Operating System Thoughts

I Figured That This Would Be An Good Thinking Process (Maybe)

The Mistress throughout the last decade or so has presented for us many choices as far as technology goes and I believe that having choices are great! There is a issue though with this, the issue is the “Fanboy Flame Wars” when it comes to a piece of technology called Operating Systems and the machines that they run upon.

I’m not getting into the “smart devices” such as tablets and phones, strictly laptops and desktop machines here.

Interesting Thought Stream Here.

I think so. The ability for us humans to interface with machines has come along way. From the humble beginnings of flipping switches and punch cards to keyboards and mice. This is a huge difference. The machines that run the topic of discussion also have gotten smaller and more powerful! Unless you have a piece of software called a Operating System or OS as it is affectionately called, the hardware isn’t going to do too much.

Even though I can go through all the ways one can get work done with machines, I will be mainly discussing the ones that seem to be in use today. They are Windows, MacOS, Linux and the UNIX variants that have the BSD in their title normally.

A Warning For The Flame War Starting Trolls!

This is my thoughts on this subject and my thoughts only! Yes the Mistress is whispering in my ear wanting me to go on a certain direction however I have to resist the siren song and keep this as objective as I can. That same voice that calls you to flame up and spew out garbage you MUST resist! This is MY blog after all and I just had this topic pop into my head and decided to write about it! If you disagree, then that is cool with me however keep the comments (if any) clean and professional!

Where Shall We Start? How About The UNIX Variants?

OK sounds good to me! The UNIX variants here are the BSD or Berkley Software Distribution which has quite a long history (which won’t be discussed here). There are many different variants called distributions that one can use if they wish on their systems.They have their differences in how they do things but they share the same core. The system can be configured to the users liking and this is where a lot of folks especially the ones with quite a bit of experience with the big brother UNIX really like this software.

The downside to this is because hardware vendors (such as video card manufactures, sound board manufacturers and the like) don’t always release drivers, some devices might not work or work as expected. Then we have others who want to run what is called a pure system ( A OS with no propitiatory (non-free) software in it at all) and this includes drivers and other software! So these folks are at the mercy of people who will keep plugging away at certain hardware to get it to work! Others like myself don’t mind using a vendor supplied proprietary driver in order to get my system to work as intended.

Other software is another concern here as well. Some folks say they need a certain piece of software that will only run in a certain OS and the community has a few options to try and get this to work correctly. Some options work very well while some may not work at all depending on the age of the program and what kind of program it is. Getting software to run in a non-native OS is a completely different subject and might be discussed at a later date!

I will do the pros and cons towards the end of this blog. So let’s go onto another UNIX like system called Linux.

Linux is another UNIX variant right?

Not exactly. Linux kernel (the core of this OS) was programmed by Linus Torvalds based on MINIX roughly. A community developed around this idea and ported some software from other projects such as BSD to get Linux started. Because the source for this OS was available for developers to use, they started to write programs to run on this OS and then Linux was off to the races! So to answer the question is kind of a yes and no thing.

Linux like BSD has the same issues that they share. Mainly hardware compatibility and software other than the main OS. This also depends if the user wants to use a pure system (as discussed in the BSD section above) or run a mixed system that uses both free and non-free software. BSD and Linux might gain a better foothold if more hardware vendors will support the OS and the same with software developers. However we have the folks who scream and shout about propitiatory software or because they run a free (as in beer) OS that the commercial program should be free as well (both in code and price).

I have to disagree here!

*Puts on fire suit*

Let’s look at this another way shall we? You go into a restaurant with a professional chef at the helm and this person spent countless hours in culinary school perfecting his or her art and developed recipes through trial and error that become their signature dishes. You go to said restaurant with this kind of mentality and your basically saying “I want you to cook me a meal including your signature dish and I’m not going to pay for it!”. I can understand if the meal wasn’t good or some other problem was present with the meal. However I’m assuming the meal was exactly as ordered and served properly. The chef has to recover his/her resources (ingredients, cost of utilities to cook with, salaries for prepping the ingredients and so forth) as well as their time (the chef has to get paid as well). So this is basically cheating this individual out of their money! So these vendors should be paid especially when they have a staff and other cost of development. However I will have to say that some software is quite a bit overpriced and I can see where the complaining does take place.

In the Open Source world, there are developers who do this in order to make their OS of choice better and may recruit a team to help with development! Most of these projects are done for the love of their software and or OS. Some ask for donations to give these folks some sort of compensation for their time. Some are actually going to asking for some sort of payment for their work. All and all, some awesome and some not so awesome projects have been created and survived and some of these developers have even made their creations cross platform (can run on different OS’s) which is awesome IMHO!

So when using any of the above OS’s, just keep in mind that you may or may not be able to find a replacement for a piece of software you need or you may or may not get the said software to run at all.  Also be advised that the latest and greatest hardware may not be supported either.

What next? Mac OS

Now this one actually benefited from the years and it “borrowing” from some other projects. Besides the big Apple II computers, the OS that Apple used afterwards IMHO I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole! I really didn’t care for how the operating system worked and I also really didn’t like the crashing (in my experience as well as a few others) that the OS did. Then Apple “borrowed” some things from I believe BSD and developed the newer versions of their OS. What did Apple get from this? A more stable OS! The bad thing is that they really didn’t share much if anything back to the community in which they “borrowed” from. That aside, I actually would love to run this OS and the hardware associated with it. The MAJOR DOWNSIDES for me is two of them. One is only certain hardware will work with the computer and the OS (We will get to the plus about this in a minute) and two the damn COST!!!! Apple products are much more expensive than any other machine on the market today!

Now let’s discuss why Apple’s strategy of supporting only certain hardware is a good thing. When you are a software developer developing an OS, if you limit the field down to only certain items, you can write code that will target these items only and if a issue arises, then it is easier (or supposed to be easier) to debug and fix the issue. Also unless a major rewrite of the OS happens, the OS should “just work” because of the limited software that the system will run with. A lot of variables have been removed with this approach. This does limit what the OS will run on and this maybe a big downer for a lot of folks but Apple only wants their OS to run on their hardware. So this OS is propitiatory. There are folks who got this to run on what some folks call a Hackintosh but there are some legal issues with doing so.

And Finally Windows

Well like it or hate it, it is the most popular OS on the market today. It got it’s humble beginnings from being a GUI (Graphical User Interface) for DOS all the way up to what it is today. A good and bad thing about Windows is that it will run on quite a range of hardware. The good news is that most current Windows versions will work with the latest and greatest hardware. The bad news is that some legacy (older) devices might not be supported and it is harder for Microsoft to work out the bugs in the OS because they try to be the OS that works on just about everything however they cannot account for all different combinations of hardware that comprise a modern PC.

Hardware concerns aside, Windows may have some other issues as well. Some do not like where Windows has gone as far as your privacy where some are fine with what they’ve done. Also most software packages used today are available on this platform.

My personal thoughts on this one? It is mixed bag.  They tried to reduce the what was affectionately known as dll hell with the registry to IMHO make the situation worse!

Unless a system critical dll got deleted or corrupted, the OS would flag an error and may or may not keep working depending on what the dll was of course. The registry however doesn’t take much for it to cause a whole bunch of headaches! All the way from slow computer, random errors to even refusing to load, the registry can do some quite evil things to your machine. I’ve personally gone through both dll hell and registry hell as well. Yes I’m THAT OLD that I can remember Windows 3.1 and DOS!

The Windows OS “borrowed” quite a bit from others as well. And like Mac, didn’t do much in return. I can understand trade secrets and the like however this seems to be a re occurring theme here with corporate companies not playing too nice. Time to give a summary shall we?

Basic Summary

While I might have touched on some OS more than others, the main ones being Mac OS and Windows have been around and in the mainstream so much that they really didn’t need a explanation or much detail on these. Below is my personal thoughts on these different OS versions.

Linux and BSD

I’ve used these OS’s before and I’m actually testing a distribution of Linux called Ubuntu MATE on a laptop. I personally ran SuSE for a while until they branched off to their commercial offering and OpenSuSE. I’ve run RedHat, Mandrake, Caldera and a few other Linux distros. I also ran FreeBSD for a while as well.

When I tried these OS’s, you really had to know what you were doing and make sure your machine had hardware that would work with them. Setting up the hardware could be simple as it is in Windows all the way to editing configuration files depending on what you decided to run. Also my needs as far as software other than the OS is a mixed bag. Not being a MS Office person, the freely available versions do the job for me. Mainly what I drive as far as a graphic design package is what is slamming the brakes for me at the moment.  I really want the software to work in a native way and not through a virtual machine. Other than this, either Linux or FreeBSD (or other variants of BSD) will work for me.  Not sure about BSD but some of the Linux distros are getting easier and easier to install and have become more graphical to install! Good job ladies and gentlemen involved in these projects!

Windows

Here is where I admit that I have the most experience with. Beginning with Windows 3.1 all the way to Windows 10. I’ve seen the OS go through a bunch of changes. Some good, some bad. I used it mainly because I was a light to medium core gamer and needed it to run my games (which I still have some of them) and my photo/video editing.  I have a personal love/hate relationship with this OS.  If the magical money fairy was to come down and drop a load of money on my lap, I would go over to Mac and give them a try! However going that route has it’s own issues as well.

I guess it all depends on what you are willing to give up and your budget. I do like what Microsoft is trying to do but their latest offering Windows 10 is a little invasive when it comes to privacy. You can google that one and see other write up on this.

Mac OS

As I stated in the beginning of this blog, the old OS I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole however the new one I would LOVE to be able to use on a daily basis!

Yes the hardware is expensive as crap however some of the programs that I use are available for the Mac while some are not and will have to find a equivalent to them.

So if I do convert over to a Mac, I will have to fork over the cost of the hardware as well as the cost of any software that I will need coming over from a Windows environment to a Mac one.

If I can do this, I will hopefully gain stability and I shouldn’t have to upgrade so much as well as having a system that is very simple to use as well as allowing me to do more complex things if needed.  Again my views are subjective and you may or may not agree.  Especially the only times I got to use the new Mac OS is in stores that have display models of the computer.  So I have not use this daily and I will probably change my mind after using the OS for a while.

In Ending

What OS you decide to use is up to you and your needs.  My needs and views are different from yours or others most likely.  I mainly just wanted to do kind of a small view into these complex pieces of software.

Until later!

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