6:56 pm Brad Clarke no. ESR is just a rambling idiot. He does more harm than good with his rambling. Nonfree = bad…free= better…no matter how sucky the free alternative is. He and the other opensource whiners just give, us linux users a bad rep. 2003-02-27 6:56 pm Re: Grr b, How can the objective reader be expected not to take _your_ comment seriously when you present no arguments and ask readers to dismiss the article simply because you disagree with it? Please take the time to list a few of your objections, I’m sure OSNews readers would enjoy the discussion. Re: well Brad, I think the expression you’re looking for is “the Second Coming of Jesus.” Most adherents to the Christian religion take seriously the first Jesus’ warning about the second and subsequent Jesus’s, who are to be regarded as false prophets and shunned. Calling someone or some thing “a second Jesus” is not exactly a compliment. I’ve corresponded with Eric a few times and I’ve always found him resonable and polite. If you (the general “you”) have bones to pick, please state them here or write him directly. I’m sure he’d be happy to consider your arguments and make corrections where appropriate. 2003-02-27 7:00 pm I meant to write “how can the objective reader be expected to take _your_ comment seriously…” I should learn to proofread more carefully before clicking Submit. 2003-02-27 7:18 pm “VMS is the proprietary operating system originally developed for the VAX minicomputer from Digital Equipment Corporation. It was first released in 1978, was an important production operating system in the 1980s and early 1990s, and continued to be maintained when DEC was acquired by Compaq and Compaq was acquired by Hewlett-Packard. It is still sold and supported in early 2003, though little new development goes on in it today. VMS is surveyed here to show the contrast between Unix and other CLI-oriented operating systems from the minicomputer era.” No work on VMS, now called OpenVMS? 7.3 is out and 7.3-2 is in the works. We are working on 8.0 (the Itanium port) with development plans out to 8.2. OpenVMS is very much alive and well. 2003-02-27 7:30 pm I’ve read that NT stands for New Technology so many times, yet I am still confused. Does “Windows NT Technology” make any sense? Windows New Technology technology sounds a little repetitive to me. John Savill / January 9, 2000 Q. What does NT stand for? A. NT actually stands for Northern Telecom but Microsoft licensed it and in the Windows sense stands for New Technology. Its also interesting to note its heritage RSX -> VMS -> ELN -> NT all major designs of David Cutler Also VMS +1 letter = WNT (Windows NT) 🙂 (aka HAL and IBM in 2001) Another theory is that the NT acronym orginally came from the Engineers working on it. The acronym stands for N-Ten, the code name for the i860 chip that NT was being tested on. http://www.ntfaq.com/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=13461 2003-02-27 7:34 pm Actually NT stands for Not Tested..but that is only for insiders..sssttt.. 2003-02-27 7:38 pm .. this BeOS thinggy..? Is it new kinda stuff..?! 2003-02-27 7:39 pm Would it not be more fair/usable if they had put Windows 2000 in the test in stead of Windows NT? Eric S. Raymond is for open-source and free-software but is also a member of the National Riffle Accociation!? Strange.. 2003-02-27 7:40 pm No not new but not as alive as Windows or Linux goto http://www.bebits.com and there you can download it..and lots of other beos related stuff. 2003-02-27 7:41 pm 2000 == WinNT 5.0. He makes mention of various 2K-specific things in his critique for that matter. 2003-02-27 7:42 pm – Bas — trapped… 😉 there are some things in the forum-universe you ought not – by no means – answer…. ROFL 🙂 2003-02-27 7:45 pm LOL, like you answered me? :[) If you dig a hole watch out you never fall into it yourself.. 2003-02-27 7:54 pm I don’t buy that one… never mind… chill out + stay coolio… all righties… 🙂 2003-02-27 7:55 pm 😉 speaking of Beos..i am currently running YellowTAB.. mmmm 2003-02-27 7:59 pm Is BeOS dual boot friendly? I already have an existing partition to install it on, will it install a bootloader or is one of the alt-OS’s that really require a seperate “test system”? 2003-02-27 8:04 pm On the other hand, the registry implementation lacks event listeners, so system programs can’t know when the registry has been modified. This is the major reason that Windows reconfiguration so frequently requires a reboot. This is not true! Registry and file-system event listeners are supported through well published APIs. The registry makes the system completely non-orthogonal. Single-point failures in applications can corrupt the registry, frequently making the entire operating system unusable and requiring a reinstall. I always run as an administrator on my WinNT and Win2k workstations and have never had the registry corrupted. Good Administrators would also not allow normal users write access to the system registry hive. Recent versions even wire the web server into kernel space in an unsuccessful attempt to match the speed of Unix-based web-servers I seem to remember a Linux Web-server project that was doing the same thing to increase performance. professional NT projects tend to produce monster monoliths even bulkier than those characteristic of ‘elitist’ operating systems like VMS. No they don’t!!! This a function of the software developer rather than that of the OS. The OS supports dynamic linking and therefore modularity for user-space apps, and has solved a lot of the problems associated with it (DLL Hell). The modularity of an application is a function of the skills and/or perspective of the software developer, not of the underlying OS in this case. 2003-02-27 8:09 pm Yes BeOS is dual boot friendly. You may install its boot manager, Bootman, which is probably the easiest of all to configure. 2003-02-27 8:14 pm Interesting article…if taken with a grain of salt. His leaning towards Linux is obvious: it’s the only entry without any real criticisms. BTW- to the commenter who mentioned that he should have tested Win2000 instead of NT: I think he was referring to the NT-kernal family (NT, 2000, XP) as a whole, rather than speaking only of releases labled NT. Am I wrong, anyone? 2003-02-27 8:21 pm I stopped reading when I discovered that Cygwin is apparently a Linux-based operating system (despite running on Win32)… 2003-02-27 8:39 pm Eric S. Raymond is for open-source and free-software but is also a member of the National Riffle Accociation!? Strange.. Really? What would you expect his view to be? Free speech and ban guns? 2003-02-27 8:39 pm I still have R5.0.3 running on my laptop but I will admit that I don’t use it that often anymore (and it’s the only machine I have left that I can get it running on) but just a couple days ago I was getting fed up with the current state of Linux on the desktop and started missing Be so I booted into it (posting from Netpostive right now actually!) I would really like to see yellowTab release something I could install on my newer machines. 2003-02-27 8:43 pm Since I have only used three of the systems he talked about, Linux/”UNIX”, Windows and BeOS I can’t say anything about the correctness of the other descriptions but he is, in my opinion very wrong on Windows NT. NT has grown by accretion, and lacks a unifying metaphor corresponding to Unix’s “everything is a file” or the MacOS desktop . That certainly depands on what level you want to take it. One could argue that Windows NT is even more of “everything is a file” than “UNIX”. Win32 HANDLEs are more pervasive throughout the operating system than “UNIX” file descriptors , where not all primitives support file semantics. But if he’s talking about how the various primitives are presented to a user of the system and not a programmer he is correct. Each of the technology generations — DOS (1981), Windows 3.1 (1990), Windows 95 (1995) Windows NT 4 (1996), Windows 2000 (2000), Windows XP (2002) and .NET (in progress as of 2003) — has required that developers relearn fundamental things in a different way, with the old way declared obsolete and no longer well supported. That’s are rather broad generalisation of the current state of affairs. Windows XP offers A LOT more functionality than what is encompassed in the vague “UNIX” metaphore. Better would if he added up “UNIX”, X11 and KDE and then do the compare. The functionality that could be considered equivalent of “UNIX” have been pretty stable on Windows NT since the 4.0 days. NT has file attributes in some of its file system types. They are used in a restricted way, to implement access-control lists on some filesystems, and don’t affect development style very much. As opposed to “UNIX” where extended attributes are mostly used for… you guessed it, ACLs!!! In Windows XP Explorer allows you to edit a few attributes on each file so to say that they go unused on Windows is distorting the truth. Process-spawning is expensive, scripting facilities are weak, and the OS makes extensive use of binary file formats. Scripting facilities are weakER but they are certainly there. This “extensive use of binary file formats” I dont fully understand. What are the binary files is he talking about? On Windows configuration data is stored in the registry. What is left but program files (executables and DLLs) and user data files? Most programs cannot be scripted at all. As can’t many “UNIX” programs outside of the CLI and then they can only be scripted in the sense that their inputs and outputs can be redirected. Which you can do on Windows to. Programs rely on complex, fragile remote procedure call RPC methods to communicate with each other, a rich source of bugs. I really dont know where he got this from. Stdin/stdout is available to any console Windows application. Stdin/stdout is NOT automaticaly available to graphical applications where you should instead use either the clipboard or OLE/COM depending on what you need. Much like XClipboard-Bonobo or XClipboard-KParts. Of course if this wouldn’t float your boat a number of other IPC methods are available JUST LIKE ON “UNIX”. On the other hand, the registry implementation lacks event listeners, so system programs can’t know when the registry has been modified. This is the major reason that Windows reconfiguration so frequently requires a reboot. This is just plain wrong. In fact there is a call just for this occurence, RegNotifyChangeKeyValue. Then comes a large block about security but I can’t comment on that since I really don’t know enough about administring Windows NT boxes. However, Windows interfaces for professional programming continued to grow more complex over time, presenting an increasing barrier to serious coding. Not complex, different. It’s different from “UNIX” but not more complex. Of course if you compare COM with “UNIX” pipes it will seem complex but you also has to look at the difference in functionality. The result of this history is a sharp dichotomy between the design styles practiced by amateur and professional NT developers — the two groups barely communicate. It’s true what they say, hobbyist Windows programmers come from Venus, professional programmers come from Mars. AND NEVER SHALL THE TWO MEET!!! While the hobbyist culture of small tools and shareware is very much alive, professional NT projects tend to produce monster monoliths even bulkier than those characteristic of ‘elitist’ operating systems like VMS. Yeah whatever dude. Open source programmers produce perfect, modular, 100% maintainable programmers with precise functionality and interfaces. Windows developers couldn’t even write a HelloWorld in less than 1k LOC and a built in in kernel FTP server as an easter egg. Don’t take this as I am ragging on “UNIX”, I love my “UNIX”. It’s just this biased onslaught on a perfectly viable operating system I dislike. This is in IMHO pure propaganda. 2003-02-27 8:44 pm http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_NT 2003-02-27 8:52 pm A bit off topic here, but for the folks complaining about “NT Technology” actually being “New Technology Technology” … If you can get all the people in the world to stop talking about: NIC cards PDF format and JSP pages *THEN* feel free go after the NT thing. Otherwise, it is just one more set of initials that has become a name unto itself. 2003-02-27 9:23 pm Figures “It is still sold and supported in early 2003, though little new development goes on in it today” umm, except for the fact that it is being ported to a completely NEW ARCHITECTURE (being the itanium). I guess this twit does not read osnews. 2003-02-27 9:26 pm Actually the entry in the wiki pedia is wrong, and it follows the misconception that NT evolved from OS/2. NT was a research effort inside MS in the late 80s, and it was targeted for the i860 (codenamed N-Ten by Intel, i.e. NT). The head of the orignal NT effort was one of the key developers of VMS. Hear it from the horse’s mouth: http://www.usenix.org/events/usenix-win2000/invitedtalks/lucovsky_h… 2003-02-27 9:59 pm I once had that sick idea to get as many OSs running as possible – I had W98, NT, W2K, RH Linux, then FreeBSD – with BSD I messed up – Then I put BeOS subsequently and it “picked up” all of them… 🙂 — this was spread across two SCSI HDs. 2003-02-27 10:49 pm What color is the sky on the little world ESR lives on? 2003-02-27 11:31 pm ESR has some very interesting things to say. In particular, I liked his “Cathedral and Bazaar” book. However, he should stick to the stuff he know about. Some of the things he wrote were outright lies. 2003-02-27 11:34 pm Well, Eugeneia, now you know better than to post articles of dubious value written by anyone with a proclivity toward writing based upon specious drivel. 2003-02-28 1:12 am NT has file attributes in some of its file system types. They are used in a restricted way, to implement access-control lists on some filesystems, and don’t affect development style very much. Try “copy con hello.txt:AnAlternateStreamName” one day. You can use ‘attributes’ (‘streams’ in NT terminology) wherever you want. It also has a record-type distinction, between text and binary files, that produces occasional annoyances. Correct, in so far as it supports ISO C’s fopen(name, “rt”) vs. fopen(name, “rb”) distinction. That is, ISO C caters for separate binary and text I/O; it’s only typical Unix programs that don’t bother to distinguish them. In any case, this is a C library issue rather than an OS one. Most programs cannot be scripted at all. Has ESR ever tried Automation or COM? On the other hand, the registry implementation lacks event listeners The other Tim said that Registry listeners exist; however, you can’t monitor Registry changes without adding some hooks in kernel mode. File system listeners yes, Registry listeners no. The registry creep phenomenon: as the registry grows, rising access costs slow down all programs. Huh? That’s like saying, “as the file system grows, rising access slows down all programs”. Recent versions have retrofitted in access control lists that can be used to implement per-user privilege groups This is only correct if by ‘recent’ ESR is referring to Windows NT 3.1, released back in 1993. Windows NT has always implemented full ACL-based security. Furthermore, the registry is not split up by privilege group, so users can read or modify each others’ configuration information No, they can’t. Proper ACLs are applied to each entry in HKEY_USERS, with the effect that you can’t access other users’ HKEY_CURRENT_USER keys. Of course, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE is readable to users yet only writable by Administrators. If an intruder can get code run as any user at all (e.g., through the Outlook email-macro feature) This is social engineering. I can make any Unix user run any code via the Bash shell-macro feature. 2003-02-28 3:37 am “If an intruder can get code run as any user at all (e.g., through the Outlook email-macro feature)” This is social engineering. I can make any Unix user run any code via the Bash shell-macro feature. But you’ve got less chance of getting root on the *nix system 2003-02-28 4:29 am New Technology Technology… hmm, the person who came up with that must work for the department of redundancy department 2003-02-28 4:46 am Bas: “Eric S. Raymond is for open-source and free-software but is also a member of the National Riffle Accociation!? Strange..” American’s having guns is why you’re living free in Holland. BTW, a historical note. Before the US entered WWII, NRA members organized a drive and donated several hundred thousand of their own personal weapons for use by the British Army. This was at a time when most Europeans were learning the joys of the goose-step. http://www-lib.usc.edu/~anthonya/war/main.htm 2003-02-28 5:15 am Has this situation gotten any better in the last seven years since this summary was written? No reusable component industry!!! WTF! I can’t understand how you developers in the Unix world are even able to function sometimes. How the hell does a big distributed app (like say, SAP/R3 or something) get deployed on a client’s server? Is the ORB part of the application or is the application completely re-compiled depending on what ORB the client happens to have running on their server? How do apps written to different vendor ORB specifications share a single server, or does this ever happen [!!!] (or is this where OS partitioning comes in)? “DCOM and CORBA The Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) is a competing standard for distributed object computing. It defines an abstract object model that describes components and their interfaces. It also provides standard mappings from the abstract object definition to concrete programming languages, but it does not define a binary standard in any way. Different ORB implementations that adhere to the standard can achieve, at the most, source level compatibility, but not interchangeability of binary components, one of the reasons that there is not, and probably will not be, a market for off-the-shelf reusable components. Component providers have to provide source code for their components or compile and test not only for each target platform but also for each target ORB implementation. CORBA also defines a standard for inter-ORB communication that allows two compliant ORB implementations to invoke methods on objects on each other’s machine. ORB implementations like IBM’s DSOM and Iona’s Orbix commonly provide proprietary extensions to the object model, the language bindings, and the inter-ORB protocol. To take full advantage of a given platform, developers have to sacrifice cross-ORB interoperability and cross-ORB portability. CORBA also defines a separate inter-ORB communication protocol called IIOP, which is targeted for use on the Internet. It accommodates the intersection of all inter-ORB protocols.” DCOM Technical Overview (1996) http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/dn… 2003-02-28 6:07 am Speaking as an American, I have to say that this “we saved your ass in WWII” kind of talk is pretty crude and tiresome. How many times higher is the murder rate in the US than other industrialized countries? 2003-02-28 6:08 am The other Tim said that Registry listeners exist; however, you can’t monitor Registry changes without adding some hooks in kernel mode. File system listeners yes, Registry listeners no. The RegNotifyChangeKeyValue() Win32 API call is used to monitor Registry events. 2003-02-28 6:22 am “Speaking as an American, I have to say that this “we saved your ass in WWII” kind of talk is pretty crude and tiresome. How many times higher is the murder rate in the US than other industrialized countries?” I’ve lived and worked in Europe (and served in the US Army there)….specifically Eindhoven, Holland and I’ve heard enough anti-american crap to last me a lifetime. You don’t like what I said, but can you deny the historical facts I stated? As far as the murder rate in the US goes…..send the all the crack-cocaine dealers and users just in Washington, DC to Amsterdam and see what happens. And if things are so bad in the US, why did Britsh immigration to the US increase by 250% last year? http://www.britsinamerica.com/news%2017.htm 2003-02-28 9:11 am The RegNotifyChangeKeyValue() Win32 API call is used to monitor Registry events. You’re absolutely right. It’s apparently been there since at Windows 98 at the latest. 2003-02-28 10:56 am Personally the BeOS part is a little weak but mostly true. And i also can’t wait for Yellowtab to be released, It will be a grand day. (Off topic) When you compare the United States Muder rates to other countrys the numbers are skewed. Lets not forget the United States of America also has over 300million people in 50 States and 14 Territorys spanning about 12 time Zones with Borders on 3 Oceans with almost every climate on planet with People from every race and nationality in the world. The size and diversity of America is what makes it the best country in the world. And it does have its share of problems. The American’s halted German and Japaneese forces in WWII, that is history, and yes “America had to save its own ass in WWII” Look up the Battle of Attu Alaska somtime. How ever you feel about the United States of America, it is a great country to live in, Please respect it because America is a reflection “melting pot” of everyone in the world. To hate America is to hate humanity and yourself. There are far more dangerous places to live in, Columbia comes to mind. 2003-02-28 3:58 pm I think you will find that the murder rate is ratio’d to the population size. I know it (used to be, at least) 70 times the rate in the UK per head of population. Anyway, I find ESR’s article extremely anti-windows. Why? Its far superior to Linux in most ways (at least currently). Typical biased propaganda. 2003-02-28 5:29 pm There are far more dangerous places to live in, Columbia comes to mind. Partially because the US and its War on Drugs. But you’re right, to hate America is to hate humanity. Unfortunately humanity doesn’t do a whole lot of good in this world. We work because we are greedy. We fight over land and resources. And we manipulate people, government policies, etc. We’re certainly not serious about providing a healthy environment and long term safety for anyone but ourselves, while destroying everything in our wake. We’re willing to claw and kick and punch babies and elderly to get to the top, so we can grow old and weak and be knocked off by the next capitalist. We try so hard, but for what? In the end we all die and leave nothing of value to our children or humanity. Just some trash, some graffiti, a few old cars, nuclear waste, environmental hazzards, oil spills, and lots and lots of money. What are all these wars for anyway? Peace? America is freedom and wealth through superior firepower, or something along those lines. It leaves much to be desired by someone who doesn’t care about wealth or power. 2003-02-28 6:24 pm Unlike the British, US murder statistics include manslaughter and other lesser charges. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2003/01/… http://csmweb2.emcweb.com/durable/2000/07/12/p9s1.htm http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20021130-29696222.htm 2003-02-28 6:29 pm I wish he’d have covered AmigaOS. It’s more interesting than OS/2, which could have been bundled with Windows. As for the controversy about the NT name, that means either Nice Touch or New Touch, and was a popular KOM system, until it was eclipsed by NiKom. Around the same time, Bill Gate$ released an operating system by the same name. 2003-03-03 6:46 pm >Eric S. Raymond is for open-source and free-software but is also a member of the National Riffle Accociation!? Strange.. It’s the opposite of strange, open source and free software are frequently related to “Freedom of Speech” issues. Something covered in the United States Constitution as a right. The National Rifle Association supports the “Right to Bear Arms”. Also a U.S. Constitutional issue. Unfortunately, these and many more basic rights are being rapidly revoked in the developing police state in the country. It’s weird that ERS did not write about NT’s core connection to OS/2. While Microsoft hired David Cutler and much of his VMS team away from DEC to work on NT, but genetically it’s mostly OS/2 in a Windows dress with some DOS thrown in to boot the whole mess. Want to argue this point? Read books by Bill Gates III first, if this doesn’t convince you, then read former Microsoft employee books. I’d give you the exact titles, but Eugenia might regard it as a warez link or something.