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Operating Systems Software Technology

Old Operating Systems Never Die 875

Posted by timothy
from the they-just-start-running-in-loops dept.
Harry writes "Haiku, an open-source re-creation of legendary 1990s operating system BeOS, was released in alpha form this week. The news made me happy and led me to check in on the status of other once-prominent OSes — CP/M, OS/2, AmigaOS, and more. Remarkably, none of them are truly defunct: In one form or another, they or their descendants are still available, being used by real people to accomplish useful tasks. Has there ever been a major OS that simply went away, period?"
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Old Operating Systems Never Die

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  • Yes there is... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:02PM (#29456261)

    Windows Vista disappeared October 25th 2009.

  • ME (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:03PM (#29456279)

    I don't think anyone willingly uses Windows ME for any useful task anymore.

  • VMS? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by jfengel (409917) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:03PM (#29456281) Homepage Journal

    My first thought was VMS, but of course there's an open version of that.

    And somebody open-sourced CP/M.

    But "exists as an open-source hobby project" is a bit bringing back your dead lover as a zombie. Yeah, it's still around, but it's not really the same. Unless you're really, really kinky.

  • Re:VMS? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:12PM (#29456465)

    VMS is not dead. Most of the products you use today are in part of a production system build on VMS. They have trying to get rid of it for decades. However the cost of moving off of it is still cheaper then paying the remaining VMS developers full 1990's consulting fees to keep it going.

  • Re:ME (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daeley (126313) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:13PM (#29456487) Homepage

    I don't think anyone willingly uses Windows ME for any useful task anymore.

    Were they ever able to? ;)

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:14PM (#29456509) Journal

    Has there ever been a major OS that simply went away, period?

    I think RSX-11 [wikipedia.org], RT-11 [wikipedia.org] and RSTS/E [wikipedia.org] fit that. Some of the PDP operating systems are dead probably because they're still closed source otherwise I'm guessing hobbyists would still be maintaining them.

  • Re:ME (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:16PM (#29456551)

    I don't think anyone willingly uses Windows ME for any useful task anymore.

    willingly?

    ANYMORE?

    Dear God, you live in a happy place.

  • by slickwillie (34689) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:16PM (#29456553)

    Is it still being developed?

    IIRC Linux was supposed to be a temporary stand-in until the Hurd was ready to go.

  • Re:VMS? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by julesh (229690) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:21PM (#29456639)

    And somebody open-sourced CP/M.

    Not to mention the millions of machines running WinME, which still has the DOS kernel under it, which is derived from a cheap CP/M clone...

  • by dingen (958134) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:27PM (#29456729)

    Back then yes, was THAT good.

    If by "good" you mean "a lot of advanced features" then you probably would be right. If "good" however includes enough performance to be useful, OS/2 never was a very good OS. Windows 95 would scream (to quote Steve Jobs) on my 486 DX in the day, while OS/2 Warp 3 would present me with an hourglass mouse pointer most of the time.

  • by shaitand (626655) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:37PM (#29456943) Journal

    The amiga hardware was way ahead of its time and so was the software for that matter. The mac hardware was basically a weak copy of the amiga stuff. Apple basically just stuck with the amiga copy stuff and incremental improvements to it until they switch over to using PC hardware piece by piece. Today a mac is basically just a severely overpriced pc that you have to buy to be able to use a user friendly operating system.

    Where Amigas really shined was video editing. It was a very long time indeed before Amiga stopped being the tool of choice for video work. Everything up to the special effects on Babylon 5 were done with Amigas. After commadore died it took apple a long time to catch up with the Amiga.

  • Re:MacOS 9 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tetsukaze (1635797) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:43PM (#29457063)
    In all seriousness, I have also run into people that won't give up on that OS. The amazing part to me is that they don't really have to. Certain tasks do not change and despite the lack of support from Apple and software vendors most of those system are running smoothly. It could be due to the larger install base, but Windows 9x systems I run into that are task specific are plagued with issues.
  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:54PM (#29457209)

    If by "good" you mean "a lot of advanced features" then you probably would be right. If "good" however includes enough performance to be useful, OS/2 never was a very good OS. Windows 95 would scream (to quote Steve Jobs) on my 486 DX in the day, while OS/2 Warp 3 would present me with an hourglass mouse pointer most of the time.

    OS/2 wasn't in the same category as Windows 95 - it was in the same category as Windows NT. OS/2 and Windows NT required much more memory than Windows 9x. Once you got an OS/2 machine up to >= 16Meg of memory, it was just fine.

  • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday September 17, 2009 @03:01PM (#29457325)

    (was so aggresive with putting files in contiguous blocks that a defrag script back then just renamed forth and back all files to do the work)

    While this might be a decent idea if the whole system knew about it, introducing it to modern Linux would be a catastrophe at best. Fill an ext3/ext4 up to 50% with typical desktop usage patterns (download-delete-move-copy-edit-etc), turn this feature on, and try to torrent a 4Gb file. You'll have plenty of time to think about the merits of your idea, I promise.

    Now, think about all the programs that were written with the knowledge that renames are fast. Go no further: the standard toolchain is more than enough to demonstrate this. Is it absolutely necessary that temporary files, however big, are contiguous?

    Now, add in SSD's and realize the whole debate is getting pointless.

    In a modern pc, with current memory/clock speeds, if you manage that it work with all the hardware, would fly.

    Nope. In a modern PC, we're taught to optimize for development speed. Make it run, make it right, and then make it fast. Which means programs get bloated, and nobody cares because computers can keep up. Note how the choice of OS does not affect this process. This is why it's still considered acceptable for a desktop computer to boot in more than 5 seconds.

  • by ChefInnocent (667809) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @03:19PM (#29457575)
    I will admit, I loved my Amiga. It was my only friend. It was awesome in its day. I held the banner of Amiga zealot proudly until '95.

    Today, I see the Mac fanbois and Linux zealots, and I harbor scorn and envy. There is no platform that deserves such a pedestal. Not just because the Amiga died, but through it's death I could see the world for the cold place it is. OSes & manufacturers will come and go. Apple will die, and Linux will fade. I know not when, but they will. Yet, I am envious of the fanaticism these people hold. The joy they get from the belief their system is superior to all else. I remember when I had faith in Commodore and wish for those days of old.

    Today, I move quietly from machine to machine and hold no special attachment to any OS. They are all the same despite their differences.

    Once. A few years ago. There was a brief moment I thought I heard the song of BSD, but I turned around and it was just a wrinkled old harlot clearing her throat.

    No, the Amiga died, and so did my passion. I miss my old friend, but there will be no more friends like her. Now we only visit -- in the still of the night -- when I am fast asleep.
  • I was there man... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @03:22PM (#29457611)

    Seriously, I remember back in the day using BeOS and being completely floored by it, for about ten minutes. Here was a new OS and it was super fast at some of the tasks that made computers really grind to a halt back then. And it was stable. Remember, this was back when we were all rebooting our Windows boxes once a day at least while doing real work. Macs were better for stability, but only let one program do real work at a time. Unix boxes were rock solid, but it was rare to find one that had crazy advanced features like color display. Linux was rock solid to, but it took a smart guy a non-trivial amount of time to get one actually working.

    In comparison to the available options it was almost hard to believe. The only real reason not to use it was lack of applications, which is what I realized in short order. A few dozen actually usable programs were about it. Still, if some companies had jumped on it and pre-installed it would have dragged the computing world half a decade or more into the future. Microsoft killed it with threats and legal action against any company who dared dual install it beside Windows or who even wanted to keep selling Windows and sell BeOS too. If ever there was a time for the feds to step in, that was it, but Be was a tiny company and the niche for an alternative vertically integrated system was taken by Apple. That one instance of shady dealing on MS's part crippled OS development and made it clear to everyone there was no point investing in the desktop OS market. If something so obviously superior, already in a stable and running form couldn't compete against MS's hold on vendors, what was the point in wasting money?

    Seeing this just makes me angry all over again how corporate greed and crime has held back progress. Screw you early 90's MS execs. I hope you tell your kids how you managed to cripple OS development around the world with your crimes.

  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @05:40PM (#29459407)

    You can't blame Microsoft for BeOS. That company made so many strategic mistakes, I wouldn't be able to even list them all.

    Microsoft's best tactic is doing very little and letting their competitors fail through their own mistakes, that's how they've gained most of their market share.

  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @06:20PM (#29459795) Journal

    Windows 2000 works fine, as a superset of Windows 9x, in my experience at least. There doesn't seem to be much between 2000 and XP, apart from the annoying UI that we all disable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 17, 2009 @09:57PM (#29461703)

    I will admit, I loved my Amiga. It was my only friend. It was awesome in its day. I held the banner of Amiga zealot proudly until '95. Today, I see the Mac fanbois and Linux zealots, and I harbor scorn and envy. There is no platform that deserves such a pedestal. Not just because the Amiga died, but through it's death I could see the world for the cold place it is. OSes & manufacturers will come and go. Apple will die, and Linux will fade. I know not when, but they will. Yet, I am envious of the fanaticism these people hold. The joy they get from the belief their system is superior to all else. I remember when I had faith in Commodore and wish for those days of old. Today, I move quietly from machine to machine and hold no special attachment to any OS. They are all the same despite their differences. Once. A few years ago. There was a brief moment I thought I heard the song of BSD, but I turned around and it was just a wrinkled old harlot clearing her throat. No, the Amiga died, and so did my passion. I miss my old friend, but there will be no more friends like her. Now we only visit -- in the still of the night -- when I am fast asleep.

    Seriously?
    You need to
    a. get laid
    b. have a beer
    or
    c. smoke a joint
    While every geek laments the days of old, I always laugh at the geeks who shout "FreeBSD 3.0 was the best bsd and I wont upgrade" or "Windows 98SE was the best windows, NO WAY am i upgrading". Fine.... live in the past, while your at it get a 1972 Cadillac Eldorado and get 4 miles to the gallon. Make sure to get fast food in Styrofoam containers because bio-degradable containers just don't hold up as well as Styrofoam.

    Whatever, fuck it. OS's come and go just like any other technology. Getting attached to one OS is just being a glutton for punishment, because soon that one will fade away as well.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 17, 2009 @10:27PM (#29461871)

    FFS, read what you wrote.

    Two fucking gigahertz of CPU and 512 meg of RAM, and you think it's acceptable that that kind of level of computing power is needed to make the menus work OK?

    Shit. XP was a bloated piece of shit when it came out, and it's a bloated piece of shit now.

    But to be fair, you have a religion quote in your sig, so it is clear you are brain damaged in some way! Yeah, god exists, and XP was ahead of its time. Idiot.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:37AM (#29465557)

    You can't blame Microsoft for BeOS.

    Yes I can.

    That company made so many strategic mistakes, I wouldn't be able to even list them all.

    That's great for you, but since MS broke the law to kill them and eventually paid millions in the courts; we'll never know if what you refer to as Be's mistakes would have kept them form succeeding.

    Microsoft's best tactic is doing very little...

    That's not really applicable since MS did take illegal action. Heck, they often take illegal action. Why do you think they're constantly going to court over antitrust lawsuits and criminal charges?

Their idea of an offer you can't refuse is an offer... and you'd better not refuse.

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