Convergence of Operating Systems to Linux

It’s a revolution of mobile devices today. You can find devices in different sizes and resolutions in the market. And to run these devices, they require something called an Operating System. To put it in technical terms :

“An Operating System (OS) is something that manages computer hardware resources and provides common services for computer programs.”Wikipedia

Well, if Wikipedia says so, I’d say an operating system is that thing that interacts with the computer hardware and provides a interface to the user so that they can understand what is happening under the hood.

When we talk about operating systems, the first 2 names that pop into our heads are Microsoft Windows and Android right?

Well, if you didn’t know, Windows and Android are not the only operating systems in the world. You maybe familiar with Apple‘s OS X and iOS too. But the list just doesn’t end there. It just goes on and on.

And guess what? All the companies that build these operating systems faced the same challenge when the mobile revolution came out with multiple form factors to cater to. Ever since then everyone has been trying hard to converge their operating systems on all form factors. No company has been completely successful in achieving this herculean task of making their operating system work exactly the same on all form factor devices. This is mostly because they haven’t find a smart enough method to use the space on each device in the most efficient way. So they had to design different interfaces for each form factor. They’re trying hard to integrate all the form factors into the same operating system. But no one has yet got to the ultimate convergence of operating systems. Well, but, Apple is trying to achieve the same thing in a slightly different manner. They’re trying to achieve seamless integration across all of its devices which it makes it easier to maintain as they don’t have to work harder bringing new systems into the existing systems. But, in the future, they might attempt to converge OS X and iOS too.

I was listening to Tim Cook talking at WWDC 2014 introducing the new features of OS X : Yosemite when I realized something. And that realization inspired me to this post.

Good artists copy; Great artists steal

Well, that quote itself is wrongly attributed to Steve Jobs. According to WikiQuote, Steve Jobs is (mis)quoting Pablo Picasso, but, that too originates from T S Eliot‘s dictum“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion.” which is exactly what Steve Jobs did from the start. He started by stealing the idea of a mouse-driven Graphical User Interface (GUI) from Xerox, and since then Apple has kept up the tradition of “copying and stealing” with pride even after the death of Steve Jobs.

When every company says that they’re working hard to converge ‘form-factors’, what I feel is that they’re somehow trying to copy from the open-source alternative ‘Linux’ and it’s features. Most of them are converging to Linux than form factors.

The Windows 8 kernel is believed to be a fork of the Linux Kernel. Source : Muktware : Microsoft Is Using Linux Kernel In Windows 8 Well, that should explain the curtain lock screen that was copied from the GNOME Display Manager (GDM). To add to that, Nokia released a variant operating system for their latest line of X devices that was forked from Android right after Microsoft acquired Nokia Mobiles.

But its not just Microsoft or Microsoft Windows that’s interested in the GNOME Project. Apple‘s latest iteration of OS X : Yosemite has a new window manager and interface that looks so much similar to the GNOME Project and it almost looks like a fork of GNOME 3.10.

I found this on my Google+ feed; The creator Naveen Kumarasinghe was inspired to create this image by this logo that JorgeToledo probably created after the announcement of the features of OS X : Yosemite.

If you simply want these features of the GNOME Project, then why do you have to pay such enormous amounts in purchasing these OSes? Simply use the free and open-source alternative – any Linux distribution with the GNOME Desktop Environment would give you all the features of these OSes. Ubuntu GNOME has already been recognized as an official flavour of Ubuntu. Now, what are you waiting for? Go get your favourite flavour of the GNOME Project now.

Well, to conclude, where is the world of convergence coming to?
Will it be convergence of form-factors into a singular system or a convergence of the OSes to Linux?

Food for thought…

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