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Operating systems : DOS Windows 95 98 2K XP Vista 7 and Linux

  Operating Systems

 
  Operating Systems
  Overview
Windows
Linux
 
There's a new Kid in town. And he's more than just another fish! See why so many are choosing a Penguin over a shark! Linux is not for everyone yet. It does however, offer a valuable alternative to the " One size fits all " and "Married to Microsoft" approach. Software is forever evolving as new Applications, hardware and stability issues arise.

     My Apologies to Microsoft loyal Fans out there for the above depiction. But what creature do you know of that is an incredible eating machine that devours everything in it's path without conscience. Don't get me wrong, I use Microsoft products, assist others with Microsoft products, and develop applications for their
platform. The point being that competition is healthy for stimulated growth in technology, productivity, and the dollar value. Microsoft has virtually eliminated all challengers and set the goals of business to be "keep up with our plan " or loose. Their plan seems to be targeted at upgrade, buy, replace and pay. The world of software engineers through Linux are saying enough! We aren't going to dedicate all our resources to feed Microsoft. The computer is a tool to be used to make us more competitive and profitable on a world scale, we cannot pour our profits into continually re-inventing the tool.

 

Microsoft dream: Consumers shall pay every time "we" decide to offer new operating system versions with new features. Each new version is a complete finished work that is backwards compatible to previous versions. Consumers will have one desktop look with limited adjustments to style and features. Everyone's system will be exactly the same structure. No guarantee exists that applications in use will continue to operate under the new operating systems as they come available. Consumers are responsible to shoulder the costs of replacing software applications no longer supported and for obtaining patches and fixes to their operating system. The operating system contains the kernel (brains), device drivers window manager, configuration utilities, browser and mail agent specific to the version. Ownership of the operating system remains with Microsoft, you are only paying for the right to use it till Microsoft decides otherwise Kind of one sided don't you think?

Linux Fact: Every Linux distribution is free. Under no circumstances shall the operating system ever be considered a finished piece of work. New versions with new features as they become available may also be obtained for free. Wherever possible backwards compatibility will be maintained. The entire Linux system is component based so that consumers have the choice of what they want to keep and what they want to upgrade. The structure of all Linux systems is fully user definable. No guarantee exists that applications in use with one kernel will continue to be usable under a new kernel but, given that you can have more than one kernel on a system, you can keep kernels around that enable use of older apps. Kernels, system components, and applications will always be free for download however, obtaining Linux from stores or ordering CD's will be at a cost to cover marketing, printing materials, building the CD's up with 1000's of tools and applications. No one ever owns Linux, everyone is free to distribute it, and under terms of the GNU modify it to meet their needs.

A little history  
       Before the advent of the PC in 1980, and even before the home computer, was the hobby computer. These machines operated on a very limited scale largely controlled by program known as CP/M (control program / monitor). Believe it or not it was essentially DOS. CP/M was developed as a teaching tool and was free without any claim of ownership. Essentially, CP/M had only the very basic commands: (copy, move, list, run, type). Any operation beyond these basic commands came as a result of using the run command. The kernel was originally loaded from cassette as the simple ROM (Read only memory) which only knew basic cassette file loading. This kernel knew about the keyboard, video display card, floppy disk drive,  parallel printer port and serial/modem port. Application development was a slow process largely done using the Assembly language.

     As we progressed into the home computer era, EEPROM (Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memories) made it possible for a resident programming language to be used (BASIC = Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code ). This opened the flood gate for all kinds of possibilities as amateur programmers took on making games, accounting packages, simple spreadsheets and even crude music and voice synthesis systems.

     By 1980, Microsoft developed DOS 1.0 for the very first PC using the new 8088 16 bit architecture. DOS was essentially identical to CP/M rewritten for the abilities of the new computer system. Microsoft did not own the rights to this operating system. It was an interim means to an end. Over time Microsoft released newer versions under the names of DOS 2.0, and 3.0 with 3.0 being the first official release (ie: a release that was sufficiently changed as to be called their work). As DOS grew in complexity, versions of DOS 4.0, 5.0 and 6.0 came out. With DOS 6.0 Microsoft returned to a practice of using facilities that they didn't have the right to use. DOS 6.0 came out with a program set called interlnk.exe and intersvr.exe which enabled a parallel port cable to allow one computer to control and update another computer. In a rush to avoid prosecution Microsoft released DOS 6.2 without the pirated programs.

     Windows 3.1 and Windows 3.11 for work groups Microsoft's first attempt at creating a desktop GUI. The windows platform  of this early system sat on top of DOS and first showed up as an accompaniment to DOS 4.0. This system was started by placing a command "win" into the end of the autoexec.bat start-up script. Throughout all these years of development the operating system was a flat single layer single user single task system. Networking and security were largely the part of third party developers like Novel networks and Norton Utilities. The windows 3.xx desktop was made possible from work done by the X consortium for the Unix operating system. Some of the main contributors to technology that drove the DOS / Windows 3.xx era were:
               Novel - which supplied a network socket layer allowing Pc's to be networked together.
               Word Perfect - the first multi-tasking software for Pc's. Written entirely in Assembly language it was
                    the most powerful desktop application on the market. It was capable of handling print jobs in a
                    multitude of formats to up to 256 local & network printers at a time. It's large que made major
                    in-roads to office automation.
              Lotus 123 - was the spreadsheet of choice and featured advanced features for controlled data entry
                   and reporting.

Windows 95/98   
       In 1995, Microsoft released a new version of Windows called windows 95. This massive undertaking was hyped as a totally new system for which it was not! What Microsoft did was go back to the X consortium for another sample desktop look, changed the DOS kernel to load the windows GUI (graphical user interface) without going into the DOS command mode first, and restructure how the user works with the system. Because the underlying system was still DOS the system was a complete misrepresentation of their claims. Windows 95 was a major problem that resulted in numerous patches and bug fixes.
     As Microsoft moved ahead with this new system it targeted those systems that users most worked with to include into the system. Thusly, Microsoft office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentation) directly came out to capture the Word Perfect, Lotus, Dbase markets.

     In early 1998, Microsoft released Windows 95 again as Windows 98 only this time with most of the serious bugs corrected. Shortly thereafter, came Windows 98se (second edition) which became the most stable of their 16 bit DOS based systems. The most prevalent factor that interfered with stability of Microsoft systems was what became commonly referred to as "dll hell". Simply put, dll or dynamically linked libraries, are produced by both Microsoft and third party venders. As it turns out, Microsoft created libraries of routines for it's various operational functions. At the same time venders would create libraries of functions for their device or application. The names given by both Microsoft and these other venders to these libraries at times would become identical. While every effort was taken to prevent making a new library of the same name as one already in use, Microsoft upgrades would inadvertently create a clash because of not knowing some vender was already using that name. Result: you install Microsoft op system, install the next best vender killer application, then Microsoft does an update and WHAM! the killer app stops working or the system fails when the killer app refers to the library. You re-install the killer app and WHAM! Microsoft op system hangs!  

Windows NT  
      Microsoft had long been offering a business enterprise class operating system with multi-tasking, multi-user networking ability. Windows NT design incorporated stronger password, group, and permission rights than the systems offered to the public. Windows NT lacked the GUI strengths of the non-business lines.
    This business class system lacked the multi-media, photographic, and ease of device access that personal computing users were accustomed to.
 
Windows ME  code named Millennium Edition        ** Internet Renamed it as Most Errored!
     The millennium Edition was an attempt to restrict the operating system such that users would have a system that was less prone to crashes through "dll hell". Windows ME ran fewer applications written by non-Microsoft venders
and was supposed to use the .NET framework borrowed from the NT series of software. Ideally, if Microsoft had of had it's .Net download site up to speed with libraries and features that users actually would want before it released Windows ME, there would have been better acceptance. As it stood, Windows ME was a disaster, core apps didn't run right if at all, vender apps either wouldn't run because of no support in the Windows ME, or required both internet access and a valid .net library. Major changes to the op system made changing back to a working Windows 98 impossible or pretty close to it.
    The .Net framework by intent, was to provide a stable suppository of libraries at Microsoft that would assure that when an application using .net was used, all it's dll's in the correct versions would download to the user's PC and run. After the application ends, the user can use vender apps and their associated dll's without fear of breaking the op-system. It also did something else too! It would if successful provide Microsoft with their dream of billing users every time they turn on their PC. Users, Programmers, Venders, and Business would not accept the risk or
the implications.
Windows 2000  
 

       Microsoft recognized their failure to hold the world hostage with the Windows ME approach. There were just so many venders of applications, so many programs that could exploit the well known DOS platform and so many people that were unwilling to change that Microsoft had to find another way.

       In 2000, Microsoft released Windows 2000 based upon the NT platform. It was a melding of the familiar Windows 98 legacy with the networking power of the NT structure. Users were given the choice of using the fat32 file system or opting for the NTFS file system. This NTFS file system was more secure, had built in user group and permissions but unlike the fat, fat16 & fat32 file systems could not be read and manipulated through disk based programs. If you haven't already guessed it!, if the system won't start or the Command level repairs won't solve the problem, you are forced to rely on recovery disk techniques. Windows 2000 was stable but had some fairly big issues with tempermental programs and crashes.

       Another big change in the Microsoft world was the implementation of software keying and EOL or End of Life on it's offerings. In short, the software keying would potentially make software piracy harder, and add the ability to only unlock the software to valid users. Implementing the End of Life process, means that Microsoft decides when the operating system or any other of their software will become unsupported. Eventually, an unsupported package will need to be replaced. When you figure in the Licensing key to the equation, Microsoft now has the ability to force users to stop using a package whether it be the operating system or an app like Microsoft office, until they buy the next best one in the series.

      Windows 2000 only partially implemented keying, and EOL. Developers were able to redesign most apps commonly used in the older Windows 98 era to work with the newer NT framework. Windows 2000 was at least much more stable and less prone to crashing. Unfortunately, as new hardware came out in the form of new motherboards with advanced capabilities, Users were forced to upgrade to Windows XP as they upgraded to newer hardware. Microsoft sped up the upgrade process by making improvements for new hardware only available to those who upgrade to the new XP.
 

Windows XP  
 

     Windows XP came onto the market in 2003. Like Microsoft Office, it too now used an activation key and an EOL cycle. If you install Windows XP, you are required to connect to the Internet in order to activate your product. Failure to activate with-in 30 days and the system will stop working. If the system fails and you need to use recovery or full re-installation, you must go online to reactivate the product. So what happens at end of cycle? Well in short, you loose! Firstly, you are forced to buy and install the most recently available operating system. You loose time redoing so much reconfiguring, and you loose more features for which Microsoft has decided you didn't want or need.

On a standard Microsoft based Windows machine the boot loader merely passes control to the NTLoader program found on the C: drive. This process is true for Windows NT, 2K, XP, and Vista. It was done much different on previous systems but since they aren't around any more so we won't bore you.  In fact, windows XP,  Vista and the soon to be released Windows 7  are the only choices now and XP is being sent into obscurity shortly.

If you own a licensed copy of XP and have it installed, you may buy and install Vista as a secondary system. If you don't have XP  your out of luck since it's no longer sold. Microsoft made this half ass solution because so much of Vista was broken but they still wanted to force people to upgrade. Vista is currently your only Microsoft choice until they decide to bring out Windows 7. As with all Microsoft products, they are designed to be the only operating system on a PC as such installing a Microsoft product will destroy access to either MacIntosh Leopard or Linux.

Microsoft End of Life cycle: The E O L is just another way Microsoft can take more control over you. Ideally, Microsoft wants like any business, to have a never ending cash influx. Windows XP was their answer to a unstable problematic windows 2000. Windows XP with service pack 2 has been the most stable and fastest windows ever. Microsoft plans to release service pack 3 to finish their commitment to Windows XP users before the end of 2009. No new versions of Windows XP will be able to be activated after January 31st 2009. Notice the date has since past. Support will end for Windows XP users in 2014. XP recoveries and Re-Installs can no longer be done.
 

Windows Vista  was code named Longhorn
 

     Windows Vista has been a nightmare for Microsoft and it's users. At over 4 times the required harddisk space, 1/3rd the operating speed, and heavy hardware requirements; personal and business users hate it! Firstly, they redesigned the system which resulted in major errors and broken sub-systems being put into the system. Next they modified the system to include features which XP users had already implemented from third party sources. Then in an attempt to demonstrate their new systems flashiness they added toolbars, sidebars, and 3D windows. So what does this all mean in a real sense? In short you now have a Windows XP system, that uses twice the memory, 4 times the hard drive space, and runs at less than half the speed of XP despite that you had to upgrade your hardware to dual core processors > 2.4GHz!! Is Vista stable? No! Is it wise to upgrade to it? No!
Were you given an upgrade choice? No! Can you go back to XP? No! XP is End of Life Cycle to new owners but security patches will continue until 2014.
     It's been 3 years since the release of Vista and for most, the problems just keep coming. I think Microsoft is counting on this. People faced with having to make a choice will opt to replace the Vista with whatever Microsoft offers next just to hope they finally get to have some peace.
 

Windows 7  was code named Blackcomb then Vienna
       What's next! October 2009, Microsoft is poised to release "Windows 7" as a modular operating system to replace Windows Vista. It originally was going to called Windows Blackcomb then it was to be Windows Vienna. Microsoft having faced a disaster over Windows Vista opted to just  call it Windows 7 since Windows XP was really Windows 5 and Windows Vista was Windows 6. What does Windows 7 bring to the table? Well, more focus is put into making the software and hardware work together. New shell, new taskbar, better integrated support for apps designed to work with Windows Vista, and drop support for non-Windows Vista applications. Gone will be the Calendar, Windows Mail (Outlook Express by another name), Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Photo Gallery for starts. Gone also will be the ability for people without internet connection and a Microsoft account to be able to do much of anything with their system. Why would people want this? Beats me!! Microsoft will be the sole provider of required system modules which are downloaded every time you start your system.  Yes you do have to pay them for the modules. Hope your credit card has lots of limit. Just as with Windows Vista with it's 5 versions, there will be 6 versions of Windows 7. Private people can buy Windows 7 home premium, or Windows 7 Professional, but businesses have the option to go with other versions and then use the "Windows anytime upgrade" button to purchase a key to unlock the advanced features since all features are installed from the start but not turned on.
      Do you really want to be Microsoft's daily customer?
Linux  
 

     *** Note: if you install Windows XP , Vista or Windows 7 and then install Linux everything will work fine. If for any reason your windows needs to be re-installed, your Linux system will become in-accessible. Microsoft does this to discourage people from using a better operating system. Thusly, you are encouraged to make a Linux boot CD or Boot disk (if your fortunate to still have a diskette drive).

On Linux the boot record is replaced by the LILO boot loader. This boot loader first makes a backup copy of the original boot record before placing itself into the boot record. The loader then points itself at the Linux Boot  folder where a lilo.conf file defines not just the Linux system but also all pre-existing Windows systems. When you start up a machine with Linux on it, you get a menu offering several choices from 1-8 versions of Linux, a Linux failsafe mode, a floppy boot mode, and any previously defined windows modes. If you re-install Linux and do not change any partitions especially windows ones, then previous versions of windows will be unaffected.

       Linux makes no common Microsoft windows miss-representations. The various writers understand that no software will ever be eternal. People are going to want changes, hardware advances will be made, and new hurtles will be encountered. Designed as a suitable UNIX style system for PC's it's unparalleled. Linux can run most UNIX programs and scripts. It is gaining serious abilities to run both DOS and Windows based applications. It can read and write windows partitions as well as all types of UNIX style ones.
       UNIX - this operating system is true multi-user multi-tasking and secure but a full UNIX system won't fit on a standard PC.
       Linux - is also multi-user multi-tasking secure free and stable. There are many flavours of Linux by just as many venders. Each vender assures to offer it's rendition of Linux as free, compatible to others, and to provide the source code to anyone who wants it. As anyone can install and modify Linux if needed to suit a specific purpose, Linux is a serious threat to the Microsoft monopoly.
       It doesn't matter the flavour of Linux that suits you, the following will be true:

  1. The boot folder will contain 1 to 8 kernels of Linux and the settings and access to enable booting into
    windows or 1-8 versions of Linux or a troubleshoot mode of Linux.
  2. Each Kernel of Linux is loosely the same as having 1-8 versions of DOS.
  3. Almost all applications for Linux are free and will run under most kernels.
  4. The xWindows manager provides the GUI desktop or desktops
  5. Each desktop will be configurable and for Microsoft Windows people, can be thought of as different versions of Windows.
  6. Distributions of Linux come with 1000's of applications and utilities and many more which can be downloaded from the Internet.
  7. Only the Root user (administrator) has full system access.
  8. Users are confined to their own folder of the system and are granted access to software applications but privileges issued by the Root User.
  9. Only the Root User can install and make applications usable, thusly, viruses, trojans, worms stand no chance of infecting a system.
  10. If an application does crash (which is rare) it will never bring down the whole system like it happens in Microsoft products.
  11. Installation, Removal, or changing applications or settings will not require any rebooting of the system.
  12. Networking capabilities are the highest found anywhere for the PC

       Microsoft proponents will tell you to avoid Linux because it is so complex. Linux of the past was fairly heavy on the topic of learning. Current versions of Linux Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Manderva, RedHat, and OpenSE are so well configured that you really don't have to do much of anything. You can install the version in express mode or take on a more active role by choose expert mode and making it fit you exactly. Lets say you install in express mode as a workstation mode. Well under this condition, all server applications would not be selected. If you knew you would want to serve as an Internet webhost, you could have installed as a server right from the start, or selected to add the desired server packages after installing the workstation mode. Another way would be to go into expert mode and specifically choose the packages you want.

      Microsoft has no concept of application management. When you install a program in any windows flavour, the operating system does not know anything about the package being installed until it is done.  Linux by contrast has 1000's of programs, utilities, and full featured applications. Linux repositories, rpms, deb's (depending on the vender you chose to use) download an update to your file management system when you access the download site. The information gathered by your package handler then tells you what packages are available, what they do, what they require to work correctly, whether you already have the package, and if the package is a newer replacement to one on your system. Package information is organized by your package handler in to groups for easy examination.

  Compare and judge for yourself!  
Feature Microsoft GNU LINUX
  Dos 1 Dos 2 Dos 3 Dos 4 Win 3.xx Dos 5 Dos 6 Win 95 Win 98 Win ME Win NT Win 2000 Win XP Win Vista Windows 7 i386 i586 i786
Year 1980 1983 1986 1987 1988 1990 1992 1995 1998 1999 2000 2000 2003 2006 2009 1998 2002 2006
New Cost $250 $250 $250 $250 $250 $250 $250 $250 $250 $250 $550 ++ $250 ++ $285 ++ $355 ++ $$$      
Upgrade $165 $165 $165 $165 $165 $165 $165 $165 $165 $165 $365 $165 ++ $199 ++ $240 ++  n/a      
Download n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a  n/a  Free  Free  Free
Install Auto Auto Auto Auto Auto Auto Auto Auto Auto Auto Auto Auto Auto Auto   ??  Auto or Manual  Auto or Manual  Auto or Manual
   Customize  No  No  No  No y/n  No No some some some some some some some   ??  fully customizable  fully customizable  fully customizable
Window
   Manager
n/a n/a n/a n/a

1

n/a n/a

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Desktops n/a n/a n/a n/a

1

n/a n/a

1

1

1

1

1

1

2

2

8 - 1500

8 - 1500

8 - 1500

device
    drivers

 Both supplied & special from manufacturer

Supplied Supplied

 Both Supplied & Special

Downloadable as they become available

Kernel upgrades do not effect existing:

  • drivers

  • window manager

  • utilities

  • applications.

New kernels may offer added or improved:

  • drivers

  • components

  • applications.

Multi Boot No No No No No No No No No No No Yes Yes No ??

Yes  8 Linux versions & up to 2 windows versions.

    Floppy Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ** Yes ** Yes** Yes Yes Yes
                         

**new systems don't have

     
   CD/DVD No No No No No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ?? Yes Yes Yes
   Network No No No No No No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes **restrictions ?? Yes Yes Yes
   USB No No No No No No No No No No No Yes Yes Yes ?? Yes Yes Yes
Start-up
    Debug
No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Choice Choice Choice
  Multiuser No No No No No No No No No No Yes Yes No No No  Yes  Yes  Yes
  Multitask No No No No No No No No No No No Yes Yes Limited Limited  Yes  Yes  Yes
Support:  Reference Manual On Disk Help No Manual New On-Disc help
Online Help
Only through discussion Boards
HARDWARE

 Extensive coverage for all hardware avail. at time of software release, downloads and patches as new hardware comes available

Limited Limited Older hardware mainly supported.
      Newer hardware as freelance developers write for them.
Bundled
Applications

none

Some stripped down trials or OEM support-less bundling. none none download over 30,000
  • free utilities & applications
  • commercial trials
  • commercial packages.
  • Box-sets include 2000+ utilities and apps.
  100's of thousands of free, trial and commercial packages available for download or purchase.

a few

??

User
   Friendly
 Reference Manual Only         Yes - built in help
No  - Developers Man Pages
Yes - point n click
No  - custom settings
Poor -  problem correction
Yes - Online
Yes - built in help
Yes - Developers Man Pages
Yes - Point n click
Yes - Customizable
Limited Troubleshoot
Yes - Online
Version
Choices

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

2

1

1

2

2

5

5

  • many Linux flavours.
  • Each vender offers choices of using previous versions or current ones.
  • In addition, under most cases programs and utilities for one vender will work on any other venders offering.
Obsolete

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Just gone

near
end of life

New

Linux is never really obsolete. When you need newer hardware you may need a newer Linux version.
If you have need for features offered by a new version this may also require the new version and possibly new hardware.
 To accommodate older PC's the kernel can be rebuilt to optimize it for  these PC's.
Application
    Upgrade
New versions often require consumers to upgrade their hardware. This is also true with all their development products. In 2002, I needed to upgrade from Visual Basic 6 running on a P1-166 under win98 to the .NET Visual Studio - VB.NET. I rushed out and bought VB.NET and went to install it. WHAM! VB.NET needs a CDROM with at least x24 speed. Add the CDROM x52 speed. Open the CD instructions and WOW now i need to replace my P1 with a P-III or P4 and replace Win98 with win2k/XP! A $181 upgrade just became $1400 minimum!

 

  Linux has available a program called xbasic which can be run on both Microsoft windows and Linux providing a single environment for developing systems for both operating systems. Xbasic provides all the same functionality as Microsoft Visual Basic but doesn't require new hardware or operating system! It's also free!!
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