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Editorial

Operating Systems Are Irrelevant 811

Posted by michael
from the slightly-ahead-of-his-time dept.
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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Operating Systems Are Irrelevant

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  • Changed a bit (Score:5, Informative)

    by OmniVector (569062) <see my homepage> on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:25AM (#4616200) Homepage
    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.
  • Great (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:26AM (#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]

  • Duh. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:31AM (#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
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    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.
  • by SailorBob (146385) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:31AM (#4616267) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • What is he smoking? (Score:3, Informative)

    by anonymous cupboard (446159) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:44AM (#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.

  • by Insightfill (554828) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:45AM (#4616382) Homepage
    he mentioned tossing the concept of normal *files* and folders

    Actually, quite a bit of headway has been made in replacing the folder model with a database model. Products such as DOCsOpen (company called Hummingbird) and iManage, as well as Tahoe (MS) and the BeOS have made great pushes in either popping down the files anywhere, or at least giving the end user a layer of abstraction that uses a DB to access the data/files, rather than the "folder within a folder" thing.

    Also, thinkers like Alan Kay have been pushing for the death of the "Desktop" metaphor for well over a decade. It had its purpose in the start, but now it's just tired and irrelevant.

  • Re:Good ideas (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:56AM (#4616452)
    It seems that he has described much of what was attempted with the Apple Newton. Newton abandoned the Desktop UI metaphor and instead used a data-oriented interface. Additionally, Newton eliminated the concept of a "file system" -- information is stored in soups, accessable by all other apps. The many layers of the OS (some of which were realtime tasks, were largely invisible; one didn't "boot" the Newton, one simply used the device and it supported the applications. What a concept!
  • Re:Changed a bit (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:58AM (#4616467) Homepage
    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.

    You mean he's invented grep?! Hooray!

    I read something by Reiser of ReiserFS on a relational database/keyword search method of organizing files. I liked it more and I think it was more realistic about the actual necessity of keeping the traditional file system intact, if only visible to applications and the OS.

    Which you're of course always going to have -- an OS is just the thing that manages access to hardware and provides an abstraction for that hardware.
  • by foote (441858) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @10:58AM (#4616469)

    He is well thought of by some:

    From Edge [edge.org]:

    Gelernter is one of the most brilliant and visionary computer scientists of our time. - Bill Joy

    David Gelernter is one of the pioneers in getting many computers to work together and cooperate on solving a single problem, which is the future of computing. - Danny Hillis

    Gelernter prophesied the rise of the World Wide Web. He understood the idea half a decade before it happened. - John Markoff

    David Gelernteris a treasure in the world of computer science...a unique and profoundly important presence in the information technology community. He is the most articulate and thoughtful of the great living practitioners, and his writings examine a surprising breadth of topics with humanity, moral seriousness and aesthetic passion.... He's a full-out visionary, able to present ideas as wild and on the edge as anyone. - Jaron Lanier

    There are lots of clever computer scientists; David Gelernter is one of the few who is wise. - Cliff Stoll

    Still, Einstein was wise in many ways, but he also had some ideas (outside of physics) that, to be generous, weren't all that well thought out. The ideas have to stand or fall on their own merit, not on anybody's opinions of the man who has the ideas.

  • by jholder (22001) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @11:00AM (#4616484) Homepage Journal
    Gelertner wrote all about this in his book, Machine Beauty [amazon.com], from 1999. This is OLD news, some poor reporter just got sucked in. And from reading his book, and playing with the demos he has, I would not be able to stand using his software... Seems like a good idea, but somehow, the implementation feels just lousy.
  • by NearlyHeadless (110901) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @11:07AM (#4616522)
    Gelernter also survived a bomb from the Unabomber.
  • Re:Based on fantasy? (Score:3, Informative)

    by paitre (32242) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @11:12AM (#4616559) Journal
    Having worked with Big Iron before, I can safely say that you're wrong about there not being an OS in them.
    The OS is much closer to what one -should- be, though, and is quite unobtrusive.
    As for the cell phones and PDA's (the PDA's in particular) -do- have an OS.
    I mean, christ. the Palm and Visor run the -PalmOS- for crying out loud!! All those cellphones that have the games and crap on them now? there's an OS there, too.

    Just because it's unobtrusive, and does what a good OS should, doesn't mean that it's not there.
  • by ShmuelP (5675) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @11:38AM (#4616764)
    I've had a chance to talk to some of these guys last year, and I've used the system a bit. We also talked about some of this in a UI design class I took.

    Scopeware (the system he built) is actually pretty interesting. The premise (or part of it) is that people aren't good at filing things in a hierarchical filesystem. Instead, the system simply keeps everything in one long hierarchical sequence, and tries to provide more intuitive ways of searching it.

    Specifically, it tries to emulate piles of papers on a desk. New stuff is at the top, but you can kinda scan the edges of a lot of the documents at once. If you need to find something specific, youo can "flip through" the pile until you find it. I believe that you can define criteria such that different piles are built automatically from the same set of documents. In a sense, this is similar to Evolution's VFolders - you don't move emails from your inbox to another folder, but set up virtual folders based on predefined searches.

    In this sense, the OS and filesystem are irrelevant, just like the OS is irrelevant to (pure) Java programs, and just like the filesystem is irrelevant in most email programs (Evolution, Kmail, Outlook). Of course, the data is stored in files within directories on a disk managed by an OS, but given that there is a completely different method of accessing that data, who cares?

    In a sense, this is actually similar to Unix's "everything is a file philosophy", except that here it would be expressed as "everything that's important is a document.

    Scopeware itself is a server that stores all documents, emails, etc. for a group of people. It then manages access to them, and sets up these "piles" for everyone who runs a scopeware client.
  • by MarkWatson (189759) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @11:41AM (#4616786) Homepage
    Several years ago, David Gelernter's colleague Eric Freeman (and a lawyer for his company) gave me permission to write a simple version of Lifestreams for a book example (the ill-fated Java Programming for Windows that was just being published when Microsoft went soft on Java).

    I never did write that example, but I looked into Lifestreams enough to think that it is a very valid metaphor for accessing information.

    Lifestreams orders information by date - imagine that you remember writing a memo just before Easter vacation this year. Then, you would scan documents created around that time period, and hopefully find it in a few seconds.

    Obviously, in this example, you could just sort old email, word processing documents, etc. by date using Konquerer, Mac Finder, Windows Explorer, whatever, but Lifestreams understands many file formats and unifies this entire process.

    -Mark

  • yeah, exactly (Score:2, Informative)

    by theflea (585612) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @11:47AM (#4616834)
    These great ideas are hindered by one thing. Reality. It would be great if cars didn'pollute, roads and bridges didn't deteriorate, and everything we wanted could just appear in front of us.

    This article is almost insulting to all the programmers and developers who have been trying to do just this thing for decades. Many of the issues he'd like resolved are actually being worked on by real people right now as we speak.

    I've got good ideas too on lots of things, but I always thought I'd have to actually demonstrate how they'd be done to be considered an authority.
  • Re:Good ideas (Score:3, Informative)

    by red_dragon (1761) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @11:51AM (#4616860) Homepage
    Sounds like some sorta OOP OS and Enviroment.

    You mean, like OS/2? [ibm.com] What you described is exactly what IBM said users would be able to do with OS/2, and was basically true depending on what applications you used.p>

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 07, 2002 @12:14PM (#4617060)
    Have you ever tried the product at zootsoftware.com [zootsoftware.com] ? It is apparently a similar concept, but probably doesn't go nuts on the interface ideas like Gelertner, and also unfortunately runs only windows.

    Also, do you know of anyone who has tried to use the google product [google.com] for this ? I think of all of these things as "having a personal google".

    P.S. I liked your book on learning to program in scheme using AI examples. I have actually purchased three copies, and given them to young programmers of the high school age.

  • by dpilot (134227) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @12:19PM (#4617110) Homepage Journal
    I don't blame Microsoft for the failure of Newton.

    I do blame them for the failure of Go! (If that was their name) Back at the time, I was in the OS/2 crowd, and the failure of Go! was a well-talked-about 'example' of the Microsoft way of competing. Basically, they were working to bring a pen-based product to market. Microsoft preemptively announced, "Pen for Windows" and Go! lost their funding as a result. Maybe they would have failed inthe market, but they never got the chance.

    As for "Microsoft is not the technological super-being..." Back in the 90's when Venture Capital was flowing, the key question for software startups was, "What is your Microsoft strategy?" There were companies started with the goal of eventually being bought out by Microsoft. (This information was from business/trade/news magazines at the time.) So maybe they're not the super-being, but they do have paranormal market powers that may not always be beneficial.
  • by reg106 (256893) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @01:04PM (#4617499)
    Yup, the company was GO, and the book about it is:
    Startup
    by Jerry Kaplan
    Kaplan had the idea for pen computing and founded GO to pursue the dream. The book is based on his personal diary and gives a pretty good view of starting a company, seeking capital, expansion, and ultimately failing. (And this was a good idea, not a dot.com) You get to see some nasty moves by a number of the other players, including Microsoft, Apple, and (I believe) Intel, among others.
    I highly recommend the book!
  • by occam (20826) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @01:43PM (#4617855)
    Actually, MS did put Go directly out of business. The original poster is (slightly) incorrect though. MS did not just announce one vaporware product, I believe they announced as many as three different, codeveloping (!) vaporware products well in advance of any scheduled debut (i.e., MS reacted and crushed the nascent market with nothing except marketing). None of the three product announcements ever materialized. How's that for FUD?

    Go already had shipping product but corporate interest and, more importantly, sales waned rapidly *after* the MS announcements. Go died just as it was releasing its strongest platform yet.

    This was MS at its peak "best" during its heyday. With the new "laissez faire" ruling, MS is probably now going to have a revival.

    Go had some very interesting technology (OS, multilingual handwriting recognition, hardware) which was eventually lost in a corporate buyout by AT&T (where it then was sold to some Asian (Korean?) firm where it stagnated and died as far as I know).

    Go is probably one of the most prominent examples of MS FUD destroying innovation (though there are plenty others).
  • by walt-sjc (145127) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @01:48PM (#4617903)
    First, you are making a common error. You are making the assumption that the lack of integrated device drivers is a problem with linux as opposed to a problem with vendor support.

    You are also making the common error that Windows always works and supports everything automatically. Why just the other day I plugged my Wife's Win2K box into my 2 year old Brother 1270N printer via USB and Windows detected new hardware. Then it told me it couldn't find a driver, but I could search the CDROM and Windows update. Oops, STILL couldn't find a driver so I ended up having to go to the brother web site, manually download and install the driver.

    In contrast, my Debian box just worked. All the drivers were there. Most hardware autodects just fine thankyouverymuch.

    It's actually quite rare that I can get a driver for ANYTHING directly from MS. I usually have to go to the vendors web site or dig up an old CDROM and go the manual install route. Lack of Linux support is almost UNIVERALLY because the vendor does not release a linux driver and refuses to release the tech info so that someone else can write a driver. This has NOTHING to do with Linux and ALL to do with the vendors being a bunch of fucking idiots. Most hardware autodects just fine thankyouverymuch. There is nothing wrong with the modular driver model in Linux except for the current historical limits on major/minor device numbering that is being addressed. I can load, unload, and replace device driver modules on the fly without rebooting for most hardware (there are some exceptions like the disk driver you are currently using and such, but this is to be expected.) In contrast, Windows STILL needs to be rebooted several times if you are replacing a driver for example. When things go right in Windows, people are happy and things are easy. When things go wrong, all hell breaks lose. Since only MS really knows what's going on inside, the frequent "fix" is to re-install everything from scratch.

    Back to the article, this guy is naive. While Windows is fairly universal in the desktop area, that's the ONLY place that it's mostly universal. In the PDA space, server space, set-top space, embedded space, etc. it's an equal player, a minor player, or a non-player. In non-US markets, Windows is taking a MAJOR hit and its dominance is far from universal.

    OK, enough on the OS ranting.

    The problem with higher levels of abstration is that it starts to fail when the amount of data increases. Sure it's easy to find your resume on a view of a few documents, but when you have thousands of documents this model starts to fail. You need to start organizing stuff in a logical manor. You need to organize stuff the way YOU think, not the way some programmer at MS or somewhere else thinks.

    It's interesting looking at how people organize files on their computers. From a very simplistic and general view, I have noticed that Low-level employees tend to keep all their documents in one folder and high level employees (managers, executives) tend to have things orgnized several levels deep. Again, a very general observation.

    Looking at your PDA example, you can organize your contacts in categories. How many people do that? It depends on how many contacts you have. In a small company I may load the phonelist in to one "company" category. In a larger company, I may load the phone list into departmental categories. How would his 3D view handle this? Would it always organize stuff in a very granular manor or would it tend to lump things all together? Who decides? Do I have to do this manually? If so, how is this better than the file / folder mentality?

  • Re:Changed a bit (Score:2, Informative)

    by rmdyer (267137) on Thursday November 07, 2002 @06:09PM (#4620357)
    For all those who never understood what the true nature of the Windows registry is about...

    The Registry was created for the purpose of storing and retrieving local OS and application configuration data in a convienient and highly organized way. In this manner the registry is simply seen as a local database that the OS has direct access to. An operating system process database so to speak.

    On the list of registry requirements is speed. The registry is optimized for extremely high speed reads as well as writes. It was discovered early on that storing small amounts of information such as Bytes, Words, Strings, and such directly on the file system in separate files was a problem. Opening, reading, and closing files requires many I/O operations which eats up CPU, and can be taxing on the hardware subsystems. Hard drive caching and file caching can prevent some of the problems caused but do not really provide an adequate solution.

    Another issue is that small data elements don't make effective use of the allocated disk space. Especially in the early days with small hard drives this was a BIG issue. You certainly don't want to open a file, save a byte, and close the file. You might end up using a whole sector. Depending on which filesystem type you used, you could lose almost half your disk just by storing small files. With text files the problem is even worse. You end up opening the file, parsing out the data with routines, then converting it to the data type you need. By nature, text representations of the data values will be larger, wasting valuable disk space.

    As we have seen with network database access, a database access protocol optimized for high speed reads is important. The LDAP specification addresses some of these concerns. As well with the registry, we need the ability to store and retrieve data fast with minimal space cost. Microsoft decided to create a set of files called HIVEs that are essentially open from the moment the OS boots. The OS caches these HIVEs in memory. The OS as well as applications have access to the HIVEs through a special set of high speed access APIs. All the APIs need for access to a HIVE is its global handle value.

    The HIVEs are organized hierarchically similar to a file system. This makes a registry HIVE exactly like a "file system on top of a file system". In this case since a HIVE is stored on the real file system as a single contiguous block and always open, it makes disk space efficient and I/O fast. Its just a specialized mini file system database for configuration data.

    Key names in the HIVEs are folders. The keys contain registry values which contain the actual data. The values are typed so as to also maximize speed. There are user, software, and system data HIVEs. HIVEs can be mounted or unmounted, and symlinks can be created from one key to another. Registry keys can be protected with the same ACL protection mechanism that NTFS uses.

    If you want to see how fast the registry is in action just download the regmon.exe probe from www.sysinternals.com and watch what happens when you do anything in Windows. The amazing dependencies that make themselves apparent by watching regmon can easily show you that doing I/O out to disk would cause everything to slow to a crawl, as well as put more pressure on your already loaded disk I/O system.

    Registry key values are NOT made to store large amounts of data. You aren't supposed to store entire files as value data. Indeed, that would make what the registry was made for pointless. One of the problems is that many application programmers either don't understand how to use the registry correctly, or just use it for the wrong purpose. The current registry is BIG. The information stored in the registry has gotten out of hand. Even Microsoft can't stop storing useless information in there. It is easy to say that the registry might become corrupted, but this also happens with file systems themselves. You do occasionally have to run a file system check. Ever lost a binary database file before?

    Data in the registy can be easily back'ed up using the regedit tool that comes with the OS. You simply export what you need to a text file. The text file can then be re-imported later when needed. If you want to backup a whole HIVE file such as SOFTWARE you can do that too. Many backup utilities will do exactly that. It is even possible to backup the HIVEs without being in the OS. Just boot to another OS and copy the files off the disk (assuming you can read and write to NTFS). I really don't see the problem with registry backups. And hey, in the end, the registy is just a simple set of files stored on the filesystem just like any other files in *nix.

    Since the registry API is in effect and abstraction layer, Microsoft could re-write the back-end completely. What about a network registry? We could relocate the files out onto a network server and the applications wouldn't know. Microsoft could encrypt the data, compress it, whatever. I don't know what Microsoft's future plans are for the registry interface. Any of these things would make access slower so I expect that the design will stay the way it is for now.

    We all have fast and big hard drives these days so the registry does seem kind of pointless. But if we were all using slow small drives we would really appreciate the technical merits of the registry. Even more so, users of a registry can now enjoy that their data is being store both effectively and efficiently. Linux would do well to adapt to some kind of OS database for its configuration settings and local accounts even if it isn't regsitry like. But if you want to continue to store a 64 BIT value in a text file as "0xFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF" be my guest. (BTW, this is the same problem I have with HTTP, inefficient as hell!)

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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