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Operating Systems Are Irrelevant

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the slightly-ahead-of-his-time dept.

Editorial 811

zincks writes "David Gelernter (Yale Professor of Computer Science, and Unabomber target) has a story in the NY Times which states, (1) Operating systems are relics of the past, (2) We should be able to access data anytime/anywhere, by (3) seeing a stream of 3D documents(?), so (4) he's written such software, and (5) that's all you should care about so it doesn't matter that it runs under windows. This is a fantastic (definition: based on fantasy : not real (?)) vision of the future by a premier technologist."

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811 comments

What?? (-1, Offtopic)

Wolfrider (856) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616169)

FP *ever*??

I am Blogg and YOU are not!!
.

Re:What?? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616249)

Jesus Christ, what a sorry posting history you have. Not a single moderation point spent on you (until today) and only one reply to one of your comments (well, two now).

You are the Invisible Man.

(ps, congratulations on your logged in first post)

Like potato chips (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616171)

First they come out with 3D Doritos, now 3D Documents.

What's next, 3D cheese? Oh wait....

First post! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616175)

Well, Debian isn't irrelevant. Are they going to make a 2.2r8? I really hope so; I'd prefer to stick with Potato right now.

Also, 3.0r1 was due in Sept...

jeez (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616176)

Someone tell me when the site comes back up. I can't mock it until then, can I?

wow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616177)

I've never seen an article without comments. There goes my karma.

FIRST POST (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616178)

FIRST POST please?

YOU FAIL IT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616215)

First post? NO. FAILURE? YES. Beg all you want, it doesnt change the fact you are a FAILURE.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616179)

Shit, I missed it.

YOU FAIL IT! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616236)

Thats right, you missed it, infact you FAILED! You are perhaps the greatest FAILURE this website has ever seen.

FP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616181)

Firzt p0stz biznatch

20 seconds my rooster.

Sounds kinda like X (5, Insightful)

Vaulter (15500) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616187)


Hmm, an interface that is completely independant from the underlying OS, network, etc, etc. I think I may have heard of that before. What's that? In 1986??? Oh yeah.

Really irrelevant? (4, Funny)

Lomby (147071) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616188)

Access to documents anytime/anywhere?
Even when the OS of the server is taken down by the Slashdot effect?

Re:Really irrelevant? (2)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616254)

I agree with him. According to netcraft "The site www.scopeware.com is running Microsoft-IIS/5.0 on Windows 2000"

I think Win2k is an irrelevant OS . . .

-Peter

Re:Really irrelevant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616335)

Windows should not be used as a server OS. Ever. Period. End of story. All these dumb shits running their site on Windows have it coming to them.

Censorware (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616189)

I think I'll go and see what new has happened on the Censorware [censorware.org] front...

What? I didn't expect that. I thought the page had something to do with exposing censorware. Oh well, it's the same as with whitehouse.com [whitehouse.com] ... Damn squatters...

From the article (5, Funny)

obdulio (410122) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616193)

Microsoft will be subject to careful scrutiny for abusive activity.

It's a joke, isn't it?

um (-1)

Shaklee3 (576563) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616194)

who fucking cares, now go play on your linux machines you dirty hippies.

Impressive (0, Offtopic)

Boglin (517490) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616195)

No posts, yet the site is already slashdotted. Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe our goal is now clear: finding the means by which we can slashdot sites before the story hits Slashdot. This is the final frontier.

Its called... (2, Funny)

Enygma42 (301776) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616252)

Pre-emptive Slashdotting.

The highest karma level is not, as is commonly thougt, 50. Some users have acheived karma scores upwards of 15,000. Once this level is acheived users are so well attuned to slashdot that they can predict the stories that will appear on the frontpage and begin slashdotting.

Hmmm (4, Funny)

gowen (141411) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616197)

(2) We should be able to access data anytime/anywhere, by (3) seeing a stream of 3D documents(?), so (4) he's written such software,
Why am I reminded of the following lines of dialogue by Woody Allen?

Socrates: I guess I should never have suggested having a philosopher-king.

Simmias: Especially when you kept pointing to yourself and clearing your throat.

C'mon man.. it's (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616199)

NY Times [nytimes.com] (Free registration required, blah blah blah)

Changed a bit (5, Informative)

OmniVector (569062) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616200)

I remember when i first heard about this guy on Big Thinkers. He had some far fetched ideas about completely tossing the desktop out of the window.. I like some of his concepts with desktop management, but at the time of the broadcast of the show, he mentioned tossing the concept of normal *files* and folders too. It seems that might have changed a bit, as it was too radical.

Its just like Linux (5, Funny)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616268)

"He had some far fetched ideas about completely tossing the desktop out of the window"

Linux has some far fetched idea about completely tossing Windows out of the desktop.

Funny, eh?

Re:Changed a bit (2)

sporty (27564) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616352)

I saw that show. I don't think he means that in terms of organization for the "OS" that it didn't use some sorta tree form.

The computer he seem to describe would be able to pull up the information based on what you wanted based on a request, not on some method of searching for a file.

Typing with a Power Glove (4, Funny)

babylon93 (611333) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616201)

Now I'll have a real use for those old Nintendo accessories I've been hanging onto.

Re:Typing with a Power Glove (1)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616338)

Like the U Force [nesplayer.com] and ROB [rolandit.com] ? I don't think there's much you can do with either... :)

NY Times down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616203)


It's 6:20AM PST and the NY Times website cannot be reached.

NY Times (-1, Offtopic)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616205)

Darn it, people should be forced to take turns viewing NYT online when they come into work in the morning, thus allowing me to immediately access articles references by Slashdot instead of posting irrelevent comments about the NYT site being underpowered.

Now I've just got to post that that CS guy is crazy, instead of making a useful comment. :)

Someone won't be happy (2, Funny)

tigress (48157) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616206)

I guess HE won't be getting any more research grants from Microsoft.

load damn you (1)

digiplant (581943) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616209)

I just downloaded the new chimera so I don't know if the page has been slashdotted or my browser is to blame. Eh, whatever.

Why, thats simply splendid (1, Funny)

werty (245510) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616211)

I think I'll remove my OS!

tech tv thinker? (1)

Longshottek (577631) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616212)

Was this the guy on their Big Thinkers show one time? anyone know? It sure sounds like him.
If it was/is - can't say I was that impressed with his desk. Piles of paper way too high - like he couldn't hire a secretary or had never heard of hanging file folders..

c'est la vie..
-Logan

Re:tech tv thinker? (3, Funny)

Waab (620192) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616334)

His desk was not a disorganized mess. He had simply abandoned 1940's style office organizational technology in favor of a more 21st century style "3-d stream of data".

Great (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616214)

1) The New York times link DOESN'T WORK without me filling in some crap

2) The Scopeware site DOESN'T WORK because it's slashdotted.

3) It's "Gelernter", not "Gelertner".

Now go read it somewhere else:

here [macworld.com] or here [cioinsight.com]

ATTN: Mods on crack (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616324)

The above comment is NOT offtopic. This one IS.

Good ideas (4, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616216)

Really, this guy has some very good points. It's past time for people to move beyond OS to a higher level, more abstract use of information, not computers. The computer, in and of itself, is largely irrelevant. People want information is a useable way. They don't care how they get it. Good article. I'd love to try the software if the web site was working.

Re:Good ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616251)

Isn't this what Microsoft has planned? Isn't there going to be a "version" of Windows based entirely on .Net where there's no central OS, just a bunch of interconnected objects?

Re:Good ideas (4, Interesting)

sporty (27564) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616322)

There was something on TechTV not too long ago, maybe it's the same guy, similar to this.

His views were more geared on less file based, PIM and document stuff, but more idea based. If you have your resume, it's not a document, but your resume. Your phone numbers aren't in an organizer, but are phone numbers belonging to people, which aren't in an organizer either.

If you needed to find stuff, you hprolly would have a very simple interface. Sounds like some sorta OOP OS and Enviroment. Kinda interesting.

Strange (1)

conduit4 (589726) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616218)

I saw this guy on tv a while ago I think. At first it seemed like he had some pretty good ideas but then as the interview went on he seemed more and more like a whacko. But his initial comments in the interview were interesting. If this is the same guy too bad I cant see the article.

Very Idealistic (5, Insightful)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616219)

You know I own a car. And cars have gotten to the point where when I buy it typically I do not have to consider the road. It is irrellevant...

OR, is it relevant after all? Lets see in Germany I would get a sports car, Switzerland big luxury, Canada SUV because of the snow, Southern France Convertible, ....

My point is that while we do not make a big deal of the road or conditions, it does influence our buying decisions. And saying that it is irrelevant is just a pipedream...

Re:Very Idealistic (1)

a-moll (15203) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616313)

The road, or which side of it you drive on, is rellevant. Not that you can't drive on a road where they drive on the oposite side of the road of what the car has been made for, it's just not quite as optimal.

Based on fantasy? (1, Interesting)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616220)

Listen, just because all you've ever done is jockey a desktop around doesn't mean Operating Systems are required for all computers.

I run a large particle physics laboratory. As you can imagine, we have a lot of computers. Some of them are traditional desktop PeeCees for checking email and viewing pr0n. But a lot of them are data gathering, collating and even simulation machines. These boxin' are Big Iron but there's no need to waste cycles on an Operating System when all that power could be directed towards running software.

Similarly, the more successful PDAs and cellphones don't have room for a lot of overhead, so the Operating System is dispensed with. There's no hard drive anyway, so what would you need it for?

Folks... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616359)

PhysicsGenius is a fucking troll. Stop modding him up.

Is this a press release or straight news? (1)

haa...jesus christ (576980) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616222)

What the hell is going on in the Times? Are they running company press releases now? I expect them to have horrid inaccuracies in their stories, but I don't expect poorly veiled ads. Idiots.

Re:Is this a press release or straight news? (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616270)

Yea! I thought that /. had a patent of the running of press releases/ads as stories?

Contradiction? (5, Funny)

sczimme (603413) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616224)

(1) Operating systems are relics of the past,
[snip]
(4) he's written such software, and (5) that's all you should care about so it doesn't matter that it runs under windows.


So every operating system but Windows is a relic of the past? I'll second the description of this as 'fantasy'.

(The NY Times site seems rather unresponsive at the moment...)

Operating Systems Are Irrelevant (2, Funny)

mrgrey (319015) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616238)

Operating systems are relics of the past

Yes, because who in their right mind would need a system to operate their computer, I mean I read binary like Neo reads The Matrix. Don't you?

Sheesh, just because the guy has a degree he thinks he knows it all....though he must have something going for him if the UnaBomber had his sights on him. He had better hope his idea doesn't catch on or a few more people might have their sights on him too.

new FS... (2, Interesting)

droid_rage (535157) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616239)

If I'm misreading the article, someone please enlighten me, but it sounds like what he's really talking about is a modified file system and new searching methods based on that file system.
If this is the case, then an OS still needs to run off of that file system, so the OS is clearly not dead.
This is what longhorn's filesystem is supposed to do: It's SQL and metadata-based. I don't see how that's making the OS irrelevant. I think the author could have chosen his words a little better.

Re:new FS... (5, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616282)

The OS isn't dead per se, but, like he said, irrelevant. Ask the average Joe what OS they run. First off, they won't know what OS means. Then, if you ask 'em what kind of Windows they have, most of 'em still won't know. People have long since using computers for the sake of the OS (well, except for OSS zealots). His point is to slap some real useable software on top of any OS and live there, not at the OS level with files, folders, permissions, etc.

Misleading title (5, Insightful)

Zigg (64962) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616243)

Okay, that article is just an advertisement. I'm surprised that some editor at the Times let that pass for a column.

Let me summarize for the impatient. "Operating systems are irrelevant, except for Windows, which we should be thankful to Bill for, because it made everything more accessible, and he's oh-so-visionary. Buy my stuff, which is an incarnation of the vision that Bill wants to realize in Longhorn. Also, Linux is irrelevant."

(6).... (4, Funny)

Tsali (594389) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616244)

(6) ?????
(7) Profit!

Ka-ching!

Smart guy, arcane language (1)

wfmcwalter (124904) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616246)

Dave Gelernter is a smart guy, and his past predictions have either come uncannily true or look to be well on their way. Some readers might be put off a bit by his almost Tolkienesque writing style - everything sounds like far-out, age-of-aquarius stuff - even his descriptions of the web (written years ago) still sound zany. Once you wade through all of the wacky new words he makes up for stuff, it generally reads as smart, insightful and very interesting.

Perhaps this is a property of genius - Fuller's writing is almost unreadably odd.

The immorality of Open Source (4, Funny)

wiredog (43288) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616250)

Having read the article thoroughly, this startling news shows the flaws in the brewing Open Source Zeitgeist that is gripping the software community. Have you considered that providing software for free to countries such as China is essentially tacit support for oppressive regimes?

Far-fetched? Think about it: With MySQL, the People's Army will now be able to do multiple queries on their tables of democratic activists in Olog(n) time instead of lengthy searches in card catalogs. The bureaucratic overhead previously allowed activists enough time to flee the country. How about building cheap firewalls so the people can't get the unbiased reporting that CNN provides? Or using Apache to publish lists of Falun Gong people to their police forces instantly? I doubt that never crossed your minds when you were coding away in your parents' basements. Consider putting that little thought in your mental resolv.conf file.

If that does not concern you ( which it probably doesn't, since the lashout.org paradigm is publishing articles about how not to pay for things ), consider something else. When China eventually goes to war with Taiwan, we want to be able turn their command and control facilities into the computing equivalent of a train-wreck. One of the advantages of Windows never mentioned in the article is the ability of Microsoft to remotely deactivate Windows XP in the case of a national emergency. Thanks to GNU/Lunix, Taiwan will be on a collision course with the mainland in the near future.

Which throws into question Mr. Stallman's motives. A known proponent of socialism, the Chinese government and RMS are natural allies. Could it be a back door to Stallman's dream of an über-Socialist United States? We may never know for sure. Next time you consider contributing to an open source project, ask yourself this question: don't you want to make sure your work isn't used for nefarious purposes? Will you risk having blood on your hands?

Re:The immorality of Open Source (1)

marvin (5198) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616336)

china is so big, that they would be wery well able to make database sofware themselves. nothing would change for them, if mysql did'nt exist. they have ton's of people available...

Re:The immorality of Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616344)

Ok guys. Reel your lines in. The fish aren't biting here and we need to find some other place to throw our bait in the water.

Re:The immorality of Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616371)

I would tend to say this more represents the *mortality* of socialist / collectivist sponsored oligopolies. Open source is a reaction to / against such. Operating systems, RDBMs, office products, = ubiquitous... but then you probably are somewhere within the heirarchy that affords you time and resources to memorize and parrot half truths. Were you recently laid off from CNBC or something? Out of gas money for daddy's yacht perhaps?

Technologist?! (2)

e8johan (605347) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616256)

This guy can't be real. No-one can be *that* stupid! How does he intend to recieve his 3D files without an OS? Does he know how a computer work? Is he on drugs? What's his "education"? Does he actually get paid for saying these things?

As for publishing links NYT articles here on slashdot, why-o-why is it allowed. I urge the inclusion of a bypass link too, or a link to the article somewhere else!

Re:Technologist?! (2, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616311)

Read the article. Nowhere did he say that an OS wasn't necessary.

Duh. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616257)

Forget the Files and the Folders: Let Your Screen Reflect Life
By DAVID GELERNTER

THE end of the Microsoft trial is great news whatever you think of the defendant - because the trial was all about the past, and we in the technology world have no more time to waste on that topic.

The trial focused on Microsoft's Windows operating system - on the power Microsoft gets from Windows' huge worldwide penetration; on the burdens that other software companies bear because of their limited access to the Windows software; on accusations that Microsoft was suppressing innovation. The courts have officially labeled the gigantic software company a monopoly, and Microsoft will be subject to careful scrutiny for abusive activity.
Advertisement
click here

Meanwhile, operating systems are lapsing into senile irrelevance. An operating system connects the user (and the user's software) to the ensemble of machines we call a computer. But nowadays users no longer want to be connected to computers. They want to be connected to information, a claim that sounds vague but is clear and specific.

Every piece of digital information you own or share will appear (in the near future) in one universal structure. (Just ask Bill Gates: as he said cogently last July, "Why are my document files stored one way, my contacts another way and my e-mail and instant-messaging buddy list still another, and why aren't they related to my calendar or to one another, and easy to search en masse?") A universal structure demands universal access: you'll be able to tune in this structure from any Net-connected computer anywhere.

I have time for only one screen in my life. That screen had better give me access to everything, everywhere.

What is this universal information structure? A narrative stream, which says, "Let me tell you a story. " The system shows you a 3-D stream of electronic documents flowing through time. The future (where you store your calendar, reminders, plans) flows into the present (where you keep material you're working on right now) and on into the past (where every e-mail message and draft, digital photo, application, virtual Rolodex card, video and audio clip and Web bookmark is stored, in addition to all those calendar notes and reminders that used to be part of the future and have since flowed into the past to be archived forever).

And so the organization of your digital information reflects the shape of your life, not the shape of a 1940's Steelcase file cabinet. Storage space and computing power are dirt cheap; our task isn't to "use them efficiently," it's to "squander them creatively." Instead of searching through your stream for some document, you focus it (as if you were focusing an information beam - which is like a flashlight beam cutting through the digital fog, except that the beam is made of information instead of light). You wind up with a selection of documents, a "substream" that tells some particular story. Your narrative stream as a whole consists of all the interwoven stories that make up your life - your own personal ones as well as the stories of all the groups and communities you belong to.

This kind of information management is simpler, more powerful and more natural than the Steelcase-inspired software we've got today - the files, the folders, the desktops and all those other high-tech office accessories straight out of 1946.

How do I know it will work? Because our company has built it, and it does. (A preliminary desktop version of narrative information management can be downloaded free at our Web site, www.scopeware.com.) Microsoft has similar goals for its Longhorn system, but Longhorn won't be available for two years. We needed one-screen narrative information management yesterday. Our software is up and running today.

Windows is no tool for the future and doesn't claim to be. Technology's future can't possibly be based on treating computers as if they were hyped-up desks and file cabinets - passive pieces of ugly furniture. Computers are active machines, and information-management software had better treat them that way. But Windows can play a central role in giving the future a leg up. It can supply a stable, ubiquitous platform for the future to stand on.

We built our system on Microsoft Windows because Windows is a reliable, solid, reasonably priced, nearly universal platform - and for the software future, "universal" is nonnegotiable. We need to run the system on as many computers as possible and manage the maximum range of electronic documents.

Of course, another operating system, Linux, is also clamoring for attention. Linux and Windows are both children of the 70's: Linux grew out of Unix, invented by AT Windows is based on the revolutionary work of Xerox research. In technology years, these loyal and devoted operating systems are each approximately 4,820 years old. (Technology years are like dog years, only shorter.)

Each is nonetheless still solid enough to be a good, steady platform for the next step in software. But Windows is the marketplace victor and has now won a decisive legal imprimatur. There is no technical reason for us to move to Linux; why should we switch? Why should our customers?

Some argue for Linux on economic and cultural grounds: Microsoft, people say, has driven up prices and suppressed innovation. But this is a ticklish argument at best: after all, over the decade of Microsoft's hegemony, computing power has grown cheaper and cheaper. Innovation has thrived. Our software is innovative; it has not been suppressed. On the contrary, more and more people get interested.

Operating systems are the moldy basements of computing. We used to live down there, but are now moving upstairs to healthier quarters. We rely on the courts and antitrust laws to keep Microsoft from abusing its enormous power. We need Microsoft itself to be the universal stepladder that lets us climb out of our hole and smell the roses.

CORRECTION! (2)

Vengie (533896) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616261)

His name is David GelerNter.
David Gelernter, not David Gelerter.
He is the current Director of Graduate Studies in CS as well....and so a name I am quite familiar with.
And trust me...Arvind Krishnamurthy (do a google..) will still be teaching Operating Systems in the spring. (Ahh Nachos!)

Re:CORRECTION! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616309)

aaaah, nachos? I think you are on crack.
Nachos=suckage

Now Open Standards are even more relevant (1)

LarsBT (580206) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616264)

If as he suggests the OS is irrelevant - that would mean that the need for clear and open standards are essential. Otherwise a monopoly would just entrench the position when controlling all the information.

Here is an interesting article on ZDnet about Microsoft's Longhorn [com.com] which exactly does this.

I don't know. I might just be old fashioned and keep different types of information in different places/files/stores. E.g. paper bank statements is seperate from dates of friends' birthdays.

Just my 2 eurocents.

David Gelernter's Bio (4, Informative)

SailorBob (146385) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616267)

David Gelernter [yale.edu]

Professor of Computer Science
B.A., Yale University, 1976Ph.D., The State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1982
Joined Yale Faculty 1982

David Gelernter's research interests include information management, parallel programming, software ensembles and artificial intelligence. The coordination language called "Linda" that he developed with Nicholas Carriero (also of Yale) sees fairly widespread use world-wide for parallel programming.

Gelernter's current interests include adaptive parallelism, programming environments for parallelism, realtime data fusion, expert databases and information-management systems (the Lifestreams system in particular). He is co-author of two textbooks (on programming languages and on parallel programming methods), author of Mirror Worlds (Oxford: 1991), the Muse in the Machine (Free Press: 1994 -- about how thinking works), and a forthcoming book in the "Masterclasses" series about aesthetics and computing. He has published cultural-implications-of-computing-type pieces in many newspapers and magazines, is contributing editor at the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, the National Review and is art critic at the Weekly Standard.

Representative Publications

  • Lifestreams: An Alternative to the Desktop Metaphor, with Scott Fertig and Eric Freeman. Proc. CHI'96 (April 1996: paper and ACM video).

  • Adaptive Parallelism, with Nicholas Carriero, Eric Freeman and David Kaminsky. IEEE Computer, Feb. 1995.

  • Coordination Languages and their Significance, with Nicholas Carriero, Communications of the ACM, 35 (2), February 1992, pp. 97-107.

GNU/Linux (3, Funny)

ACNeal (595975) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616269)

When can we get this, so RMS can shut up?

I, for one , can't wait.

"They should be called GNU/3d Documents, because if it wasn't for the GNU/Linux OS to become a relic, no one would have thought to make somehting else. It is obvious that this technology only exists because GNU caused the creator to come up with the idea."

Ok, maybe he won't shut up.

Umm. . . (1)

phuturephunk (617641) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616272)

. . I'm sorry, but that entire article sounds like some kind of insidius mindfuck by a microsoft consultant to get everyone to Switch to Sequel Server . . . We built our system on Microsoft Windows because Windows is a reliable, solid, reasonably priced, nearly universal platform . . .Who you lying to cochese? . . .

stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616275)

well the problem is that once one actually wants to use a computer of any kind a operating system is quite eminent. it would be like wanting to move from point a to b but not having means of transport. the problem with todays oerating systems are that to much focus is set at the core of an os and to little effort has been made to abstract machine work from human work. mostly due to the fact there still exists problems that need to be solved at lower levels and that communication with hardware is still a low level job. it will probably take a decade or two until operating systems are mature enough so that tech people can shift their focus to something else.

is this a twin of Alan kay? (1)

linuxislandsucks (461335) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616276)

Is this a twinof Alan Kay or maybe tha tluckless former foudner and CEO of BeOS

So this is how it works (1)

doc_traig (453913) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616283)



(1) Operating systems are relics of the past
(2) We should be able to access data anytime/anywhere, by
(3) seeing a stream of 3D documents(?), so
(4) he's written such software, and
(5) that's all you should care about so it doesn't matter that it runs under windows, so
(6) ???
(7) PROFIT!

- DDT

And also... (5, Funny)

NiftyNews (537829) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616284)

And also, he would like a pony.

No, make that two ponies. No, eight. No, a pony should be available wherever he goes at any hour of the day.

What?? (1)

ISPTech (76854) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616285)

This line looks like a blatant call to slashdot to advertise his software.

" Some argue for Linux on economic and cultural grounds: Microsoft, people say, has driven up prices and suppressed innovation. But this is a ticklish argument at best..."

That's one of the first articles I've read in a long time that screamed flamebait from beginning to end. He's trying to drum up attention for his software and /. and NY Times were suckered into it.

Hummm.... (3, Insightful)

hrieke (126185) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616288)

The whole artical read as a huge advert.
Guess /. isn't the only one placing ads as stories...

Why we have operating systems (4, Insightful)

webmosher (322834) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616291)

While I didn't read the article (I see enough NY Post commercials on TV). I assume this guy seems to think the O/S is "all the pretty windows". I think the common person's viewpoint of the O/S is also the same, but when we get down to brass tacks, the O/S is what holds those windows on your desktop. File system access, memory management, task/process management, interfacing drivers to hardware. THIS IS THE O/S!! I doubt seriously that these floating 3-D documents will do little good if you can't even drive signal to your video card.

Perhaps this person should exhalt a new outlook on user interface design (ex: extending Windows, or KDE or Gnome), and not dismiss the O/S.

And for those ready to flame on my inclusion of Windows, Gnome and KDE on the same sentence, realize that these are all essentially window/interface managers, and not operating systems. Yes, MS bundles their manager and O/S in an unpackageable package, but the interface you see in MSWindows is not the MSWindows O/S. That is like saying a BASH shell is the O/S of Linux/UNIX.

Universal is nonnegotiable? (1)

droid_rage (535157) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616293)

We built our system on Microsoft Windows because Windows is a reliable, solid, reasonably priced, nearly universal platform - and for the software future, "universal" is nonnegotiable.
How about Open Standards are nonnegotiable? That seems to be a more accurate statement.

Less than 50 comments in and Slashdotted already (1)

Glyndwr (217857) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616295)

Guess he's too busy soaking up server CPU cycles looking at a 3d stream of web server hits to bother with us 2d desktop proles.

OS is _NOT_ irrelevant (3, Insightful)

path_man (610677) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616296)

Every few months some article or "expert" comes out and says that the OS doesn't matter. If that were the case, we'd all be accessing each others data ubiquitously.

Let me list two reasons why Operating Systems DO matter. First, unless someone changes the capitalist society in which we live, market forces dictate that companies do things differently than their competition. This means making changes to improve, speed up, or make more simple the way in which we use computers. Guess what kids? The OS is the gateway to the computer.

Second, all computers follow a set of rules or protocols under which they operate. It's been shown time and time again that even when these rules are created by committee, agreed upon, ratified, and broadly implemented, some company or other decides that their way is better than the standard. For better or for worse, we will never get all the different computers that are out there to follow the same sets of rules. How does this pertain to the OS? Once again, you must know the underlying OS to understand how the rules work.

Now I will cede that there are ways to abstract the OS -- we do this every day. GUIs, Browser-based clients, Java, etc. make universal the experience for everyone who uses a particular application. But saying that the OS doesn't matter is about the same as saying that as long as a structural engineer understands how the pavement works it doesn't matter about the bridge that runs underneath.

It seems to me... (2, Insightful)

Waab (620192) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616298)

This article is half about one man's vision of the future of computing and half an advertisement for Micro$oft. Sure, having all your data presented as one integrated stream sounds great, but if it's really the future of computing, maybe it should replace M$ rather than supplement M$.

And anybody who read the Halloween docs [slashdot.org] might wonder if this move to a new way of storing all of your data doesn't fall in line with M$'s vision of Storage+.

I think it's interesting that the author's evidence that M$ isn't engaging in anti-competitive behavior basically boils down to:

Our software is innovative; it has not been suppressed.

Perhaps the software hasn't been supressed because it's exactly what M$ is looking for to use against Linux.

Okay, enough sounding like a Linux zealot... My only other real complaint with the article was the author's assertion that wise use of computer resources doesn't matter as much as wasting the resources creatively. I would argue that it is the job of the OS to manage the resources wisely so that apps can be free to waste them creatively. Thus, OSs still matter.

Advocating MS plans! (3, Interesting)

UndercoverBrotha (623615) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616300)

Well, he is pretty much thinking along the lines of Microsoft, which is gradually shifting to an OS that really does not exist but gives you the functionality you need based upon the services you require.

For example, if you need to write a Word Document (yeah yeah XDocs in Office11), you would boot up your computer which basically would make a call to a Web Service that will show you what you call the desktop (i.e. presentation layer) of your OS today e.g WinXP, Win2k, etc.

You need to write a Word Doc? Do you subscribe to the Word Web Service? If so the menu item in the program group will be there (Start-Programs-blah blah), you consumed it when your WebServiceOS came up, because you subscribe to it so you can go ahead and make a word doc. Thus, whatever data you need will be accessible when you want it, for a certain price that is.

Theoretically, this may seem like a great idea, software as a service, revenue for MS, you get only what you want i.e no bundled overpriced office products, but then again...oh nevermind.

And oh yeah, you can get your documents anywhere in the world since your profile will be associated with your ".NET my Services" account, so as long as a computer is using this next OS, which will probably come after longhorn, you have what you need everywhere..all you have to do is Consume and Subscribe! Theoretically although the vendor is Microsoft, is XML over HTTP really Microsoft Windows? No! Lets just call it MSWSVOS (Microsoft Web Service Virtual Operating System)...your .Net wallet has been charged, thank you.

perhaps OS's SHOULD be irrelevent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616306)

but they become a nuisence (sp) when their scheduling and time slicing kernel are so badly designed and address space partitioning is so flawed, and superfluous background out-think-the-user tasks are such that the machine is brought to its knees and either crashes or degrades in performance over time until it needs to be rebooted. Then the annoying OS becomes relevent again.

By the way, MS claimed that Windows95 would be the first 'real multitasking' version of Windows (Windows 3.1 was non-preemptive, unlike the first version of IBM's OS2 that got it right the first time). They also claimed that each 32bit app would run cleanly in its own address space. WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO DELIVER???

Ominous sounding quotes (2)

trentfoley (226635) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616308)

First we had "Luke, I am your father".
Next came "Resistance is futile".
Then "All your base are belong to us".

and now....

"Operating Systems are Irrelevant"

Where will the madness end?

Movie crap (5, Insightful)

red_dragon (1761) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616310)

Whoa, there. Was this guy watching Johnny Mnemonic [imdb.com] while drugged up beyond belief? His drivel about being able to "see a stream of 3D documents" reminds me of the virtual surreality user interfaces in that movie. I wouldn't be surprised if he started spouting off unintelligible mutterings about "hacking the Gibson" and "finding the garbage file" [imdb.com] , too.

Borg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616312)

Anyone else think this sounds kinda like the borg? "Irrelevant!"

Surprised it's not been ported to MacOS, then it can be run on a cube.

LINUX is obsolete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616318)

Guess Tanenbaum was right after all.

Copy paste of article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616325)

Forget the Files and the Folders: Let Your Screen Reflect Life By DAVID GELERNTER

HE end of the Microsoft trial is great news whatever you think of the defendant - because the trial was all about the past, and we in the technology world have no more time to waste on that topic.

The trial focused on Microsoft's Windows operating system - on the power Microsoft gets from Windows' huge worldwide penetration; on the burdens that other software companies bear because of their limited access to the Windows software; on accusations that Microsoft was suppressing innovation. The courts have officially labeled the gigantic software company a monopoly, and Microsoft will be subject to careful scrutiny for abusive activity.

Meanwhile, operating systems are lapsing into senile irrelevance. An operating system connects the user (and the user's software) to the ensemble of machines we call a computer. But nowadays users no longer want to be connected to computers. They want to be connected to information, a claim that sounds vague but is clear and specific.

Every piece of digital information you own or share will appear (in the near future) in one universal structure. (Just ask Bill Gates: as he said cogently last July, "Why are my document files stored one way, my contacts another way and my e-mail and instant-messaging buddy list still another, and why aren't they related to my calendar or to one another, and easy to search en masse?") A universal structure demands universal access: you'll be able to tune in this structure from any Net-connected computer anywhere.

I have time for only one screen in my life. That screen had better give me access to everything, everywhere.

What is this universal information structure? A narrative stream, which says, "Let me tell you a story. " The system shows you a 3-D stream of electronic documents flowing through time. The future (where you store your calendar, reminders, plans) flows into the present (where you keep material you're working on right now) and on into the past (where every e-mail message and draft, digital photo, application, virtual Rolodex card, video and audio clip and Web bookmark is stored, in addition to all those calendar notes and reminders that used to be part of the future and have since flowed into the past to be archived forever).

And so the organization of your digital information reflects the shape of your life, not the shape of a 1940's Steelcase file cabinet. Storage space and computing power are dirt cheap; our task isn't to "use them efficiently," it's to "squander them creatively." Instead of searching through your stream for some document, you focus it (as if you were focusing an information beam - which is like a flashlight beam cutting through the digital fog, except that the beam is made of information instead of light). You wind up with a selection of documents, a "substream" that tells some particular story. Your narrative stream as a whole consists of all the interwoven stories that make up your life - your own personal ones as well as the stories of all the groups and communities you belong to.

This kind of information management is simpler, more powerful and more natural than the Steelcase-inspired software we've got today - the files, the folders, the desktops and all those other high-tech office accessories straight out of 1946.

How do I know it will work? Because our company has built it, and it does. (A preliminary desktop version of narrative information management can be downloaded free at our Web site, www.scopeware.com.) Microsoft has similar goals for its Longhorn system, but Longhorn won't be available for two years. We needed one-screen narrative information management yesterday. Our software is up and running today.

Windows is no tool for the future and doesn't claim to be. Technology's future can't possibly be based on treating computers as if they were hyped-up desks and file cabinets - passive pieces of ugly furniture. Computers are active machines, and information-management software had better treat them that way. But Windows can play a central role in giving the future a leg up. It can supply a stable, ubiquitous platform for the future to stand on.

We built our system on Microsoft Windows because Windows is a reliable, solid, reasonably priced, nearly universal platform - and for the software future, "universal" is nonnegotiable. We need to run the system on as many computers as possible and manage the maximum range of electronic documents.

Of course, another operating system, Linux, is also clamoring for attention. Linux and Windows are both children of the 70's: Linux grew out of Unix, invented by AT Windows is based on the revolutionary work of Xerox research. In technology years, these loyal and devoted operating systems are each approximately 4,820 years old. (Technology years are like dog years, only shorter.)

Each is nonetheless still solid enough to be a good, steady platform for the next step in software. But Windows is the marketplace victor and has now won a decisive legal imprimatur. There is no technical reason for us to move to Linux; why should we switch? Why should our customers?

Some argue for Linux on economic and cultural grounds: Microsoft, people say, has driven up prices and suppressed innovation. But this is a ticklish argument at best: after all, over the decade of Microsoft's hegemony, computing power has grown cheaper and cheaper. Innovation has thrived. Our software is innovative; it has not been suppressed. On the contrary, more and more people get interested.

Operating systems are the moldy basements of computing. We used to live down there, but are now moving upstairs to healthier quarters. We rely on the courts and antitrust laws to keep Microsoft from abusing its enormous power. We need Microsoft itself to be the universal stepladder that lets us climb out of our hole and smell the roses.

Disagree with some of his view points (2)

McFly69 (603543) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616329)

"(1) Operating systems are relics of the past...(3) seeing a stream of 3D documents(?), so (4) he's written such software"

Okay, I disagree with the above items. Lets start in reverse order. (4), he created software. All I can say congrad-u-fucking-lations. Unless I see it running of my machine or another machine, it is just theory. (3), to my knowledge, documents are just text (not going to think about 3d images that are attached to some). What the hell he expect us to do; to see text charators in 3D? So we can look at the maybe fromt he side or from the back? WTF! (1), how can operating systems be relics? They are required to give other software applications access to the hardware. Without an OS, each applicatin woudl require the knowledge how to access the hardware and use it properly. This will only create more bugs in people codes and staility issues.

Personally, I think this guy is from the 60's and is still tripping. People like that I love to give them a swift kick in the nads with my size 15.

Sounds like TheBrain... (1)

Shaper of Myths (148485) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616331)

This sounds like a program I ran across a few years ago. I just googled them again and found they are still in business. They are pushing the same idea, and have been for years now...

For the animation-loving... [thebrain.com]

For the animation-hating... [thebrain.com]

say no to drugs (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616332)

Mr. David Gelertner should stop taking drugs if he is supposed to make a prediction that makes sense.

some of this is already in play (2, Insightful)

jbeamon (208826) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616341)

Those of us who've grown up on Wintel might relate. I got to spend about an hour working on some Macs yesterday, a mix of OS 9 iMacs and new ones running OS X. For anyone who's grown up on Windows, this is a refreshing change of perspective. I never did find any sort of command line, even when I briefly needed one, but the machine just "worked". Everything was responsive and fast and gorgeous and simple. When I have my own Linux box really tweaked out the way I like it -- WM with the genmenu menu structure -- it just runs like a deer.

You reach a point in any well-designed system where you don't interact with the system itself anymore. For example, I've got a site I frequent with a login and the "submit" button drawn in JavaScript instead of as an HTML button. ie lets me just hit "Enter", but Mozilla requires that I mouse-click "Submit". That's a Mozilla problem. Windows XP allows you to burn cds and read zips right in the filesystem browser, which is a good thing. KDE used to have some five different apps under "Text Editors", which is just not useful. That WM menu I had was easy to customize and had only the one or two that I used. These are issues of system design, not program functionality.

I'm looking forward to the day I don't have to worry about how the system runs and whether it will continue to run. I'm not far from that with a Linux+WindowMaker desktop of my own design, but even then I have to struggle with issues like printing and file format compatibility and fonts. I guess there are people in corporate, standardized environments that have Microsoft SMS running and the whole MS Office suite customized and installed who probably feel their work is pretty transparent. I haven't yet SEEN one personally, but they probably exist.

I took a look at this... (2)

SPYvSPY (166790) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616342)

...a while back, and concluded that: (a) Gelertner's concept of an information stream is simplistic, vague and Windows-based, and (b) Gelertner really likes himself, and thinks his ideas are the tops, and goes around telling everyone so on his ugly, confusing Website about how computers shouldn't be ugly and confusing.

I mean, how can anyone take seriously a 'visionary' that develops for Windows and can't make a goddamn clean Web page. Hrmph!

Operating systems irrelevant? I don't think so... (5, Insightful)

bytesmythe (58644) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616343)

A few quotes from the article: We built our system on Microsoft Windows because Windows is a reliable, solid, reasonably priced, nearly universal platform - and for the software future, "universal" is nonnegotiable.

And...

Each [of linux and Windows] is nonetheless still solid enough to be a good, steady platform for the next step in software.

This does not indicate a future in which operating systems are really irrelevant. In fact, it would appear to be the opposite. Now, the operating system may appear to be invisible to the end user, but that isn't the same thing. People like Alan Cooper have been pushing for this kind of computing interface for ages.

The underlying operating system must be transparent, and rock-solid, fast, correct, and efficient.

Again, from the article:

nearly universal platform - and for the software future, "universal" is nonnegotiable.

Why does the OS have to be universal? The operating system may become invisible, but a properly written interface will be portable. No one will have to know how to use the "operating system" that powers their hardware, but they may figure out that some are more reliable at running their Interface Of The Future (TM) than others.

The OS may be irrelevant..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616346)

...but the licensing, and costs, sure the hell is NOT.

A few minor points. (2)

cqnn (137172) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616348)

1) Operating systems are relics of the past.
They are also relics of the future. FWIW.

2) I should be able to access data anywhere, agreed.
They problem is convincing the rest of the world that
my data needs are more important than their feature
and special formatting needs.

3) I understand where he is trying to go, but he
still misses the point, my data should come to
me in any form I darn well please. Making it
"easier for the masses" does not neccesarily make
it easier for the individual.

4) I can't seem to get to the scopeware site at the moment.
Otherwise I would like to see what he has come up with

5) I shouldn't care that it requires a relic of the past to
work, what I should care more about is its portability and
usability on and with the other relics I have accumulated.
Even in our modern age of end-user focused computing, new
technology is still best adopted first by the enthusiasts;
because they are usually the ones explaining to everyone else
why such technology is worth changing over to.
(See the recent Tivo thread).

Mr. Gelertner was presented on a the TechTV (cable network) show
"Big Thinkers" a while back (they do repeast occasionally).
And the show did look a bit into the work that I presume has
led up to scopeware. He seemed in his own way as knowledgeable
perceptive and opinionated as most people see as traits of RMS;
take that as you will.

Yeah sure, keep dreaming (2)

d3xt3r (527989) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616350)

To say that operating systems are irrelevant is a terribly narrowminded statement.

Operating systems will be irrelevant the day that I can take any file, any application and simply use it, read it, execute it on every platform out there.

They will be irrelevant they day that most inferior ones are indistingishable from the superior ones for every task.

This is so over simplified that is is amazing. Operating systems follow the same simple rules as all other tools. The right OS for the right job.

Would you run an incredibly large enterprise data warehouse on Windows or Mac OS 9? Would you give your kid a AIX or OS/390 box to play games on? Hell no. Would you put a non-realtime OS in a medical device? Hell no.

This article is either FUD or was posted here just to stir up controversy. This guy has to be kidding.

Another such visionary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4616351)

http://www.tiki-lounge.com/~matthew/louis/index.ht ml

Irrelevant? (3, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616355)


They are? Uh oh..
WIOj23 902*@+++
NO CARRIER

Technical reason? (3, Insightful)

phritz (623753) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616357)

He says there's no 'technical' impetus to switch from Windows to Linux. Ummm . . . isn't that one of the best reasons to switch? I'm personally not that large of a fan of Linux, but: If the OS is irrelevant, wouldn't you want to base your revolutionary-futuristic-3-d-narrative-data viewer app on a free, stable, open source operating system?

Or perhaps . . . just perhaps . . . he's more concerned with making this product available to the biggest market share. Not really so much concerned with advancing computer science, as with making money? Maybe?

The New York Times: Free advertising space for anyone with a PhD.

Operating System's Should be Irrelevant (1)

KalenDarrie (320019) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616358)

Personally, I like the idea of a future where an open and free operating system is the rule of the day. It's on every computer and no one makes cash off it. There's a standards board that monitors it and takes in ideas for upgrades and improvements and they can be submitted for approval by companies or individuals.

Companies make cash off software to run on this Master OS. They follow the rules and aren't allowed to take full control by knowing more about the inner workings of the OS than anyone else.

In this, there will be no compatibility issues. No time, effort or creative energy wasted on finding new ways to insult a competing OS maker and no need to create $70 books on how to link up one OS with another.

I think that would be a pretty nice future.

Gelertner's Opinion Without the NYTimes Reg (2)

SailorBob (146385) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616360)

From: Omni Chat: Eileen Gunn and David Gelernter [sff.net] EileenGunn:

Would you talk a bit about your development of Lifestreams, your candidate for a new information-control interface? How does elegance figure into it?

DavidGelernter:

Originated in my unhappiness, bordering on disgust, with every operating system on the market, the Mac desktop was revolutionary in the 1970's, and was beautiful in the early 1980's, but in the late 1980's, it was getting old, and today it's pathetically obsolete, whether you buy it from Mac or in the form of Windows. After all, it comes out from an obsolete, long ago, technology era that doesn't match today's computing environment at all. Matches it so badly that it's an intolerable pain to deal with. So that for example, the system was designed when the Internet was not the internet, email was unimportant, very few people used it at all, computing cycles were scarce & expensive, memory was expensive, and just as important, or more important, all computer users were new users. So in the 1980's, people didn't have many files, many directories, because they hadn't been online for very long. But today, when compute cycles and memories are cheap, and the problem isn't how to conserve those resources, but how to squander them reasonably, and the internet is bigger than ever. So many people use their computers as text managers exclusively. The operating system designed long ago for radically different computers doesn't work anymore. For that matter, the whole underlying thesis of an operating system is obsolete. There is absolutely no reason that I should ever have to think about where I have a file, what machine I'm on, what my files are named, what directory I stuck something in. What I want is to be able to walk up to a computer anywhere, and tune in my electronic life. I don't care if it's a Mac or PC just as I don't care if, when I tune in CNN on TV, I don't care if it's a Toshiba TV or a Hitachi TV. In short, for all these reasons I've sort of hinted at, I found myself so disgusted with what was available, I figured there had to be something better. Although the research I had been doing on software in the 80's was fairly esoteric stuff having to do with programming & distributed systems and artificial intelligence, I had to turn my attention to everyday computing needs because the situation was, in software terms, so incredibly awful.

Where to begin (5, Insightful)

rppp01 (236599) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616367)

This article is a joke. This guy seems to know very little about nothing.

THE end of the Microsoft trial is great news whatever you think of the defendant - because the trial was all about the past, and we in the technology world have no more time to waste on that topic.

The past? Idiot. Idiot! Fool. If we don't look at our past and learn from it, we are gonna repeat it, and make the same damn mistakes in the future. What MS did only affects everyone in computerdom out there. Ask Be Inc, or Netscape, OS/2 or Linux companies what they think of about this being something we should forget about? No, it was about our present, and future. XP wouldn't be the POS it is if there was more competition.

Meanwhile, operating systems are lapsing into senile irrelevance. An operating system connects the user (and the user's software) to the ensemble of machines we call a computer. But nowadays users no longer want to be connected to computers. They want to be connected to information, a claim that sounds vague but is clear and specific.

But wasn't that the goal of computers from the beginning? To enable a 'paperless world' where we could input and receive information from a centralized location. Um, mainframe, anyone? And how is the OS irrelevant? Maybe to him it is, and to the home user, but to developers, hardware makers, and administrators, the OS is very much the heart and soul of the computer. It determines whether the software will run- the software that obtains the information you demand.

This kind of information management is simpler, more powerful and more natural than the Steelcase-inspired software we've got today - the files, the folders, the desktops and all those other high-tech office accessories straight out of 1946.

You know, I still use a file cabinet. As far as I know, they are a great resource when the network goes down, or a hdd crashes. I support large companies that still use them. Just because it is old, does not mean it is no longer needed, wanted, or relevant.

We built our system on Microsoft Windows because Windows is a reliable, solid, reasonably priced, nearly universal platform....

Well, one out of 3 ain't bad. No comment on what everyone else will point out here.

Of course, another operating system, Linux, is also clamoring for attention. Linux and Windows are both children of the 70's: Linux grew out of Unix, invented by AT Windows is based on the revolutionary work of Xerox research. In technology years, these loyal and devoted operating systems are each approximately 4,820 years old. (Technology years are like dog years, only shorter.)

Anyone know what he is talking about here? So, Windows and Unix are almost 5000 dog years old. How is this little piece of info helping his argument. Can anyone help me out here. I don't see it. I think he is trying to make linux look like the old beast of the ancients, when it is actually newer than Windows is. I mean, Windows the OS didn't happen till 1993 with NT 3.1- linux was 'born' in 1990. Prior to 93, windows was an OE.

What is he smoking? (3, Informative)

anonymous cupboard (446159) | more than 11 years ago | (#4616373)

An OS is primarily a layer for hiding the hardware and scheduling tasks. It means that application software dosn't give a monkeys which hd or video card I have or anything else.

Sure we should agree that there are much better ways to present higher level abstractions such as presentation and storage of informatio, however in the end it must sit on an OS.

As to which OS, perhaps users shoudn't care if each system was able to provide a similar set of services, however in relity operating systms tend to specialise somewhat. For example the Win speciality is the BSOD!!!!

No seriously, there are two questions to be asked here:

  1. Should the user have to care about the OS? and
  2. Does the user have to care about the OS?

Whith specialised system like the engine management system in a car, I as a user don't give a damn. The only interface is presented by the application (throttle, etc). With a general purpose system like a PC, the user is exposed to the system in a number of ways, indeed Linux (and other Unixes) are slightly better in this respect because at least the GUI and the desktop are not integrated into the OS.

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