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Tutorial Doctor

A Collaborative Free and Open-Source OS?

116 posts in this topic

To me, the perfect operating system is one that is fast, user friendly, customizable/tweakable, and FREE!

I like IOS because of its speed and user friendliness, and I like Android because it is free and tweakable.

Of course, there is Linux, and most people would use Linux as a base for a custom OS (and it seems I would prefer one use Unix), but for now the best alternative we have/had is/was Ubuntu (they lost me after 10.10)

I have been dreaming of such an OS for a while, one that is a strong focus on all of the above. I think that all of the Linux folks would do better collaborating on another OS altogether rather than trying to "fix" linux.

Linux serves its purposes, but the reason Microsoft hit it big was because of the relative user friendliness of Windows. Apple hit it bigger because it had user friendliness and speed.

I should note that of course we don't want bugs (blue screens of death and such).

Apple can be beat, and if only I was as astute as some people, I would know just how to beat them.

Good idea? Bad Idea? Yeah, right?
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One problem with starting from scratch is that momentum is really working against you. Take, for example, Linux. When it started, computers were mostly single-core, there wasn't nearly the proliferation of device types that you see today, and the basic computing model of Unix was already well-established as a template to work from. In effect, it was much easier to write a small kernel and work from there. But architectures are quite a bit more complex now, with a lot more types of devices that need to be supported in order for your OS to be of any use. As architecture complexity has grown, the complexity of the Linux kernel has grown with it, along with the requisite engineering and bug-fixing required to make it work correctly. You could, of course, poach device models from Linux, and look to Linux for some inspiration on how to structure your kernel, but at that point you'd essentially just be duplicating Linux, so what's the point?
 
Also, I think you misunderstand what Linux is. Linux is the kernel, the bit of code that sits at the bottom running the show. Linux is not the Gnome desktop, nor is it the KDE desktop, nor Enlightenment, nor any other. They run atop Linux, sure, but they are not Linux. I suspect that when you refer to 'fixing Linux' you are actually referring to fixing the windowing and desktop environments that commonly sit on top of it, an assumption backed up by your subsequent comments about user friendliness. This really has very little to do, at all, with Linux itself and there is really not much need to completely redo everything from the core up just to fix some user friendliness problems.
 
Currently, the XWindows system which runs atop the kernel and provides frame buffer access does kind of stand as a major obstacle in fixing some of the usability issues. By anyone's assessment, X is a mess. Additionally, the fragmentation of the desktop environment communities hinders forward progress in the user friendliness arena, as each package and each maintenance team have their own ideas. Distribution fragmentation further complicates it, because now you have even more teams with even more dissenting opinions on what constitutes 'user friendliness'.
 
These are issues that stem not from Linux, but rather from the open and collaborative approach of an open source project. And basically, what you are proposing is to merely increase the level of community fragmentation by putting forth yet another option, with all its warts and knots and bugs and tradeoffs, one that will be starting from zero without the benefit of decades of bug-fixing and the combined experience of hundreds of engineers, device driver developers, and industry-funded experts.
 
I'd say that if you have real, concrete ideas on how user-friendliness can be established, that you start by building and tweaking a custom Debian distribution. That way, you're not spending decades re-inventing the wheel. Debian is a common starting point for many distributions (Ubuntu included) and with a bit of research you could probably tweak things the way you like.
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standards.png

 

 

The "problems" with Linux (if you want to call these problems at all) is because it's open source. We have soo many flavors of Linux and none of them actually hit the spot to be *that* popular.  This is the direct effect of having it open source.  People have opinions.  Your opinion is different to that of X in Japan, and Y in Russia.  When you, X and Y starting to collaborate on an open source project, you will have arguments and opinions on where to go, so eventually you, X, and Y each have your own version of the software.  This is the nature of open source.  The direction of open source product becomes a scatter shot, rather than focused.

 

Ubuntu comes really close.  Android also comes close, but that's mainly because Google was the driving force behind it.  Without the massive funding and support by Google, Android wouldn't be where it is today.  Any product needs some direction to get somewhere.  It requires some authorative figure to mandate the direction.  Even so, there are still people who don't like where things going, and take the liberty to take it on their own.

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A perfect OS for me is a 'smart', multi multipurpose, multi multitasking, not free, not open source, very customizable, voice/gesture controlled OS with a great UI, always 'learning' and is very user 'friendly' and definitely not related to apple or linux, but a teenie weenie bit of Windows (can't wait to start making my version of J.A.R.V.I.S.).
Windows is perfect but i still want mine.
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A perfect OS for me is a 'smart', multi multipurpose, multi multitasking, not free, not open source, very customizable, voice/gesture controlled OS with a great UI, always 'learning' and is very user 'friendly' and definitely not related to apple or linux, but a teenie weenie bit of Windows (can't wait to start making my version of J.A.R.V.I.S.).
Windows is perfect but i still want mine.

 

I must admit, I loled.

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A perfect OS for me is a 'smart', multi multipurpose, multi multitasking, not free, not open source, very customizable, voice/gesture controlled OS with a great UI, always 'learning' and is very user 'friendly' and definitely not related to apple or linux, but a teenie weenie bit of Windows (can't wait to start making my version of J.A.R.V.I.S.).
Windows is perfect but i still want mine.

 
I must admit, I loled.
It is very lolable.
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If an operating system boots fast, and runs all the software I need it to, that is all I desire from it. For average day-to-day use Mac, Windows, and most Linux distros all have a very similar work flow, as most applications run on all three. 

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I have been dreaming of such an OS for a while, one that is a strong focus on all of the above. I think that all of the Linux folks would do better collaborating on another OS altogether rather than trying to "fix" linux.

 

I don't think anyone tries to "fix" linux. Thats just how linux is designed to work.

Linux itself is just the kernel and drivers, the rest is general open source software, and anyone can create their own bundles.

All the distributions are just that, bundles of separately developed software shipped together with a linux kernel.

And since anyone can, and is encourage to do it, you get a lot of variants. Some call it confusing, others call it choice :)

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I don't think anyone tries to "fix" linux. Thats just how linux is designed to work.

 

Exactly. At this point I can't really elaborate on the original intent of the design of Linux (whether or not it was ever meant to be able to be an OS for the general public). 

 

I do think when a person makes an OS they target a specific type of use. I hear Linux is better for servers, but not for the desktop experience (at least its intent). Ubuntu passes, and some other distributions can also, but the architecture of Linux may not yield desirable results for the masses. 

 

Or perhaps it isn't even the architecture of Linux?

 

I just got the impression people were trying to make Linux do what it wasn't designed to do just because it is the only free and reasonable base alternative OS to Windows. 

 

Why not Unix? 

 

If only making an OS was like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich... 

Edited by Tutorial Doctor
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I don't think anyone tries to "fix" linux. Thats just how linux is designed to work.

 

Exactly. At this point I can't really elaborate on the original intent of the design of Linux (whether or not it was ever meant to be able to be an OS for the general public). 

 

I do think when a person makes an OS they target a specific type of use. I hear Linux is better for servers, but not for the desktop experience (at least its intent). Ubuntu passes, and some other distributions can also, but the architecture of Linux may not yield desirable results for the masses. 

 

Or perhaps it isn't even the architecture of Linux?

 

I just got the impression people were trying to make Linux do what it wasn't designed to do just because it is the only free and reasonable base alternative OS to Windows. 

 

Why not Unix? 

 

If only making an OS was like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich... 

 

 

Again, Linux is just the kernel. Almost everything you as a user interact with on a daily basis is provided by a desktop environment running on top of that kernel, and all the workflow issues you might get are not due to the kernel which doesn't even know or care what you're doing at a high level, the kernel just creates a process, opens a file, discovers hardware devices, etc... none of this being immediately usable by a computer user, who needs software to interact with the kernel and interpret what it gets. What this means is that Linux isn't "designed" to do anything in particular, it's a general purpose kernel which has been used to great success in many different environments ranging from the average PC to supercomputers to microcontrollers and other embedded devices like routers. It provides an abstraction to the hardware, how this is presented to the user is completely out of its scope.

 

The Linux kernel isn't user-friendly. It isn't user-unfriendly either. In fact, it's not used by the user at all! That's why it's called a kernel, you don't see it because it's hidden away under the protective shell of userland software. That software, which the user interacts with, depends on what the user wants to do with his computer, and therefore these are packaged in distributions for ease of, well, distribution, some are targeted at specific user groups (niche distributions with very specific software installed), others are for power users, and yet others are for the general public and have similar interfaces to popular operating systems like Windows. You can roll your own according to your own specific needs (in fact, this has probably already happened - you started with some distribution and then tweaked it over time to customize it to your needs), though unless it's usable by lots of different people there's probably no point in sharing it.

 

Either way, I don't believe in strict standardization, the past has shown that humans are pretty crap at deciding on standards and tend to make them either too vague (making them frustrating or downright impossible to work with) or too strict (physically preventing new ideas from adhering to the standard). Rather I believe in interoperability, where things might not be exactly the same, but behave (or can be made to behave) in similar if not identical ways. That is a much easier and realistic goal than ensuring everyone always uses 100% the same hardware or software, and has been shown to work well in general (see the hardware abstraction layer, cross-platform software, and so on).

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The factors that make Linux based systems unfriendly or subpar are entirely cultural ones. Specifically the development culture.  While there are technical issues, none are that big of a deal in the long view. The underlying architecture is very workable. Building "another OS" doesn't accomplish anything - and from your posts, I believe you may not understand how a Linux desktop system is structured. Nor have you articulated any specific goals that would motivate this project in the first place. 

 

P.S. Try Linut Mint Cinnamon.

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A perfect OS for me is a 'smart', multi multipurpose, multi multitasking, not free, not open source, very customizable, voice/gesture controlled OS with a great UI, always 'learning' and is very user 'friendly' and definitely not related to apple or linux, but a teenie weenie bit of Windows (can't wait to start making my version of J.A.R.V.I.S.).
Windows is perfect but i still want mine.

 

I must admit, I loled.

 

 

I lol'ed to.

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I think no one wants to rebuild 16 million lines of code from scratch again.


I just got the impression people were trying to make Linux do what it wasn't designed to do

Tutorial Doctor, kernels are designed to manage memory, paging, thread and process scheduling, file systems, networking, general low level device communication. What do you think WinNT kernel does that is so different from Linux?

 

If you confuse OS with Kernel, then I don't think you should have so many opinions about it, just start researching a bit...

Edited by TheChubu
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Tutorial Doctor, kernels are designed to manage memory, paging, thread and process scheduling, file systems, networking, general low level device communication

 

That is what I figured Linux did myself, and the reason people use it for servers and stuff. But the process used to manage the memory could vary from Linux to something entirely new. 

 

So building an OS off of a Linux kernel could work, (has worked) but if such a thing was intended when the process was created-- I don't know. 

 

As I said, I can't form any valid opinion on Linux, but I was thinking that an OS that was designed to meet the criteria above from the start would be ideal. Can't say if it is realistic yet. 

 

Now, I do hear the phrase "don't reinvent the wheel" a lot, but I think that there just might be more efficient alternatives even to old and established things. The lightbulb was a neat idea, but might there be some more efficient way of giving light? Sure, perhaps creating something relatively new, "Nothing new under the sun" would prove a lot of work, but that is how revolutions start.

 

Most information is built off of a base of knowledge. But just like a building, if the base or foundation had issues, so will the final building, no matter how long you build on the foundation. 

 

Another example is how a geodesic design is more efficient than a rectilinear design (where the housing market concerned.) In the 1970s such innovation was impractical, but in this modern world of "energy efficiency" such a design was the future. And I do think that such a design should be used today, and some people would still be alive if it had been (the design is very resilient). 

 

I do like to research old ideas to see why their applications failed, and see if there might be some new way to handle the old ideas with the advancements we have today.

 

The Egyptians had some cool stuff... haha. 

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Apple hit it bigger because it had user friendliness and speed.

 

Apple hit it big due to marketing.  Early Mac's were a pain in the ass to use and were as slow as hell.  Someone convinced my high school to buy a suite of Mac classics (1990) and some days in computer science class we got absolutely nothing done because the server and computers hadn't booted up by the time the class ended.

 

They still managed to sell a ton of those.

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I was thinking about the Iphone. Yeah, I didn't care for the Macintosh myself. 

Edited by Tutorial Doctor
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I think no one wants to rebuild 16 million lines of code from scratch again

Minus the 16M part, are you sure?

Now, I do hear the phrase "don't reinvent the wheel" a lot, but I think that there just might be more efficient.

If YOU don't see any reason to. In this case, I see a reason to and there is definitely something more efficient.
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You could also just program a new desktop environment for Linux that you like and buy a faster computer if you still don't like the speed (even though Linux is pretty fast and looks a lot like Unix)...

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My pefect operating system was the one on the BBC Micro.  Jump strieght into a BASIC interpreter that would also let you do inline asm.  No multitasking destractions = Bliss :)

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I think no one wants to rebuild 16 million lines of code from scratch again

Minus the 16M part, are you sure?

Now, I do hear the phrase "don't reinvent the wheel" a lot, but I think that there just might be more efficient.

If YOU don't see any reason to. In this case, I see a reason to and there is definitely something more efficient.

 

Whats more efficient??

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@OP

 

Don't get me wrong, but I feel you have a very naive view of the major operating systems available, and you may have misunderstood the structure of a Linux OS.

 

Mac and Windows were attrocious to use in the early 90s. So was Linux, for that matter. The only reason Apple and Microsoft became popular was through clever marketing. The reason they are popular today is because when you buy a computer, Windows/Mac is already pre-installed, and 99.9% of the population won't be bothered or don't have the knowledge to wipe the existing OS and replace it with Linux.

 

I agree with you on Ubuntu 10.10. They should never have dropped Gnome 2; that Unity interface is a step backwards IMO. But that's definitely no reason to abandon Ubuntu altogether. You could easily install a new window manager on top and you'd not lose any of the original functionality of the operating system. Doing so is as simple as typing three commands into the terminal.

 

Linux can't be defined as a single operating system, because there are so many flavours. The only thing they all have in common is the kernel, and some of the core terminal commands. And that's what makes it so powerful, you can install whatever tools you want and any combination you wish, making Linux one of the most customisable operating systems available.

 

The fact remains that an operating system is incredibly complicated, and you can't simply "get together and make one".

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I think no one wants to rebuild 16 million lines of code from scratch again

Minus the 16M part, are you sure?

Now, I do hear the phrase "don't reinvent the wheel" a lot, but I think that there just might be more efficient.

If YOU don't see any reason to. In this case, I see a reason to and there is definitely something more efficient.

 

Whats more efficient??

 

 

J.A.R.V.I.S, of course, which Nathan2222 will make right after he finishes reading that  C++ book. smile.png

 

Though I would suggest making it multi multi multi multi-purpose, why limit yourself to just two multi's? And, may I suggest, make it(or him, or her) automatically write the driver for every device that you might plug into your PC, now or in the future. Hey, while you're at it, make it(or him, or her) rewrite himself for each architecture you might install it(or him, or her), now or in the future! Ultimate plug-and-play! Hey, if you can dream it, you can make it, right? tongue.png

Edited by mikeman
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A quantum OS would be in a superposition of all possible OSes until the one you want is observed

Edited by TheComet
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I think no one wants to rebuild 16 million lines of code from scratch again

Minus the 16M part, are you sure?

Now, I do hear the phrase "don't reinvent the wheel" a lot, but I think that there just might be more efficient.

If YOU don't see any reason to. In this case, I see a reason to and there is definitely something more efficient.
Whats more efficient??
 
J.A.R.V.I.S, of course, which Nathan2222 will make right after he finishes reading that  C++ book. :)
 
Though I would suggest making it multi multi multi multi-purpose, why limit yourself to just two multi's? And, may I suggest, make it(or him, or her) automatically write the driver for every device that you might plug into your PC, now or in the future. Hey, while you're at it, make it(or him, or her) rewrite himself for each architecture you might install it(or him, or her), now or in the future! Ultimate plug-and-play! Hey, if you can dream it, you can make it, right? :P
What's with the him/her/himself? It's an it.
My version of J.A.R.V.I.S. not Tony Stark's J.A.R.V.I.S. except you know any need to have a weirdly powered super suit for fighting things with a cell in the user as a heart?
You don't make that by reading "that book", except you know something i don't. Just one certain kind of architecture needed and yes, "if you can dream it, you can make it".
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