Operating Systems

“Operating system” covers a pretty wide spectrum of abstraction. Lower levels of the stack are concerned with managing what work gets performed when, how to communicate with peripherals, and persisting data to various kinds of storage. The higher levels are concerned with providing abstractions to the programs developers write, coming up with visual representations of open files, and providing a cohesive user experience to make using the computer feel like inhabiting a space.

Jef Raskin had some interesting ideas on the usability of operating systems, but was born at the wrong time. With a new surplus of computing power, an abundance of display technologies, and dedicated hardware for machine learning, a lot of his ideas present in “The Humane Interface” can be implemented.

Mercury is a OS-level proposal in using some of Raskin’s task-oriented ideas, instead of having a traditional windowed desktop and file system. Dot by the same designer aims to bring some of the same metaphors to an AI agent.

New GNOME experiments default to a mosaic layout with an easy path to tiling windows. Bluetile enables tiling and stacking.

Adam Wiggins has thoughts on the design space that operating systems should address. These include identity, data persistence, collaboration, peripherals, attention management, economics of software, and distribution.

whyline provides an application-level framework for helping users troubleshoot what rules and settings are influencing the behavior of their applications.