Monday, November 3, 2003

I don’t know what it is about alternative operating systems that attract me to them. I love playing around with these weird little OSes.

Perhaps part of it is the “Big Fish, Little Pond” syndrome. With a little alt.os, I can have a big impact on its community just by writing a comparatively straightforward application or writing a few documents.

So I’ve recently become re-interested in Syllable, which is a nice little GUI OS with lots of potential. No apps, but lots of potential.

Which, of course, means nothing unless that potential is realized. I have my thoughts.

  1. An alt.os cannot survive without attracting lots of developer attention. To do this, the OS must have high-quality development tools. Typing “gcc” in a terminal window simply won’t do. In fact, decent development tools won’t do. The tools must inexorably pull developers from their current development environments, and to do that, the tools must be first-rate.

  2. Assuming the developers come, the OS needs to be able to handle MS Word documents. Note: I don’t mean that it needs a word processor, though it does. A word processor is of minimal value unless users can actually open and save Word documents with it. It’s amazing how many people say, “I’d love to try that OS; can I use Word documents on it?”

I addressed the first issue with Juggler, but now realize that my simple IDE was insufficient. Syllable needs something more like the modern IDEs such as Visual C++.

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