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Offline persia

The Perfect OS
« on: June 18, 2009, 09:46:42 PM »
Interesting article from: http://www.connectedinternet.co.uk/2009/06/17/the-perfect-os/

The Perfect OS
June 17th, 2009 • Filed Under
 
 

I’ve written several articles where I bash a particular operating system or heap praises on another. I’ve held a fascination with operating systems, and with graphical user interfaces, since around 1995, when I was introduced first to Digital Unix, and then BSD and linux shortly thereafter. In 1996 I began my love affair with all things NeXT when I began using OPENSTEP, and in very little time had switched all my desktop functions to that environment. In early 2002 I broke down and bought my first Power Mac, and most of my home usage has been on Mac OS X since then.

Graphical user interfaces are usually tied to a specific operating system (though not always), so for the purposes of this article I am including the GUI as an aspect of an operating system.

It’s a testament to the genius of unix design that a 39 year old operating system is so prevalent in 2009. Unix introduced so many operating system features we take for granted that they aren’t worth enumerating. Suffice it to say that all operating systems have taken some degree of inspiration from unix.

I am certain that someday some clever group of young developers will create an operating system that is just as revolutionary as unix was in 1970. Maybe not in my lifetime, and it’s very likely that 20 years from now I will still be cd-ing and ls-ing my way around a unix shell prompt. For now, the perfect underlying os is still some flavor of unix.

Here are the salient points regarding what I think makes a good operating system:

A full featured command line interface Nothing helps you learn the guts of your os like CLI navigation. You become familiar with the filesystem hierarchy in a way that sticks with you more than looking at it in a GUI file browser. You also become familiar with what commands accomplish what in your os, the very same commands many of your GUI programs are running to do what they do. I do not want to be wholly dependent upon GUI tools, because there may not be an application that does, or does as efficiently as a CLI command, what it is I need to get done.
Memory protection We take this for granted, but it bears mentioning. AmigaOS4, which in all other respects resembles a modern operating system, doesn’t have it. Rogue applications can not be allowed to drag the os down with them when they crash. For that matter, apps with runaway memory and cpu usage can’t be allowed to bring the system to it’s knees. I don’t know if they fixed this in Vista, but I still experience regular instances of IE6 making XP unusable without a reboot.
Stability The os itself should operate flawlessly. Mac OS didn’t even approach that until OS X. Windows didn’t until Windows 2000. You should be able to turn on a given box and only need to reboot when required by software installation and operating system updates.
Efficient resource management I admire operating systems that do more with less. Of course, memory and cpu management also have a great deal to do with an os’es speed. I have always gotten a stiffie watching videos of MorphOS and AmigaOS4 booting to a usable desktop in like 5 seconds.
I was so shocked when I booted up my laptop for the first time and saw that Vista running Aero was using 700 megs of ram after a boot. This on a machine that only had a gig in it. It made me wonder, so I rebooted OS X on my Power Mac, and it used 300 megs from a fresh boot. Later that day I installed and configured FreeBSD on my laptop, and with a 3D accelerated desktop, FreeBSD running Gnome + Compiz only consumed 128 megs of ram. Linux with a similar setup on the same laptop eats about 500 megs of ram. I know that I could trim those numbers down somewhat by disabling unnecessary services, but it tells you a little (admittedly not the whole story) about the various systems’ resource usage. Operating systems should use as little memory and cpu as they need for a task. There are plenty of resource greedy applications, I don’t want my os to be one of them.

Multi-thread performance This would have been a non-issue not too long ago, and maybe that’s why so few people cared about Be OS, an os that was too far ahead of it’s time to survive. Now that 2 cores are standard, it’s important that our os takes advantage of more than one core. It irks me that I have this monster, 8 core Mac Pro, and for the vast majority of my time on it, it performs like a single core machine because the os and applications aren’t taking full advantage of all those cores. Going forward, multi-thread performance is a very important issue.
Now for the GUI that lays on top of that perfect os:

Simplicity Making an interface complicated isn’t good design. It doesn’t show how clever the designers were. Just the opposite. Whether you are an extremely adept computer user or a hopeless idiot at the keyboard, simplicity is best. We don’t want Joe User to hurt himself. However, anyone can design a simple interface. The trick is to have an interface that is simple, incredibly intuitive, and yet the more advanced functions are available to those capable of using them without making them jump through hoops to find them. A good GUI stays out of your way and helps you get the job done faster and easier.
Consistency I want my GUI to have a consistent look. Applications should never be allowed to draw attention to themselves by not looking like an app native to the os it is running on. Maybe NeXT didn’t have the most beautiful interface to some, but by God, every app running on a NeXT os looked like a NeXT app. Apple has finally gotten better about this now that brushed metal is finally gone and all cocoa apps look like iTunes.
Elegance I know that for some of you, using elegance and sophistication in describing a GUI is going to sound like I need to get a life. I also know that a great many of you reading this will know exactly what I mean.
We spend a lot of time using a computer. Why not do it on an interface that is pleasing to the eye, and makes computer use in general more enjoyable? This is entirely subjective, and whether you find OS X to meet these criteria, or Enlightenment is more your cup of tea, smart interface design coupled with good looks wins users over.

Look at what a loyal following NeXT still has, 13 years after it’s last os release, and how mimicked it’s interface still is by X window managers. Why does Amiga still have such a big following, going on two decades into it’s irrelevance? Great design wins people’s hearts.

The perfect os hasn’t been built yet. For me, Mac OS X comes as close as any have yet. FreeBSD-based unix layer and it’s higher level os and GUI sourced from OPENSTEP, it comes very close to making me 100% happy.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

What we\'re witnessing is the sad, lonely crowing of that last, doomed cock.
 

Offline ElPolloDiabl

Re: The Perfect OS
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2009, 09:57:03 PM »
Interesting and wordy read.


I've been jotting down a few ideas on how to 'evolve' an OS. I've come to the conclusion that you should write an OS that adapts itself to the way you think. Something forgiving for 'dumb' users. Something complex for 'smart' users. It should remain ubiquitous.

I shall keep the rest of my ideas secret so I can become a patent troll. lol
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Offline the_leander

Re: The Perfect OS
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2009, 12:13:25 AM »
Quote from: Fanscale;512151
Interesting and wordy read.


I've been jotting down a few ideas on how to 'evolve' an OS. I've come to the conclusion that you should write an OS that adapts itself to the way you think. Something forgiving for 'dumb' users. Something complex for 'smart' users. It should remain ubiquitous.

I shall keep the rest of my ideas secret so I can become a patent troll. lol


The problem with the concept of a perfect OS is that perfect in this case is very individual. To this day I consider BeOS to be about the closest to perfection I ever came across (though I have to say I did miss Magellen's configurability in some respects verses Trackers relative simplicity). However, I knew it's faults (and there were some hum dingers in there) and developers dispised it for the most part because it forced them to work in a threaded way, regardless of whether or not the application needed it.
Blessed Be,
Alan Fisher - the_leander

[SIGPIC]http://www.extropia.co.uk/theleander/[/SIGPIC]
 

Offline bloodline

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Re: The Perfect OS
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2009, 12:23:49 AM »
Yeah, I'd say there's not such thing as the perfect OS... just an OS that either fits the test well... or doesn't annoy me too much (Currently OSX, but that's not an OS for everybody) :)

Offline SamuraiCrow

Re: The Perfect OS
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2009, 12:28:01 AM »
http://amigaworld.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=29035&forum=28 is a speculation thread about AnubisOS.  I was skeptical about it at first but I'm beginning to think it has potential.
 

Offline the_leander

Re: The Perfect OS
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2009, 12:46:26 AM »
Quote from: SamuraiCrow;512185
http://amigaworld.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=29035&forum=28 is a speculation thread about AnubisOS.  I was skeptical about it at first but I'm beginning to think it has potential.


It's an interesting idea, I am however somewhat skeptical. And that skeptisism comes from what I observed in the BeOS community upon the birth of the opensource replacement race. There were several, but one sticks in my mind specifically was (iirc) Blue Eyed OS (might have been cosmoe), which was to take the OpenBeOS (now haiku) sourcecode and marry it up with a linux kernel to substantially improve hardware compatability. The end result was that the developers after busting their humps for months decided that simply using a linux distro would be easier. My fear is that having to port X11 and all of it's support libs might produce a similar outcome.

That said I do genuinely wish them the best of luck.
Blessed Be,
Alan Fisher - the_leander

[SIGPIC]http://www.extropia.co.uk/theleander/[/SIGPIC]
 

Offline persia

Re: The Perfect OS
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2009, 03:41:05 AM »
The main problem is that the author and most of us are IT folks, it folks debate endless hours on obscure features.  The average user wants to open that docx file that somebody sent in email or upload their songs to their iPod or edit the red eye in their son's birthday snaps and not have to worry about crashing or converting anything.  A good OS gets out of the way for the average user and provides power for the IT person.  That's OS X.
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

What we\'re witnessing is the sad, lonely crowing of that last, doomed cock.
 

Offline mlankton

Re: The Perfect OS
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2009, 03:34:13 PM »
I am excited about the prospect of Haiku running on my laptop, provided the hardware support of Haiku will allow me to do so. It runs great under VirtualBox on my Mac, and the laptop in question is a little underpowered with a dual 1.46GHz pentium and only 1 gig of ram. Right now I have Mandriva linux on it, and I had to resort to an Xfce desktop to get any feeling of snappy-ness out of it. I never was a big fan of linux, being a BSD guy, but it still surprises me that linux would eat almost 600 megs of ram just sitting there. That's close to Vista.

I also have a good feeling about Aros. However, I have to say that after years of Amiga-envy, and going back and forth trying to decide if I was actually going to break down and buy some hardware that would run MorphOS or Amiga OS4, as much fun as I've had playing with Aros lately, it's a little buggy. I know that aros has a long way to go yet, even though it's recently begun to resemble something usable after so long in development. I don't know, after a decade plus of being a unix user, and specifically, from the NeXT camp, maybe I wouldn't have the patience to run an os that was susceptible to rogue apps bringing the whole works down. Maybe I already missed that boat, not having an Amiga back in the day. I'd still like to get my hands on OS4 and MorphOS, just to play with.

Back on track, OS X is very, very nice. It has an exceptional balance between being a system idiots and small children can use adeptly while providing an environment and tools that make the expert happy as well.

It's gratifying to know that someone is reading, thanks guys!
 

Offline persia

Re: The Perfect OS
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2009, 08:02:06 PM »
I've gotten a fair amount of practise in Obj-C programming and I'm looking forward to building some Apps that will run on my iPhone and Mac.  They've built the richest developer's environment possible.  There's a lot to like about OS X.

Quote from: mlankton;517405

Back on track, OS X is very, very nice. It has an exceptional balance between being a system idiots and small children can use adeptly while providing an environment and tools that make the expert happy as well.

It's gratifying to know that someone is reading, thanks guys!
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

What we\'re witnessing is the sad, lonely crowing of that last, doomed cock.
 

Offline wiser3

Re: The Perfect OS
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2009, 09:08:16 PM »
I'm still waiting for an OS with a document tracker !!! When i go to shut down, don't warn me if other users were logged in, warn me if they have edited documents open. At any time i want to be able to see what documents are open, what app they are open in, there file location (including local or over network), and most importantly if they have been edited. Then let me have save any edited documents right from the list.

Rarely do i care what applications i have running, however i do care about my work and whether it's been saved.

The problem with existing OS's, is how to implement such a feature in a way that it would work with applications developed before the feature was introduced. Anyone developing a new OS must implement this right from the start.
 

Offline aperez

Re: The Perfect OS
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2009, 07:17:40 AM »
Quote from: persia;517428
I've gotten a fair amount of practise in Obj-C programming and I'm looking forward to building some Apps that will run on my iPhone and Mac.  They've built the richest developer's environment possible.  There's a lot to like about OS X.
Persia,

Anubis is going to be heavily Objective-C based, and I'd love to invite you to join our project, especially if you have Objective-C experience. For those of you who have not had much or any exposure to Objective-C, feel free to visit http://gnustep.made-it.com/BG-objc/index.html or pick up a new or used copy of the book "Programming in Objective-C" by Stephen Kochan (http://www.amazon.com/Programming-Objective-C-Stephen-Kochan/dp/0672325861). This book presumes no previous experience with C or any other programming languages, and covers learning Objective-C under both OS X and Windows, using GNUstep.