Channels ▼
RSS

Design

Whither Operating Systems?


Are Operating Systems Becoming Irrelevant?

Operating systems on top of operating systems: Arguably the most disruptive trend in operating systems today is virtualization, a topic we explored in December 2006. Apple's computers now run Windows through virtualization, thanks to Parallels and VMware. Mainframes, such as IBM's z Series and server farms, allocate their computing resources efficiently and support otherwise incompatible applications and operating systems through virtualization. And if you believe Gartner Research, virtualization is the trick that will save Microsoft Windows from collapsing under its own bloated mass.

And the player we intend to watch as all of this virtualization action plays out? XenSource.

Are Operating Systems Unnecessary?

BEA "is cutting out the operating system," an article in The Register says, by using a JVM to talk directly to the hardware and to a VMware hypervisor. So does this mean there is no operating system? Or is the hypervisor, or maybe the JVM, the actual operating system?

A virtualizing hypervisor meets some of the criteria of an operating system, but when its purpose is to support conventional operating systems, calling it an OS would be confusing. As for Java as an OS, that can be close to true: A project documented at www.jbox.dk shows how little you need to add to a JVM to make it perform all the functions of an operating system. Then, too, requirements are different in consumer devices, and here Java has to be counted among the operating system options, even if it isn't truly an operating system—adding to the identity crisis of operating systems this year.


Related Reading


More Insights






Currently we allow the following HTML tags in comments:

Single tags

These tags can be used alone and don't need an ending tag.

<br> Defines a single line break

<hr> Defines a horizontal line

Matching tags

These require an ending tag - e.g. <i>italic text</i>

<a> Defines an anchor

<b> Defines bold text

<big> Defines big text

<blockquote> Defines a long quotation

<caption> Defines a table caption

<cite> Defines a citation

<code> Defines computer code text

<em> Defines emphasized text

<fieldset> Defines a border around elements in a form

<h1> This is heading 1

<h2> This is heading 2

<h3> This is heading 3

<h4> This is heading 4

<h5> This is heading 5

<h6> This is heading 6

<i> Defines italic text

<p> Defines a paragraph

<pre> Defines preformatted text

<q> Defines a short quotation

<samp> Defines sample computer code text

<small> Defines small text

<span> Defines a section in a document

<s> Defines strikethrough text

<strike> Defines strikethrough text

<strong> Defines strong text

<sub> Defines subscripted text

<sup> Defines superscripted text

<u> Defines underlined text

Dr. Dobb's encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, Dr. Dobb's moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing or spam. Dr. Dobb's further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

 
Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | View the list of supported HTML tags you can use to style comments. | Please read our commenting policy.
 

Video