Our collection of case studies finally reaches its end, as we’ve globally described all common desktop computer OSs and even the less common Linux, from an average user’s point of view. We hence have now enough material in order to answer the following question : why should one go through the painful task of developing a new operating system, while there are other options out there ?
First of all, why not using an existing operating system, maybe improving it with my own programs ? After all, it’s not introducing a new one that will prevent me from using the others at work. But the fact is, they’re irritating me up to the point that I feel like my computer would feel smarter without them.
WHAT ABOUT WINDOWS ?
Windows is irritating me first because it’s bloated. On modern computers, folders shouldn’t take several seconds to open, and the OS shouldn’t take up a minute to load. 10 GB HDD requirement is insane, too, and let’s not talk about CPU and graphic cards requirements that in the end have a significant impact on laptop battery life. Then there’s the poor ergonomics : on modern releases of Windows, finding something in the control panel or the start menu becomes very hard, and exploring files sounds bad when compared with other operating systems. The “ribbon” UI that becomes more and more widespread feels incredibly messy on programs that have a lot of capabilities. Windows 7 also works poorly on touchscreens because its GUI is not able to adapt button size to a finger. Then there’s security : antiviruses are a spawn of Satan, they have a huge impact on performance and shouldn’t be necessary when the user has a fairly good understanding of what he is doing (a feeling that is often missing on Windows). And having a web browser deeply integrated in any part of the operating system is not exactly a good way of improving computer security. And then there’s the need to reboot anytime an update is installed, without being able to tell the “update” window to shut up… No, really, let’s forget Windows.
WHAT ABOUT MAC OS X ?
Mac OS X first irritates me because it asks me to buy a Mac. There isn’t a single Mac which satisfies my needs :
- Mac mini : Low power, no room for a sound card that would allow me to get MIDI input for my keyboard.
- iMac : Stupid touch mouse, LCD screen bundled with the computer (first I prefer my CRT monitor. Second I don’t want to buy a new computer anytime my screen dies), no room for a proper sound card, expensive.
- MacPro : I’m not going to pay that much for a computer, ever.
- MacBook : Stupid multitouch trackpad (does not know clearly the difference between scrolling and zooming), low power, no room for my sound card, I don’t want a laptop, expensive proprietary power cord..
- MacBook Pro : Same stupid trackpad, no room for my sound card, expensive proprietary power cord, I don’t want a laptop.
Then, there’s Mac OS X itself. It lacks free software bigtime. Or more, exactly, it does not makes them run properly, because the version of the X Window Manager that is integrated is extremely poor (buggy and poorly integrated with OSX). It’s true that X is complicated and not the best way to manage a GUI, but as soon as Apple have integrated this feature, they have to make it run properly, period. And last, there’s Apple themselves. I dislike what they did with the iPod, by forcing users to use their crappy multimedia player and not allowing them to see what iTunes writes about them on the disk. But with the iPhone, the iPod touch and the iPad, they went one step further : they’re now trying to kill the concept of computing by removing the notion of freely re-programmable device. With the App Store system, Apple controls what you can do with your device, and there’s absolutely no legal way to escape it. Creepy. Do I want to give money to people doing such things ? Definitely not.
Then, there’s the core design of Linux. Made with servers in mind, it extensively uses the client-server model and is targeted to multi-users environments where a system administrator is the king. This introduces serious overhead in some places, especially when the user has to re-type its password in order to do an usual task (e.g. updating), and should be avoided on desktop operating systems where all of this isn’t needed.
- Bloat, more bloat : It seems that people maintaining Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux distributions, don’t know what to do in their days. They keep adding features, without removing a single one, but are those features useful ? Most of the time no, they sound like a way to sell the new release more that a thing of real interest. Useless features means bigger software, more bugs, more complicated ergonomics, slower loading times, more difficulty in the task of learning and understanding, etc. I prefer simplicity and cleanness.
- Cloud computing : The latest and greatest in computer science is to jail the desktop computer user the way it’s jailed on an iPhone. Cloud computing aims at making the user rely on distant servers managed by big companies to store their data and applications. Apart from the fact that networks will undergo intense saturation and that servers will have to get insane computing power, apart from the fact that a single server or internet crash will forbid millions of users from doing anything on their computer, it’s socially speaking an extremely bad idea. If a checklist was made about what’s needed in order to establish the perfect dictatorship, it would be the first on the list, because it would allow dictators to control *anything* people do with their computers. Some people seem to forget about Google China’s strong censorship, dictated by political interests…