When I joined OSNews in 2001, I did it with a great excitment because of my love for… messing around with many operating systems in order to explore news ways of doing things. Back in the ’80s and the ’90s there were a lot of OS projects that would draw the attention of the computer users of the time. But in this decade, it seems that other than Windows, OSX, Linux and a very few other much smaller OSes, the scene is sterile. And it’s only getting worse.Personally, I just can’t stand anymore the endless debates between the Linux, Windows and Mac users. It’s getting old, it’s getting boring. These OSes are already mature, and they follow an evolutionary path with only a few revolutionary steps every now and then (mostly by OSX, and lately with Longhorn — Linux technologies seem to be more conservative in their nature). But thing is, these are just 3 operating systems and there is nothing exciting about them anymore (except the occasional “wow” factor Steve Jobs might bring with his keynote shows).
It’s a lot like liking the Judas Priest music in the ’70s, and then they sudenly become so successful and commercial in the ’80s, that each album seems as commercial and boring and as identical as the previous one. It’s the same with these OSes: they are based on old technologies and they are afraid of making big steps. In fact, they are more concerned on making deadlines (e.g. the cut of WinFS from Longhorn).
If one needs to find some fresh ideas, it’s the the small guys he needs to look at. Not because the small guys are “more intelligent” than the big guys, but because the small guys don’t concern themselves with legacy support or deadlines. They can break everything they want on their OS and only 10-20 people will notice. The big guys can’t afford to do that.
In the ’80s we had at least 6 operating systems that had a good hold of market share each (e.g. AmigaOS, Mac, DOS, GEM, GeOS, Unix flavors). In the ’90s we had Windows and Windows NT, Mac, DOS, OS/2, Linux, AmigaOS, BSD, other Unices and even BeOS, all with some considerable usage share (before Windows 9x got to its 94% of market share and get declared monopolistic). Along with those, you had a gazillion other small, embedded, academic or hobby OSes. We are talking about a few hundrend of them.
Today, it’s the game of the three, plus about 10 more OSes that draw some minor only attention by the media: BSDs, QNX, Symbian, SkyOS, Zeta/BeOS, Solaris, Windows Mobile, PalmOS and some even smaller ones, like VxWorks, Syllable, MenuetOS etc. Overall, I would’t say that there are more than 40-50 active or noteworthy OS projects/products out there today. That’s a far cry from the hundrends that existed in the ’80s and ’90s.
Let’s look at the reasons why this shrinking of OS projects happened:
1. Windows, Windows, Windows… Microsoft even developed an embedded version of its OS and now it’s preparing an HPC one.
2. Linux & BSD are Free and so it’s easier//faster/cheaper to modify them to do a very specific job rather than to write something from scratch.
3. Hardware complexity. Back in the ’90s, having a “network stack” was a big deal and not all OSes needed to have one. Today, you can’t even consider an OS without one. More over, today, everyone wants his USB stack or his 3D acceleration. Writing an OS has become a FAR more complex procedure than it used to be.
4. Embedded OSes have managed to get good features overtime, and so it would make more sense to license them rather than writing your own.
To me, as an editor of the OSNews.com site, it’s getting boring. It’s the same old, same old, every darn day. We have Unix with Linux/BSD/Solaris/*nix on one side backstabbing each other for years, a bastardized Unix with OSX in the middle, and the Windows dysfunctional family on the other side. All the interesting (non-Unix) projects like BeOS or OS/2 or QNX are pretty much dead, or simply, much smaller than they used to be a few years ago. The big-three have destroyed their smaller non-Unix competitors commercially. What’s more sad, is that no big & new really usable OSes have been created since their demise to try and fill their void. After the death of AtheOS (which was moving faster than Syllable is today), only SkyOS seems to be the one that does some interesting things, but it’s still very small and exceptionally buggy (lacking proper stress testing procedures that a company or bigger project would put the OS through). Zeta is nowhere as big either (feels like a big patch over BeOS 6-beta rather than the evolution it should have had since 2000 – the last BeOS 5 release). AmigaOS & MorphOS require special hardware and that’s prohibiting for most people, plus their companies are under a questionable financial status with their user communities killing each other any way they can, making things even worse.
Blah. From where I am standing, it’s all sad and boring.
Wishful thinking: hopefully we will see a new, big, well-done OS soon, that’s not yet another Unix or Linux (although with some POSIX compliance in place for easy app porting, like BeOS & QNX have). We need something fresh. Heck, something new and fresh indeed. Something INTRIGUING. I wanna feel again that same feeling I had when I tried BeOS 4.0 for the first time in 1999 (excitement to the max) or the Mac OS X Jaguar update in 2002 or NeXTSTEP in 1996 (better late than sorry). Boy, didn’t that feel good?
Don’t get me wrong, Windows 2003 Server has been the most stable operating system I have ever run, and it’s blazingly fast too. But it’s not as exciting as the above OSes, because while it’s a good evolutionary step for Microsoft, it’s far from being revolutionary and fresh. It doesn’t come with “Feel Good”(TM) drivers.
So, Syllable, SkyOS, Haiku, DragonFlyBSD, and the tens of other OSes in active development don’t exist then? OSKit has come on leaps and bounds allowing more forays into OS development. I admit there are less aspiring OSes about (I remember there being a new one every week a few years back when I was following more closely) but those fledgling OSes rarely, if ever, made it off of the drawing board.
I think this is a very sceptical article indeed.
The reason why is because Technology has become cheap and the labor for it has lowered in price. Just like Manufacturing jobs have become non-existent in the USA today. One day Technology jobs will be like Drone jobs at a Wal-Mart store.
Big Corporations will control it, exploit the ‘efforts of drones’ and make billions off of it.
Technology is cheap, no longer a ‘geek’ area, common knowledge and no brainer.
NONE of these projects are moving leap and bounds in innovation, sorry. They just don’t get me excited at all. Read the full article to see the “wow” factor I had with BeOS or NeXTESTEP the fist time I used them. NONE of these projects you mention created that wow factor to me.
In the eighties, DOS fit on a floppy and life was pretty simple–the internet was not a factor, Windowing systems were in their infancy, and computer users were presumed to be at least somewhat savvy. These days… what can you say? You are competing with giants who will not be felled with a slingshot. It’s too damn hard to write a modern, competitive OS from scratch.
What I am looking forward to is new hardware devices that will require the revolutionary software you are hoping for. OSs are boring because the PC is boring. What about a device with no visual interface? Who is going to write the OS that runs the starship enterprise (hint: not me) where what is on the screen is driven by conversation? Where have all the hardware geeks/geniuses gone?
Think you’re just hard to please, Eugenia. I’ve seen you level some harsh criticism even at BeOS for it’s media kit and other aspects, despite having “wow factor”, and you did a pretty good job of ripping up the OS X gui. Heh heh. You are something else. I think you’re just living about 4 centuries too early. I think you need a Commander Data.
Look into the crystal ball of OS land and see what we can look forward to in the future.
1) Watch the continual and slow death sprial of Microsoft as it looses its software marketshare and evolves into the worlds largest maker of mice, keyboards, and joysticks… think merger with logitech someday. People will forget they even used to make software eventually.
2) Watch the evolution of all resturants into taco bell and all operating systems into Linux or other OpenSource. All other marjor operating systems will disappear….HPUX, Solaris, Windows, AIX…all gone and part of computer history as much as TSX and RSX are today. The Linux virus is out of the bag and its unstoppable.
3) Watch many people have “Computers” in their house which are nothing more than extensions of their other applicance makers such as Hitachi, Sony, JVC, GE, KTV, LG etc.. not having any idea what OS it runs or who even wrote the software they run, they will just use it to connect to “Services” that provide every computing function they want from document publishing, image editing, finances and gaming.
The question is why???
Personally I actually retired from dealing with computers professionally because to me the industry has just gotten so boring.
Nowadays the base OS is not that important. Whether you run *nix or windows does not really matter; what matters is the interesting applications that are being built on top of those. Of course the base is still being expanded, but it has become more of an evolutionary approach, as has been said. Things like WinFS can be implemented entirely on top of existing OS’s.
I agree with you, Eugenia. I think that we will see no big change in this area any time soon. Develop an OS cost a lot of money. Create an OS with similar functionality that we found in linux/windows may cost some billion dollars and take time. MacOS X is virtualy unknow in third world countries, so I don’t know much about it, but I have tested a lot of OSes and the one tha seems to have more interesting ideas is OS X (as a desktop OS). Linux as become an mainstream OS, there is no more that “wow” it as in the begining.
Eugenia, if you could desing an OS that could bring back that “wow” factor, how it would “looks like”? What would you do to make it really atractive?
Sorry for my poor english.
Why should we need more operating systems? As a developer, I couldn’t be happier if we had just one or two at max, hopefully compatible among each other.
The reason why we have a few of them (or better, a few of them are actually used, because I can spot many of them now) is that only good ones (because of features, stability, availability or whatever reasons) survived and we have no technology innovations so quick that new systems could be required.
Having many OSes is not that comfortable. Developers waste their time to convert their code instead of adding new features. If we had just one OS, or at least one framework, we could have more advanced software and that OS would still be quite innovative.
You have a good proof in those tens (or hundreds) Linux distribution: according to common belief, that should have driven a LOT of innovation. Did it? Nope. Will it? Unlikely. Most distribution differ from having (say) that program instead of that other one, a poor or better HW detection system and so on. Is that innovation?
From time to time, I found myself looking at new systems just to understand if any of them delivers something new, hot or… don’t know… something exciting. I even tried a good number of them… from BeOS to Linux but, in the end, they maybe have a couple of things which are “cool”, but nothing more. I prefer being able not to waste my time converting my code and instead add new features. But maybe, as developer, I’m biased about this…
You should qualify your skepticism around client operating systems. While OS innovation may not be happening on the client, it’s certainly happening on the server; for those for whom computing is not about “experience” and “feel” but rather “uptime”, “latency”, “throughput”, etc., there is quite a bit of innovation out there. Obviously I’m biased, but I think Solaris 10 — with Zones, DTrace, SMF, ZFS, etc. — represents a ton of server-side innovation. Or at least, that’s what our customers tell us.
Well, what’s amazing to one person isn’t so amazing to another.
For example, to me:
From a system administration perspective, and from a developer perspective, Solaris 10 is amazing for example.
DragonFly’s goals of the network-is-one-big-system processing are also amazing.
While to another person the above may not seem like amazing or exciting things they are to me. I’m very excited, thrilled almost about seeing what will happen when OpenSolaris becomes a reality.
If I read into the brief editorial a little bit, I feel like what the author is looking for is a desktop amazing kind of feel. There are a lot of hobby operating systems out there, but almost all of them are still at the point that they’re reinventing the wheel. None of them are really aiming to try to change how people use computers, or make for a wildly different user experience. Almost everything is relying on the tried and true principles behind the user interface.
I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” at the big picture level of what’s necessary for an OS with the base architecture of systems like Windows,Solaris, *nix, BSDs, Linux, etc. However, I would agree with the author from the pserpective that in the actual user interface area there is nothing to be excited about. You have ideas that are either way out there such as Raskin’s, refinements on the Xerox era such as Apple produces, and you have the copy-cat catch-ups like GNOME and KDE.
Nevertheless, from a certain perspective: I am very excited about OpenSolaris and what the future holds. Because it has a real possibility of having commercial projects blossom due to it’s business friendly licesing, extremely mature codebase, loads of great documentation, and a commercial company driving it. It’s the first OS that’s had me excited since seeing OS X, or when I first started using Linux in 1994.
like plan9. Plan9 is quite cool compared with everthing people is used to use
(WRT win 2003, I don’t see what’s so extaordinary and fast about it, according to microsoft’s docs is just XP kernel, in fact it was really considered to call it “xp server”)
Oh how quickly we forget the changes in 2.6….
But yea, as far as the desktops it has gotten fairly boring. I hope freedesktop and xorg will help it back on its feet with an eye for stability too; but who knows.
Personally, I like my OS to be boring.. Must be the admin in me talking.
Eugenia I think you are right about complexity. On the other hand there is another problem which is the focus of most of the users on this board is desktop OSes (which is unusual for a tech board). There is very little discussion of OSes whcih don’t run on inexpesive desktops. For example:
— you didn’t even mention ZOS
— HPUX vs. Solaris vs. AIX vs Linux
— Capability systems (ZOS, VMS, Eros, NT in theory ) vs. permissions based (Unixes, NT in practice)
On thing that deserves mentioning is Gentoo in making compile from source a reasonable project for power users is a major innovation (BSD of course should get quite a bit of the credit since portage is based on ports). All the pieces are in place now for the Unix family to support a huge range of hardware highly customized. The only problem is hardware is also unifying but at least if this trend reverses….
Finally, even though the diversity of OSes is pretty bad within OSes the diversity has skyrocketed. There are Linux distributions today which have far less in common with one another than many of the OSes did from 15 years ago. Things like applications specific distributions (security based, scientific, educational) feel a great deal like the old application OSes from the 80’s (wordperfect file manager, emacs, etc…).
In this day and age, it’s almost silly to write an OS from scratch. Times are changing, change with it. Years ago, I had easy access to hardware specs, other peoples code and writing graphics drivers didn’t need an NDA plus $$$. Try that today.
Windows and OSX are product lines, they are not operating sytems.
Just compiling Enlightenment 17 made me a little bit excited in a loooong time
I agree with the author that Judas Priest were better in the 70’s. Can’t beat the main riff in ‘White heat red hot’ 😀
QNX gave me a ‘wow’ experience when I first tried it. It’s my primary OS now, and though it could do with a prettier look and some more apps, it does what I need (and very fast) and I’m very pleased with it. Unixy without the fluff 🙂
I am convinced that one day ‘the one’ will come out of his bedroom with a totally revolutionary new thing and the world will never be the same. Let’s just hope Commodore doesn’t buy it!
I’ve tested Solaris 10. It has a lot of features but lack on good administrative tools. That’s one reason MS server OS are so “popular”. Another think I don’t like on Solaris is it’s “reinvention of the wheel”. Too diferent from other *Nixes. Make Solaris as easy to use and administrate as Windows 2003 Server and you have a Winner. Even Linux is easy and is so stable (now, with the new enterprise line from Novell and Red Hat) as Solaris.
I feel your pain.
The same old arguments seem to be trotted out weekly, with the same old tired uninformed comments – the inevitable corrections, rinse repeat.
The exciting OSs seem to be at a stalemate, (all exceptions duly noted) and it seems hobby and collector OSs are the fun things now.
It a monumental endeavor to write even a small OS.
Some of the older ones are still pretty cool.
There is still a lot of old hardware out there.
What we have seen is the beginning of what is to come in computing, the features in operating systems are more evolutionary than revolutionary. In less than 200 years photography (my previous profession) has went from wet plates to digital imaging, and there were some serious “technology lulls” in that time.
I feel this is one of those “lull” moments in computer technology where the “features” that drive operating system changes are for the most part are being met by current technology. Some of the development of any OS is partially driven by the needs of users, and the hardware to support certain features that the users might want or need.
I actually look forward to the next twenty years, because it will be a kick to see first hand what the operating system of tomorrow (not just the computer) will be like.
There’s not been much to get excited about here lately,not the way I was the first time I fired up a BeOS install,but I did seea nifty little movie recently About the new enlightenment window manager that kinda blew me away,I realize this is all eye candy runing on top of Linux,but man did that look cool with the animated 3D martian looking wallpaper and the futuristic looking widgets and stuff,Too bad they couldn’t use something like that for the frontend to Haiku or open beos or whatever,or maybe SkyOS or something else that’s faster than Linux
I think people have somehow fallen into the idea that current developments in the industry are innovative when they arent. I see this alot in the windows camp and even in the linux camp especially with respect to the desktop environments.
So when you say theres no innovation they think youre crazy or something.
I find it kind of depressing personally.
The innovation you are looking for is best done at the application level. If I write 50 Operating Systems, and you have to re-learn how to use all of the incompatible software and frameworks, you have just wasted time.
If you want innovative software, take a look at enlightenment, it is a windowmanager that uses it’s own set of libraries and has an AWESOME rendering engine that runs on very little ram. And it works flawlessly with all Gtk and Qt applications. What more do you want, if you go too far, you will have junk scattered everywhere and nothing gets done in the end, just confusion.
OR you could stop whining and write your OWN operating system that kicks the crap out of windows. Then try to convince the public that your way is better.
Go ahead, try.
INNOVATION HAPPENS ON THE DESKTOP.
I can understand the feeling that OSes have gotten boring. That’s because each of the “big three” do the basics pretty well. They each enumerate the hardware found in stores pretty well, they each manage virtual memory, allow multi-threading, let you use a slew of filesystems, etc.
The big thing is that I think _software innovation_ has been on a decline. OSes have become “commoditized”… what OS you run should be a decision akin to what web browser you use. But it’s the DESKTOP you run that determines what suite of innovative (or not) applications you use.
Right now, IMO, most innovation is occuring on Mac OS X, from a desktop point of view. Some innovation is happening in the KDE and GNOME worlds. Microsoft’s desktop (Windows) has had very little innovation in recent years, in my personal opinion. Sure, the apps are good (Photoshop, 3DSMax, whatever), but they aren’t particularly innovative, with small exceptions. But in Mac OS X, you have:
a) Keynote, a truly innovative presentation program. If you’ve ever used another presentation program and then used Keynote, anything else seems just plain wrong.
b) Pages, which looks to be an innovative way to do word processing and page layout (tho I admit I haven’t used it yet).
c) Spotlight, an innovative approach to search.
d) Expose, an innovative approach to finding a window in a scattered desktop.
e) iTunes/iPhoto: innovative ways of organizing your media.
I’m omitting lots of other apps, namely the 3rd party ones, things like Watson, Delicious Library, etc.
Linux has very few innovative desktop applications. It has PLENTY of innovative console applications, or applications with console history. For example, I mentioned earlier LaTeX, but also vim and emacs, which if you are a programmer (like me) seem very innovative. We have lots of innovative server software like Tomcat and the entire Apache project, like subversion and GNU Arch, and even SMTP servers like Mail Avenger for spam elimination.
But GNOME and KDE both only have what I’d consider “minor” innovations over the major two desktops. For me, Evolution and Galeon are two innovative desktop programs that keep me decently happy, as they both offer features that I consider “vital” for mail and web, features which I can’t find elsewhere. The GIMP, I think, is an innovative image editing program (as anyone who has used the Gimp awhile knows, it is not just a Photoshop “clone”, it tries to be its own program with lots of scriptability and lots of power of its own). But the list basically ends there.
That’s why, despite my not agreeing with the approach of the Mono project, I’m at least happy about its side effects: that lots of programmers are refocusing and saying, “How can we be innovative on the desktop?” And the result is projects like Beagle, like F-Spot, like Tomboy, etc. And I hope it will only get better.
I find OSes really interesting to hack, but why write your own from scratch anymore? Refocus your energy on making computers do work for you! Refocus your energy on the desktop!
When I joined carNews in 2001, I did it with a great excitment because of my love for… messing around with many automobiless in order to explore news ways of doing things. Back in the ’80s and the ’90s there were a lot of car projects that would draw the attention of the auto users of the time. But in this decade, it seems that other than Hyundai, Mercedes, Jaguar and a very few other much smaller cars, the scene is sterile. And it’s only getting worse.
Personally, I just can’t stand anymore the endless debates between the Jaguar, Hyundai and Merc users. It’s getting old, it’s getting boring. These cars are already mature, and they follow an evolutionary path with only a few revolutionary steps every now and then (mostly by Mercedes, and lately with Hyundai — Jaguar technologies seem to be more conservative in their nature). But thing is, these are just 3 automobiless and there is nothing exciting about them anymore (except the occasional “wow” factor Steve Jobs might bring with his keynote shows).
It’s a lot like liking the Judas Priest music in the ’70s, and then they sudenly become so successful and commercial in the ’80s, that each album seems as commercial and boring and as identical as the previous one. It’s the same with these cars: they are based on old technologies and they are afraid of making big steps. In fact, they are more concerned on making deadlines (e.g. the cut of torque from Elantras).
If one needs to find some fresh ideas, it’s the the small guys he needs to look at. Not because the small guys are “more intelligent” than the big guys, but because the small guys don’t concern themselves with legacy support or deadlines. They can break everything they want on their car and only 10-20 people will notice. The big guys can’t afford to do that.
In the ’80s we had at least 6 automobiless that had a good hold of market share each (e.g. Aston Martin, Mercedes, Lotus, Toyota, GM, Ford flavors). In the ’90s we had Hyundai and Kia, Mercedes, Volvo, Saab, Jaguar, Volkswagon, Chrysler, all with some considerable usage share (before Hyundai Sonata got to its 94% of market share and get declared monopolistic). Along with those, you had a gazillion other small, embedded, academic or hobby cars. We are talking about a few hundrend of them.
Today, it’s the game of the three, plus about 10 more cars that draw some minor only attention by the media: GM, Lexus, Infiniti, TVR, Nissan, Hyundai Accent, PalmOS and some even smaller ones, like Smart twofour, BMW Mini Cooper, Geo Metro etc. Overall, I would’t say that there are more than 40-50 active or noteworthy car projects/products out there today. That’s a far cry from the hundrends that existed in the ’80s and ’90s.
Let’s look at the reasons why this shrinking of car projects happened:
1. Hyundai, Kia, Honda… Hyundai even developed an embedded version of its car and now it’s preparing an hybrid one.
2. Jaguar & GM are Free and so it’s easier//faster/cheaper to modify them to do a very specific job rather than to write something from scratch.
3. Hardware complexity. Back in the ’90s, having a “carberator” was a big deal and not all cars needed to have one. Today, you can’t even consider an car without one. More over, today, everyone wants his electronic fuel injection or his VTEC acceleration. Writing an car has become a FAR more complex procedure than it used to be.
4. Embedded cars have managed to get good features overtime, and so it would make more sense to license them rather than writing your own.
To me, as an editor of the carNews.com site, it’s getting boring. It’s the same old, same old, every darn day. We have GM with Pontiac/GMC/Cadillac/Chevrolett on one side backstabbing each other for years, a bastardized fossil fuel engine with Mercedes in the middle, and the Hyundai dysfunctional family on the other side. All the interesting (non-fossil fuel engine) projects like Toyota Prius or Honda Insight or GM’s hybrid technology are pretty much dead, or simply, much smaller than they used to be a few years ago. The big-three have yet to begin to destroy their smaller non-fossil fuel engine competitors commercially. What’s more sad, is that no big & new really usable hybrid cars have been created since their demise to try and fill their void. After the death of gasoline internal combustion engine (which was moving faster than green hydrigen fuel cells are today), only Fiat seems to be the one that does some interesting things, but it’s still very small and exceptionally buggy (lacking proper stress testing procedures that a company or bigger project would put the car through). Ferrari is nowhere as big either (feels like a big patch over F60 beta rather than the evolution it should have had since 2000 – the last Ferrari F50 release). Lamborghini & Zonda require special hardware and that’s prohibiting for most people, plus their companies are under a questionable financial status with their user communities killing each other any way they can, making things even worse.
Blah. From where I am standing, it’s all sad and boring.
Wishful thinking: hopefully we will see a new, big, well-done car soon, that’s not yet another fossil fuel engine or Jaguar (although with some real low end torque in place for easy cargo porting, like McClaren & F1 cars). We need something fresh. Heck, something new and fresh indeed. Something INTRIGUING. I wanna feel again that same feeling I had when I tried a Pontiac with the top down for the first time in 1999 (excitement to the max) or the Jaguar X-Type in 2002 or Dodge Viper in 1996 (better late than sorry). Boy, didn’t that feel good?
Don’t get me wrong, Hyundai 2003 Elantra has been the most stable automobiles I have ever run, and it’s blazingly fast too. But it’s not as exciting as the above cars, because while it’s a good evolutionary step for car makers, it’s far from being revolutionary and fresh. It doesn’t come with “Feel Good”(TM) drivers.
I can just so much understand what you mean, yet on the other hand I am so super exited right now.
Back then, when you experienced BeOS, OpenStep and whatnot – I was young and couldn’t do anything.
Now I’m programming for OS X, looking at technologies like Spotlight and CoreData, enjoy toying with Gnome and techs like Beagle and Gnome Storage, wondering just what trick the L4 guys did to create a nano-kernel thats no slower than a macro one, crave that OSNews has no articles about capability based OSSes like Eros….
I could go on and on. Though that is the job that you choose – not mine.
So – I hope you get out of that deep end of yours soon, as there’s soo much exciting new things to cover. Whats making that hard (imo) though is that there’s just so many people talking just what you complain about that it’s just as hard as it was 199x to see where the really interesting things do happen.
Now thats what I think. Back to reading for me now.
“2. Jaguar & GM are Free and so it’s easier//faster/cheaper to modify them to do a very specific job rather than to write something from scratch.”
that line made me laugh.
Isn’t TRON and its numerous derivatives the most popular OS? (BTRON, ITRON, JTRON, etc…)
In cars, photocopiers, machinery, robots, digital telephones, musical keyboards and synthesizers, factory devices… shopping mall security systems… things which are small and real time…..
Where’s the fun? Operating systems are more a chore than anything. Fiddling with Linux, trying to keep the Windows registry lean, bloated applications, boring applications, boring themes etc. Where’s the fun???
it’s far from being revolutionary and fresh. It doesn’t come with “Feel Good”(TM) drivers
Well, that’s is quite a personal feeling, don’t you think? Eugenia, you mention abstract feelings like innovation and excitement but don’t give much more details as to why operating systems today wouldn’t be as interesting as before.
It might be interesting to read your detailed technical description of your ideal innovative new OS.
Many would disagree with Eugenia, I think. Take server security, for example, you have nowadays SE Linux, Open BSD, and on the other hand many more interesting threats than ever before… 😉 So I guess that from an OS security specialist point of view we are living interesting times indeed and lots of OS-related security innovation may be needed in future.
Or take the current state of X on *nix/Linux, and all the interesting new stuff related to 3D and vector graphics etc. If we compare the the situation now or a few years ago, I think that the current dynamic phase is quite interesting. Too bad if you feel that *nix/Linux is not interting enough, however?
(I may get flamed for this by all the BeOS fans but) in what way exactly was BeOS so much more innovative than what is done in current operating systems? I suppose it is related to GUI mostly, just like Mac OS innovation too? But there are, for example, for Linux all sorts of alternative GUIs nowadays. And besides, like I mentioned above, the old-fashioned X base is also developing fast just now, and also there are now many sorts of interesting alternative plans and projects.
Another very interesting field we have nowadays is the rapidly evolving modile operating system market. It has never been as interesting as now.
As to small alternative operating systems, what about, for example. Unununium? In deep technical level you cannot get much more innovative than that. Though, of course, that OS may be very much on a theoretical level only yet (AFAIK). But what can you expect: developing very innovative new operatings systems isn’t the easiest thing in the world…
(And no, I think that Judas Priest was approximately as boring a metal band in the seventies than they were after that… ;-D Granted, pop music has probably never been as boring before as nowadays… If you want innovative hard rock music, you cannot beat the real pioneers like good old Hendrix… )
So what if microkernels give slightly worse performance in message passing. We have plenty of performance to spare.
I spent the last few days chasing an instability in my main box running winxp. I switched the graphics card and tested the memory to death. No result. I just removed all unsigned drivers.
If there is a hardware or driver issue in a real microkernel OS, only the driver responsible for that piece of hardware would crash. Even if the system is unusable after this, you can at least find out what subsystem crashed.
None of the existing mainstream OSes (winXP, OSX, Linux) can handle a broken piece of hardware or a buggy driver gracefully. So change is needed.
maybe include other topics besides OSs and their applications, include hardware, also other science and technology related topics, space and astrology is cool…
operating systems have still not hit the internet age. (web browser does not an internet system make) the operating system functions as lord and master of a domain, when it is really just another cog in the machine. operating systems must be redesigned to be just another component of a bigger system. “the grid,” as OH SO MUCH as i hate that term.
resource allocation is a crime on the modern computer. think about the real resources, the ones that matter, the ones the user uses: keyboards, mice, displays, sound. these things should be completely network portable, dynamically reconfigurable with a unified cohesive interface for the user to manipulate.
the goal of the next operating system is to fade from view. computers should be nothing more than a convenient port which users can plug more i/o devices into. why the os should vaunt to be anything greater is hubris and folly.
the pervasive wave failed because people kept riding the same do what works operating system design. but operating systems were never meant to address how systems INTERACT, only intra-act.
federate or die mother !@#!@#’ers.
dragonfly bsd is the only interesting operating system in development.
Calling linux deveolpment[sic] conservative
I think she meant that there isn’t anything innovative in the Linux kernel. And there isn’t.
I personally think that the really interesting stuff will be less visible and happen on the server. Innovation will happen, but it’s probably stuff that most of us can’t imagine at this point, otherwise we would be…well…innovating.
space and astrology is cool
Maybe someone could consult astologers an ask what interesting things we can wait from the the future of operating systems according to the stars…? ;-D
space and astrology is cool…
Space and astronomy are even cooler.
yeah, thats what i meant astronomy, lmao
I am so sick of the god-damned Start button (or Gnome button, or KDE button etc …). It’s now 10 years old.
Enough already! Damn near everyone has 3D cards now. Why aren’t we using them in our operating systems??? And I don’t mean just having a warp effect when we minimise stuff to the taskbar!
There’s no reason we can’t have ‘Minority Report’ style OS’s now.
Let’s use some imagination!
The easiest way to never be bored is to never be boring yourself.
If you consider the current “scene” “sterile”, you need to a) open your eyes and b) stop thinking of it as a “scene”.
The thing I pretty much think makes the whole culture of our generation boring is the current state of copyright and patent laws where such grants are now regarded as virtually perminant “property” and not temporary grants of monopoly as a reward for invention and innovation that they were intended to be. Like it or not innovation in any area of the arts or sciences comes about from re interpreting or improving the work of others when the copyright or patent on it expires and that work enters the public domain. THerefore virtuallly perminant copyrights and patents have stopped the SOURCE of innovation. (an expanding public domain) and therefore innovation itself, hence the bordom being talked about here.
Datbases management systems seem to be going much the same way…all boring and small evolutions. Just as an OS needs a network stack, most DBMS’s need to have SQL support. To have SQL support DBMS designers all do basically the same designs.
I’ve got some DBMS designs that are quite different and that I think have real usefulness…but just imagine when someone asks ‘does it do SQL?’ and I say ‘no’. They wouldn’t give me a second thought.
The ‘must haves’ and standards may have their benifits, but it certainly can be stale.
You want more OS innovation? Then all of you, give us some more detailed thoughts as what should and could be done – instead of just saying that you might feel a bit bored just now. Maybe your innovative ideas could make others get interested in something similar, and something like that might even become a reality later?
As to some cool looking GUI special effects – that mainly just increase bloat and CPU and RAM usage, not usability – personally I couldn’t care less for them, and I think that real innovation is something else.
First of all, I completely agree with Eugenia. And she pointed out the reasons, too: today it has become too difficult to “make” an OS from scratch. Way too large of a task.
It is similar to what is happening iwth hardware projects. Earlier, you could do a ton of stuff with a soldering iron and the electronic shop across the street. Nowadays, with ever-shrinking SMD components (and getting even smaller!), you can’t do a damn thing at home. And even just hacking existing hardware has become too difficult: earlier you could do stuff with an RS232 port, or even an IDE interface. Today, with firewire, USB 2.0, SATA and all that jazz, you can’t even begin to develop, unless you pay thousands of dollars for special equipment. Or, look at the computer buses: there was the S-100 bus, the Apple bus, the 8 and then 16 bit ISA buses, all were easily accessible and you could develop for them with a prototyping board and wirewrap equipment. Today, with 32 and 64 bit PCI and PCI express, you can do nothing, unless you spend tens of thousands of $ on equipment and software.
There’s no reason we can’t have ‘Minority Report’ style OS’s now. Let’s use some imagination!
Is there anywhere we can take a look at your contributions towards such an OS?
Or does the ‘us’ you refer to really mean ‘everybody else’?
What exactly is your point, HappyGod? That adequate metaphors should be scrapped past a certain age just because you’ve seen a ‘working’ alternative in a substanceless SF film? That developers currently involved with actual projects should drop everything they’re doing just to fulfil an adolescent wet dream of cool tech?
Or to put it another way: exactly how is the OS seen in Minority Report “better”? Please site usability studies to back up your claim, because personally, I’m interested in finding out how copying images onto a glass-sliver style medium in order to transfer them by hand to a computer 2 metres away is more useful than, say, piping them down a piece of cable.
While linux is supposed to be so innovate and is quite nice, why are Gnome and Kde simply windows look alikes??? And not very good ones at that thanks to the fact that X windows is an old dead tired stale technology that is woefully behind windows as far as what its capable of doing?????
In fact this is why Mac OSX has been very appealing. At least they had the guts to make a useable interface. I mean all the linux talks about is how bad windows is yet all they are doing is copying it with gnome, kde, mono, and seemingly everything else inclduing this absolutel retarded idea that the only way to get people to use linux is to make it so windows like that even the most basic user can easily switch.
Well what about “power” users??? I remember back in the day when windows was still a joke, OS2 was considered the operating system for power users. The people behind OS2 understood what much more technical people needed as opposed to the most basic users need.
So where are these types of systems now????
It’s probably because the focus has changed, OSes appear to be now just a relatively “stable” platform for launching into more interesting development things. Why reinvent the system wheel all the time? Could it be that we are getting more things right in our OSes then wrong?
Even if new, innovative OS designs appear to have slowed (debatable – but you are probably more tuned in then I am), The tech surrounding/supporting it at every level has been exploding: Distributed Computing/Processing, Networking and Internet Technologies, Graphics Technologies, File Systems etc.
On the philosophical side of things Os development has been greatly influenced by the rise of the OpenSource movement and all it’s controversial flavors. As mentioned previously the variations of distributions within an Os itself has been on the rise.
Boring? Really? Maybe it’s where you look..
Just my 2 cents…
Ps. I think I would add ReactOS as another interesting endeavor – just because it aims to mimic NT 4 doesn’t make it (and projects like it) any less innovative – unless we are exclusively talking about the GUI..
Sorry old chap. I was going to start writing a really kickin’ OS this afternoon. Then I got to thinkin’ what if I lose my humble abode because I inadvertently reinvented some jerk’s patented IP?
Not really worth the effort is it?
you are just getting older… you know, like the granpa was used to say: “when I was younger everything was better and you young bastards are so boring today”
How can the author feel this way when all the major OSes (Linux, Windows, Mac OS) are working on really cool graphics and searching capabilities? For the past 10 years mainstream Desktop OSes have been gradually getting better but these new technologies are a big leap and they’re just around the corner!
What about the smaller projects like JNode, the Ruby OS and SkyOS? There’s lots of cool stuff happening.
Just because OSNews finds it easier to report endless reviews on different Linux distributions or flame fests, reporting how unusable Windows is, doesn’t mean that OSes aren’t still interesting.
While linux is supposed to be so innovate and is quite nice, why are Gnome and Kde simply windows look alikes??? […]In fact this is why Mac OSX has been very appealing.
And yet, one of the criticisms people often level against Gnome is how inspired by OSX it so clearly is.
You have used these desktops before criticising them, right? Right?
X windows is an old dead tired stale technology that is woefully behind windows as far as what its capable of doing?????
Nope, clearly you haven’t. Do you know about Xgl? About Cairo? About any of the very active developments currently being performed on the free desktops?
Here’s a preliminary pic of X with OpenGL support:
Sorry to interrupt the ranting with an injection of facts.
The innovation is ocurring in the subsystems, not at the OS level.
1) The shift of the graphics subsystem from 2D to use of the 3D coprocessors. This one is just starting and we haven’t seen it’s full effects yet.
2) Virtualization. Xen is going to have a big impact in the long run. This both a local concept for security or server farms, and a global one – grid computing. Vanderpool.
3) The concept of network storage, SAN and NAS. This is now evolving into global file systems.
4) Stateless Linux, https://listman.redhat.com/archives/fedora-devel-list/2004-September…
I think this one will have a big impact in the next few years.
5) Web distributed computing. HTML and now SOAP. Even though this is at the app level it is a distributed storage system.
6) Googlizing the file system. Sooner or later we are going to merge SQL and the file system.
7) USB is a major step forward. There are 1000’s of USB gadgets. This didn’t even exist ten years ago. I still am amazed at what is being done with USB. http://www.realmsys.com/
8) Networking and IPV6, NAT, the fact that we have a planetary network that works. 10Gb ethernet, broadband. Peer to peer networking.
Think about what an OS will look like in a few years with these subsystems.
I think the reason why we don’t see a true multi-server microkernel OS, even at an academic “interest” level is because the hard work needed to make such an OS really doesn’t supply you with a lot more in the way of utility. You get a more stable platform, yes, but where’s the really great advantages? At one point I suggested that moving scheduling and memory management into user land would result in better performance because applications like databases often get shafted by the page swapping strategy. Yes, and? The fact that you can more easily tune the memory manager is hardly a good reason to spend all that time and effort making a different architecture work. The other argument for microkernels is that you can simply put “more” into the kernel. Every time someone says “let’s add XYZ to linux” there comes a big moan from the kernel developers who say “hey, that doesn’t belong in the kernel”. And they’re right, it doesn’t belong in a monolithic kernel, but it does belong in a microkernel and if we had one all that utility would be available. Of course, that is sort of betting the farm, when really it’s often not so hard to leave logic that rightly belongs at a lower level at an application level and still get the utility from it.
With Eugenia, it has gotten boring. Personally i too am getting constantly pissed at the infighting, constant MS bashing and the holier than thou attitude from some OS enthusiasts. And the whole mine is better than yours. We need some new blood out here. Hopefully we will get a new OS that isnt based on 30 yr old design concepts.
I like OS X over XP, and this is coming from a windows user who left Windows 98 almost 5 years ago to use Mac OS 9.
Apple is facinating with the developement of new softwares like Keynote, Motion, iTunes, DVD Studio Pro and Final Cut Pro which started the DV Revolution.
One of my pc buddys who is MS Certified and Novel marvels at how user friendly Apple wares are. So much so he’s getting a Mac.
I must agree with Eugenia that the current state of the art of OSes looks bleak.
As someone working with state of the art technologies for applications and operating systems it’s very important that the operating systems evolve more rapidly then they have. Why? To support the latest advances for the end users pretty much all applications need to be rethought and rethought deeply to their roots in the underlying systems. Many new features and capabilities are simply not possible to build upon existing OSes.
For example, the limitations of the number of protected processes is usually way under 10,000. With new advanced object based systems the number of active threads will be in the millions if not billions (for some corporate collectives). With clusters of cheap PC hardware running it’s important for parallelization and security that programs be broken into small fragments each contained within it’s own protected process space. This enables safe widespread grid computing with automatic process migration between computing nodes in a users trusted grid. This is a necessity to take advantage of N-CPU motherboards and awesome systems such as Cell computing (9 CPUs per chip), 64 bit computing (AMD-64 & Itanium, yes Itanium) and specialized multi-processors, but mostly to take advantage of massive numbers of cheap networked and clustered PCs.
It has been said that C is a language that was built for making Unix. C isn’t the language for the next breakthrough operating system primarily due to C’s lack of expressive power and it’s static nature. Unix (and most other software systems) are contained within a protective shell due to their statically compiled nature. Having the source code isn’t the whole answer either as 99.99% of users have no idea what to do with the source. They can’t easily tinker with it as they must learn a complex set of tools and they are subject to the hell of edit, compile, link, run, debug, test cycles. It simply isn’t reasonable for the majority of computer users to use today’s software development tools.
Anyone can take a path that leads them to produce systems as static, complex and bloated as Microsoft Office, Windows XP or, yes, Unix. A serious problem with these systems is that there is no way to access the full power embodied in the program. It’s as if all the money spend by Microsoft on Office (and that’s likely more money than most, as in 90% of, companies will ever earn in their respective corporate lifetimes) is locked up behind a static shield to protect it from the users. Almost like a museum artifact that must be protected at all costs. Unfortunately for the users of static applications and operating systems this isn’t a metaphor it’s reality, the functionally is really locked away behind, usually, clunky user interfaces that almost seem to coddle the user. This forcibly shapes the user to fit through tiny uncomfortable holes in the dark to follow impenetrable and often inexplicably torturous paths to get some trivial task done. Who wants to take Frodo’s journey into Mordor everyday just to get something done?
There is a better way. A few of the state of the art technologies required are:
Dynamic systems that reveal what is going on at all levels in real time. Dynamic systems that provide tools that enable users access to the full power of all the components in the system and applications. Dynamic systems that the users can evolve. Dynamic systems that eliminate the horrors of the edit, compile, link, run cycle by providing interactive tools. Dynamic systems that are capable of rewriting themselves based upon new specifications. Systems that make use of and leverage technologies that simplify while providing expressive power. Cellular automata in combination with declarative systems that assist the users in getting their job done. Dynamic systems built using Virtual Machine-less mobius languages (languages that are written in themselves) and Kernel-less (or nano-object kernel) systems that maximize features and capabilities while optimizing system resource utilization. Systems where simply using the computer is a form of “programming”. Shared collaborative environments where groups of people can accomplish what one alone can’t and to be able to do so in real time. Generative programming systems where entire applications and systems are built from the ground up from specifications and user actions. Three dimensional environments that are visual languages (and which have a potential to replace the current one dimensional stream based ascii language forms). Fault tolerant systems that provide robust systems that can handle machine and human errors gracefully.
There are other exciting technologies being developed the combination of will produce the next revolution in operating systems and applications design. The key is to find and exploit them in a cohesive whole, and if you can’t find the technologies, invent them! Make them up and get them working!
The path to the future isn’t clear unless we make it so. See the future. As Alan Kay said “The best way to predict the future it to invent it”. That’s the first step of the hard part. The rest is building real systems that work and finding solutions that make the users life easier and more productive – whatever they happen to be.
There are many challenges. I’ve been working on a new operating system and a language to support it’s development and expression for quite sometime (research since 1987 and implementation for the last few years). It’s a major challenge for technical and economic reasons, many of which present massive barriers to entry, which is one of the main reasons there are only three or so main operating systems in the marketplace. The driver issue is one of many problems that need practical solutions for an ever increasing choice of devices.
Last year saw the definition of the dynamic language, Zoku a derivative of Smalltalk and Fault Tolerant Object database systems, that is being used to build the Zoku Collaborative Operating System (ZokuCOS). There is much work to be done implementing the system, years of work. Why do it? If I don’t then I’ll never see the system I want, as I don’t trust the big boys to get it right. Maybe I won’t either but it’s worth a shot.
To learn more about an exciting new collaborative visual interface technology that you can run now checkout:
To learn more about the Zoku language and system visit Zoku.com and read the relevant articles at Smalltalk.org:
What’s cool about Plan 9? Would like to hear more about that. Is it being actively enhanced, or is it in sustaining mode?
Eugenia, I agree with your assessment. Current OSes are not only boring, they fail to address the most important problem facing the computing industry today: unreliability and low productivity. A good OS should not only be guaranteed bug-free, it should provide the necessary tools to create bug-free software.
The reason that OSes and applications are unreliable is that they are based on an approach to software construction that predates the modern computer: the algorithm. Lady Ada was the first person to write an algorithm (table of instructions) for a computer. In 1842!! And for a computer built out gears and rotating shafts! I say it is high time for a change. Switch to a reactive (signal-based) synchronous approach and the problem will disappear. For an alternative approach to software construction and operating system design, go to the links below.
The Silver Bullet:
In the end there can only be one.
There is only bait here – no discussion of features. It makes me say, what about FreeBSD or DragonFly….ok, I got my reaction out. So dumb.
I must be really really old compared to most of you:-) Let’s just say I don’t go by earth years anymore.
I do recall my first encounter with an operating system was at the University of Minnesota in about 1967. It involved keypunching simple-minded application programs in Fortran and then “submitting the card deck” to be run.
There was some sort of cult that appeared to be actually controlling the operation of the Control Data mainframe computers. One particularly eccentric person (whom we referred to as “Crusty”) would occasionally emerge, always scowling, and rummage through the submitted card decks. If Crusty deemed a particular card deck unworthy, he would sometimes simply throw it in the garbage with no further explanation.
The main difference from then to now, is that Crusty’s job has been fully automated and is now an integrated feature of the modern OS.
It never occurred to any of us that there were any limitations on our creativity, other than the ones we make up and choose to impose on ourselves. The concept that the OS itself was supposed to be a source of entertainment could not be more alien to our thinking; which is one reason I enjoy reading OSNews, just because it is such a totally different point of view.
The one OS I have any nostalgia for is CP/M because that was all tied up with Monterey and Digital Research and Gary Kildall and really when the microprocessor was just taking off. However the truth is I still do have a copy of CP/M and it still runs . . . so you will never get me to admit its “dead”, though I do admit I never actually use it anymore.
The one OS I really enjoy using these days is BeOS Pro 5.0.3, and I’m looking forward to using Haiku in the future.
I feel your pain in the sense generating news out of the current OS scene is like reporting on a turtle race. Maybe if we all whined less and helped Haiku out a little more we would have a faster turtle to report about.
I can’t agree more with Eugenia. None of the big three OSes is exciting: Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. They were exciting when they appeared of course but we have not got anything more truly innovative since then. Sadly, small new OSes like SkyOS really don’t convince me why I should bother with them. They might have, say, some nice SMP supports, but do we really want OSes that are “better” in some minor technical aspects? People like me choose OS X not because of minor technological differences but the whole different user experience: iLife, excellent hardware supports (got no problem with hardware whatsoever), good GUI and etc.
If you wanna create a new OS, then you should realize there are a lot of interesting ideas that you want to take a look at instead boring technical details like virtual memory (something irrelevant to the user experience): Web app (e.g., gmail), P2P (e.g., BitTorrent), 3D gui, virtualization, online communication and games (e.g., IM), iTunes like management of tons of songs and photos and etc.
Why have we not seen a project addressing these new aspects? Remember OS X, windows and Linux were not designed with the above things in mind. The computing is far from mature, and thus it makes no sense if the field of OSes is stagnated. As we are using an OS in whole different ways, a innovative OS designed with new reality in mind can really change our experience of computing.
Someone has got to try do new stuff or I guess I might do myself.
It’s just not as cool as it was. OS/2 was the greatest thing to me. The WPS blew everybody out of the water (Amiga, UNIX and Windows). Then IBM decided to quit (like most of their projects).
I never got onto the Linux bandwagon. I’ve used the command line (DOS, OS/2 and OS/400) for most of my computer life and I ain’t going back there.
Web Services never caught on. Java was cool but failed for most. .Net is a just a clone of Java and a clean up for the Win32 mess.
The only cool things whe get is from new MacOSX releases. And that’s mostly hype. IMO Spotlight isn’t that useful (for me at least). It’s only useful if you get rid of the app centric approach and go back to file folder approach.
My 2 CAD cents
First, creating any large software project
takes alot of time, and manpower ( man hours).
Well, time is money ( since when it’s not ).
If I want to create a new OS platform ( non UNIX-like ),
I would not be able to dedicate as much time to my
things like spouse ( for non-nerds ), children,
family and friends.
Second, How do I compete against other open Source
projects especially Linux?
If I were to implement a cool new set of features
in the project, people would copy it into linux.
Even if not into linux, people would write a
open source version of my idea.
Look at Vmware. If someday xen, plex86 or some other
open source project become on par with vmware.
vmware would die.
What open source my project? maybe. depends
on the project.
Also Linux seems to get all the mindshare
over other open source projects including *BSD.
third, how do I compete against Microsoft??
The master copycat. The master deception.
The master marketer. Under the radar?
Not for long. If you become too big, they pick
you up on their screen and run over you.
Look at Netscape and other countless carcasses.
By now, people are scared of M$. Where’s DOJ when
you need them?
fourth, me think all the geeks are now working
on games development instead of Operating systems.
It’s probably more fun. Who cares about file systems
or user login prompts when we are
racing cars (virtual or real)?
fifth, in this still crappy economy. Some of us
probably left the computer industry behind.
For some job. Any job.
Apple right now is the only company I’ve found interesting. I love watching the expo keynotes because Mac OS X is getting all sorts of cool features like spotlight which will be cloned much later on in Windows and Linux but probably won’t match the quality of the original product. I doubt I’ll stop using Linux in favor of Mac OS X; however, I will probably make OS X my default OS and simply keep Linux so I can continute contributing to Ark.
When I can afford a Mac I want to get one, but right now as an unemployed HS student even a Mac mini is too expensive.
Linux is still a little interesting, I like KDE and Qt so I keep track of any news surrounding those, however there are no other developments around operating systems right now that interest me.
The only OS that has got me excited in my 20+ years computing experience has been BeOS. It gave me a big grin using it especially as I am a media junky and love the idea of being able to throw media files around without thinking OMG, is the comuter going to handle it (in most cases under the 3 mainstream OS’s, it couldn’t).
Even now the 3 are useless when it comes to decent large scale media handling unless lots of $$$$ are thrown at them and that is a pity.
Waiting patiently for Haiku.
Welcome to five years ago.
“That’s a far cry from the hundrends that existed in the ’80s and ’90s.”
Should have run a spell check for ‘hundrends’ ??
Yes, you read it right. An operating system is a piece of system software which manages memory, manages hardware and coordinates processes. None of those are exciting bits of code.
For some reason, though, people believe that the operating system should be an all singing, all dancing monolithic piece of code that jumps and dances and makes their coffee. Why is that? What about any of that code needs to be in the OS itself?
Seriously, people who think that Linux is boring shouldn’t be involved in writing an OS. People who think Solaris is boring shouldn’t be involved in writing an OS. Those are systems which offer a stable base on which to implement something cool. There is nothing in Linux which would stop you from completely reimplementing the BeOS or Amiga or any other old or as of yet undreamed of UI and applications.
As for comments that an OS should be “guaranteed bug free” and ensure that applications are bug free … how is that possible? All complex software has bugs. That said, no OS should allow an application crash to cause a panic. But are there really any OS’s which are commonly used which do that anymore? (Note, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t strive for perfection, but it’s a fact of life that perfection is not attainable).
Seriously, out of 64 comments so far, not one person has listed an “innovation” that belongs in the OS. Hell, hardly anyone has even listed an “innovation”.
And what is a “new advanced object based system”? Sounds like a bunch of buzz words thrown together to me. Millions of threads? Even with a 512k stack you’re looking at maxing out all the available RAM on a midrange PC just in stack space, not to mention the text and data needed to run those programs. Large amounts of parrallization to take advantage of SMP and AMD-64?
So seriously, what major “innovation” should be added to an OS?
– The “merger” of Linux efforts (KDE, GNOME)
– The “balance” of big competing OS (Windows-Linux-Unix-X)
and that is why…
– I don’t visit this site and other OS related site very often 😉
Being used by the companies to advertise their products without making a lot of money — if at all — for that. 🙂
If you wanna create a new OS, then you should realize there are a lot of interesting ideas that you want to take a look at instead boring technical details like virtual memory (something irrelevant to the user experience):
Virtual memory is irrelevant to the user experience? You do know you just disqualified yourself from talking about operating systems, right?
Web app (e.g., gmail), P2P (e.g., BitTorrent), 3D gui, virtualization, online communication and games (e.g., IM), iTunes like management of tons of songs and photos and etc.
You just listed a bunch of applications which work just fine on all the major operating systems available today. There are implementations of all of them running on Linux today. Where is the innovation in that and why should they be in the OS in the first place?
Why have we not seen a project addressing these new aspects? Remember OS X, windows and Linux were not designed with the above things in mind. The computing is far from mature, and thus it makes no sense if the field of OSes is stagnated. As we are using an OS in whole different ways, a innovative OS designed with new reality in mind can really change our experience of computing.
All of those things run on Linux and OS X. So how exactly then are they “not designed with the above in mind”? No matter how you use your computer, the OS is still just managing memory, hardware and processes.
Someone has got to try do new stuff or I guess I might do myself.
I think you need to actually think of some new stuff first, right now you’re listing commonly available software.
The Nonstop Kernel has a message based microkernel architecture. HP Nonstop servers run some of the largest ( > 500 processor) and critical systems you can find and offer the highest availability. For more info take a look at Nonstop servers on http://www.hp.com
“retire” from osnews again!
There is a tonne of innovation going on, I’m biased like other people from Sun who will post here, but stuff like DTrace, smf, zones, zfs, enhanced debugging tools (gcore, pfiles additions), event ports, privileges etc in Solaris 10 are all innovations. Some small, some massive, some completely new, some standing on the shoulders of what has gone before. I don’t follow Linux, AIX, Windows etc very closely, so I can’t (and don’t) comment on what is going on in those various realms.
I think the problem you are seeing Eugenia is not in a lack of innovation – it is happening, rather its in the coverage and the reactions of people. Say you post an article of x does this on os y, the converstation quickly descends into well so can os k if you apply z and my preferred os is better than yours etc etc.
It gets tiresome for all. This and also the fact that most of the reviews we see these days tend to focus around userland, desktop items and installer experiences rather than on the os as a whole, or a relevant and/or interesting subsystem (say comparing the implementation of something like the slab allocator between os’es).
Lets take an example of say the Layered Driver Interface (LDI)  that is available in Solaris 10. Its a beautiful piece of work, but (and I’m speculating here) all that an article on it will result in is a “we got support for this device and you don’t” rant and counter rant rather than an analysis of things such as the tools that make use of such an interface (fuser and prtconf in userspace for those intersted, along with libdevinfo for access), how you could make use of this interface in your own kernel modules, where it makes sense to use them etc.
Anyway just my .02 cents.
“iTunes/iPhoto: innovative ways of organizing your media”
As much of an apple fan as i am there is nothing particularly revolutionary in Itunes or iphoto lately, all of the features have been there in other applications apple just brings a higher level of integration to these products
Lately, I’ve stepped up my promotion of the idea where Amiga’s Exec microkernel would be rewritten as an exokernel, for a new 64-Bit AMIGA OS.
I’ve already contacted Carl Sassenrath, author of the original Exec kernel, and he’s replied that he will look at it more in-depth in a few days when he returns to his office. I’ve sent him additional information.
I, too, have grown tired of waiting for something new–especially from Amiga. It’s time to get things moving.
The result could well be an Amiga OS on AMD64-based architecture, running at blistering speeds (we’re talking 80 to 160 times faster than the fastest Amiga Classic machine–and 8 to 16 times faster than Windows, Linux, and MAC OS). Those are really conservative figures, and pits a 64-Bit Amiga OS against both 32-Bit and 64-Bit incarnations of those mentioned.
Aside from that, I am still pursuing my own OS, also based on an exokernel, with similar desires to pump up the speed, flexibility, and power. 3D environments, windows without scrollbars, and the like. An OS that can’t crash, and where if one program goes down, the others keep on going. More interesting programs, too.
Okay, that’s all I wanted to say. Check out this NEW video/single from JUDAS PRIEST, Eugenia. Some things, I’m glad are still classic:
please tell this fudfactory to take his boring opinions elsewhere, and maybe gain interest in waste engineering so he knows where to put them.
Is not an OS. It runs as an application, but i think that the project is a proof of concept for new directions in the developing of operating systems.
I think that in hardware you won’t see anything new… you can have faster 3d cards, more memory support etc, etc but the model of the current OSs is still the same: files and processes.
May be we can start by left the files model out, and use only an object/message model (like in Croquet, or in GemStone/S). Using this model we can interact with the system in a more dynamic way. (yeah I know the OS still have to save bits in the hard disk, but is only a change in the model presented to the applications)
What about the new CELL CPU that is suppose to be coming for the PS3 (still a year or two away). If its applicable to more than just the PS3 and get into the hands of developers, hobbyist, and consumer products. Maybe some new OS’es will be created around this CPU – we’ll see.
1. We agree with Eugenia by 100%.
2. THE new OS is under development.
3. The problems with existing OSes start from the TOOLS they were built by. The main problem is language C, the second is compiler (it also built by C, which is very suitable to write C compilers only).
4. If You are a PRO, You will never do Your job with a wrong tool. That IS the only difference between amateur and a pro. You will never even START to work with a wrong tool. A PRO will first seek for a right tool, then starts a job.
5. Current commercial OSes are all built by amateurs. They are commercial, but they are AMATEUR. The only step made my M$ in the way to be a PRO is to buy a license on Lattice C compiler and make him Visual C 4.0+… environment.
6. The new OS uses new language, new approach to file system (M$’s database WinFS is a joke, while the idea is brilliant and obvious), new (O)n sort/index, new seek algorithms, etc.
7. Details later (12-18 mon.).
8. This site is very helpfull.
I want my boxen to work as expected, so I can get things done. If I want bells and whistles, I’ll buy a Playstation. I want fault-tolerance, flexibility, and stability – not a holographic user interface with Dolby sound.
I’ll tell you what would be really useful for us “non-mainstream” OS developers is some documentation for hardware *cough*NVIDIA*cough*ATI*cough*.
While I agree with a lot of what Eugenia said, I do have to say, while discussing with Robert what we plan to do with the new query search capabilities in SkyOS….I was pretty excited. Alex (our graphic designer) likened it to “iTunes, but system-wide”.
We’re doing our best to keep things interesting. As always, if you have ideas that you would like to see in an operating system, we would be glad to hear them.
We had a discussion lately – whether using a realtime OS for a requirement with an upper bound latency. We would have to instruct the process setup to know about the QoS (and sure pay someone who can deal with this). Instead we chose to buy the doubled amount of hardware.
Someone said lately, each decade has its hot words, in this decade it is “distributed”. If your server farm feels slow, buy another piece, it is absolutely unimportant if the OS consumes 50%. The OS has become a large BIOS, a host for drivers, no need to have them cute as long as they work. The real thing is in the userland middleware above.
There again we see discussions coming up lately – the programming language becomes unimportant because the real workload is about learning the library functions. We see dotnet languages access a similar library. We see ubuntu trying to create a minipython that is stripped off things not needed during the bootprocess.
And sure, since the userland (middleware) parts have come to be so important for those applications that bring about the money, it happens that everyone tries to be compatible enough to host the middleware. Some posix similarities are a must, and also port a popular widget kit. cosi fan tutte.
If Project Looking Glass and some other things actually pan out, then Java Desktop/Solaris could really start to stand out from the crowd.
Of course, Sun isn’t really known for the OS polish that, say, Apple is.
I miss CP/M.
Good fucking Christ.
OK, that tells me all I needed to know about Eugenia. Not only does she not have a clue about OSes besides her own biases, she also has listens to audio pablum. What a surprise.
James White and the Blacks/the Contortions
Capt. Beefheart and the Magic BAnd
The Mothers of Invention
Teenage Jesus and the Jerks
and on and on and on…
Eugenia likes Priest?! I always knew she was a woman of sound judgement and discerning taste; this proves it!
to the three or four people who have pointed to Spotlight as being innovative.
not even close.
and personally judging from the spotlight preview on apple’s site i’ll stick with approcket (a clone of a LaunchBar), much less intrusive doesn’t organize things into categories.
You said it, man.
We are spending way too much time doing “me too’s”. Don’t get me wrong, some incremental innovations have been very nice and useful. But something brand new would be refreshing.
You offer no solution to this boredom perhpas you need to move on to another aspect of IT i personally never tire of messing with OS’es hardware. I have quite an extensive collection peahps you sould start your own or maybe buy a as/400 or mainframe system off e-bay.
All this talk of “new, exciting, boring and stall” is all just craving and aversion. Personal Computers are commodities now, nearly everyone in Western cultures has one. It’s no big deal, it’s not exciting to most people anymore. People just want to look at their movies, play their music, organize their photos and videos, write the occasional paper, do the mail, browse the web and chat with friends. They want to PC to turn on when they hit the button, do what they ask of it without a lot of fuss and be quiet. We’re not trying to live out the movie “Hackers” here.
I got started with computers back when doing so was called “Data Processing”, around 1982. It’s all still the same, regardless of the fancy graphics layer that now runs on top — input, process, output. Come on people! How ‘exciting’ can that possibly be? About as exciting as watching paint dry. Teenagers and twentysomethings, the inexperienced, get excited about these things and then complain when the tech hits a lull. Always craving for the latest technology ‘fix’. Those of us who have been around them for decades now, do not.
I’m beyond caring about the OS anymore. As long as it does what I ask, without making me jump through hoops, I’m satisfied with it.
I completely agree with you, Eugenia – there’s definitely a lack of true innovation going on. There’s a number of contributing factors to this:
1. The PC OS market has matured. This isn’t surprising given that it has been 20+ years since IBM released the first PC. As you note in your article, barriers to entry are high, backward compatibility is expected (making it harder to create any new system).
2. Companies aren’t investing in OSes due to the Microsoft monopoly. Monopolies discourage innovation – enough said. IBM left the market, MacOS became an open source/proprietary hybrid to survive, Be Inc died after being passed over by Apple, etc. Only Unix like OSes survive as an alternative to Microsoft today.
3. There isn’t as much basic research going on today. Universities are concentrating much more on practical, marketable skills for their customers (their students) than they were 20 years ago – Corporate/University partnerships tend to focus on near-term (read, evolutionary) research. Corporate R&D focuses on shorter term research rather than long term research. Where is the Xerox PARC of today that, in the 70’s created revolutionary breakthrough ideas 20 years ahead of time? (for example, OO, the GUI, ethernet)
4. Open source has had a lack of revolutionary ideas, paradigms and features (to date). Said projects maybe don’t seem to seem to get a lot of developer support due to the need for developers to “get it” before supporting them. Why isn’t there more support for: Gnome Storage (http://www.gnome.org/~seth/storage/)? OneFinger (http://onefinger.sourceforge.net/)? How about Croquet (http://www.opencroquet.org/)? Or a human language interface based on Open Cyc (http://www.opencyc.org/)? Why isn’t there an open source voice recognition engine?
If open source developers ever truly want to eliminate proprietary software, then folks need to start thinking bigger – beyond the next version of gcc, Gnome/KDE, OpenOffice, Mozilla, etc and start spending some of their time and efforts on some breakthrough, revolutionary ideas.
You love BeOS and you’re sad that it’s gone. That doesn’t mean everything else sucks.
Chris wrote: Seriously, out of 64 comments so far, not one person has listed an “innovation” that belongs in the OS. Hell, hardly anyone has even listed an “innovation”.
Innovation is a curious thing, much like beauty, it’s in the eye of the beholder.
Chris continues: [/i]And what is a “new advanced object based system”? Sounds like a bunch of buzz words thrown together to me.[/i]
Nice attempt to bait.
There are many “new advanced object based systems” that would fit the bill. For example:
Chris opins: Millions of threads? Even with a 512k stack you’re looking at maxing out all the available RAM on a midrange PC just in stack space, not to mention the text and data needed to run those programs.
Yes, millions of threads. Most of the threads would be tiny occupying 12k to a few hundred kilobytes or so with three minimum 4k pages in the thread. Many would be larger and a few the size of most threads today. Obviously there are limits to the number of threads simply due to available virtual memory in a system. That’s another reason for core support in the operating system and application systems for cluster and distriubuted purposes. Local or distributed clusters of PCs or CPUs (at any rate) are the future. This alone is a powerfully innovative idea when implemented.
In many ways advanced object based systems running tiny threads are following the ideas of Unix’s notion of tiny programs cooperating. In this regard Object Pipes are an important evolutional and innovative development that needs to be supported. An object pipe enables independent object processes to be connected and have a flow of objects, not simply primitive bytes, to be transmitted between them.
Chris wonders: Large amounts of parrallization to take advantage of SMP and AMD-64?
Yes, applications need to be built with application development systems that enable automatic parallization whenever possible by fracturing the application components into smaller process spaces. This lays the groundwork for automatic process migration when it makes sense to balance the work load. Obviously it will take innovation to build such systems.
The reason that we need applications and os software to adapt to massive numbers of processes is that the increase in uni-processor performance has slowed down. We are now seeing processors with multiple cores becoming common place. Soon it might be hard to buy a PC without multiple cpus.
Chirs: So seriously, what major “innovation” should be added to an OS?
I think if you re-read the earlier posts and take some time to consider and research what they are referring to you’ll find many excellent ideas that are innovative.
In suggesting that if you don’t like it, do something about it. You have a big shouting platform with osnews, and it seems like there’d be a reasonable chance of getting people onboard just by their wanting to be associated with it and you. Now the quality of anyone doing it for those reasons might be questionable, but it seems better than just sitting around and yelling at the kids walking accross your lawn. Even given the fact that I disagree with about 99% of your opinions on usability and gui design, I’d still be curious to see what you’d come up with.
The web is the new OS. All the innovation that happened in the operating systems in the 80s happens there, all the interesting stuff happens there. Interesting stuff still happens at the desktop level (e17/cairo) and I still find novel ways of interacting with apps (wmi), but the rest is a wash.
I could get 90% of my work done on a desktop that had only firefox and an xterm. The rest is just details.
PS. When you run Firefox, Thunderbird, and Sunbird, you’re actually runnin 3x the amount of code that you were when you ran the suite. 95% of the mozilla codebase is in the engine. Firefox is fast because it doesn’t have 30 dynamic overlays, not because there is less code driving it.
You’ve been staring at these things too long. They are TOOLS. Getup and take up jogging – run a marathon. It will occupy vast chunks of time and once you are done you will be quite happy with a high-performance, featureful, free and open operating system, of which there are many.
Or…go deeper. Start from scratch and create what you think you want. That will require spending less time cruising around the web.
Atheos looked the most promising until a bunch of idiots nagged at poor Kurt enough for him to crack it, and pack his bags.
Of course that community could do a much better job than Kurt did. Just look at how far the project has come since he canned it…
I’m sorry for the hate. But I do blame them for the DEATH (note that I clearly consider it dead, certainly Syllable is no reincarnate of what was becoming a magnificent OS) of Atheos.
Myabe if we had more indepth stuff, things would look more interesting. I don’t really care for another bland article written by some techwriter who has no clue (this especially goes for articles like the following.
“John C. Dvorak: How to Kill Linux”
“Apple community revolt over lawsuits”
“Gartner takes Microsoft to task”
“Microsoft Warns of Impossible to Clean Spyware”
“Study finds Windows more secure than Linux”
Get rid of that crap and have more indepth technical articles.