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A New Kind of OS 393

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the dreams-and-things dept.
trader writes "OSWeekly.com discusses a possibility of futuristic OSes with both negatives and positives. From the article: 'Imagine if you will, a world where your ideas and perhaps, even your own creative works became part of the OS of tomorrow. Consider the obvious advantages to an operating system that actually morphed and adapted to the needs of the users instead of the other way around. Not only is there no such OS like this, the very idea goes against much of what we are currently seeing in the current OS options in the market.'"
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A New Kind of OS

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  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:23PM (#15997813) Homepage Journal

    Consider the obvious advantages to an operating system that actually morphed and adapted to the needs of the users instead of the other way around. Not only is there no such OS like this, the very idea goes against much of what we are currently seeing in the current OS options in the market.

    I don't know about the parent, but when I build a kernel I don't just default to everything. I build for what I'll need. If that changes significantly then I'll do another with different options and settings.

    While it may seem novel to "morph" to what's currently needed, it's not really so revolutionary an idea. It once was that operating systems cleared out unused libraries from memory (rather unlike the way Windows behaves, by loading 385 MB of junk you just might need during a session) and dynamically adjust the amount of processor priority and time (Priority and Run Burst) each task is assigned as needed depending upon system load, etc. Some things appear to have gone backward as we've got more dependent on ooh, shiny! features, whistles and bells.

    Maybe like NASA digging up how they once did the Apollo Moon missions, to relearn, it's time for some of the people who do operating systems today to look back at how we did things 20-30 years ago.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sinryc (834433)
      Normal people can't do that. I can't program worth shit, and I don't even know how to mess with the Kernal. They mean an OS that changes with you, without you having to do it with coding. If Linux could do that, it would be MUCH better.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I can't program worth shit, and I don't even know how to mess with the Kernal[sic].
        Not only do you not know how to "mess with it," you don't even know how to spell it.
      • by radarsat1 (786772) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:06AM (#15997959) Homepage
        Normal people can't do that. I can't program worth shit, and I don't even know how to mess with the Kernal. They mean an OS that changes with you, without you having to do it with coding. If Linux could do that, it would be MUCH better.


        You know, as a programmer, I get really tired of people suggesting ways to program computers "without doing any coding". That's where BAD things come from. That's where "dynamically hiding menu items" come from, so you never know where things are. That's where "visual programming" comes from, so you're staring at a screen full of boxes and lines with little to no organizational structure.

        No. If you're gonna program a computer, learn how to program. The CS field as a whole apologizes for the fact that computers are hard. They are complex machines. Unfortunately it is not always easy to get them to work they way they should, or the way you want them to. But that's life. If you're not willing to learn how to program, you should be willing to learn how to use what other people have programmed, or learn how to write specs and make intelligent suggestions to the community. But this bullshit about "intelligently adapting the OS to a user's needs" is just asking for trouble. It's asking for "programming" without actually asking for any "design" or "specifications". It will end up being crap.

        The fact is, making something "user friendly" means making the front-end more simple -- and thus making the back-end more complicated. But this complexity always eventually compounds and compounds until the end user can't understand what's happening and gets confused. In the end, we learn that computers are easier to use if you understand the back-end, and that can only happen if you use a minimum of metaphor. That is-- a straight-forward system that is obvious and transparent.

        The mistake that Windows and many GUI systems have made is in trying to HIDE the system in metaphor. It always backfires, because although a transparent system may be harder to learn, it is far, far easier to deal with once the learning curve has been climbed. And since we've discovered that even the simplest metaphoric GUI requires "training", well.. you may as well train the end user how it actually WORKS instead of trying to hide it from them in a bubble of "interface".

        Of course, that's just MHO. Though I believe Neal Stephenson [cryptonomicon.com] agrees with me.

        (My apologies to the parent. My comments aren't really directed at you, per se, I just get tired of people suggesting that computer programming should be effortless. Computer using should be easy, but programming is programming, if you know what I mean.)
        • What hogwash (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ClosedSource (238333) * on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:24AM (#15998006)
          A CLI is no more "the system" than a GUI, it's just another abstraction. Most black-and-white movies were made that way because it was the best that could be done, not because the filmmaker thought it was more artistic. In a like manner, most OS's of the 70's used a CLI not because it was a "minimum metaphor", but because it was the only practical option at the time.

          • Re:What hogwash (Score:5, Insightful)

            by radarsat1 (786772) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:51AM (#15998093) Homepage
            I'm sorry, what? Where did I mention anything about the CLI?
            I certainly did not mean to imply that there's anything wrong with a GUI. But there IS something wrong with dynamically hiding parts of a GUI based on some unspecified learning algorithm.
            Do you understand what I mean?
            Computers should be transparent and obvious, THAT is what makes them easier to use, not artificially messing with the interface to pretend the "hard parts" don't exist. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to use the mouse to interact with them. It just has to be designed well -- meaning everything accessible in a logical manner, whether it is through the keyboard or the mouse.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by soliptic (665417)
              I'm sorry, what? Where did I mention anything about the CLI?

              What, apart from linking to the Stephenson essay about the command line, describing it as agreeing with your stance, you mean?

              And saying the GUI hides the system in metaphor implies you prefer direct access to "the system" with a GUI.... meaning... what? Well, unless you intend people to use "the system" by using little electromagnetic tweezers to flip bits inside the hardware I think assuming you meant the CLI was a fair guess.

              Anyway your
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by jpardey (569633)
            Actually, it is more of the system than a GUI, in most cases. It is closer to the lowest common denomiator than a gui is. To make a flexible CLI program is easier than making a flexible GUI program, simply because the GUI gets exponentionally more complex the more you try to do with it. So technically they are the same, but practically the CLI will win.
          • A CLI is a bit more the system I'm afraid. You are right, the CLI does not imply that (ever used window's CLI to dome something useful, like a complex script?), but most non-gui based OSes are more prone to exposing the user to the down and dirty.
            Not a rule, more of a trend really.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by RevDobbs (313888) *

            Fine. A command line interface was what we had "in the begining" because it was all the hardware could support.

            But you know what? When you're working that closely with a system, you learn it better! No, typing "mv *.txt ../textDocuments" won't teach you a wit about x86 assembly, but it will get you thinking about directory structure in a way that explorer.exe prevents one from doing. Using a text editor and a typsetting program like LaTeX can help you format well-structured documents with an ease that

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by ClosedSource (238333) *
              "But you know what? When you're working that closely with a system, you learn it better! No, typing "mv *.txt ../textDocuments" won't teach you a wit about x86 assembly, but it will get you thinking about directory structure in a way that explorer.exe prevents one from doing."

              Well, that different way of thinking doesn't provide any additional insights into the directory structure. "../textDocuments" is just a crude way of representing part a tree abstration that tools like explorer make obvious. But the tre
              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by raquor (947783)
                Agreed.
                "mv *.txt ../textDocuments"
                means move all text documents in current folder to the textDocuments folder which is contained within the parent folder of the current folder...

                How is it that my GUI windows drag and drop doesnt allow me to understand this? wait that's right....it does.
                CLI has it's place but in my experience I've been able to do a great number of things that a Linux Guru can do in CLI with my Windows GUI. Perhaps it's a matter of what technology you grew up using?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by soft_guy (534437)
          If it was really effortless, I guess we would be out of a job.

          I have seen some of these things come and go. For example, I remember when VB6 came out and there was a lot of talk about it would be the end of C++. For example, why ever write an actual win32 based application, when it is easier to just crank something out in VB in a shorter time.

          At the time, I remember some Windows C++ guys who I worked with being all like, "I guess I will have to find another career because I really don't want to be a VB prog
        • by ScuzzMonkey (208981) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:32AM (#15998038) Homepage
          I don't disagree with you entirely, but you can certainly understand that the line between using and programming has become blurred over the years, and not always with such negative outcomes. After all, in the beginning, everything was programming. Your argument could have been applied to someone just wanting a simple word processor back in the punch-card and teletype days.

          Things have obviously changed quite a bit; you don't have to be a programmer to get WYSIWYG editing and print output anymore. It may not seem like it from here, but there are probably a lot of functions that most people consider "programming" that will fall into the same category at some unspecified point in the future. All that programming does is simply interface with the machine at a slightly more complex level than the average user. We're just talking about improving the interface to the point where some things, which now require "programming", will simply be "using" instead... and programmers will move on to more complicated arenas.

          Macros or mail filters or Netflix's recommendation system are all ways that average users basically program computers today without any hardcore CS education. Ten or twenty years ago, they would have required such a background to accomplish the same tasks, but no one really considers it "programming" today; there is no reason that many other functions that we currently think of as programming won't become similarly easy or transparent.

          There will always be the wizards responsible for writing the code that puts those things into place, and so that's where I agree with you--if you want to be a coder, go learn to code. In that sense, programming will always be programming, but I think the common definition of the word is a necessarily moving target.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by aztektum (170569)
          i get sick of programmers that think everyone should know how to program. we should also all grow our own produce and raise animals instead of having grocery stores too I suppose? and learn to maintain our cars on our own. hell, by that rationale, we should be building our own cars.

          yeah. ok. if you don't like the fact that people expect programmers to be the people programming, maybe you should be in a different field.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Shaper_pmp (825142)

            i get sick of programmers that think everyone should know how to program... hell, by that rationale, we should be building our own cars.

            Most programmers don't think everyone should know how to program, and I don't think this was the point the OP was making.

            Many programmers believe that if someone wants to program then they should learn how to program. Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

            The hard part of learning programming is not learning syntax - the hard part is learning to decompose tasks, spot edge-cases,

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Laxitive (10360)

            I get sick of authors that think everyone should know how to read and write.

            Actually, no I don't.. that was sarcasm.

            Programming isn't like learning to maintain your own cars. It's a general purpose ability to express particular thoughts in a structured way such that one of the most powerful general purpose tools in the world can be applied to it. It's worth learning for EVERYBODY. You may not realize it, just as 2000 years ago people may not have realized the value of an entire society that could communi
        • The fact is, making something "user friendly" means making the front-end more simple -- and thus making the back-end more complicated. But this complexity always eventually compounds and compounds until the end user can't understand what's happening and gets confused. In the end, we learn that computers are easier to use if you understand the back-end, and that can only happen if you use a minimum of metaphor. That is-- a straight-forward system that is obvious and transparent.

          While I agree completely with
      • by timeOday (582209)

        They mean an OS that changes with you, without you having to do it with coding. If Linux could do that, it would be MUCH better.

        Put some useful meat on that suggestion and you may become a millionaire. "The computer should adapt to the user, not the other way 'round" is not new, the problem is it's a vague aspiration which has proven difficult to nail down in any useful way. Microsoft's latest products automatically hide menu items unless you use them often, and frankly I hate it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SP33doh (930735)
          agreed. i want me to decide what I want. i don't want microsoft telling me what I want.
      • by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @01:21AM (#15998160) Homepage Journal
        First you find a person who can program the computer. You tell him what you want in English and give him a bucket of cash. Then you cross your fingers and hope that he was worth a bucket of cash. He goes off and writes a program based on what you told him. If neither you nor he were on crack at the time, you might get a system that approximates what you wanted it to do. You then use what he made for you to make two buckets of cash, at which point you can get two more programmers to make a computer do something else that you want it to. It's a very user friendly system, really...
    • "It looks like you're trying to write a slashdot post..."
    • Virtualization is the key here. You start off with the absolute minimum, and work your way up. If everyone did what you did, they would be amazed how powerful their home desktop really is. I use Xen to run highly optimized OSs under my top OS (which is stripped down of all but the essential applications I run daily... I run a parent heavy setup, and use the child OSs like temporary servants who are not allowed to bother "me"). I have one that's specifically a file server (using a TrueCrypt module compil
  • Where's the beef? (Score:5, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:23PM (#15997814) Homepage Journal
    Must be a slow news day. I read through the entire article and I didn't find anything substantial. He spends 6 paragraphs on the first "page" explaining how cool (and "weird") it would be to attach adaptive intelligence to our workflow. (His example is, what if the computer knew when NOT to bother you with email?)

    He then goes on for another 5 paragraphs just to tell us that Evil Corporations(TM) could misuse the data about our personal preferences against us. (Shocker, isn't it?) So we might as well forget the whole idea, because the Bad Guys(TM) have it in for us.

    *Sigh*

    I suppose I could plug my own Linux Desktop Distribution of the Future article to fill space and provide something substantive, but then I'd be accused of shameless self-promotion. So instead, I'm going to bed. 'Night all! :)
  • Other users? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PacketCollision (633042) * on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:24PM (#15997817) Homepage

    My major concern with such a system (besides the obvious privacy ones touched on in the article) is what happens when some other user sits at my comptuter uses it for a while. Would the "adaptive engine" or whatever be smart enough to figure out that there was someone else there or would I have to reset my settings and have it relearn everything?

    Another interesting aspect would be as a constant check to make sure the allowed user is the one at tthe keyboard. Different enough input stats and the password box pops up.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      what happens when some other user sits at my comptuter uses it for a while.

      I thought it was fairly simple to "identify" a user by their typing patterns (measureing delays between keystrokes, etc).

      I'm not so sure about mouse usage, but IIRC, you can definitely tell apart users by their typing.

      As an aside, I don't think your idea "Different enough input stats and the password box pops up" is terribly feasible. Unless you're going to bug the normal user constantly, anyone could pop in a cd/diskette and escalat

    • Re:Other users? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by admactanium (670209) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @06:12AM (#15998687) Homepage
      My major concern with such a system (besides the obvious privacy ones touched on in the article) is what happens when some other user sits at my comptuter uses it for a while. Would the "adaptive engine" or whatever be smart enough to figure out that there was someone else there or would I have to reset my settings and have it relearn everything?


      sort of how your tivo starts to think you're gay because you're girlfriend keeps recording oprah?

      TFA was completely worthless. besides the whole "big brother" strawman the author sets up, there are so many other issues that are simply not addressed. he uses a silly example of having the computer learn that you don't like to be bothered with emails while working on a video editing project except for "critical emails". well, how does the computer "learn" this behavior? if you don't check your mail when you edit video, you're not likely to find the "critical" email. thus, the computer doesn't understand that an email from "bob my client" is somehow more important than an email from "my nigerian ancestor who is also a prince." if you DO check your email during your video editing session, i suppose the computer would think that you like to be bothered with your emails while you're working on video.

      then you have to factor in the complexities of whether or not editing video is in the same importance category as photo retouching. and is that also as important was writing a letter? i think i'd rather my computer let me be the judge of whether or not an email is important to me and when. besides, there's no easy way for the computer to know if i'm doing "entertainment work" (in my case, farking a photo) or "work work" (retouching photographs for publication).

      also, as anyone who's used any sort of "learning technology" like voice recognition or hwr, we all know there's a long and frustrating process to getting the software to work even passably well. so i guess the first six months or so of your new system you'll have your computer making all sort of bad assumptions about your workflow and deciding to hide or highlight certain functions in your apps. while working within a tradition WIMP methaphor might not be the theoretically most efficient way to get work done, it's at least generally consistent. which, in turn, probably makes it the most efficient.

      if i need a tool, i want it to be where i left it. i don't need my full set of hex keys as often as i need my cordless drill, but i sure don't need any magic gnomes running hiding all my hex keys and replacing them with my drill (which i already have a place for).
  • by TimmyDee (713324) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:27PM (#15997826) Homepage Journal
    This sort of "adaptive learning" for applications has already been done, albeit in a limited and utterly frustrating way courtesy of MS Office and their magical hiding menus.

    As a Mac user who has to interact with PCs quite often at work, I find this not only not helpful, but completely obnoxious. I realize this is probably due to MS's fairly awful learning algorithm, but I think the lesson here is that it's going to take a long, long, long time before anything like this can make its way to the desktop without pissing off 50% of the users. Or more.
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:33PM (#15997852)
      This sort of "adaptive learning" for applications has already been done, albeit in a limited and utterly frustrating way courtesy of MS Office and their magical hiding menus.
      Yes! And I am somewhat annoyed with them.

      One of the FIRST things I do is go and turn of "Use personalized menues".

      Hunting for the widget the FIRST time was annoying enough. Why would I want to hunt for it a SECOND time? I have already learned where it is the first time.

      Not to mention that I'm usually doing at least 3 different tasks at once.

      If you want to improve the OS "of the future", then START with a reduced set of commands and allow the user to choose what level s/he is comfortable with. Do NOT move items once they've been learned.
      • by Eythian (552130)
        I reckon something like personalised menus could be effective, if done right, and the changes were slow to allow time for people to adjust, and for the computer to get them right.

        A simple example: the list of recently used applications that appears on KDE's kicker, and the windows start menu. The KDE one is pretty straightforward, but it starts to fail if you use more applications than fit on the list. How about, if you launch an application the computer notes the time. It looks at a week or two of use, and
        • by Eivind (15695)
          That would utterly suck and be a huge step *backwards*

          Problem is, humans are capable of learning. It's easier to learn something if you can *understand* it (what a concept!). What you are suggesting is having items magically appear or disappear from a menu according to some unspecified, complex algorithm. Invariably the algorithm will be *wrong* and nobody will know how to fix it -- because nobody really understands it.

          End result ? People quickly learn that certain programs sometimes magically disappear

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)
      I think Quicksilver does a pretty good job of learning. It doesn't rule anything out but allows you to get to programs, address book entries and some data files with fewer keystrokes. I like how I can type in a few characters of someone's name, it can figure out who that is and open address book to that person's address book profile once I press enter to confirm that's the right person. And if you don't like that idea, it's completely optional, you don't install it.
    • by AvitarX (172628)
      I hate adaptive menues because they hide what I need to see the most.

      Anything I use with any regularity I know the keystroke for, other stuff I need to see.

      And I don't want everythign to move because my habbits change.
  • Tedious... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by applix7 (998238) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:29PM (#15997836)
    The OS is just a hardware multiplexer. Anything above that level is called an application.
    • by Fordiman (689627)
      Quite true.

      Well, with a couple of major exceptions.

      The GUI server WM are not applications; they're APIs.
    • by mrraven (129238)
      Yep mod parent up. The last thing I want is more complexity in the O.S. itself that would make it more liable to crash and take down the system as a whole. Keep the crashy stuff in userland, thanks.
    • You mean like a microkernel, check out www.minix3.org that should give a good basis for something like that. Tanenbaum has vision ;-)
  • by coolhelperguy (698466) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:31PM (#15997845)
    From experience, it's a whole lot easier to have a standard interface to things (especially things like the control panel) than to have it rearranged for each user.

    Trying to fix someone's computer with an adapted OS would be a real pain, and asking for help via email would be next to impossible, because your options could be in a different place.

    Even today's OS adapatability can be unnerving. I get used to using something from the top N programs on the Start Menu (Sorry, no Linux on the work computer), but when it gets bumped off because Windows thinks I used something else more often, I'm confused for a few seconds, just enough to be annoyed.

    So my guess is that this "new kind of OS" won't succeed because of support hassles and confusing the user. But it'd be darn cool if those problems could be fixed.
    • by Fordiman (689627)
      Relax. The article is just spin for the 'ooh, shiny' crowd.

      Yes, I'm looking at you, mac fanboys.
      • by soft_guy (534437)
        I'll assume you are either a Microsoft or Linux fanboy.

        If you are a Microsoft fanboy, I'll mention the irony that your platform is the one that actually implemented an idea as assinine as this article (menu items that go away and re-arrange themselves).

        If you are a Linux fanboy, I'll just assume you think usability is a bug, not a feature.
    • by Bastian (66383)
      Agreed. I hope the future of OSes is that they will become *more* predictable, not less.

      I had a helpdesk job when Windows and Office XP first came out. Adaptive menus and the ability to decide whether or not you want the sidebar and stuff like that makes providing tech support an absolute nightmare. I remember it taking me a week to figure out the best order of places to look when trying to get a caller to the network settings window.

      In comparison, providing support to the Win98 users was a dream; it was
    • by soft_guy (534437)
      What you could do would be to create an application that presents a user interface into someone else's computer except using YOUR customized UI metaphors. That way, you could perform an action using your UI and the person you are helping would see that action happening on their computer in their own UI.

      So, you are right, it wouldn't be email support, but it would not be impossible to provide remote technical support, but it would have to be designed into the system from the ground up in order to really be w
  • by eclectro (227083) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:31PM (#15997847)

    I have seen it, and it's called LCARS [lcarscom.net]
    • I must agree, I'm waiting for LCARS myself. Unfortunately, that kind of voice recognition is going to have to wait for the 23rd Century, at the earliest.

      But while I'm waiting, I think I'm going to invent warp drive. After all, what's a computer running LCARS if it's not on the fastest starships in the galaxy?
  • by Travoltus (110240) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:32PM (#15997848) Journal
    More control of my computer by me, instead of by someone else.

    I keep hearing about stuff like "all your base are belong to thin clients and remote servers" whenever someone mentions the future of OSes and that deeply disturbs me, especially the part about remote storage of data and subscription based access to remotely hosted apps. Forget morphing; I would prefer changing my OS settings as I please. In fact, give me OS the option where I can save my settings to a profile and then load up a profile to fit what I'm doing.

    I'll pay more for having everything on my hard drive, under my control, without any need to phone home to authorize further usage of my media, software or OS. Unfortunately we the sheeple are being herded towards the digital corporate nanny state where the corporations decide what we'll get and these little heuristic tricks the OS of tomorrow will do for us, will give us the illusion that we have control.

    Funny how it is that to get the kind of extra value I desire, I need to actually pay [redhat.com] less [debian.org]. Ok, so I'll purchase a support contract, does that count as "paying more"?
    • by eno2001 (527078)
      You realize how vastly inefficient it is to have all that power sitting there on the desktop? You probably want to own a stretch SUV as well? Personally I think the answer is in on demand clustering with VMs. A cluster of small CPU/RAM combos with centralized storage. But instead of dedicating a CPU to each person, the CPUs migrate to whoever needs the most power on the grid at the moment (within reason). So let's say you're doing some REAL work and editing a huge audio file or rendering video... you g
      • by Jeremi (14640)
        You realize how vastly inefficient it is to have all that power sitting there on the desktop?


        You realize that perfectly good computers can be bought for around $300 new, and much less used? And that the electricity required to run them is a fairly negligible cost as well? Given that computing power is so outragously inexpensive these days, where is the incentive to use it more efficiently?

    • by mcrbids (148650)
      I think you misunderstand what the future most likely holds.

      See, you think that you'll be "held hostage" by some outside company that holds you at ransom for your data, and if you don't pay up, they string you up and cut you off.

      I view the future a bit differently: more like a VM.

      Imagine a future where you could (securely) get to "your" computer, from any location on the whole planet.

      Imagine a future where you never have to worry about hardware failures, or backups.

      Imagine a future where performance is auto
  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:34PM (#15997853)
    For example, users will see flavors of the OS that are secure, fast, web-based, all-inclusive, or geared towards some specialized function such as controlling a robot or doing scientific calculations. Already you see Linux forks all over the place, just for this reason. I think the trend will continue down that path - an OS for every need.
  • Imagine... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Venik (915777) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:38PM (#15997862)

    ...an operating system that actually morphed and adapted to the needs of the users...

    Users? Aren't those the guys who always need their passwords reset and profiles restored? It already morphed and adapted and became Windows. We have only ourselves to blame. In Soviet Russia OS does not adapt to users; users adapt to... Oh, wait.

  • by Bombcar (16057) <racbmob@bombca[ ]om ['r.c' in gap]> on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:40PM (#15997869) Homepage Journal
    You're entering the sector of an filesystem adjacent to a partition, the kind of place where there might be a bootloader or some kind of weird Linux. These are just examples. It could also be something much better. Prepare to enter... The Scary OS.
  • Good ideas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThousandStars (556222) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:42PM (#15997878) Homepage
    The problem with articles like this is that they're filled with highfalutin and banal platitudes but low on nitty-gritty details about how one could actually construct the OS of the future. Look, I'd like "an operating system that actually morphed and adapted to the needs of the users instead of the other way around," but what the hell does that mean, exactly? And, once you've decided how it means, how are you going to implement it?

    If those questions had answers, someone would already be writing the "OS of the future." Sadly, at least in present and near-future technological terms, those questions don't have answers, and so they'll remain in the world of hand waving prognostications about some techno-utopia.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kfg (145172) *
      I'd like "an operating system that actually morphed and adapted to the needs of the users instead of the other way around," but what the hell does that mean, exactly?

      "I'm too lazy to customize my toolbar."

      KFG
    • Re:Good ideas (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Coryoth (254751) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:44AM (#15998070) Homepage Journal
      All this "adapt to the user" talk is, as you say, fine and well, but no-one has the faintest idea how to do that. What little there is of that technology is pitifully bad, in a large part because it adapts to what the user does, as opposed to what the user wants. That just generally results in a lot of time spent with the user going "no, I didn't mean that!", "no, I don't want you to do that now!" etc.

      You may as well talk about the OS of the future which just has a single button in the middle of the screen that says "do what I want". The gap between intention and action is bad enough, trying to model future intention based on past action is just asking for trouble.
  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:43PM (#15997880)

    This article sounds like articles from 1990 about the house of 2015, you know, the ones talking about how saying "light" will turn light on, how you will check and reply to your video e-mails from your living room big screen TV well you know.. just like Back To the Future II.

    My point is, I don't think you'll really see or even want a self deciding or modifying OS, even if the idea sounds cool. Mod me down for this if you want, but I think this whole article is just some nearly-worthless futuristic rambling, even if it's got some interesting ideas, don't pay attention.

  • In recent news, it was found that the Pentagon is looking for ways to gather meaningful data from social networking sites.

    Adaptive OSes would be one step better since breaking into your specific "morphing" would reveal more intimate data about the way you think, the importance you place on specific topics based on the way you prioritize your email message accesses,etc. To some degree this is possible by cross referencing cookie data between big corporate sites who just love one another. But adaptation p
  • Interface, not OS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by topham (32406) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:45PM (#15997886) Homepage
    I wish people would stop confusing Interface with OS.

    Sure, when people talk about OS X they are often referring to it's interface (Aqua), but an interface does NOT have to be integral to the OS.
    Linux / X-Windows are the obvious example on Slashdot.

    • ^BumP (Score:3, Informative)

      by TubeSteak (669689)
      Parent makes an excellent point.

      You can find dozens of good (many bad) shells for Windows or *nix.

      GUI != Operating System
  • Not too exciting. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:46PM (#15997893)

    For the lazy, here's the description from the article about how the futuristic OS is going to work:

    Here's an example for you: imagine you are sitting there working away on a video project. After stopping for a break, your OS pops up with a small alert box asking you if you'd like the PC to roll into adaptive mode. You select yes and the OS begins to learn, as you work, what your needs are.

    You go to open your video project again after lunch and almost immediately, you find that the program feels more in tune and responsive to your needs. On the second monitor, you discover a virtual palette of all the editing tools you use the most. No longer are you being forced to locate the editing tools you need from some arcane menu. No, instead your PC has done the work for you with no interaction on your part whatsoever. Sounds interesting? Just wait, it gets weirder...

    During the course of your editing work, your PC has already learned from previous experiences that you do not like to be bothered with e-mail alerts when working on specific projects. It's not so much the software being used mind you, rather the type of "work" being done at the time.

    An important e-mail from your client comes rolling in along with a number of less important messages. Thanks to Brand X OS' new probability engine, the only e-mail you are alerted to is the one the OS knows will be critical. Even though the other less important e-mails are coming from the same person, your OS understands how to handle this just the way you prefer.

    Now, I don't know about anybody else, but I would kind of expect that the video editing program would make the tools easily accessible the first time I use it, rather than waiting until I've spent a couple hours hunting through menus before doing so. And my e-mail program already has an option controlling whether it notifies me of new messages or not.

    In a general sense, the idea of an adaptive OS sounds nice, but the author sure didn't come up with any examples that sound particularly compelling -- or even interesting -- to me. The hard part of coming up with a next-generation OS isn't in programming new features; it's actually inventing or designing something that people will find useful.

  • I don't see what this has to do with an operating system at all. This article shows the level of understanding of a middle-age soccer mom. I don't even think LCARS would fit that definition.

    A next gen OS will probably be a virtualized-modular-scalable-secure-networking-in d exed- piece of software with a modular and stable-yet-clean api. Just look at the past and look at what servers are doing/have done. Its not hard to see the trends. What this means for end users is more capable software, more reliable
  • On page one of this "article" the author posits a wonderful OS that intuits what you want out of it and arranges itself in such a way that your workflow is made easier. Then page two comes to a screaming halt and slams into reverse with some lame caveat about how any OS that would do all the thinking for you is a tempting lure to "evildoers". There wasn't much substance in that. No. Not much at all. In fact we've all thought about how you would craft the perfect OS. I had an idea a while back for a do
  • The features that column describes are not OS features. They're app features. There's nothing stopping an app developer from including those features in an app running on any OS, or even a cross-plaform app running on Windows/Linux/OSX.

    At best their "popular palette" system across apps is a windowing toolkit, only marginally part of the OS, and also possible in any current desktop OS, or in a shared app library.

    What's such a dumb article so wrong about what an OS is doing in _OS Weekly_?
  • In a society that hates fair use, you simply cannot have an OS that assimilates ideas that might be redistributed elsewhere. Lawyers would force DRM on every I/O & messaging call. Of course, this article doesn't even try to get that deep.

    The sci-fi bend is more along the lines of A.I., which disturbs me. Not because I don't want my computer to take over the world, but the feeble-minded author seemed more excited about the prospect of needing to do less than he was about being able to do more.
  • by caseih (160668) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:49PM (#15997903)
    Almost since the inception of computers and then later modern OS design we've been trapped in a paradigm that although mirroring some aspects of the real world (the desktop, tools, etc), is quite backwards from other aspects. I think it is time we ditched some of these decades old concepts. For one the concept of an "application" has to go. It's an outdated and locks us down and restricts what we can do. See it's not about the applications; it's about the data. The data is the most important thing. Data should not be imprisoned in an application or even a series of compatible applications. Rather than the application being the focus of our OS and UIs, we should make the data, or the "document" be the focus. Instead of applications we have smaller, simpler, tools that can be applied to the documents (data objects or whatever). Common tools can work equally well on like data objects no matter where they reside. A spell checker would spell check anything that is text. A pen could draw on anything that is a drawable (a surface of some kind). If you needed a better pen, you'd buy a better pen that would work on the same surfaces as the old one (but in a better way perhaps). Everything would be document-centric with the concept of, perhaps, tool palettes or something. But it would be very modular and loosely coupled. The irony of loose coupling is that it could lead to the integration of widely differing sets of tools. For years Microsoft has tought us that to have good integration between the various tasks (word processing, spreadsheets, etc) we need a tightly intergrated application. This is false. We really need just open document objects that can support a variety of types of data and the tools to work on them. The OS becomes the app and *everything* is then integrated, but in a more open and extensible way. Of course this dramatic shift would lead to the demise of many major software houses until they can learn to adapt to the new way of doing things. But in the end the OS gets out of the way and lets us *work*.

    If some of these concepts sound familiar, it is because they are not new. Apple and IBM once talked about this in their Taliget (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taligent) project which died. Unfortunately while we talk about technologies like OOP, they really haven't moved very much beyond languages. OSs are modular and even object-oriented to a degree, but they haven't quite arrived at the things I describe yet. Having the KDE libraries being object-oriented and manipulatable over RPC and DCOP is a step towards a possible document-centric future.
  • Not really an article, so much as a quick pointer of what we may get in the future.

    It would have been better if the writer had actually analysed some of the things he spoke about and discussed them. I can sum up the article in one sentence using as much depth, research and intelligence as he did:

    "In the future computers may be able to predict your work habits, but some people will use it for bad and stuff."

    Good on ya mate.
  • I'm not concerned about how pretty OSes will be in the future or how clever they'll be at filing away my stuff to make it easier to find again later since the history of OSes shows that they are designed better at these tasks as time goes on.

    My OS of the near future will be secure and stable, the likes of which we can only dream about now. It will recover gracefully from hardware errors, it will use high-level APIs to talk to all hardware making drivers a thing of the past, it will put large parts of itself
  • by rickb928 (945187) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:01AM (#15997936) Homepage Journal
    It's a Hypervisor.

    Your applications provide (or are provided with) enough OS foundation to function in the limited virtual machine they live in.

    The Hypervisor manages the hardware, inter-application communication, networking for each, and of course picking up the trash and keeping everything polite.

    Apps only see the shared resources the Hypervisor permits.

    But most important, two features:

      - Each app gets the OS features it needs. My word processor may not need the same things the database needs, nor the e-mail app, nor the music player. So the OS for each app is lighter and nimbler.

    - Each app is restricted in how it interacts with other apps. No more OLE, DDE, much less opportunity for the backdoor/under the hood shenanigans we call worms, viruses, trojans, and 'badware' (ick, stupid name).

    I saw an article describing this and promptly lost any way to find the FRAKKING ARTICLE! Did anyone else, and where the heck is it? I thought it was *here*, on /.

    Grrrrr....

    But I love the idea. It ain't really new, but it's clever.

    rick
  • by NerveGas (168686) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:04AM (#15997952)
    1. Non-intrusive.
    2. Stable.
    3. Efficient.
    4. Intuitive.

        Some time ago, I worked on a friend's computer that was running Windows 95 on a Pentium 166. I was astounded at how fast and responsive it was. Windows XP on an A64/P4 barely keeps up, yet offers very little more to me in terms of usefulness. Neither Windows, MacOS, nor XWindows particularly fits #4, at least not for me.

        I will say, in terms of scalability, XWindows is a *real* screamer on a quad-Opteron with 8 gigs of RAM and a nice, fast SCSI array.

    steve
  • I would point out that such an OS would need to be task oriented, rather than user oriented.
    If I start working a novel task, one that I've never done before, I'd hate to have to 'teach' my OS how to behave.
    Many people I know already customize their OS for the task they are doing.
    The easiest way is to just create several user accounts or desktops, each of which runs different 'background' applications. My gaming logon in windows runs very few services, keeping the system as lean as possible , whereas m
  • by Heir Of The Mess (939658) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:19AM (#15997991) Homepage
    Imagine if you are sitting there playing Halo. After stopping to go grab a coke, your girlfriend walks into the room asking you if you'd like her to roll into adaptive mode. You say yes and she begins to learn, as you play, what your needs are.

    You go to resume your game again after the coke and almost immediately, you find that the your girlfriend seems more quiet and responsive to your needs. Out in the kitchen, she is out there preparing a virtual smorgasboard of all the food and drink you need the most. No longer are you being forced to locate old cheese snacks from some resealable container. No, instead your girlfriend has done the work for you with no interaction on your part whatsoever. Sounds interesting? Just wait, it gets weirder

    During the course of your gaming, your girlfriend has already learned from previous experiences that you do not like to be bothered with request for attention when working on specific missions. It's not so much the game being used mind you, rather the type of "work" being done at the time.

    An important sms from your brother with his score comes in along with a number of less important family messages. Thanks to Brandy X's new attitide, the only sms you are alerted to is the one your girlfriend knows will be critical. Even though the other less important sms are coming from the same person, your girlfriend understands how to respond for you, just the way you prefer.
    ....
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:23AM (#15998003) Homepage

    Kai Krause [wikipedia.org] tried something like that once, in "Kai's Power Tools". The interface started out simple, and as you used it, when the software decided you were good enough, you advanced to the next level and more tools appeared. This was one of the first programs to have really cool functional widgets, like draggable on-screen trackballs and joysticks.

    Users hated it. The cool user interface just got in the way of getting work done. At one point, a rumor started that Kai was going to redesign Photoshop's interface, and there were organized protests to Adobe.

    But his programs looked so cool.

    Part of the problem was that Kai was addressing a very hard problem - the user interface for a drawing program. The MacOS X toolbar looks like a Kai interface. But that tool bar is really just a menu. Serious drawing programs, from AutoCAD to Maya, have to offer so many different yet interacting capabilities to the user that they're terrifyingly hard. A full-scale 3D animation program is about as hard as an interface gets. There before you is the ability to create a synthetic world. Animation programs struggle to provide all the needed tools without overwhelming the user.

    There's also the issue in that world that working artists want quite a different set of capabilities than amateurs do. Artists seldom edit freehand-drawn lines. They delete them and sketch new ones; they don't drag spline control points. An experienced animator creating a human head in a 3D animation system won't build it up one polygon at a time, or start pulling on an ellipsoid. They may draw a series of cross-sections and skin them. I've seen this done in less than a minute. So the needed tools may be quire different from what a programmer would imagine.

  • by Konster (252488)
    Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy all for the love of you. It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage. But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.
  • This article, like so many other ones, assumes that AI will make some sort of miraculous progress within the very short term. Many of the features mentioned are fairly banal and not really OS functions at all (application customization) and many others would be wildly frustrating unless the OS really did solve major unsolved problems in AI (the email agent that just miraculously knows whether I'll find an e-mail important and can be interrupted right now).

    A related problem is that few OS's and applications
    • Bayes filter + plugin in Thunderbird + option to pop up window when "messages like this" show up = good enough "AI" for mail priority filtering. I don't actually pop up a window, but I have PopFile separate my mail into a variety of folders, including one marked "Urgent Action"*, and while its not quite as effective as having a human screener its a whole lot cheaper and PopFile will never accuse me of sexual harassment for exposing it to the contents of my spam folder.

      But, as you say, there is no reason th
  • by Jacer (574383) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:35AM (#15998047) Homepage
    User, From your usage history, it seems to me that you like bloated software, spyware, torjans, viruses, worms, and other malware. I've take the liberty of installing all of these with the latest features. I've also removed all productivity software, as my records indicate you were failing out of school anyway. Regards, Your new-age OS.
    • by DavidD_CA (750156) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @05:35AM (#15998629) Homepage
      Dear User,

      A review of your web browsing history reveals a preference towards redheads. For your convinence, the following actions have been completed:

        - Your desktop background has changed

        - Your password has been changed from "brittany" to "lindsey"

        - Your Match.Com Profile has been updated

        - Your wife has been alerted

        - NetFlix has confirmed shipment of "Porn Wars 3: Revenge of the Angry Redheads"

      Thank you,

      NewOS
  • It starts out as just as something on a disk, you push it in, and it grows inside your HD as it was shipped.

    Then, it's a-la-carte land where you get to select what apps you wanted, what options of the apps you don't want, what multiple versions of apps you want at the same time, flip around kernel options, and update it all from CVS at anytime while keeping your own modified sources of something.

    Build and install without worrying about dependencies. No frozen precompiled distros, no fumbling around RPM hel
  • More pseudo-visionary clap trap from people who can't bang two bits together.

    Hey, I'm Slashdot user 1484. I have a waiver that lets me be a curmudgeon whenever I please, which is pretty much all the time.
  • Why would you ever want your creative ideas to become _part_ of the OS? IMO the ideal OS should be 100% transparent and you never know of its existance. It would facilitate the seamless transport of information, ideas, and media. Beyond perfect natural voice recognition, I don't see any potential evolution of the OS as significant.
  • The authors have done an excellent job of using technobabble, block transfer computations and HomerSpeak(tm), so I present to you an English translation, courtesy of a copy of Babelfish that fell through a wormhole from the 43rd century.

    "We would like an OS that has the following characteristics:

    1. It must be modular, and we must be able to decide what modules are present, and which modules are used when more than one would perform the task
    2. We must be able to add our own modules or modify existing ones to suit
  • by Gerzel (240421)
    Well reading through the article I found the first problem to be that this future OS requires a lot of training. Sure as things get smarter they adapt and learn how to do certian things, but if you are running a bussiness or working with time critical things you might not have time to "train" the os which emails are important and which are not.

    Now I'm not saying that this isn't an improvement. However, I am saying that as the number of options pertaining to a particular decision grows it becomes harder fo
  • The vision of this article seems to be an OS where everything is run by a super-AI version of clippy.

    Unless the AI really is that super, how annoying.

    If anybody read far enough though, the real point of the article is that if this is ever achieved, it could really be quite scary -

    "So before too many of us become overly excited about the prospect of having a PC that totally anticipate our every whim, we ought to consider the consequences of such ability. I don't think there is any question whatsoever that en

  •   What is your dream operating system?

    Personally, I want a computer that can respond to voice commands. Not just through microphone but also through the cellphone from a remote location. I could tell the computer to turn house lights on from block away or download lastest /. articles before I am home. But also make it so I wouldn't have to use a keyboard or mouse at all.

    Voice Activated Computer w/ Remote Control.

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