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The Best, Worst, and Ugliest OSes of the Decade 378

Posted by timothy
from the jesux-not-mentioned dept.
itwbennett writes "Hundreds of Operating Systems were released during the past decade, finding their way into microdevices, watches, refrigerators, mobile phones, cars, motorcycles, jets, even the International Space Station. Some worked; some even worked well. Others, sadly, didn't. And some were just ahead of their time. Blogger Tom Henderson takes a look back at the best and worst OSes of the decade. Among the worst? Vista, as you'd suspect, along with WinME. But what about GNU Hurd? And some of the best? Solaris/OpenSolaris 10, Mac OS X, and newcomer Google Android."
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The Best, Worst, and Ugliest OSes of the Decade

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  • by daveb1 (1678608) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @01:44PM (#30525710)
    IMHO solaris has a really bad userland..... horrible horrible os for users :P
  • by ivucica (1001089) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:09PM (#30526050) Homepage
    Best OS of 9x line was Windows 95 OSR2. 98 sucked horseballs with its instability, only second to ME's. I praised the Lord for Windows 2000 - the nicest and most professional-looking-and-feeling OS of the NT line.
  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:10PM (#30526074) Journal

    I do use Dosbox to run the Old Monkey Island games and The Dig and Full Throttle, as well as the original Duke Nukem and Lemmings.

    It does fine, for a spell, but what I was getting at is that alot of games today will specify in the Miniumum requirements: 2 Gigs of Ram for XP, 3 Gigs for Vista, because Vista eats up about of Gig of Ram. If I could free up even a portion of that, todays games would run better and smoother.

  • Andriod? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by roe-roe (930889) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:11PM (#30526084) Homepage
    I think Android has a lot of great possibilities, but putting it on the list of best OSes of the decade is similar to giving Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. I'm not saying it doesn't deserve being on the list, I just think it is a bit premature.
  • by selven (1556643) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:11PM (#30526098)

    Honest question. Solaris seems similar but different enough from the Linux I'm used to to be interesting. What are its features that Linux lacks/doesn't implement as well? I'm not a file system geek, so what's so good about ZFS that I'm going to notice? Is it much slower than mainstream desktop Linux, or is it doing fine?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:19PM (#30526222)

    So Solaris is "good." They've clearly never used it for any length of time...

    No mention of XP? I'm not a windows guy but I don't see how you can ignore XP and mention Hurd at all... Come on, hurd was a disappoint long before 2000 or 2001, this decade Hurd's been all about switching microkernels like they are systematically proving that microkernels suck by attempting to implement hurd on each one.

     

  • by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:21PM (#30526252)

    Oh please. I'm kinda glad I lost my job supporting Solaris apps. Our apps were relatively easy to get working, but the Solaris machines management dropped off at my desk (last one was a Blade 1500) were just stupid and showed a blantant lack of quality assurance, and nothing ever worked out of the box. You'd think by now you could buy a desktop machine from them and expect the backspace key to actually work as just one example - or to be able to log into the desktop without facing a dozen cryptic errors. No - expect to spend days or years applying patches, tweaking config files - and even then nothing will ever work as seemless as Windows or Mac (or even Linux these days). Oh sure on paper Solaris might be superior to anything out there, but as anyone who has worked in software knows - its the little problems that make a failed product.

    Most every patch I got from Sun as well - never worked on the first go. I honestly think its a conspiracy - only system vendor I can think of btw that charges you for a) access to their KB and b) access to hotfixes - not even Microsoft is that evil. It wasn't uncommon for hotfixes/patches to break all kinds of crap too. I once wrote up a list of weird things I never was able to fix on the Sun boxes I and others had on their desks and it was easily pages long. Mind you - these were ALL minor issues, but annoying enough to make it unpleasant. At the job I have now - all the Solaris machines (servers mostly) have the same track record...

    In terms of user friendlyness, ease of use, support - I'd take Vista any day of the week.

  • by Orange Crush (934731) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:35PM (#30526454)

    DirectX was Microsoft's solution to the "exit to DOS to run a game" workaround. It also targetted the "You must have one of these sound cards, one of these graphics cards, etc." that hampered DOS games because the OS wasn't doing any hardware abstraction--they had to roll their own drivers for every game engine/runtime. DirectX *was* the runtime that enabled direct hardware access and hardware abstraction so the game designers could focus on making games, rather than which sound card a user had.

    It wasn't a perfect solutions--still isn't--but DirectX did kill DOS as a gaming platform.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:41PM (#30526576) Journal

    Well I was told it was DOS, it didn't have anything else. Maybe it was just Command Prompt, but there wasn't an inch of windows on it. My dad didn't help at all, I ended up teaching him about it, by the time I was 5 or 6. I knew how to navigate file structures better than he did. It didn't have a CD Rom. It didn't have 3 and a Half inch Floppy. It used an 8 Inch Floppy. I remember we eventually upgraded to a Soundblaster so that we could even -get- sound. (Where yes, -I- was the one who memorized the IRQs)

    It is nostalgic to play these old games once again, Even just to tinker with command prompt once again to get things to work just right. But I obviously wasn't old enough to understand the full inner workings. I don't understand why it should be limitted to 640k anymore, why we can't hack together an upgrade for it, and have it run the way it used to.

    I just see alot of innovative thinking that happened in the past that seems to have been discarded. Like you said, clearing out TSR's to get more Memory, boot Disks for games, a bunch of other tricks to get the most resources possible to launch an application. All this has been discarded for our ability to brute force with newer and better hardware. What happens when Moore's law reaches it's limit, will these talents be rediscovered?

  • by nxtw (866177) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:45PM (#30526628)

    Anyone care to point out to me how PowerShell can be more "integrated" than bash? Unless he's talking about the fact that you can replace Bash if you like and you probably can't replace Powershell.

    PowerShell operates using objects, so you can take the output from a command and then filter or sort based on columns of the output. The same filtering or sorting commands could be used for listing files, processes, or any other objects. Unix scripting operates using text streams being piped between processes and has a heavy emphasis on external processes (for example, as in the external [ or test program).

  • by marquis111 (94760) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @02:58PM (#30526864)

    Stable? Yes
    Ugly? Yes
    Last release? 2001.
    Still widely used in the 2000's? Definitely, though declining precipitously.
    Good or bad, it should have been on the list.

  • by confused one (671304) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @03:10PM (#30527052)
    WinME was horrible. HUGE memory leaks. Unstable. It was a kludge on Win98SE to fill in for the (late) WinXP desktop.
  • by necrogram (675897) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @03:30PM (#30527380)

    I'm right there with you. I bashed Vista pre-sp1, but there was some griup policy issues. Once you understand why ms did some of the things they did, they got a lot right. It a really easy OS to manage. My favorites feature is the hardware-agnostic wim image and off line driver injection. It adds up to let you have a single master image that doesn't care about the target system. New model of opti from dell, no problem.

  • Re:Vista vs Win7 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:08PM (#30528124)

    Who can tell? None of my core CAD applications run properly on Windows 7 yet, and my userbase has mired itself in XP to the point where I have to bribe them with new hardware to get them to let me back up their systems: they've become frightened that any backed-up machine will be replaced with Vista.

  • by radish (98371) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:26PM (#30528400) Homepage

    You can try, I don't know of many games which will refuse to run if you're below min specs, but I guess the devs are saying they won't support it if you have problems. It's a CYA move.

    Another thing worth considering is swap - a console game has MUCH more control over memory management (and knows exactly what else is running on the box) - very much unlike a game running on Windows. Given that people typically will have an AV, maybe a browser and even things like iTunes running at the same time as the game, you need to give yourself some wiggle room so you're not grinding the pagefile. Users won't care that they're being stupid trying to run too much on a crappy PC - they'll just point to the min specs and complain.

  • by John Betonschaar (178617) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @04:30PM (#30528456)

    And it's exactly this thinking that makes Solaris userland so freaking horrible. Every time I log into a Solaris machine it's a nice binary-hunt for common tools I have no problem finding on BSD, OS X or Linux, and when I finally find them (in /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, /usr/sbin, /usr/ccs/bin, /usr/sfw/bin, /usr/openwin/bin, /opt/SUNWPro/bin, /usr/ucb/bin) it turns out they support none of the options or switched normal people (as opposed to unix masochists) find useful. Why is sun tar so anal? Why doesn't cp -r copy symlinks? Why is there no sensible top, or killall? What's up with the completely nonstandard switches to ps? Why isn't vim included by default and why is Sun vi even more terrible than normal vi, which is already bad enough. It drives me crazy, every time I sit down to do something on a Sun machine I get really, really aggrevated, and I've been using and developing for the damn things (amongst many other *nix OS-es) for 5 years now. I'd much rather 'pollute my userland with GNU extensions' than be stuck in the 80's and guessing what is where and what support what every time I need to use a Solaris machine.

    What's even worse than the Solaris userland? Developing for Solaris. The Sun CC suite is one of the worst pieces of software I've ever encounterd. It sometimes does the job if you don't push it too far with templates and stuff, but most of the time it simply doesn't work on 100% valid C++ code that has no issues whatsoever on any other platform. Or it works on Sun Studio X, but it fails in Y, to work again in version Z. Compiling even such simple parts of Boost as the shared_ptr headers is still not possible because the compiler is so brain-dead. If you want to build shared libraries on Sun you need to pass 10 different arcane options if your build is reasonably complex, because the sun linker will gladly fsck up where all your symbols end up which breaks a perfectly fine piece of software as soon as it is linked in with another binary that happens to define the same symbol. And the Sun Cstd library is full of those, symbols with ridiculously common symbol names that are just waiting to clash the moment you deploy your software from the testbench to the production environment. So just use gcc you might suggest? In theory that's a good idea if it weren't for the fact that if you need to link 1 (one) binary-only module (e.g. supplied by a third party) that was linked against the Sun libCstd, you're screwed, since you cannot combine that binary with the stlpor4t C++ standard libraries that actually _do_ work in all other cases. All this is not because of a bad sysadmin because it was the same thing all over again at 3 different jobs.

    Also, Sun hardware is slow as a turd for what you pay for it, up to the point it's almost a joke, for some tasks. Sure they might have great threading performance but don't dare to try running FPU intensive code on it or stress the VM, my $400 C2D Dell laptop I develop on is literally 10 times faster than the $20,000 Sun Netra 240 the code is deployed to. It's all fine and dandy that Sun hardware scales to a zillion CPU's nicely, and that an UltraSparc is much more power-efficent than a Xeon, Opteron or Power6, but it's not really an advantage anymore if you need 10 of them to get decent performance out of it.

    Summarizing: I absolutely HATE solaris from the bottom of my heart, I know I used to hate the 1995 HP/UX I used to deploy on, but after a few years of Solaris experience I'd switch to that without hesitation. I don't care about the fancy tech they put in like ZFS and dtrace, it's all too bad they fucked up they're development environment and userland up to the point that work that uses to be fun becomes one big nightmare, and you can't really count on anything anymore when you log into a Solaris box. Maybe OpenSolaris is better, but that'd only be because it has a GNU userland by default (or at l

  • Re:Vista vs Win7 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @06:36PM (#30530232) Journal

    If they really wanted to do it right, it should have been integreated to the MMC.

    Err, as someone who has to schlep around in MMC v3 all day long, please let me take this opportunity to say the following:

    NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!... oh HELL NO!

    In all the years of working with Microsoft products since Windows NT 3.5, I have never, ever seen an instance of MMC puking all over itself, limping along and unresponsive like a kicked dog, and/or taking a geologic era just to open and close... until friggin' MMC 3 came out.

    Server 2k8, even the R2 version, is no better. MMC in its current incarnation was, in my humble opinion, expressly designed and engineered to piss off the sysadmin. There's honestly no other explanation for it. It's like the MMC codemonkey's wife found out that her husband was screwing around on her, so she snuck into his laptop, then cut+pasted some pirated Symantec A/V code into the build just out of spite. Okay, maybe too harsh... but I can say with confidence that I know now how Microsoft intends to force Windows server admins into using PowerShell in spite of PS' unpopularity: Make MMC such a crap experience, that you actually look forward to PS and its overly-long syntax-from-hell.

    Using the damned thing (which you have no choice in nowadays for a lot of functions) is like chewing on broken glass while simultaneously masturbating into a double-handful of half-rusted razor wire.

    Okay, okay... on a serious note? There's still a lot of problems in MMC that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, and it has a lot of things that seriously need fixing. In some ways they have (Win 7's isn't as painful as Server 2k8's), but at least from the server view, oh hell no...

  • by terjeber (856226) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @08:28PM (#30531312)
    EOM
  • by smchris (464899) on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @10:39PM (#30532062)

    But as which? I think that's the problem -- finding its category.

    It was really nice and not so ugly for the time -- especially with Object Desktop. Like a pimped out Cadillac when linux was a jeep and Windows was a Pinto. Since Warp came out nearly a year before Windows 95, it could be argued that it was the coolest desktop around for at least that year. And the graphical way each app could be tuned to run at maximum performance _individually_ was very nice.

    But it was a bitch to install as a home one-off. Closer to a 1995 linux than Windows. Nonetheless, it was my home desktop for several years, including my first year with DSL. Still have a non-networked boot on qemu to play Galactic Civilizations the way it was originally conceived.

  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@NOSPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @01:16AM (#30532764)

    I have read Guttman's analysis, I even was able to get and read the slides, and it wasn't.

    Yes, it was, as evidenced by a) all of it done without ever even having used Vista, b) significant parts of it being flat-out wrong, and c) none of the sky-is-falling predictions ever eventuating.

    DRM support in Vista (and Windows 7) is irrelevant if you don't have DRM-encumbered media, and nothing but helpful if you do.

Vax Vobiscum

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