What's Missing in an Operating System?

Mooreyameen Mohamad, in response to Operating System Choices:

I don’t understand what is the big deal with operating systems. So Apple has Mac OS X and PCs have Windows Vista and a bunch of other stuff such as the much heralded Ubuntu… but at the end of the day it’s the applications (Google Apps?) that a computer user would / should be most concerned about, right? Internet browsing experience depends pretty much on the internet browser, which is largely independent of the OS and the bandwidth of the internet connection.

Changing from one OS to another surely is not as easy as changing from one internet browser to another. And seriously, how many people would even think about it, what with all the baggage of applications, hardware already ‘attached’ to a particular OS, so to speak? Ubuntu is supposedly great because it’s open source but seriously for the average user, Open Source just means ‘No technical support’. Granted, perhaps because of the diversity of the “community” that develops the open source OS, it might end up being a ‘stronger’ OS than say, Windows, but it just feels like I have to wait for a child to ‘grow up’…as it goes through the various trials and tribulation of trial and error of being coded by random geeks with free time on their hands.

What say you, Chris? Surely choosing an OS would depend on what applications you need to use for your purpose, how much ‘support’ you need?

4 thoughts on “What's Missing in an Operating System?”

  1. Mooreyameen Mohamad is absolutely right, or at least his conclusion is the same as mine after having spent many years with each of the various OS platforms. In my own case, rating the platforms on the basis of their applications, I would put Windows XP first, openSUSE Linux with KDE second, and Mac OS third. As operating systems, the order might be the reverse of that, but it’s the applications that matter in the end.

  2. I use Mandriva Linux because my computer belongs to me, not the developer of the operating system I installed on it. As a Linux user, I am not required to check in periodically to prove I did not pirate the OS (WGA/WPA). I wait hours or days, not weeks or months for security patches. My computer adjusts to work with me, not the other way around.

    “I don’t understand what is the big deal with operating systems.” There’s no big deal. It is simply a matter of what you want.

    “So Apple has Mac OS X and PCs have Windows Vista and a bunch of other stuff such as the much heralded Ubuntu… but at the end of the day it’s the applications (Google Apps?) that a computer user would / should be most concerned about, right?” Wrong. Applications can be written to run under any OS. The OS is the foundation of your computer. Your applications are supported by that foundation. If the foundation crumbles, what happens to the applications it supports?

    “Internet browsing experience depends pretty much on the internet browser, which is largely independent of the OS and the bandwidth of the internet connection.” Not true. Your Internet browsing experience with any WEB browser is greatly affected by the OS and how it manages resources (back to the ole foundation thing again …).

    “Changing from one OS to another surely is not as easy as changing from one internet browser to another.” No, it is not, and no one should expect it to be. If the operating system is the foundation of the computer, then the file system is its structure, and the command interpreter is the native language. Switching from one operating system to another should not be expected to be any easier than moving from one country to another.

    “And seriously, how many people would even think about it, what with all the baggage of applications, hardware already ‘attached’ to a particular OS, so to speak?” It all depends on what those people want. Many commercial applications are available for multiple platforms (Windows, MAC OS-X, and perhaps Linux), and there are counterparts for those that are not.

    “Ubuntu is supposedly great because it’s open source but seriously for the average user, Open Source just means ‘No technical support’.” Not true. Linux distributors generate income by providing technical support for their distribution. If you need technical support, you can purchase it from your chosen Linux distributor. If you do not need support, you can get your chosen distribution for the cost of the download.

    “Granted, perhaps because of the diversity of the “community” that develops the open source OS, it might end up being a ’stronger’ OS than say, Windows, but it just feels like I have to wait for a child to ‘grow up’…as it goes through the various trials and tribulation of trial and error of being coded by random geeks with free time on their hands.” If what this means is that Linux will have to become like Windows before it has grown up, then it never will. Linux is not Windows, and I see nothing immature about it. When I first started using Linux, it felt clumsy and uncomfortable because I was uncertain of just how to do many of the things I did with ease in Windows. Now, when I use Windows, it feels clumsy and limiting because I know I could do so many things far more easily in Linux. The only thing I have found that I can do in Windows and not in Linux is natively run software written for Windows. Linux software is written by some of the finest programmers in the world. There is nothing ‘trial and error’ about it. Certainly, there are hundreds of Linux distributions available, but they all share one thing, they are all built from the same source code. Each Linux distribution is the distributor’s concept of what the Linux operating system should be. Linux is developed by the Open Source community which is about choice, freedom, and the sharing of ideas. Linux is the result of the largest conversation in the history of the world, and that conversation is continuing and growing. Because Linux is Open Source, hundreds of thousands if not millions of eyes look at the source code daily. This not only speeds the process of bug and security patching, but insures the integrity of the distributors and developers.

    In the end, the big deal is largely dependant on what you want. If you are comfortable with the OS you use now, and you have little or no interest in the potential benefits provided by other OS’s, stick with what you know. Switching OS’s will have a learning curve. It is probably harder than it was to learn to use a computer in the first place, because it will be much like not only learning to speak, but learning to think in a second language. If on the other hand, you think those potential benefits may be worth the effort, then by all means investigate, but make the decision for your self. Don’t let any one make it for you

  3. I agree with Chris in this video. I really hate users who are biased on one certain OS because they have never tried to explore new frontier. When you have seen Mac OS X, Windows Vista, and Linux, the choice for the average user usually sums up to three things: apps, simplicity of functions, and the speed at which they are accomplished. Users weigh these things in different levels and pick what they like. As long as there is choice, this argument over which OS is the best will cease to end…

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