The Labs.Com OS Lab
Last update 2004/02/26

The Labs - Design & Functionality For The Net

Operating System Lab

An Operating-System (OS) represents a software-layer to access the computer hardware, some OS'es handle only rather primitive tasks such as multi-user and multi-tasking capability, others even implement a GUI (Graphical User Interface):

  1. Overview
  2. Server Rating
  3. Desktop Rating
  4. Further Infos
OS Lab
1. Overview
Few tuning hints
few hints yet
Another BSD
Another one
Real-time UNIX
Sun's Solaris
Sun's UNIX
Good multimedia (future unknown)
Apple & BSD
Directory: Operating Systems
Open directory on OS'es

OS Lab
2. Server Rating

  1. FreeBSD: + ports, kernel and world build/install
  2. Linux: + very flexible, many extensions, - inconsistancy through system layout
    1. Debian: has well-developed packages, best layout
    2. SuSE: large collection of precompiled prgs (rpm)
    3. RedHat: RPM (a pain in the behind)
  3. NetBSD + many ports of architectures, ports
  4. OpenBSD + security (e.g. openssh), - install flaws, slow

BSD Family

 The BSD-Family (FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD) impress by their clean system-setup and packages/ports which provide a clean (de)installation of programs, a definitely must for operating a server. FreeBSD does best in installation and overall impression, NetBSD less known follows closely. NetBSD still impresses with one code-base working on near countless hardware platforms. OpenBSD performance wise is lacking a great deal (01/2004) according multiple benchmarks done by others.


 FreeBSD does performance wise very good and more stable to comperable Red Hat (Linux 2.4.x kernel). Linux 2.6.x kernel seems to bring quite some performance, but we haven't tested it yet (02/2004), but looks very promising. FreeBSD has its jail feature (see our jail_tools) to virtualize machines (or groups of processes as in case of jails to be specific), a user-mode FreeBSD kernel would be quite fine to have.


 Linux has been rated now better than before, as many features like UML, XFS, JFS, and alike server features are available, but on the other hand the UNIX directory & system-layout and also the package-systems of many Linux Distributions are just a mess, only Debian can convince with their package-system, but they have still a cumbersome installation program, OpenBSD installation program is even worse.


 We didn't rate any WinXX/MS products, since we don't use it for servers at all; and whoever uses MS products for server applications (or general proprietary closed source software) behaves irresponsible in our eyes due the extreme high security risks taken and the sole dependency on mostly one company. In early 2004 was a remote exploit fixed by MS, which was 6 months earlier reported to MS - during that time potentially ~ 300,000,000 machines were volunerable and known how, at least to one security company who reported it - this is not an acceptable way to do reliable and trusted computing (no matter how much marketing MS does for their "trusted computing" platform), if they lack to fix things during a couple of days, but take 6 months to do so, they are out of any serious consideration. Again, whoever uses MS products for server application behaves irresponsible.

We also didn't mentioned or rate Solaris (Sun Microsystems) and Irix (SGI), both used to high-end and scalable systems.

OS Lab
3. Desktop Rating

  1. MacOS X + easy use, BSD based, - only Mac hardware (no other options)
  2. Linux (Debian) + gnome/kde, - missing media drivers
  3. FreeBSD + port system, gnome/kde, desktop apps, - missing media drivers
  4. BeOS + desktop easy setup, - missing some USB support, no future
  5. WinXX + easy usage, comprehensive driver support, - unreliable, pricey
  6. QNX + easy installation, - missing media support (fall 2000)


 BeOS was our first choice for desktop and embedded systems as it impresses with the easy setup, GUI and overall setup. Most of the Be technology was up-to-date (2001), yet, the product future is no more. Another example that superior technology doesn't necessarly imply market success.

MacOS X is our first choice, with FreeBSD userland and Aqua you are missing very little to any other real "open" system (in regards of software and hardware).


 FreeBSD we rated now as 2nd as many apps (OpenOffice, Mozilla, TV apps) work just fine, some video-extensions are not available which Linux has. I personally use FreeBSD as desktop now as well, in particular I admire the ports which allow me to install applications with one command-line, but it needs to mentioned too, that maintaining the port system and upgrade it is still not resolved (despite of portupgrade).


 Linux does quite well on desktop now, OppenOffice desktop program providing state-of-the-art text editor and spreadsheet, then KDE and GNOME desktop systems getting better (01/2004), good future. Specially the Mandrake did well with easy installation, yet we recommend Debian distribution as it provides the cleanest setup.


 WinXX is no longer required really, only particular e.g. USB based scanner / printer combos aren't well supported under Open Source OS's (2004). The next years, when more governmental agencies move to Linux or FreeBSD corporate desktops, then the pressure to provide also drivers for brand new hardware will increase.

OS Lab
4. Further Infos

InterOS issues
OS Opinion.Com
News site
Profile.SH: SysWiki
Good Tech-FAQs on various OS'es
Virtual machines software
Running linux-binaries under WinXX


System Lab viewportSound Lab

Hipocrisy of the finest:

"I agree that no single company can create all the hardware and software. Openness is central because it's the foundation of choice."
-- Steve Balmer (Microsoft) blaming Apple regarding iPhone, February 18, 2009

"Things work better when hardware and software are considered together, [..]. We control it all, we design it all, and we manufacture it all ourselves."
-- Steve Balmer announcing Windows 8 Tablet, June 19, 2012

Last update 2004/02/26

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