Can you name a good one? No, seriously. Most PC and workstation operating systems are only marginally usable. I've never seen one that I'd call "good". OS designers seem focused on style at the expense of substance: we get flashy graphical user interfaces, but the basic approach to OS design hasn't changed in decades. We've all been talking about object-oriented programming, but who's doing anything about it? The Java Virtual Machine is the state of that art, and it's really just an incremental improvement over what's gone before. There must be a better way! I doubt you'll find it here, but there might be some nugget of inspiration to be found if you look hard enough.
A high-level view of how filesystems should work.
Once we've got a good filesystem, we can proceed to develop good applications... not a difficult idea to accept, is it?
Okay, I admit I'm writing this just for an excuse to use the word 'plesiosynchronicity'. I ran across a definition of the term just recently, and it struck me as a very interesting and valuable concept. Anyway, there are some ways to incorporate this principle into PC operating systems, and I wanted to muse upon this topic for a while.
Everyone's talking about 'em, nobody's selling one. What's possible? What's desirable?
I think most VM systems are pretty good. I haven't looked at all of 'em, so it's possible these ideas are already in use somewhere... but they seemed interesting, and worth writing down.
There are great search engines out on the Internet. Why don't we have decent search engines on our PCs? I'd happily give up 20% of my mass-storage capacity to hold a cross-index database for all of my documents. I'd happily leave my computer turned on at night so it can update this database (and hopefully turn itself off afterwards). The OS should handle this itself, searching whatever storage resources are available to it locally or via network and producing a virtual directory full of links (shortcuts) to the hits.
One nice thing about Windows CE handheld PCs compared with regular Windows boxes is that they rarely crash (because the OS is mostly in ROM) and even if they do, they restart quickly (because the OS is mostly in ROM). I'd like to see a mainstream PC operating system that offers these same advantages. Ideally, the OS would build a Flash ROM image of its own operating state to save space and eliminate the need for a Flash filesystem. Properly done, a system could boot with all device drivers and networking stacks fully operational in just a few seconds, like CE systems do, even if the hard disk and floppy disk drives and the network interface aren't working.
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