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The Incredible Shrinking Operating System 345

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the good-since-you-can-only-run-3-apps-now dept.
snydeq writes "The center of gravity is shifting away from the traditional, massive operating systems of the past, as even the major OSes are slimming their footprint to make code bases easier to manage and secure, and to increase the variety of devices on which they can run, InfoWorld reports. Microsoft, for one, is cutting down the number of services that run at boot to ensure Windows 7 will run across a spectrum of hardware. Linux distros such as Ubuntu are stripping out functionality, including MySQL, CUPS, and LDAP, to cut footprints in half. And Apple appears headed for a slimmed-down OS X that will enable future iPhones or tablet devices to run the same OS as the Mac. Though these developments don't necessarily mean that the browser will supplant the OS, they do show that OS vendors realize they must adapt as virtualization, cloud computing, netbooks, and power concerns drive business users toward smaller, less costly, more efficient operating environments."
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The Incredible Shrinking Operating System

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  • MySQL & LDAP? (Score:5, Informative)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday February 09, 2009 @11:50AM (#26785253)

    If Ubuntu is looking to unseat Windows, why do they need a SQL server and a directory service? Granted I use Apache and MySQL on my Mac so I can develop on the road, but not everyone does.

    I use Black Viper's [blackviper.com] Windows services tutorial to decide what I can do without on XP. It makes a pretty decent difference in both RAM and CPU usage.

    • Re:MySQL & LDAP? (Score:5, Informative)

      by alen (225700) on Monday February 09, 2009 @11:54AM (#26785321)

      a lot of linux distros ship with everything and you choose what to install. Ubuntu is trying to cater to the non-techie so they strip out anything a desktop PC for the average user won't need without confusing them during the install process.

      • Re:MySQL & LDAP? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fyngyrz (762201) * on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:11PM (#26785627) Homepage Journal

        Yeah, but this isn't even remotely the same thing -- to add this functionality to Ubuntu takes a few clicks and downloads, all free, all easy, and with no limits on how many apps you can run, etc. You want CUPS or some other component that you consider a basic OS requirement? Click, wait while download and install completes, and you have 'em. This is simply an initially "lite" OS install, offered as a matter of convenience to the end user.

        MS isn't offering a lite OS install with free option to get the parts that are useful to you. They're paring away basic functionality (like the ability to run 4 or 5 apps at a time) and the only way to get it back is to buy it. If you choose the wrong set of features, you'll probably have to buy again, unless you habitually buy the package with the complete feature set.

        • Re:MySQL & LDAP? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by zappepcs (820751) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:29PM (#26785953) Journal

          I hoped someone would say this. There will be a lot of people that buy the full deal because it will be sold to them with the computer and they don't know better, and it's an easy sell.

          Also, the 'initially lite OS' idea is fantastic. It's one of the reasons that I like Ubuntu. The upgrade to workforce nuclear powered pro Ubuntu is the same as any upgrade; free and easy. You lose nothing by starting lite, and potentially remove a number of vulnerabilities that the end user may not be aware of in software that they may never use or need.

          • by von_rick (944421)

            There are several apps in the Gnome distro that are totally useless to many users, especially the newbies. Ubuntu could be far more "lite" if they took out Evolution, Ekiga, Gnome-games, tracker-search-tool, etc.

            I'm really glad that the tracker-search-tool has been taken off the default apps list in the upcoming Jaunty Jackalope release. What would be really cool would be having some of the extras installed by default, like build-essential, restricted-extras, flashplugin, etc. Most people have to install th

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ivucica (1001089)

              Excuse me, taking out Evolution? Although most users use webmail, many still use POP and IMAP mail because they don't know better. What about games -- many users want at least basic entertainment while waiting for download of extra content to finish. (We can argue that xbill would be sufficient instead of whole load of Gnome games, but meh.)

              You could also install XFCE (as part of Xubuntu) instead and get lite/r Ubuntu automagically. How about going for Debian + well-configured IceWM? It could work, it could

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by von_rick (944421)

                Although most users use webmail, many still use POP and IMAP

                Shouldn't the 'most' part be given more weightage? People who are wise enough to configure POP and IMAP accounts would certainly know that they can install Evolution through package manager or command line. It not only installs evolution, but by default all the evolution notifiers are loaded at startup. Devoting boot time to an application that only few people use is mighty waste.

                What about games -- many users want at least basic entertainment

                We are talking about making the distro as lite as possible. Putting the entire games suite takes up another big chunk. I never un

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by ps_inkling (525251)

                  We are talking about making the distro as lite as possible. Putting the entire games suite takes up another big chunk. I never understood the reasoning behind the "games suite" to begin with. Wouldn't it be better if people chose their own games?

                  For most Windows users, there are only four games -- Solitaire, Spider Solitaire, Minesweeper, and (for some) the pinball game. When they see all of the games available from the live Ubuntu CD, they are interested in finding out more. As a selling point, seeing t

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by hedwards (940851)

                  Windows used to do something like that, as far as I can tell if you want to do so now you have to make a custom winnt.sif to exclude the crap you don't want.

                  Win 95, 98, Me all allowed you to choose what you installed. There were somethings that were mandatory, but most of the other things you could opt not to install. If I recall correctly, you could even set things up with a floppy to remember what you really wanted, but unlike XP you didn't have to.

                  *BSD install for the most part in a minimal fashion requi

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Locklin (1074657)

                Although most users use webmail, many still use POP and IMAP mail because they don't know better.

                Is that a typo? I think people generally use *webmail* because they "don't know any better." That, or they don't use email much.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Jurily (900488)

                Although most users use webmail, many still use POP and IMAP mail because they don't know better.

                Bullshit. I use POP because it's orders of magnitude lighter on my bandwidth, and I like offline copies.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by clang_jangle (975789)

                Although most users use webmail, many still use POP and IMAP mail because they don't know better.

                That's kind of backwards, IMO. It ought to be:
                Although many users use IMAP mail, most users still use webmail or even POP because they don't know better.
                After all, using IMAP means all mail is accessible from any machine, and there's never any pesky browser evidence left behind.

        • Re:MySQL & LDAP? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:38PM (#26786099) Homepage Journal
          "Yeah, but this isn't even remotely the same thing -- to add this functionality to Ubuntu takes a few clicks and downloads, all free, all easy, and with no limits on how many apps you can run, etc. You want CUPS or some other component that you consider a basic OS requirement? Click, wait while download and install completes, and you have 'em. This is simply an initially "lite" OS install, offered as a matter of convenience to the end user. "

          It struck me as kind of strange that they'd strip out something like CUPS...I mean, don't even most normal users like to print documents?!?!

          • Re:MySQL & LDAP? (Score:5, Informative)

            by speculatrix (678524) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:46PM (#26786221)
            print? very rarely - only if I need to file a record (e.g. tax). if the information isn't accessible through free text search, it might as well not exist!
            • Re:MySQL & LDAP? (Score:4, Informative)

              by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:51PM (#26786321) Homepage Journal
              "print? very rarely - only if I need to file a record (e.g. tax). if the information isn't accessible through free text search, it might as well not exist!"

              REally?

              I guess maybe I'm old fashioned. I mean, I read and study a LOT online, but, for things I want to really remember, to use as reference, I really like to have dead tree copies.

              I often mark them up, highlight passages, doodle in the margins...etc.

              I find that by doing this...I can remember and even find information faster than I could doing a web or local directory search. When I was in school, I'd often do the doodles and markings in my books and notes, and during tests...I could 'see' those pages in my head...even turn the pages in my head to find where the information was. I find I can't do that as readily on a computer screen....

              • I've found I've never needed to use printouts when programming either, even in the days when an editor only showed 40 rows of text or so (ah, the good old days of VT100s!)
          • Depends on what the purpose of your computer. I once built a router out of an old Pentium computer. I didn't install CUPS. For my Linux server, I have it but since it is a server, I rarely print from it. I do print from my desktop more often though.
          • by speedtux (1307149)

            CUPS is overkill for occasionally converting a document into a printer language and then sending it off. Worse, CUPS doesn't even do that all that reliably (OS X is stuck with the same flaky printing system as Linux).

          • by spikenerd (642677)
            That's the beauty of a simple package manager. If it's easy, even trivial, to install functionality, then there is no need to install even things that "most" people will use. There's no reason that the few people who never print need to have it installed.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by BigBuckHunter (722855)

            It struck me as kind of strange that they'd strip out something like CUPS...I mean, don't even most normal users like to print documents?!?!

            It is not being "stripped out" in the sense that it is no longer available, or must be installed via the package manager. It is installed on demand (when you setup a printer). It is much like how Ubuntu handles samba. Samba is not installed untill you right click a folder and select "share", at which point the user is told that Samba is being installed. I believe the user prompt is actually nicer than that. Something to the effect of "Ubuntu is installing the software necessary to complete this operat

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          MS isn't offering a lite OS install with free option to get the parts that are useful to you. They're paring away basic functionality (like the ability to run 4 or 5 apps at a time) and the only way to get it back is to buy it.

          Actually, the article is talking about Windows services that are off by default to slim down the OS. Those services are still there, and can be turned on with a mouse-click. This has absolutely nothing to do with the Starter Edition -- which is available at an extremely stripped-down price on extremely low-power computers that can't really handle more than a couple applications at a time anyway, and only in emerging markets.

          • my old PC in 1992 could only "handle" about two or three full-blown applications at a time. So: I didn't run more than two or three at a time.

            But if every now and then, I needed to open five different things, I /could/. It was slow to the point of being unworkable, but I never got a "You can only run three of these" message. An "out of memory" error sometimes (I get those plenty today, too), but never "we've hard-coded something, sucks to be you."

        • Re:MySQL & LDAP? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Tawnos (1030370) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:46PM (#26786223)

          I have you friended, so you must have said something I thought was clever before...

          The trolltastic headline this morning about "only 3 apps" is highly misleading, and it's caused by speculation and rumors. The starter version of Windows is not something that is either available to the general public (in developed countries) or will be widely deployed on netbooks. It specifically exists to target the very low end computers in third world countries, not to be what's shipped on a netbook.

          Yes, features are stripped from the version of windows being sold to OEMs for third-world deployment. If they were the same, there would be a huge rise in black market sales of the "starter" OS - it would give people a "legal" CD-key for the full OS at 1/20th the price. This does not mean we are paring away basic functionality and forcing you to buy it back. In fact, care was taken to make sure Win7 didn't fall into the Vista trap with overlapping feature sets. Each version has a superset of features from the lower one.

          First world markets only need worry about Home Premium or Professional, and Ultimate(/Enterprise) if Bitlocker and Direct Access are desired.

          For more information, and not something that's based on /. "logic" see here [windowsteamblog.com]. It's an official source, and not speculation.

        • by fermion (181285)
          There are a couple different things here. First, the ability to download an application does not equal the ability to use the application. Many of these require quite a bit of configuration, location of dependencies, and the like. Developers are buying the Mac because Apple, as a system builders, is handling all those things i house. All I need to do is buy a mac and I have a web server, an database server, etc.If one does not need those things, they are simple to turn off. From my work in Linux,the eas
        • by westlake (615356)
          They're paring away basic functionality (like the ability to run 4 or 5 apps at a time) and the only way to get it back is to buy it.

          Where?

          Windows Starter Edition was always limited to three open "apps" -

          though these apps can be as rich in functionality as a full version of MS Word -

          and its target is the absolute beginner in third world markets.

          The alternative UI like Sugar has often been single-task.

          Which makes perfect sense for an inexperienced user with bare-minimum hardware support for any mass-m

    • by Stormx2 (1003260)

      MySQL ships with Ubuntu? Since when? I've always had to install it myself :/

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by 0racle (667029)
      Ya, no one ever needs to use the Active Directory or Windows Internal Database/MSDE. Everyone only every runs a small gaming machine, why does Windows support these things in the first place?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tweenk (1274968)

      The paragraph about Ubuntu is bogus. It doesn't have MySQL or LDAP installed by default. MySQL is installed in Kubuntu though, because it is required by Amarok and Kontact/Kmail. It has SQLite, because it is needed by Firefox, but it works without a server. I don't see Ubuntu removing CUPS because that would leave us without printing support.

      I think they are referring to the Netbook Remix edition, which I can imagine doing without CUPS and a lot of other things.

    • by Godji (957148)
      Black Viper's site is great. I never noticed much of a difference on XP, but on Vista it is night vs. day.
  • No, they're not. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Monday February 09, 2009 @11:51AM (#26785275) Homepage Journal

    Linux distros such as Ubuntu are stripping out functionality, including MySQL, CUPS, and LDAP, to cut footprints in half.

    First, I can completely understand the justification for not including such services in the default install. There aren't many reasons on a single-user desktop for MySQL to be necessary over SQLite, and that's just one more subsystem to have to secure. Getting rid of them, though? That's not even remotely accurate. By that logic I'm not using Ubuntu right now because I'm typing this in Konqueror.

    • by Tarlus (1000874)

      By that logic I'm not using Ubuntu right now because I'm typing this in Konqueror.

      Well of course not, you must be using Kubuntu. ;)

      I see what you're saying, though. It's poor wording in the article, so what they should have said was that Linux distros such as Ubuntu are simply not including those services by default with the generic basic installation. Anybody advanced enough to know what MySQL is (much less how to administrate/operate it) would know how to apt-get install it if they needed it, anyway.

      • by Dunkirk (238653) * <davidNO@SPAMdavidkrider.com> on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:17PM (#26785745) Homepage

        Anybody advanced enough to know what MySQL is (much less how to administrate/operate it) would know how to apt-get install it if they needed it, anyway.

        And anybody advanced enough to know how to actually write an application against it would know how to emerge it.

        Thanks, folks. I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by kdemetter (965669)

          And anybody advanced enough to know how to actually write an application against it would know how to emerge it.

          And wait 2 hours for it to compile :-).

          • by kdemetter (965669)

            Note to self : learn to use preview button.

          • by Dunkirk (238653) *

            Sorry. I know this was a joke, but this begs a response, because it is a common misconception. My work machine is a low-end Dell business-class computer. It has a Core 2 Duo (E6550, to be precise). I've loaded 4 GB of my own RAM in it, and it has two hard drives in a mirrored configuration.

            user@workstation $ time sudo emerge dev-db/mysql
            real 5m43.320s
            user 6m25.068s
            sys 1m31.625s

            Admittedly, when I made the switch to Gentoo (from SuSE) a few years ago, this was not the case. It would, literally, take

  • by qoncept (599709) on Monday February 09, 2009 @11:53AM (#26785299) Homepage

    Linux distros such as Ubuntu are stripping out functionality, including MySQL, CUPS, and LDAP, to cut footprints in half. ... OS vendors realize they must adapt as virtualization, cloud computing, netbooks, and power concerns drive business users toward smaller, less costly, more efficient operating environments.

    I don't see what removing MySQL and LDAP have to do with "slimming an OS." These are things that very few people are ever going to use on their desktop and made no sense to install by default, anyway. Of the home users, there is surely an inflated number of users on slashdot using them, but they could just as easily go install them after the OS install is complete. And for business users, I would guess almost no one is using them on their desktop.

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:43PM (#26786151) Homepage

      I don't see what removing MySQL and LDAP have to do with "slimming an OS." These are things that very few people are ever going to use on their desktop and made no sense to install by default, anyway.

      That sounds like "slimming down" to me. At least, I can understand what the poster is trying to get at. It seems like we went through a period of early operating system development over the past few decades where the stress was on throwing everything in, including the kitchen sink. It's at least interesting that Linux distros are putting in some amount of effort into pulling excess functionality out of the default installation while computers continue to become bigger, faster, stronger.

      And I think it is pointing at something similar to what is going on with OSX, and it is a trend. We've hit some kind of a milestone, I think, where most of our computer functionality is "good enough" for most of what we actually use them for. Something about the development of computer systems right now reminds me of... whenever it was... 10 years ago?... when people were using their computers mostly for word-processing, and their computers were good enough for that, so there wasn't a huge drive to accomplish a particular thing. Then people discovered that they could rip CDs into MP3s and share them, and there grew this whole new focus on multimedia and the Internet.

      Now we have those things handled, and it seems like the answer to "what's next?" is making both hardware and software smaller and less bloated. We're getting smart phones that are becoming something more like a real portable computer, and we're getting things like netbooks. I predict you're also going to start seeing better use of embedded systems, like maybe DVRs are just going to be built into TVs soon. Not sure on that one, but I think you're going to see things shrinking, devices being consolidated, and a renewed focus on making things more efficient and refined.

    • by Tweenk (1274968)

      Except they weren't installed by default at all, and that paragraph is bogus.

  • We'll see about that (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Protonk (599901) on Monday February 09, 2009 @11:53AM (#26785307) Homepage
    They all claim to be slimmed down and non-monolithic when they are in the development cycle. But when the rubber meets the road they have to contend with feature creep, backwards compatibility, turn-key (as it were) operation of heterogeneous devices and a finicky userbase. Sure, some of the formerly installed components can be offloaded to the download/update sites and some variations on a theme can be sold. And sure Linux distros can ship with widely varying functionality (at the cost of out of the box support for server functions). But to content that MSFT and APPL will substantially shrink their OS footprints is to be at variance with the last 15 years (or more) of software history.
    • We can hope. . . (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JSBiff (87824)

      My main problem with a lot of O/S'es and Linux distros these days as that too much functionality is 'default on'. If a user needs MySQL, or network printing, they can turn it on, but it seems to me that having the OS install with as few background services as feasible running, is a great way to get OS'es both more secure, and more scalable. In addition, a little bit of engineering might be able to go a long way - for example, I've noticed over the last few releases of Ubuntu that the Gnome environment seems

      • Yep. (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gbutler69 (910166)
        The Linux Kernel handles that automatically. Just because a process is in the process table, doesn't mean it is running. In fact, most processes are "sleeping" most of the time. When they are "sleeping" they are candidates for paging out. The kernel will do this if memory requirements exceed available physical RAM. In fact, the executable image itself is just "mmapped" to virtual memory and when needed to be "paged-out" it happens painlessly by marking the physical page as available and the virtual page as
  • Not so much (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai ... m minus language> on Monday February 09, 2009 @11:54AM (#26785333) Homepage Journal

    The center of gravity is shifting away from the traditional, massive operating systems of the past

    I don't see how this is "the center of gravity shifting". Rather, the examples given appear to indicate a diversification of Operating systems rather than a general downward trend. e.g. While there may be a smaller OS X revision, the desktop revision gets larger with every release.

    Windows 7 is not so much a shrinking OS as it is a recognition that Vista was a mistake. A huge, crufty, useless mistake. Windows 7 cuts back some of the cruft and makes the system usable again. Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to push their embedded Windows for Devices product on the low end. Nothing new there.

    Linux distros such as Ubuntu are stripping out functionality, including MySQL, CUPS, and LDAP, to cut footprints in half.

    Cutting out MySQL and LDAP make sense. Why install services you don't need on a desktop machine? But why cut out CUPS? CUPS is pretty much the standard for printing these days. Doesn't cutting it seem counterproductive?

    • Re:Not so much (Score:4, Interesting)

      by daveime (1253762) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:03PM (#26785489)

      With E-Mail both and Instant Messaging supporting file transfer, and every man and his dog armed with a PDA or Mobile that can read typical document formats, I'd argue that NOT printing anything has become the standard these days.

      • Re:Not so much (Score:5, Interesting)

        by spud603 (832173) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:08PM (#26785571)
        I think you live in an insulated world. Most (non IT) businesses print reams of paper every day, and academia uses paper like it's going out of style (which I guess it is...).
        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Maybe some academia. We use a whole lot less paper than we used to. I rarely print papers now, and if I do it's for the first reading only, rather than every time I want to give one to someone, or refer to it. We used to print a copy of a paper draft (huge, because they're double spaced etc.) for each coauthor, collect their changes, type them in, and repeat. Now we just mail around Word documents with change tracking turned on.

          Still, printing is something that an OS should do. It really doesn't need t

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by daveime (1253762)

          I think you live in an insulated world. Most (non IT) businesses print reams of paper every day

          Well yes this might be true, I am indeed in the IT business, and my boss was adamant that we be paperless office ... also as a lot of us work remotely, sending stuff by snail mail just isn't a viable option ... perhaps his motives are not due to any particular environmental bent, but simply because it makes no sense when there are so many alternatives that work.

          Maybe non IT businesses could benefit from applying t

    • I don't see how this is "the center of gravity shifting". Rather, the examples given appear to indicate a diversification of Operating systems rather than a general downward trend. e.g. While there may be a smaller OS X revision, the desktop revision gets larger with every release.

      The next desktop version of OS X is expected to be much smaller than the current one. From http://www.apple.com/macosx/snowleopard/:

      Snow Leopard dramatically reduces the footprint of Mac OS X, making it even more efficient for users, and giving them back valuable hard drive space for their music and photos.

      While I agree with you that this story is a vacuous mix of buzz words, I do think that desktop OSes do get smaller indeed, and I think it's a good thing. But for different reasons. To me, it signals a shift on the OS developers' behalf, away from adding more functionality back to optimizing the code-base. Partly because their marketing strategy necessitates the system to run o

    • by Tweenk (1274968)

      CUPS isn't going anywhere, I don't know where the fuck those people got that idea... It may be removed from the Netbook Remix, because printing from a netbook doesn't seem to be very common.

  • by lobiusmoop (305328) on Monday February 09, 2009 @11:56AM (#26785357) Homepage

    Thin Clients [wikipedia.org]
    Mozilla Firefox [wikipedia.org]

    There's an apocryphal story that someone suggested a branch of Firefox that was leaned down by concentrating on the core browser functionality... what goes around...

  • Evolution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by coren2000 (788204)

    maybe ubuntu will cut out evolution from it's default.

  • I'm for it - too many services are automatically started for you by both Windows & many flavors of *nix. This leads to slow boots and reduced performance therafter...

    Otherwise I'm less than impressed with this article which seems to be a sloppy Infoworld astroturf. The second link goes to one about XP, and not windows 7 for example...

  • Economy (Score:3, Funny)

    by macaulay805 (823467) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:00PM (#26785421) Homepage Journal
    It looks like OSes couldn't escape the economic downturn as well.
  • promising..but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by furby076 (1461805) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:07PM (#26785553) Homepage
    Sounds promising, until you go to open Notepad and you find out you need to install it. Or you need to install Java to run a java app on the web. Or need to install .net so you can run other apps. While some, especially the moer tech savvy, will say "bring it on", grand-ma and grand-pa will be confused. Slim-down, cut-out the fat products help the more savvy (advanced installation users) but really hurt those who have no clue.

    A better way - make the install disk's advanced installation give a list of components that can be removed from the install, while the basic user can get the full install. oh, wait.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by IANAAC (692242)

      Or you need to install Java to run a java app on the web. Or need to install .net so you can run other apps.

      It's this way now with these two examples on Windows. Neither are installed by default.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Cormacus (976625)
      >> "Sounds promising, until you go to open Notepad and you find out you need to install it"

      user@box> vim
      -bash: vim: command not found
      user@box> sudo apt-get install vim
          .
          .
          .
          .
      Done.
      user@box> vim

      Seems to work ok to me!
  • This is a duh moment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:10PM (#26785611)

    I never understood why so many services were running by default in the first place.

    I always thought it would make more sense to provide three big buttons on setup as well as an advanced tab. Those buttons are the presets: everything off, the most popular stuff on, and everything on. The advanced tabs would let you tweak the specifics.

    There's so much extraneous crap running on a typical Windows install it just blows me away. I'm less familiar with Linux and OS X but from what I've seen they are as guilty at times.

    Incidentally, this also brings up my beef about software updaters. I have no problem with them running once a week at startup, checking the net for an update and terminating. But these fuckers remain running in the background constantly like Google updater. Look, do I really care to know the second a new program is released, a new patch? Look, why can't you just tell me the next time I reboot? Or hell, just run the updater when I execute the specific program and piss off when finished.

    I understand that modern software is really complicated and I'd feel a little less free to complain about bloat if I knew everything that went on in the background. Well, I still wonder what things would be like if I were God Emperor of the World and said that nobody could buy faster machines for a decade, they had to stick with what they had. We see that happen with video game consoles, having a fixed platform to develop for over a period of years, the optimizations that are developed. PC's move so damn fast that by the time anyone figures out the hardware there's something new to write for. And management pays for new features, not optimization. But if they couldn't just demand people buy a faster computer, if they had to work within the resources at hand, I bet our stuff would be running two or three times faster by the end of the decade, just from doing it right the second time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tbuskey (135499)

      I never understood why so many services were running by default in the first place.

      Hear, hear. With poor explanations of *why* you want that running. I never print from my home laptop. I don't want CUPS running. My wife's laptop gets spoolv.exe taking up 100% CPU all the time and she's just web browsing.

      I always thought it would make more sense to provide three big buttons on setup as well as an advanced tab. Those buttons are the presets: everything off, the most popular stuff on, and everything on. The advanced tabs would let you tweak the specifics.

      There's so much extraneous crap running on a typical Windows install it just blows me away. I'm less familiar with Linux and OS X but from what I've seen they are as guilty at times.

      It's typically easier to find info on what those services do on a Unix box. And they're not always focused on Joe sixpack that just wants things to work.

      Incidentally, this also brings up my beef about software updaters. I have no problem with them running once a week at startup, checking the net for an update and terminating. But these fuckers remain running in the background constantly like Google updater. Look, do I really care to know the second a new program is released, a new patch? Look, why can't you just tell me the next time I reboot? Or hell, just run the updater when I execute the specific program and piss off when finished.

      Or one updater that *every* program can use. On Windows you have Windows Update, Java, Anti-virus, Google, Adobe, Software Manager

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:34PM (#26787125) Homepage

      Incidentally, this also brings up my beef about software updaters. I have no problem with them running once a week at startup, checking the net for an update and terminating. But these fuckers remain running in the background constantly like Google updater. Look, do I really care to know the second a new program is released, a new patch? Look, why can't you just tell me the next time I reboot? Or hell, just run the updater when I execute the specific program and piss off when finished.

      I think Microsoft and Apple need to take a serious look at Linux package managers. It's funny, because a few years ago everyone was complaining about how installing Linux applications was too annoying, but with most things, you can open up the package manager, click on a few things, it will figure out all the packages you need, and then you hit "install" (or whatever). Even if it's some piece of software that isn't officially supported by the distro, a developer can run his own repository, and I can add the repository to my package manager, and so I can use a single package manager for everything. The result is much simpler to deal with IMO.

      My point is developers shouldn't really be given room to make annoying updaters, because it's something the OS should do. Rather than having each app install its own updater, Apple and MS should open Software Update and Microsoft Update to be more like Linux package managers. Then the only issues are the security concerns of insuring the validity of repositories, making it clear to users what each repository is giving them, and making it easy for administrators to add/remove repositories.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pavon (30274)

      Look, do I really care to know the second a new program is released, a new patch? Look, why can't you just tell me the next time I reboot? Or hell, just run the updater when I execute the specific program and piss off when finished.

      Actually, I hate it when an application checks for updates at start-up (like firefox does). When I'm starting up an application it's usually because I have something I want to do right now, and then the application decides that's a great and break my train of thought. So I always say no, and then forget about it till the next time I start the application and am annoyed again :) The system tray is much less distracting.

      And reboot is no good either because I never reboot my laptop. But I agree with your first

  • CUPS (Score:4, Informative)

    by sciurus0 (894908) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:10PM (#26785625)
    $ lsb_release -d
    Description: Ubuntu 8.10
    $ ps -ef | grep cupsd
    root 6860 1 0 Feb08 ? 00:00:00 /usr/sbin/cupsd
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by godrik (1287354)

      Using your trick, I found that the most time consumming application was:

      root 7275 6982 0 Jan23 tty7 01:46:49 /usr/bin/Xorg :0 -br -audit 0 -auth /var/gdm/:0.Xauth -nolisten tcp vt7

      I do not an X movie organizer, I should get rid of it.

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:19PM (#26785771) Homepage

    If you really want to see "slimming down the operating system", check out QNX [qnx.com], which is a true microkernel used mostly for embedded systems. The kernel just does memory, CPU, timer, and process management, plus interprocess communication. Everything else is optional. Networking, disk/file system support, display support, window management, etc. are all user-level processes that you can include, or not, when making a boot image.

    The unusual feature here is that the components really are independent. You can have networking without a file system, or a file system without networking. If the machine has no display, you don't have to include any of the "console" stuff. Even error logging is an option, and can be connected to a display, a window, the network, or a file.

    But this isn't what the original article meant by "just enough operating system". They're thinking more of bloated distros.

    I hope "just enough operating system" means the ad-funded preloaded crap goes away. Remember Dell charging $50 extra to get rid of all that junk?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eravnrekaree (467752)

      X is not a part of the Linux kernel. As well many parts of the Linux kernel are modules, and as well it is possible to create drivers that run as seperate processes. Linux has many of the characteristics already of a multiserver system. the goal of an OS should not be to provide a scarce number of features, but provide a large number of features, and then let the user decide which to load.

  • by EddyPearson (901263) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:25PM (#26785889) Homepage

    "Linux distros such as Ubuntu are stripping out functionality, including MySQL, CUPS, and LDAP, to cut footprints in half."

    Can somebody define "footprint" in this context, and then explain how MySQL, CUPS and LDAP could possibly account for half of it?

  • by peter303 (12292) on Monday February 09, 2009 @12:26PM (#26785903)
    It did most of what I wanted. Some tings have been added in the past 30 years.
  • Small is Beautiful (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cornwallis (1188489) *
    Remember when Windows was called a shell that sat on top of DOS? Isn't this what the aim should be... pretty pictures as an *optional* cover *to* an efficient OS, minus all that bloat that has been added over the years?
  • What I read (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:00PM (#26786491)

    Windows 7 will run [on] a spectrum

    Great! They must have really stripped down the OS.

  • by rinoid (451982) on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:02PM (#26786541)

    In all fairness to the description of the story.
    "And Apple appears headed for a slimmed-down OS X that will enable future iPhones or tablet devices to run the same OS as the Mac."

    Am I missing something?

    After 17 million iPhones and I don't know how many millions of iPod Touches sold this is more than being headed in a direction.

    When Apple launched the iPhone it was announced as an OS X device.
    http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/01/09/apple-announces-iphone-stock-soars/ [techcrunch.com]

    So apparently Apple is clearly in the space of running a mini version of a monolithic OS.

    Anyway, interesting as heck topic.

  • ..that I should pull my CP/M [wikimedia.org] disks (8" DSDD floppies) and IMSAI 8080 out of storage again?
  • There are many different user goals, even so different devices and software which runs on those. The mobility market is very much in the news, and so do smaller/shrunken OS'es. There are many different distro's so it's nonsence to do such claim. Windows 7 is only just runnable on netbooks. Windows 7 doesn't run on smaller mobile devices (comparable with let us say an Iphone). I would rather say flexibility is getting more attention of those who design OS'es. This helps customers to make better use of their
  • Stripping out CUPS? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Torodung (31985) on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:48PM (#26787371) Journal

    Okay, this is probably a dumb question, but how do you print anything without CUPS?

    What is the alternative printing system they're going to use, and does CUPS really present that much of a footprint? Is the claim that personal printers are too much of a hassle and we should all send our stuff out to a printing service?

    --
    Toro

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rnturn (11092)

      ``Okay, this is probably a dumb question, but how do you print anything without CUPS?''

      The same way one did before CUPS was shoved down everyone's collective throat: lpd/lpr or LPRng.

      Probably not too difficult to ferret out my opinion of CUPS from the above, eh? Perhaps I'd feel differently if the documentation was more complete. I find that it has either a lot of holes or that there are just some things one cannot do using CUPS that were possible using either of the alternatives. I keep hoping that I

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by value_added (719364)

      Okay, this is probably a dumb question, but how do you print anything without CUPS?

      Enscript and lpr? I've always used postscript capable printers. And to make life even easier, I rely on network capable printers.

      Give the printer a hostname (DNS or /etc/hosts)
      Create spool directory
      Create a filter script to detect and/or convert to postscript
      Create an entry in /etc/printcap
      Enable lpd
      Use lpr to print

      nc myprinter 9100 < myfile.ps
      enscript -o - myfile.txt | nc myprinter 9100

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday February 09, 2009 @01:56PM (#26787559)

    I was actually on a conference call concerning an Open Source thingie, when someone stated that, "We're planning in the future to 'grow smaller'"

    I don't think he even believed it himself. But the sheer audacity to let those words over his lips truly amazed me.

    Nuthin' ever gets 'no smaller, except your pay check, after taxes, and you take inflation into account.

    Well, maybe your retirement fund . . . and the value of your house . . .

    The gas tank of my car seems to be getting bigger . . . it used to hold only 50 euros of diesel, now it can hold about 75 euros! Wow, that's innovation, a growing gas tank!

  • Apple on 10.6 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jbolden (176878) on Monday February 09, 2009 @02:04PM (#26787691) Homepage

    I agree that Windows and Linux are moving downmarket but Apple:

    1) Is switching the the LVVM compiler which means code will run better with multiple cores. Apple is clearing starting to move towards 4,8, or more core machines as the standard.

    2) Is changing virtually component of the OS so their 32 bits will drop in performance a tad while 64 bit will get much better.

    3) Is putting in all but the last piece of the puzzle to move beyond 8gb limit on ram

    4) Is continuing to have OS components that use expensive graphics chips

    5) Continues to run complex services automating all sorts of connections

    I don't think it is the case that they are moving in the direction of cheaper hardware.

  • by Zobeid (314469) on Monday February 09, 2009 @04:53PM (#26790575)

    Amiga OS 2.04 (my favorite version) comprised a 512K ROM and four 880K floppies. So there's the basics of a modern OS in 4 MB of data. That has become my benchmark for the size of an OS.

    Now, a lot of people I know scoff at that. Today's OS has to do a lot more than Amiga OS ever did. Today's OS has to support OpenGL, Postscript, Java, video decoding, a HTML engine, not to mention you have to include an email client, a word processor, a browser. . . oh, and a TCP/IP stack, which Amiga OS didn't even have.

    And that, they say, is why today's OS *can't* be smaller than about, let's say, 2000 MB. You just can't fit all that stuff into a space less than 500 times the size of Amiga OS, and you were foolish to ever imagine that anybody could.

    And then I open up Slashdot and see this headline about the incredible shrinking OS. But, but. . . How can that be possible? They told me it can't shrink! They all said nobody could figure out how to make them smaller, you just have to learn to live with the gobsmacking huge OS.

    And yet, now the netbook concept comes along (years if not decades overdue, in my view), and suddenly they can figure out how to make a fully functional Linux distro in only 200 MB (a mere 50 times the size of Amigs OS). My oh my, how the worm has turned.

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