Operating systems

Operating system. There were gazillion holy wars about Windows vs. Linux vs. MacOS vs. name your Esoteric OS here. I have to confess, I participated in some of them a long time ago, then stopped for a while. Now I feel it’s time for my final shot in this battle.

Background

My first operating system was MS-DOS circa 1994 (or the earliest I can remember). I used it to launch games on my cousin’s computer while he was asleep on Saturday mornings. He was in high school back in the day, and I couldn’t understand how one can sleep so long on Saturday morning when he could do something on his computer. Twelve years later, I understood it entirely when I went to high school myself. The only rule there was that I cannot wake him up; otherwise, I can use the computer in any way I find interesting. It took a while to understand how to launch games independently, so I tried “entering” multiple files and directories. I believe I used the OS at the day (actually, Norton Commander or something). The operating system was something I used to open the apps with, listing the files, and visualizing my computer’s contents. At some point, it was so interesting to me that I entirely dumped the idea of playing games and browsed those drives, directories, and files instead.

My cousin showed up awake with his classmate in the morning on one of these Saturdays, and they presented Windows 95 and unpacked a strange device that turned out to be a mouse. We’ve spent playing FIFA 96, where I used this weird mouse thing instead of the keyboard to control my team for the rest of the day. I was miserably losing as I had to move my hand on the table as fast as possible. The left button was “kick”, right was “pass”. That day I understood another function of the OS: it helped me work with my devices. The other MS-DOS did not recognize mouse movement or clicks.

Now let’s fast forward to late 2004, the time when a geeky friend of mine gave me a CD and said, “Hey, check out this new Linux. It would be easier for you to run Apache and PHP on it than on Windows.” Ubuntu 4.10 Warty Warthog, and since that day, I barely used Windows for anything than gaming.

When I was already a senior engineer, that’s the title they give you back in Ukraine when you are 23 and do stuff with computers (I got it when I was 21), I bought my first Mac. It was the first Mac in my company. Everybody was freaking out at how I would do my job now with the system nobody ever saw before. It was already 2013.

I bought my personal laptop 3 years ago; it’s running Linux since day 1 (yeah, on Day 0, it was running Windows, and I honestly tried to use it for one day).

Now this

I use multiple laptops: MBP 16” for work, ThinkPad X1 for personal projects, Windows on VM once in a blue moon, sometimes I don’t even know what OS is running on the device I use (like the one in my car or on my thermostat). Most importantly, I do not care. Entirely. At all. Because I use apps. I do not care about which OS they rely on to do their job, fulfill their function.

As a software engineer, I write some code and design systems, write documentation, and read a lot of documentation. I need Firefox, shell, VSCode, Git, and Docker. As far as I know, they are present on any operating system that I care to mention (and maybe even on your esoteric operating system too). The operating system has only one function to me: switch focus between applications. My current PopOS does it extremely fast on my ThinkPad. I wish my MacOS would be as fast. I didn’t try Windows recently to do precisely that, but I think it will not be dramatically different. My Xbox cannot run multiple games at once and it’s okay. My personal files are on the cloud, my music is on Spotify, my videos are on Netflix and Amazon, my everything is outside of my computer. I do Zooms (Teams and Google Meet, yes, I do all of them) from my phone. It gives a superior picture than any laptop integrated camera and connects well with my earbuds.

This holy war became absolutely irrelevant. There’s no feature operating system can propose to me that would make me switch. Thus I officially become an operating system free, and damn, it feels so good. This is progress; this is unification I could not even imagine ten years ago when I typed in trenches with other folks in the holy war for the best operating system ever existing.