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Windows, Linux 25 Year Old "Clunkers"? 461

Phil817 writes to tell us that Bob Metcalfe recently gave a TV interview in which he stated that current operating systems (Windows and Linux) are outdated clunkers that wont be able to adequately handle the coming of "video internet" and suggests that new operating systems need to be developed to take hold in a few years. Also, when asked if current deals in the works like eBay's purchase of Skype were an indication of more investment hype he replied with "I'm looking forward to the next Internet bubble. I don't know what everyone's so negative about. The last bubble was lots of fun.". Let us at least hope we learned a few things from the last bubble.
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Windows, Linux 25 Year Old "Clunkers"?

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  • by gtoomey ( 528943 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @06:40AM (#14390957)
    Talk about a story with no content.
  • I think... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by isecore ( 132059 ) <isecore@is[ ] ['eco' in gap]> on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @07:20AM (#14391081) Homepage
    "I'm looking forward to the next Internet bubble. I don't know what everyone's so negative about. The last bubble was lots of fun."

    Possibly he's of this opinion since he was one of the very few who didn't get burned by it? I know several people who got really badly burnt when the bubble popped.
  • Re:OS - Video - WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TallMatthew ( 919136 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @07:33AM (#14391119)
    Networks like ATM and TENET have special layers to define the properties of a data stream independently from the source and the sink. There is no equivalence in Windows or UNIX for those. There are some tacked on QoS-parameters for certain network devices (to handle the QoS of the networks connected), but this is not a design principle for all the not networked devices.

    Beh. ATM was a dog. It was supposed to be this voice/data/video panacea but all it ended up being was an incredibly inefficient way to pass data around. Defining class of service on a cell/packet is one of those ideas that makes sense, but is ultimately meaningless based on the nature of data transmission.

    QOS prioritizes packets, that's it. It has no effect except during congestion. It will not "create" bandwidth. If you're a carrier and your backbone is clogged, QOS isn't going to help you very much because the buffers on your routers can only store so much. You're going to start dropping packets all over the place and your customers will be most displeased. That's why carriers overprovision backbones.

    If you're a customer and you don't have enough pipe to your house to really support a video stream (which with modern-day streaming technology isn't very much), Linux/Windows won't be the problem. You won't be able to prevent your downloads from interrupting your video stream with prioritization, as that would have to occur at the carrier side before the packets crossed the wire. And why would the carrier do that for you? Buy a fat pipe, they'll suggest. After all that's what they had to do.

    Cable companies and telecoms have been grappling with this for years. Ultimately they've found the only tenable solution is capacity.

  • by john666seven ( 909295 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @08:54AM (#14391379)
    There are many POTENTIAL operating systems out there, including modular ones (my favorite, does not waste resources with what you don't need), the undeveloped Sphere OS (Modular in a VMWare sort of way), Forth OS (It's a start), eye-candy Zeta. Of course, while we're at at, let's entirely re-think the clunky Graphical User Interface. The GUI really has not improved since the early Mac Days. We could work on that too. Ideas? Could we do away with the seperate programs to the end-user idea and the big-ego screens?
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @09:17AM (#14391458) Journal
    No Sympathy here. Whoever buys into a scheme where you get offered an overpaid, underworked job and expects it to last forever deserves the "Experience" they get.

    I'll agree with you on the "video-internet". Mr. Metcalf seems to have confused the computer with consumer electronics. Sure, the former can do the latter, but that's not it's strong suit. Computational efficiency for doing work just happens to work well with compressed digital video. Coincidence, not purpose.
  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @09:29AM (#14391502) Journal
    Weird, Windows and Linux seem to handle pretty much any task I need handled. Not bad for a couple of clunkers.

    While this may be true, not to long ago there was an article about load times. It seems the time it takes to load a particular class of program (say a word process, spreadsheet,etc) has stayed the same for the last 20 or so years. It actually takes longer to load the OS now than it did 20 years ago. Yet, look at the increase in processesing power between then and now.

    Why is it that the capabilities of the machine have increased by 4 (or more) orders of magnitude, yet the software still takes as long to load and doesn't really do more except look pretty? And, no I am not talking about the high end 3D games. I am talking about the average business programs.
  • by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @09:45AM (#14391568) Homepage
    Your numbers are off by a substantial amount. The Shuttle's AP-101S has 256kW (256K x 32) of RAM. The Apollo Guidance Computer had 36kW (36K x 16) of memory.

    The Shuttle's software is broken up into multiple software loads, launch prep, ascent/entry, in-orbit, etc. for reasons of size and configuration control. It is written in a high-level language (HAL/S), although a strange one.

    One of the problems with modern computers is that their timing is not deterministic. They have very complex CPU implementations, many levels of cache, interrupts and VM. Timing is probabilistic. Most operating systems can offer no guarantees to applications software.

  • by ( 213219 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @11:55AM (#14392443) Journal
    Windows and Linux are today's operating systems. Who knows what will come along tomorrow. Look at the differences in Windows and Linux from five or ten years ago. They are entirely different than when they first cam on market! The trouble is that they are added on to and asked to do things that were not originally envisioned when they were first developed. The fact that they are doing what they are doing today is a testament to their versatility (and, their good foundation).

    There will come a time when something else will come along - the evolution will happen like it has happened in every other industry. Ford quit making Model T's a long time ago and some day, Windows and Linux will be seen as out-dated operating systems that was loaded into primitive personal computers. In my mind's eye, I can see a computing future where computers interact with us in everyday life helping us with almost every task we do. Do any of us doubt that this marriage of technology and life won't continue to grow?

    Look how far we have gone in the past few years and think of what could be done in the next ten or twenty and you can start to understand why someone would think that these operating systems may begin to sag under the weight of new and additional features. In a sense, the operating system is middleware. It sits between hardware and applications. Both sides aren't remaining static, the hardware gets new features and is faster and more powerful, the applications do more, do new and sometimes unthought of things. The o/s is in a tug-of-war between these two entities and tries very hard to make everything work. When the current part of the operating system that handles say video is being stretched to its limit by the demands of either the hardware or the software it is either patched or replaced. Over time, these fixes make the operating system like a house that has been remodeled too many times. It may become inefficient although it remains functional - when this happens, it may be best to tear the whole thing down and start all over again.

    Please note that I am not saying that either Windows or Linux have reached the point where they ought to be scrapped but a realistic look forward has to consider that as a possibility. Tomorrow's hardware and tomorrow's applications are bound to place heavy demands on whatever operating system there is. We live in interesting times and it is hard to predict what the future will look like ten years from now. Are we going to have windowed interfaces or is something else going to come along? Where will speech recognition be? Will the keyboard continue to exist? Part of me wants to think that at some point we will communicate with our digital servants almost like we communicate with our human counterparts, through speech, body movements, and eye contact. But like the rocket-cars envisioned in the fifties, that may be a long way off track because I do not have a crystal ball that works.
  • overvixens (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vieux schnock ( 146044 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @12:05PM (#14392542)
    overvixens ....
    That's a catchy name. I did a search on Google and didn't find any match (in plural) except for an Overvixen as a kick . You might have cornerned a nice new "hip" word for our age. ;-)
  • Re:OS - Video - WTF? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sique ( 173459 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @01:12PM (#14393054) Homepage
    You just hit the nail on the head. Exactly that is the problem. Current operating systems are not deterministic enough for data stream switching. To many not controllable input devices for instance. To many unknown programs whose resource demand is not foreseable.

    A program in a data stream oriented system should make a prediction how much resources it will use and have some kind of contract with the operating system about those resources. As soon as it overuses them it should be terminated (as it would be today if it tries to use resources that are allocated to other processes or tries to use resources in an inapprobriate way like misaligned adressing or writing to read only devices etc.pp.).
  • by smash ( 1351 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @01:18PM (#14393105) Homepage Journal
    ... to those who are crapping on about needing new ways of interacting with computers, etc - fine.

    That's still not going to make current operating systems obsolete. You're in the Microsoft way of thinking that a new shell and a few drivers is a new O/S (eg, windows 2000 vs XP). At the end of the day, it's still basic I/O once you write a driver for it.

    I'd even wager that it's quite probable that any new input method you care to name (or invent) could simply be added as a kernel module to kernel 2.6 (or 2.4, 2.0, etc) - and that's only if it couldn't be done in user-space :)


  • by lowrydr310 ( 830514 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @01:43PM (#14393370)
    Do professional investors really give out good advice, or are they trying to get other people to make bad financial decisions for their own personal gain?

    I hear real estate agents all over the place saying "now is an excellent time to buy real estate because interest rates are still historically low, and housing isn't like the stock market where people can quickly sell off." Of course it's an excellent time for someone to buy an overpriced house when you're the one selling it to them, especially considering the 6% commission you get.

    I'm having a hard time understanding how 'average' people afford homes in hot markets. In the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, the average home price is around $750,000. What's the average salary? Google and Yahoo pay well but not enough to afford a $750,000 house, even if there are two people in a household earning the same salary. I heard a general guideline that your house should be no more than two and a half times your gross salary. That means that you'd need roughly $300,000 a year to buy an average house. Do most households in the Bay Area make that kind of money? I think I'm doing fairly well, but I couldn't afford something like that. Am I just grossly underpaid, or are people crazy?

    Are we going to see a lot of defaulting mortgages in 3-5 years when these silly interest-only periods expire and principal has to be repaid?

  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @04:08PM (#14394791) Journal
    See, that is the thrust of my argument. I really don't think the software side has improved at anywhere near the rate of hardware. I feel that most of the "improvements" we see are really just feature creep and flash. Very little substance.

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.