I was at a party in December, and was listening to a spirited discussion about laptops and PDAs and touchpads. There was much discussion about Windows vs. Linux, and about CPU/RAM/HD speeds. Although I didn’t share it at the time, I have my own opinion about our OS choices.
They all suck, and I wish there was another option.
Windows is the…original bloatware. Even back when it first came out it was leaning on the expectation that machines would get cheaper and more powerful over time. This meant that running lean and simple was way down on the feature list. In the 12 years since, nothing has changed. Windows, in all it’s incarnations, is still a huge pig. I’d bet that MSoft has one or more teams working on completely new OSs of the future, but so far I haven’t seen or heard of the results of such research.
I certainly admire Linux and its user base, but let’s not forget that it’s UNIX ported to the PC. It’s old, with many basic concepts held over from 30 years ago. Plus, it too gets bloated pretty fast. I remember talking to a UNIX guy in 87. He said UNIX required (at that time) 4 meg of ram, and 40 megs of storage. Today’s iPhones have more than that.
BeOS was out there for quite a while, but now it appears to be completely defunct, and I’m kicking myself for not learning more about it while it was viable.
I loved the "gloves off" approach of AmigaOS, but that ship sailed a very long time ago.
There’s new talk of a company called Device VM (http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/20072/?a=f) and their new software. Basically they’ve got a really simple OS (if it can be called that) that boots instantly from the BIOS, and runs an editor and a browser. It’s obviously not being touted as an alternative to Windows, but (for users that only need a thin client) it is.
As an engineer, I often feel the pull, the allure, of creating an OS from scratch. The idea that I can start with a CPU, some RAM, and a bit of IO, and boot-strap up a multitasking kernel and a slick GUI. That’s exciting, and I’m sure I’m not the only engineer to feel that way. In fact, I bet there are others already hard at work on a new 21st century OS, and if you know of them, please clue me in. Thanks!