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Old 04-22-2011, 06:37 PM   #1
Telengard
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Question "Unix is a real OS", "Windows is a toy": Where does this come from? Please no bashing


I have heard and read phrases like "Unix is a real OS" and "Windows is a toy" in various places. (Removed a link to another post because that person did not approve of my linking to his post. My apologies to you.) I can even remember one of my college professors calling Windows a "toy". These are educated people, not mindless teenage boys we're talking about.

Fanboy-ism aside, I've always wondered exactly what people mean when they say these things.

I've always wanted to ask:
  • By what criteria could one judge Windows to be a toy?
  • What are the criteria for a software system to be a real OS?
  • Are they merely expressing their own biases, or do they really have some objective measures to base these statements on?
  • In what historical context did these phrases come into use, and in what groups? (I'm guessing Microsoft employees are out here.)

What I'm hoping for here is some perspective on the roots of these ideas and the nature of the people who express them. Or if there is a provable origin of these phrases then a link would be great!

Please avoid Windows bashing in this thread. It is tiresome and not at all the point. I'm looking for information, not evangelism.

Edit
I think this is a genuine meme. Web searches aren't very helpful due to the sheer number of results.

Last edited by Telengard; 04-23-2011 at 12:20 AM. Reason: more info
 
Old 04-22-2011, 06:47 PM   #2
tiredofbilkyyaforallican
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In my opinion *nix based systems make you think , whereas M$ and Mac are dumbed down to a point and click mentality. The other thing is windoze requires added software kind of reminiscent of "batteries not included" IE: antivirus, registry cleaners, defragging tools ...the list is seemingly endless.

Last edited by tiredofbilkyyaforallican; 04-22-2011 at 06:52 PM.
 
Old 04-22-2011, 06:49 PM   #3
macemoneta
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The earliest reference I can find on Google is this discussion from 2002. The basis of the argument seems to be primarily uptime. Especially back in 2002, it wasn't unusual for Windows to have to be rebooted several times a day, while UNIX/Linux had uptime measured in years. The idea of doing serious work in the Windows environment was laughable.
 
Old 04-22-2011, 06:51 PM   #4
TobiSGD
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My opinion about that:
While Unix was planned as a multiuser system for large systems, the first Windows systems were nothing more than addition for DOS, a simple single user system mostly intended for the home and small business market. That was also somewhat true for the Windows 9x-versions, and I think that Windows is called a toy for that. This is not anymore true for the versions based on the NT-kernel.
Nowadays I wouldn't think that any one of the Windows or Unix/Linux versions is not an real OS. One can argue about the quality, the openness, the technical base or the philosophy/politics/marketing-behaviour of the companies/communities that develop them. But neither of them is a thing that defines an OS.
As long as it can mediate the hardware and the applications it is doing what a real OS should do.
 
Old 04-22-2011, 06:54 PM   #5
stress_junkie
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I think it is a matter of "us and them" mentality.

AFAIK there hasn't been a really great OS since DEC VMS.

UNIX and Linux have plenty of design flaws. (See recent threads on file locking for an example.)

Windows is an easy target. It's flaws are widely known and those flaws cause a lot of problems for Windows customers. That results in a lot of publicity in computer circles.

If UNIX and Linux were more widely used on the desktop then more of the vulnerabilities would be exploited and their reputations would suffer.

My point being that nothing is perfect. It is probably incorrect to say that the overall quality of one is better than the overall quality of another. Windows has its problems. UNIX and Linux have their problems.

Last edited by stress_junkie; 04-22-2011 at 07:26 PM.
 
Old 04-22-2011, 06:57 PM   #6
GVrooman
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I am an operating system agnostic. I use whatever OS works best for the job that I want to do. I used Slackware to rip my CD collection and make FLAC files because all the tools were there. I use Windows and WinAmp to play them back, because I notice a distinct loss of high frequency response in Linux. Whether it is the codecs or the ALSA sound card drivers I don't know. I admit that I am still using Windows 2000 because I refuse to pay Microsoft for an OS that deactivates itself when I modify my hardware. If you want steady employment in IT, it helps to know a little about both UNIX and Windows.
 
Old 04-22-2011, 07:16 PM   #7
SigTerm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telengard View Post
These are educated people, not mindless teenage boys we're talking about.
This doesn't exactly matter. I knew "educated people that could talk about 2012 apocalypse, aliense from andromeda (and telepathic communication with them), auras and such. An educated person can have a biased/unusual opinions/belief.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Telengard View Post
Fanboy-ism aside, I've always wondered exactly what people mean when they say these things.
IMO, it is their subjective opinion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Telengard View Post
By what criteria could one judge Windows to be a toy
IMO: You can't do that. If you are familiar with the system, then you can't call it a toy. The "toy" opinion probably came from somebody who believed that Windows machines are made for newbies, but IMO for a "toy" windows is waaay too complicated. For the same reason, you can't call Mac OS a toy - too complex. ZX-Spectrum ROM is closer to the "toy" than that, but I wouldn't call it a "toy" either. I think you could call OS a toy if it was written from scratch within 3..6 months by one person - with such amount of code it is a "toy", not an operating system. Anything bigger than that, however, is another story - people don't normally spend 25 years of teamwork making a single toy. Linux was a toy in the beginning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Telengard View Post
What are the criteria for a software system to be a real OS?
(Subjective, personal opinion).
Something like that:
  1. Protected mode support, starts in protected mode.
  2. Real multitasking - threads.
  3. Support for threading primitives - mutexes, critical sections, semaphores, etc
  4. Support for I/O primtives - files, pipes(optional), memory mapping(optional).
  5. Virtual memory
  6. Support for external devices + ability to make a driver
  7. Documented system API.
  8. Kernel space/user space separation.
  9. Support for memory security rings
  10. Ability to run additional programs.

Something like that. Sometimes it is very hard to distinguish between "Non OS" and "real OS". Smartphone operating systems can be somewhere on the border line.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Telengard View Post
[*]Are they merely expressing their own biases, or do they really have some objective measures to base these statements on?
IMO: They're expressing their own biases, but some of them believe that they have some objective measures (which isn't true).

Last edited by SigTerm; 04-22-2011 at 07:33 PM.
 
Old 04-22-2011, 08:21 PM   #8
Telengard
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macemoneta View Post
The earliest reference I can find on Google is this discussion from 2002. The basis of the argument seems to be primarily uptime. Especially back in 2002, it wasn't unusual for Windows to have to be rebooted several times a day, while UNIX/Linux had uptime measured in years. The idea of doing serious work in the Windows environment was laughable.
I'm quite certain the origin of this meme can be dated much earlier than 2002. It may very well have roots in the Win 3.x era when Windows was little more than a shell on top of DOS.
 
Old 04-22-2011, 08:46 PM   #9
frankbell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telengard View Post
I have heard and read phrases like "Unix is a real OS" and "Windows is a toy" in various places.
It's called "hyperbole," an exaggeration to make a point, not meant to be taken literally.

I do believe that Linux is superior to Windows, but anyone who has worked in a Windows NT/2000/2003 server environment knows that Windows is not a toy. Convoluted, confusing, and overly complex, but not a toy.
 
Old 04-22-2011, 08:56 PM   #10
tiredofbilkyyaforallican
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@ frankbell ,you forgot frustrating
 
Old 04-22-2011, 10:46 PM   #11
Coresay
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Telengard View Post
I have heard and read phrases like "Unix is a real OS" and "Windows is a toy" in various places. Here's one example.. I can even remember one of my college professors calling Windows a "toy". These are educated people, not mindless teenage boys we're talking about.

Fanboy-ism aside, I've always wondered exactly what people mean when they say these things.

I've always wanted to ask:
  • By what criteria could one judge Windows to be a toy?
  • What are the criteria for a software system to be a real OS?
  • Are they merely expressing their own biases, or do they really have some objective measures to base these statements on?
  • In what historical context did these phrases come into use, and in what groups? (I'm guessing Microsoft employees are out here.)

What I'm hoping for here is some perspective on the roots of these ideas and the nature of the people who express them. Or if there is a provable origin of these phrases then a link would be great!

Please avoid Windows bashing in this thread. It is tiresome and not at all the point. I'm looking for information, not evangelism.

Edit
I think this is a genuine meme. Web searches aren't very helpful due to the sheer number of results.


Wow, I can't believe the way you are going about your inquiry and you chose my comment as your trigger. And I didn't say Windows was a "toy". If I had to call it a toy, then I suppose I would have to qualify that description by saying it is a very tortuous toy.

At any rate, I find it amusing the wonder and mystery you are displaying as to why many people make such statements against Windows as if it's not obvious for those who have any professional experience with the two operating systems at all. Usually any complaints you come across will include the reasons for those complaints. There are countless explanations as to why Windows sucks and Unix is a "real OS". So, which of those explanations specifically do you have a hard time understanding? Surely, your not asking us to compile a list for you in this thread when Google would suffice?

I think your attempt to characterize the reality of Windows shortfalls as just due to some irrational meme is disingenuous in the least. You're feigning interesting like a concerned sociologist; pretty funny.

I think it would be MUCH more interesting, psychologically speaking, why a professional in IT or development, having at least 10 years experience with both Unix and Windows platforms, would rate Windows over Unix in general. THIS, I would suspect would be more attributed to something like a meme since upon close scrutiny any such judgment would be totally incorrect and baseless. We're talking about quality of engineering and usability... like a car, if you will. It's like the difference between a Porsche and a Ford.
 
Old 04-22-2011, 11:05 PM   #12
TobiSGD
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I find it rather funny that you post this from an OS that sucks and is no real OS .
But anyways, instead of bringing a real explanation or any information to this thread, all you have to say is "Google will show you"?
 
Old 04-22-2011, 11:33 PM   #13
Coresay
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SigTerm View Post

...but IMO for a "toy" windows is waaay too complicated. For the same reason, you can't call Mac OS a toy - too complex.
Complexity is not a reason to disqualify something from being a toy. I think the point behind calling Windows a "toy operating system" is to say that the level of quality is low and that it is not suitable for high risk or "serious" ventures. It's like the difference between a toy rocket and the Space Shuttle. Of course, these are exaggerations to make a point. And, the point is all about quality/stability and usability/productivity... cost and risk, just about any measure Unix wins.

Let me ask the OP which OS would he suggest be in control of a nuclear power plant in his home town? The best Unix distribution/release or your choice of Windows platform? Which would you bet you and your families lives on? And, a serious hypothetical like this is warranted these days. The world is getting more and more complex and dependent on technology. Quality engineering is not just a luxury anymore. Our world cannot be running on toy-tech. Software developers already claim no fault for losses due to their products. We have to push back as much as we can by holding software products to ultra high standards. There is nothing to lose in doing that and everything to gain. These are not trivial issues. Microsoft has so much money that they literally have no excuse for the crapola they dish out. Windows should be flawless at this point with ZERO bugs. We are getting ripped-off; it's that simple. No excuse.
 
Old 04-22-2011, 11:53 PM   #14
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coresay View Post
Let me ask the OP which OS would he suggest be in control of a nuclear power plant in his home town? The best Unix distribution/release or your choice of Windows platform?
None of both.

Quote:
Windows should be flawless at this point with ZERO bugs. We are getting ripped-off; it's that simple. No excuse.
Sorry I have to say that, but this statement clearly shows that you have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. It is simply impossible to develop an OS for a platform that diverse like the PC platform (in hardware terms) with that complexity (in hard- and software) with zero bugs. Any developer that knows what he is doing will confirm that.
 
Old 04-22-2011, 11:54 PM   #15
Coresay
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TobiSGD View Post
I find it rather funny that you post this from an OS that sucks and is no real OS .
But anyways, instead of bringing a real explanation or any information to this thread, all you have to say is "Google will show you"?
Why is that funny? I have three unix servers for serious business and I am planning on replacing Windows on my laptop with unix as soon as I have the time. I don't see why all this is funny. It's funny that I paid good money for a new Windows 7 laptop to give Microsoft another chance to impress me and was disappointed yet again? You think it's funny when others are inconvenienced or ripped-off? Are you suggesting that I move to Linux 100% and THEN I will be allowed to complain??? When someone's car breaks down and they have to get it repaired, do you laugh at them if they complain?
 
  


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