Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Can I be a conscientious objector in the OS Wars?

My current main desktop machine is an older 2.4GHz P4 running... uh... lemme check... XP Home. Sitting next to it on the desk is an old G3 400 iMac running OS X that I use for watching DVDs and as an iTunes server. I have two Mac laptops that see regular usage, one running OS 9 and the other OS X. And now comes the Eee with some version of Linux loaded.

Is it wrong that I don't feel particularly strong preferences for any of these?

Personally, my computer tinkering days are long behind me anyway, and the only time I spend in the OS environment itself is the few seconds between bootup and clicking on the icon for the program I'm going to use. Especially on the netbook; I've had people tell me "Oh there are much better versions of Linux for it," and I'm thinking "What, they'll let me click on the 'Firefox' or 'Open Office' icon even faster?"


Andy said...

What still needs OS9? I would think one would want an environment that was... well... supported.

Run whatever you want. It's your box. I went mostly Mac because I was tired of tinkering, but I've run most all of 'em (including some AIX, Irix and NeXTStep) at one time or another. Well, not Plan 9. Never got around to that.

Tam said...

"What still needs OS9? I would think one would want an environment that was... well... supported."

My G3 Wall Street is a slug in OS X but a lightning bolt in OS 9. It's still fine for writing, playing old games, or email.

(Plus, if there was any desktop environment where I really felt happy, it'd be the classic Mac OS. I've been using it off and on for the better part of 25 years, after all...)

alan said...

The OS wars are over and the Web Browser won.

That said, yes it DOES let you click the Firefox icon faster!

Lorimor said...

My burning hatred for MS OS's propels me into the battle's front lines.

reflectoscope said...

If you're happy being functional in the different operating systems, why not? Sticking to one is like sticking to one gun. (Which is neither good nor bad)


Crustyrusty said...

I gave up OS evangelism a couple of years ago. People will use whatever OS comes with the box for the most part. People who like M$ Windows will use it no matter how loudly I preach against it. Leave them to their spyware, virii and security holes.

TD said...

Can I be a conscientious objector in the OS Wars?No. :-P

I only suggested Eeebuntu because I know from first-hand experience that the Xandros they install on those machines has a tendency to flake out. But hey, if it's working for you...

pdb said...

Much like handgun calibers, operating systems all suck.

Just in different ways.

TJP said...

Has anyone attempted AmigaOS?

knirirr said...

Has anyone attempted AmigaOS?Not recently, but back in the 80s Workbench on my A500 was awesome.

Aaron said...

You see me now a veteran, of a thousand OS wars...That said, I stopped carrying around the point I realized I had emulators for OSs I actually had on other boxes.

Adrian K said...

But Tam, you're clear over there in Indiana. It's easy to be that conscientious objector when you're that far from the front.

Those of us here in the Seattle(MS)/Portland(Intel&Linux) area are living in No Man's Land. If we didn't join one group, we'd be getting shot at by both sides.

WV: supin (Not Bloody Likely!)

og said...

hell, use what you like and works. I have an ancient gateway running win2k, and it has been bulletproof for nine years. And it runs the software I need, which no mac can. (no, not even with an emulator). One of our techs just got one of the new imacs, which are pure unix and very stable, if they ever port my engineering software for that machine I'll be there in two seconds flat. its not a religion, people.

José Giganté said...

I just find having to work with one OS is best when you have lots of data to manage since it's in the same place all the time. MS always wants to TELL you where your stuff should be, whereas the others let you decide. I chose Mac OS because that's what I started out with at work and have kept it and now have one at home as well as a MBP.

Mac OS 8 was a happy place, 9, not so much.

The Armed Canadian said...


You've hit on a point I've discussed with colleagues for years. People don't care about the OS. They care about doing things. Ultimately, I think the line of what constitutes an OS will blur as soon as platform-agnostic programming is the norm.

The web is agnostic. Several mainstream programming languages are agnostic (Java and Python being the two I use). There was work several years ago on building Java-based OS and even CPUs that the whole environment would be agnostic.

Give a person an easy way to run their favorite software on any OS and they won't care about the OS at all. For example, Ubuntu Linux in its latest versions has gotten good enough out of the box to run Windows PC games without tweaking. That's huge. When someone can stick an Office 2009 DVD into the drive, have the Windows installer come up, install without a hiccup and there's MS Word, people will not care about the OS at all.

And nor should they. The Linux and to a certain extent, Mac communities are learning this. Ultimately, it may be the doom of proprietary OSes in general. Once we find a way to let us run our rich applications quickly on any hardware, the OS simply will not matter and will fade into the background where it belongs.

To paraphrase: "It's all about the applications, stupid!" (not directed at you).

Nathan Brindle said...

As a guy who still works daily on OpenVMS and z/VM CMS/ESA, I haven't got a lot of room to talk, but I had to post this just because the w.v. was too good to waste.

w.v.: "taterize"

That's what Og and I were doing at the blogmeet -- taterizing the beer cheese. :)

D.W. Drang said...

Sorry, I avoid religious discussions.

WV: uniating. What Obama wants to do, "uniate" everyone to his way of doing things...

BryanP said...

Works for me. I do this crap for a living and I have similar discussions with coworkers. When we argue about OS's (usually for networking, but sometimes desktops) my standard response is "They all suck. Each has good things about it, but each has flaws that drive me nuts. Now, which one are they paying me to support this week?"

word verification: ingedial.

Who's Inge? And what's her number?

Tam said...


"...but I had to post this just because the w.v. was too good to waste."

I totally understand. I, too, have commented just because a particular Captcha was too good to pass up. :D

David said...

The last PC OS that did what I wanted it to, the way I wanted it done, and did it quickly without using a lot of system resources was DOS.

All these GUI operating systems are just pretty resource eaters.

All I want from an OS is to keep my system talking properly to my peripherals, and let me run the applications I want to run. I don't want my OS to be my browser, my graphics editor, nor my e-mail client, etc.

Borepatch said...

I guess that we can say that Linux is now officially mainstream - who cares what OS you use - all I want is my Firefox icon.

That sound you hear is Steve Ballmer grinding his teeth.

Lorimor said...

Wouldn't it be nice if a MS OS could fade into the background. Yeah, I have to admit XP has been stable for me, relative to earlier MS attempts... gag. However, XP can't run with OS/X in my experience. Stability isn't yet part of the MS world IMHO.

Yeah, color me heavily *nix biased, but that's only because *nix has treated me well in a variety of environments, uses and applications. (Industrial and medical primarily.)

MS, not so much.

Kristopher said...


( I'm one of the few people I know who can actually get anything done with that critter ... )

I've got a copy of OpenServer around, if you want to make the LINUX folks throw a fit.

Tam said...

I keep meaning to get my vintage game machine down from the attic... It's an old Celeron 600 running 98SE. It has three hard drives in it, the first of which came out of my Compaq Deskpro Pentium 133, bought new in '95.

Personally, I liked 98SE; that machine gave me no trouble for almost three years...

Rabbit said...

Bill Gates said the goal of MS-DOS 2.0 was to make it "more UNIX-like".

I do AIX. I'm compelled at work to run XP Pro on my desktop, but at home it's AIX and Linux, but I have an XP Pro partition and a dedicated box on which I'm trying to wreck Windows7, among other oddities.

Strangely, underneath the fancy pants it all looks a lot like Bell Labs UNIX in many ways. At least I quit dreaming in C several years ago.


Anonymous said...

These days I only get pissed off at the OS when I find out I can't do something.

Mac OS X: Have fun paying for service packs.
Windows: Feel the freedom of DRM.
Linux: Great selection of software as long as you can compile it yourself and have all the associated packages, correcting for version differences.

DirtCrashr said...

2.4GHz P - you be smokin' hot compared to a 1.6ghz Atom... coming to you from another kinda porch called a lanai.

David said...

"At least I quit dreaming in C several years ago"

I dream in FORTRAN. My nightmares are all in C++.

Adam said...

Hm... have to say my experiences have been a bit different. I rarely buy machines with operating systems already installed on them (I have a tendency to put them together). I've stock pretty solid with Windows XP for awhile now, though - it honestly stays out of my way and I can get things done on it (whereas I just sold my Macbook because organizing files in Finder is like herding cats). The Mac experience was just that for me - an "experience." I didn't encounter a single thing that made me say, "Hey, this is better." It was just another OS with it's own annoying quirks.

Linux doesn't even really get on the board for me anymore. I threw it out about the time I realized I was spending 3 hours in Gentoo every time I wanted to so much as upgrade hardware and about the time that Ubuntu's open source Nvidia drivers failed (whereupon I installed the proprietary ones and was immediately informed via pop-up that I was a corporate pig and an evil, evil man for not wanting to share).

I'll stick to XP until something better comes along.

Tam said...


I'm sure that if I still built my own machines or did any gaming at all anymore, I could get all worked up about this too, but I haven't really cracked a case since I put the uhhh... lemme check... GeForce4 MX 440 in this thing back in '03. The last new game I bought was GTA: San Andreas. I am all old and ungeeky these days.

Don Meaker said...

I started with a Honeywell 4000, and then to an IBM 350.

Learning any OS is at best a necessary evil.

John the Texaner said...


I ran the 98 beta version for a while back in the day, and then they somehow wrecked it all to hell with the release. I'm still not convinced it was unintentional. 98SE was Microsoft's way of charging you twice for the same operating system, were you one of the unfortunate ones that bought early.

Personally, I dropped the Windows habit back in 2001, and haven't looked back. All my computers run Linux (Debian specifically, for sustainability goodness).

I thought i'd escaped the bloated software/even faster hardware compensation loop until just recently. I'm now convinced that Web 2.0 was invented to force those of us who opted out to buy new hardware. I have an old dual-proc PII (400MHz x 2) server recently resurrected as a desktop. A year and a half ago, it was happy to do all of my web-surf bidding with nary a hiccup. Now, standard web pages force it into epileptic fits of lag in order to load. *sigh*

The Armed Canadian,

Java: a unified way to bloat software and operating systems, automagically!

wv: pralvain