Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: If You Could Assemble a "FrankenOS" What Parts Would You Use? 484

rnws writes: While commenting about log-structured file systems in relation to flash SSDs, I referenced Digital's Spiralog [pdf], released for OpenVMS in 1996. This got me thinking about how VMS to this day has some of, if not the best storage clustering (still) in use today. Many operating systems have come and gone over the years, particularly from the minicomputer era, and each usually had something unique it did really well. If you could stitch together your ideal OS, then which "body parts" would you use from today and reanimate from the past? I'd probably start with VMS's storage system, MPE's print handling, OS/2's Workplace Shell, AS/400's hardware abstraction and GNU's Bash shell. What would you choose?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: If You Could Assemble a "FrankenOS" What Parts Would You Use?

Comments Filter:
  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 05, 2015 @08:04PM (#50049739)

    What are these parts I keep hearing about? I use systemd.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      "Systemd is a relatively useful inferior process," said Emacs.
      • I must be a new minority or something. At first I followed all of the arguments against SystemD, but just for shits and grins I tried Ubuntu Server 15.04 in its default configuration when I built three new network appliance VMs and...I actually like the result. I never did figure out how to get upstart to reliably make e.g. rtorrent restart when it crashes (and it crashes a lot) with upstart, whereas with systemd its crash recovery seems flawless, and it was easy to configure (you just need one line.) It wa

    • Re:What? (Score:4, Funny)

      by plopez ( 54068 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @12:32AM (#50051065) Journal

      systemd is too immature. I am waiting for systemv

  • I'll freely admit that I was too much of a newbie to really appreciate Multics during the precious year or two I had access to it, but the single abstraction for memory and files seemed like a great approach...

    • Honeywell got hold of Multics and, being Honeywell, killed it in favor of selling their own super-crappy GCOS (which had exactly one good features, scatter-gather I/O). Then Prime Computer made PRIMOS which they called a mini-multics (very mini).

      Multics was amazing for its time, maybe for all time.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DrLlama ( 213075 )

        There was a desktop OS called Domain/OS from Apollo Systems. Rumour had it that Apollo was founded by Multicians who fled from Honneywell. It was a great OS on a lot of levels, not least you had native Domain/OS, BSD4.3 and System5 UNIX, an amazing shared filesystem, and networking that was literally plug and play.

        Then of course HP bought it and killed it in favor of HP/UX, sigh.

  • Duh (Score:5, Funny)

    by sootman ( 158191 ) on Sunday July 05, 2015 @08:16PM (#50049807) Homepage Journal

    Windows kernel, Linux UI.

    • Re:Duh (Score:4, Funny)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Sunday July 05, 2015 @08:46PM (#50049985) Homepage Journal

      Windows kernel, Linux UI.

      We had that, it was called 'Windows for Workgroups'

      Well, it was a UNIX UI. But close enough.

    • Windows kernel, Linux UI.

      You actually want BSODs? Or was that a whooshing sound that I just heard?

      • Re:Duh (Score:4, Informative)

        by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <> on Sunday July 05, 2015 @08:57PM (#50050031) Homepage Journal

        I'm pretty sure that was a high altitude joke sailing by at mach 1.

      • You actually want BSODs?

        Who said anything about Win9x?

    • Microsoft Windows 95 kernel, Mac OS classic UI, Nintendo Gameboy CPU and display, Radio Shack TRS-80 MC-10 keyboard.

  • I always wished that someone would make a smit like AIX control panel menu system for the Linux command line. If you couldn't remember the exact syntax of a command, it often came in handy for quickly getting the task done (without having to Google command examples) and then get an example of the syntax for next time.

    • The first time I used AIX the administrator had installed it without the man pages! That was painful. How do you install a UNIX system without man pages? Mind you the other developers on my team wanted to run a shell script, as a child process, to set up all of the environment variables and they wouldn't believe me when I told them it wouldn't work. I didn't stay there long.

      • by lucm ( 889690 )

        For most commands on AIX, ike wget, they managed to remove the useful options. And they still force you to have username of 8 characters max.

        If one day there's an International Court of Justice for computers, AIX will be among the first to be on trial.

        • by Blade ( 1720 )

          Except AIX has allowed up to 256 character usernames since 5.3, released in 2004.

  • and all new combinations are "Franken-____". how about a Franken-gate?
    • We're saving that for when the junior senator from Minnesota does something exceptionally stupid.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      and all new combinations are "Franken-____". how about a Franken-gate?

      Better than a Waterstein, I suppose.

  • SOM and WPS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by martiniturbide ( 1203660 ) on Sunday July 05, 2015 @08:24PM (#50049855) Homepage Journal
    Maybe some people do not appreciate it, but I think that having SOM (System Object Model) and WorkplaceShell (built over SOM) gave some functionality that was never exploited properly. So, building a Frankenstein I will put over the GUI, SOM (maybe the open NOM and somFree) and the Desktop elements will be built over it. (like Workplace Shell). Check out this OS/2 reference graphic: []
  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Sunday July 05, 2015 @08:38PM (#50049941) Homepage

    Custom OS is not about what is in it but all about what is left out. Custom OS for appliances that only has in it what is actually necessary for that appliance, maybe just maybe incorporate application into the OS rather than a separate post boot load.

    I think future trend will be a shift from more flexible universal operating systems to more modular, take every out that is not necessary for this particular appliance operating system, this to simplify security and even application level features become modules added into the operating system, so one quick boot to full functionality. So a much more modular operating system.

    • And for an single tasking appliance, that is fine. Remember the i-opener from Circuit City? Ran a very compact and relatively fast (for the time) QNX with just a crappy browser like application on top of it. Of course, it got hacked around, spawning the "i opened it" small computer/display setups. Quite a few /. articles/postings on this.

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday July 05, 2015 @11:43PM (#50050849) Journal

      Custom OS is not about what is in it but all about what is left out. Custom OS for appliances that only has in it what is actually necessary for that appliance

      Your mouth to Microsoft and Apple's ears. I want an OS that does nothing but run my programs and stay out of my way. I can get my own browser thanks.

      If y'all could just get Linux to run current AAA games, and some professional music & audio software, I'd never spend another nickel with Microsoft or Apple.

  • Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rev0lt ( 1950662 ) on Sunday July 05, 2015 @08:56PM (#50050029)
    FreeBSD kernel, Solaris networking/clustering capabilities, and a sort-of Windows UI (Imagine Windows 7, not the metro interface)
    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      Solaris networking is the worst of the worst. Servers ship with the same MAC address on all network adapters, and they get confused by port speed autonegotiation. Those are problems that even Windows Me didn't have.

      • by rev0lt ( 1950662 )
        Well, you seem to be way more versed in it than I am. I've used both Solaris Express and OpenSolaris on x86-64, without ever having this problem (I did some simple cluster configurations with both Solaris-HA and Sun Grid Engine and I'd guess this would be a major issue). Their virtual networking features were ahead of their time (at least UNIX-wise, I do know VMS, but mostly from reputation - typing in commands on a 1985 machine doesn't really count as experience), but maybe the guys buying actual SPARC bo
      • What hardware had the same MAC on every adapter?

        • by lucm ( 889690 )

          Netra (SparcStation, Ultra, etc.) among others had this "feature". You were expected to change it if you needed those adapters to work on the same network, and of course this had to be done with the shitty LOM connection, which itself was a huge pain in the ass.

          I'd rather take a job at Best Buy running Windows Update and antivirus scans on cheap HP laptops all day than touch another Solaris machine.


  • Plan 9 works just fine.
  • by YukariHirai ( 2674609 ) on Sunday July 05, 2015 @09:05PM (#50050071)
    Currently, what I'd really like is something that's mostly a typical GNU/Linux system, with OS X's GUI and reliable support for Windows and Mac applications.
    • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Sunday July 05, 2015 @09:52PM (#50050319)

      OS X's GUI

      That one is easy. Just find a 15 years old version of KDE.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by morgauxo ( 974071 )

      Getting that OSX GUI exerpience without OSX is actually pretty easy!

      First... chop off your dominant hand.
      Also, remove all but one finger from your remaining hand.
      Put a patch over your dominant eye.

      Finally, to complete that Apple feeling get a friend to kick you in the balls every 5 minutes.

      Voila! It's just like using the OSX UI!

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      You have hit on a truth that is old as Byte Magazine.
      OS/s for the desktop never really mattered it is all about applications. You buy a computer to run applications you do not buy a computer to run an OS.
      I would love a desktop with VMS running and OS/X UI and possibly some OS/2 Workplace shell as well but without the apps it would be useless.
      It is kind of like what happened to the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga. They both had a better OS the MS-DOS and they both had better hardware at a cheaper price than you

  • I'm asking because I can't think of a consistent set of features that I would want in "my" best OS. I don't think there's any hope in consensus among /.ers and I don't think that individuals could come up with a single system that encompasses the different uses they put a computer to.

    I would want different things from the OS depending on the activity I'm doing on a computer at a given time:
    - coding.
    - business activities.
    - playing games.
    - playing media.

    Maybe there are features that consistent between all of

  • by Nkwe ( 604125 ) on Sunday July 05, 2015 @09:25PM (#50050155)
    VMS supports very elegant file versioning, which I found a very useful feature. By default, every time you open a file for write (and you modify the file) you get a new version of the file (kind of like copy on write at the file level). When you list the files in a directory, you can see all the versions of the file with the version number being an actual part of the file name(file.text;1, file.text;2). On a per file basis you can set how many versions you want to keep around and the file system will automatically purge the old versions as new ones are created. When opening a file you can specify any version you want, or if you don't specify a version you just get the latest.

    The file system also supports specific backup related attributes that integrate with the backup system. This lets you specify that a file should be excluded from backup and if I recall, tracks if the file has been modified since the last backup.
    • The VMS versioning system was more of a kludge then something elegant.

      For one thing, it versioned intermediate files too. Causing people to run "purge" (IIRC) all the time For another thing, if you wanted to keep an old version of a file, fine, but it might x.x;11 and the present version is x.x;40. It is far easier to find if you simple copy the file into another name before making changes. If you want to keep versions of several files, there exist several programs that do that. We call them version contr

  • That would pretty much get me right there.

    Linux Mint & Cinnamon is by far the best UI out there at the moment. If it could flawlessly play windows games and things like photoshop I would be a happy man. All the other decisions feel about right. Ext4 for the filesystem, network manager is clean and works well, I love the file manager, bash shell and I'm pretty much done.

    I'd leave ZFS for dedicated storage boxes.

    • Yeah, pretty much this. Also, I find that a much under-appreciated feature of Cinnamon is that it has a working "do not let an app steal focus" option; it is really quite amazing how much under most OSes, we get used to something being able to interrupt us mid-typing. Of course, I do sometimes have to get used to the fact that this can also mean that the app I wanted to start only appears on the taskbar and not on top of what I'm doing, but I'd far rather than that have something jump to the front two or
      • Absolutely this. It causes me no end of frustration when Thunderbird steals focus because of it's dodgy calender implementation.

        But I will now quite happily roll mint out to random relatives on a dual boot system and let them run with it. Most of the time they don't end up going back into windows because the most intensive thing they do is run Chrome.

    • by rev0lt ( 1950662 )
      I'm actually not a fan of Linux, but basically Mint is - by far - the most usable *nix desktop I've ever tried. If they could solve the out-of-the-box wtf-is-this problem with the fonts in Java (I know, its not really the project's fault, but the nineties called and they want their defaults back), I'd probably be running it right now. And I'm a BSD guy. On the other hand, what the f*ck happened with XDMCP? Everytime I tried it, its broken either by design (lxde login manager?) or just broken (gnome).
      • Where in Java are you talking about? I don't notice anything on my system...

        As for XDMCP I don't think it is supported via MDM, the default login manager. However if you replace MDM with LightDM you will have working XDMCP support if you add the following to lightdm.conf


        MDM dropped support for XDMCP back in 2013 and has no intentions of reimplementing it......

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Java applications never took off like they should have because of the write-once-look-like-shit-everywhere problem

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday July 05, 2015 @09:38PM (#50050243) Journal

    Win 7 GUI (with Win2K Pro GUI as classic mode) with WinFS** from Longhorn Alpha and WIMBoot from Win 8.

    **-What is sad is that the WinFS demo was in 2003 and here we are in 2015 and we have YET to see anybody give us what they showed in that demo! Where is the file system that can just scan vids and pics and assign metadata like "girl in blue dress" or "white truck" and let me find any file by using human expressions without requiring the user to fill in the blanks?

    • The sad truth is probably that the wonders of WinFS were actually nothing more than vapourware - something that looked like it might work on a very limited subset of possible inputs but which was found to be completely unworkable when faced with the real world of untidy data. Of course, I would hazard a guess that we are probably in a space now where image recognition and machine learning are at a point where that metadata-filling and searching is actually possible - it might not be all under the same pate
    • Sure that's fine until you want to see how big your directories are - still epic fail on some thing Mac has done since forever. My hybrid dream OS: Linux kernal, MacOS UI modified by Win7.
  • Built on type safe language, so no buffer overflows. Layered on a type-safe assembly language. Immutable everything. Defined channels between components. No memory sharing anywhere.

    Our recent article in Operating Systems Review, Singularity: Rethinking the Software Stack, is a concise introduction to the Singularity project. It summarizes research in the current Singularity releases and highlights ongoing Singularity research.

    Singularity is a research project focused on the construction of dependabl

    • The only thing you're missing is support for arbitrary SIP-level proofs beyond type safety (e.g. support for arbitrary proofs of SIP behavior such as time/space complexity, halting, semantic properties, etc.) , and a formally verified self-verifying proof-checker to make sure the compiler is generating correct code and proofs. It looks like you're looking into PCC and TAL, so once you can ship the verifier with its own proof and self-verify during the boot process, you can be fairly certain that hardware e
  • Tricky (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Sunday July 05, 2015 @09:49PM (#50050289)

    BSD style kernel
    MacOS X multithreading
    Solaris networking and filesystems
    MacOS 9 system layout and management (auto install/remove via drag and drop)
    Windows 7 start menu
    System level support for IL - such as .NET or Java
    Control strip from MacOS9
    BeOS multimedia engine
    Linux device drivers
    AppleScript/REXX application scripting
    OpenBSD code auditing standards, firewall
    OpenVMS system partitioning, file versioning and backup

  • by xdor ( 1218206 ) on Sunday July 05, 2015 @09:59PM (#50050351)

    Simple, non-nonsense interface, reliable ALT+TAB (damn you OS X!), good package manager, with all the redundant filesystem management wizardry. Good support for GPUs and the latest OpenGL/DirectX as well.

  • Linux kernel. Microsoft's GUI and API compatibility. 'nuff said. Linux GUI is still way behind M$.

  • The hardware abstraction is a fantastic feature for a growing business - upgrade your hardware across different processor groups, and you don't have to re-compile your software.

    OS400 has a compilable control language, and a command creator. Take your own utilities (equivalent to your favourite scripted/powershell jobs), compile them, then create a parameter-accepting command out of them, with optional menu-driven screens and context help.

    DB/2. Not the best, but it's inbuilt, and accessible with system utili

  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Sunday July 05, 2015 @10:09PM (#50050397) Journal

    BeOS has an incredibly responsive UI. I am not a software engineer so I am not sure which part of the OS is in charge of this, but it's something no other OS has been able to do, before and since: be perfectly responsive to user commands (keyboard and mouseclicks). What this means is: no matter what the computer is doing at any given time, the UI will react to the user commands. There is no file-copy too big, a computational task too complex, that the reaction to a user's command would be delayed. BeOS has spoiled me so much, because with that OS, user comes first, always.

    • The multitasking prowess of DOS.
    • Ribbon interfaces on everything.
    • The beautiful colour palette and icons of Windows 3.1.
    • The stability and driver handling of Windows ME.
    • The simplicity of configuring drivers of Windows NT.
    • The memory footprint of Windows Vista.

    The sad thing is that I was trying to think of a variety of examples, and they were all from Microsoft. Hmm.

  • by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Sunday July 05, 2015 @10:41PM (#50050575)

    TL;DR summary - at the end of the day the gamer wants a tight Windows system. The server admin wants a tight server (LAMP, WAMP, XAMP, MEAN, etc.). The hardware developer wants all the latest drivers. The R/T guys want predictable and repeatable, and Donald Trump wants it not to be produced in Mexico. However, that's not what OP asked about, and his interesting article relates to features on clustered filesystems that are cool to have and not available outside of the [really out of date/obsolete] OpenVMS.

    Long Version:
    Whenever someone asks about "best" OS or app or features to have in one... invariably it leads to the proponents of Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, MacOS, (and kudos to the poster who brought up BeOS!) etc. all jumping to extoll their virtues.

    Ironically the OP asked about OS and everybody jumped into talking about monolithic kernels... filesystems, and only a couple discussing other elements of the OS which is queue system (OpenVMS really had that one sewn so tight it was awesome).

    Interestingly tho the original ARTICLE talked about a clustered filesystem environment. It would appear OP is right on this one - only VMS did it. Some of the functionality for single-host stuff is now beat by BTRFS, but the clustered writeback, locking, and other features mentioned in the PDF are without compare in anything else today

    Tucson AZ US

  • I just want it go go from off (not standby) to an open document in a useful application in under three seconds.

  • NONE!!!!
    Frankenstein'ed installs are to BE AVOIDED!!!! at all costs!!!!!!

    if you want a custom install
    Linux From Scratch

    there is no way in hell you can keep a Frankenstein'ed install up to date with updates

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Monday July 06, 2015 @02:09AM (#50051497) Journal
    There were two things I liked about the VAX/VMS filesystem that I would port over. The first is version numbering. A file would start as filename.1 and the number would increment with each edit/save cycle.

    The second thing would be logicals and overlayed directories. They worked like a stack of transparencies like the human anatomy entry in an encyclopedia. The base layer would be a read only version of the operating system. Above that would be a writable layer. Above that, for development users, would be test versions of new OS elements. Regular users wouldn't see these layers. Above that would be applications (read only) with a writeable layer above it.

    The purpose of the writeable layer over the read only layer is to trap attempts to overwrite system files.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine