10 amazingly alternative operating systems and what they could mean for the future

This post is about the desktop operating systems that fly under the radar of most people. We are definitely not talking about Windows, Mac OS X or Linux, or even BSD or Solaris. There are much less mainstream options out there for the OS-curious.

These alternative operating systems are usually developed either by enthusiasts or small companies (or both), and there are more of them than you might expect. There are even more than we have included in this article, though we think this is a good selection of the more interesting ones and we have focused specifically on desktop operating systems.

As you will see, many of them are very different from what you may be used to. We will discuss the potential of this in the conclusion of this article.

Enough introduction, let’s get started! Here is a look at 10 alternative operating systems, starting with a familiar old name…

AmigaOS 4.1

This month (September 2008) AmigaOS 4.1 was released. Although AmigaOS is a veteran in the field (many have fond memories of the original Amiga computer), its current version is a fully modern OS.

AmigaOS only runs on specific PowerPC-based hardware platforms. The company ACube is currently marketing and distributing AmigaOS and is going to bundle the OS with their motherboards.

Source model: Closed source

License: Proprietary

Platform: PowerPC

State: Final

Read a review of AmigaOS 4.1 at Arstechnica.


Haiku is an open source project aimed at recreating and continuing the development of the BeOS operating system (which Palm Inc. bought and then discontinued). Haiku was initially known as OpenBeOS but changed its name in 2004.

Haiku is compatible with software written for BeOS.

Source model: Free and open source

License: MIT License

Platform: x86 and PowerPC

State: Pre-Alpha

Read more at the Haiku website.


ReactOS is an operating system designed to be compatible with Microsoft Windows software. The project started in 1998 and today it can run many Windows programs well. The ReactOS kernel has been written from scratch but the OS makes use of Wine to be able to run Windows applications.

Source model: Free and open source

License: Various free software licenses

Platform: x86 (more under development)

State: Alpha

Read more at the ReactOS website.

Syllable Desktop

Syllable is a free and open source operating system that was forked in 2002 from AtheOS, an AmigaOS clone. It’s intended as a lightweight and fast OS suitable for home and small office users.

Source model: Free and open source

License: GNU General Public License

Platform: x86

State: Alpha

Read more at the Syllable website.


SkyOS is a closed source project written by Robert Szeleney and volunteers. It originally started as an experiment in OS design. It’s intended to be an easy-to-use desktop OS for average computer users. Well-known applications such as Firefox have been ported to run on SkyOS.

Source model: Closed source

License: Proprietary

Platform: x86

State: Beta

Read more at the SkyOS website.


MorphOS is a lightweight, media-centric OS build to run on PowerPC processors. It is inspired by AmigaOS and also includes emulation to be able to run Amiga applications.

Source model: Closed source

License: Mixed proprietary and open source

Platform: Pegasos, some Amiga models, EFIKA

Read more at the MorphOS website.

AROS Research Operating System

AROS is a lightweight open source OS designed to be compatible with AmigaOS 3.1 but also improve on it. The project was started in 1995 and can today be run on both PowerPC and IBM PC compatible hardware. It also includes an emulator that makes it possible to run old Amiga applications.

Source model: Open source

License: AROS Public License

Platform: x86 and PowerPC

Read more at the AROS website.


MenuetOS, also known as MeOS, is an operating system written entirely in assembly language which makes it very small and fast. Even though it includes a graphical desktop, networking and many other features it still fits on a single 1.44 MB floppy disk (for our younger readers, that was the USB stick of the 80s and early 90s 😉 ).

Source model: Open source (32-bit version), freeware (64-bit version)

License: Menuet License

Platform: x86

State: Beta

Read more at the MenuetOS website.


DexOS is an open source operating system designed to work like the minimalistic ones on gaming consoles, but for PCs. Its user interface is inspired by video game consoles and the system itself is very small (supposedly this one also fits on a floppy disk, like MenuetOS) and the OS can be booted from several different devices. Its creators have tried to make it as fast as possible.

Source model: Free and open source

Platform: x86

Read more at the DexOS website.


Visopsys is a one-man hobby project by programmer Andy McLaughlin. The development began in 1997 and the OS is both open source and free. Visopsys stands for VISual Operating SYStem.

Source model: Open source

License: GPL

Platform: x86

State: Final

Read more at the Visopsys website.

The OS future

Even if none of these operating systems ever were to “make it” and become mainstream (and admittedly, some of them simply are not intended to be mainstream), the passion behind them is real, and many have the potential to introduce new and fresh ideas.

All this independent development can act as a kind of think tank, if you choose to look at it that way. It’s quite possible that concepts introduced by a niche OS will later be adopted by a larger player on the OS market.

There are lots of interesting things happening today with the rise of virtualization and the “always online” nature of today’s computers that opens up incredibly interesting possibilities. For example, what we have read about Microsoft’s internal research OS Midori (the one that will retire Windows) sounds highly interesting.

Wherever the future operating systems may come from, be it from the already established players or some kind of newcomer, we are looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for us. We suspect that there is a significant “jump” in the evolution coming up just around the corner.

Who knows, a couple of years from now maybe all the computers here in the Pingdom office will be running the UltraMagicalSuperVirtualOS version 1.2?

What are your predictions for the future of operating systems?


  1. Nice post! 🙂

    I think future OSes will be totally modular, every application living in a protected virtual shell of its own (much more so than today), and the OS will be a separate entity from the hardware. Like you say various kinds of virtualization and connectivity (think Web 3.0, or 4.0 🙂 ) will be key.

  2. One should be careful to distinguish between OS (hardware control, access, and abstraction layer), and Desktop Environment (GUI). If someone wants to experiment with new interaction paradigms, new DEs, I don’t see why they’d waste their time building a new OS instead of building a layer on top of Linux or BSD. On the other hand, if someone wants to experiment with a new low-level OS, such as a microkernel for example, why not port a DE from Linux to test it on. As such, screenshots are meaningless. What’s important in an OS is the internal architecture, code quality, portability, device model, abstraction layer, etc. If you’d talking about DEs, or user space tools even if they are command line, how do these operating systems differ in these respects? It would be nice if the article covered these details in more depth.

    1. “As such, screenshots are meaningless”. not meaningless at all, they are ideas. We dont need monopoly or suppresion of different thoughts and ideas, besides that huge corporations such as Apple and Microsoft have already adopted some of their above-mentioned ideas. and I bet you havent even written a single OS in your life.

  3. There is nothing amazing about these OSes. They all follow the tired Win95 model and offer nothing new except some eye candy. Ooh look this one goes to 11!

    Take a look at Plan9.
    Take a look at OpenAugment.
    Take a look at Minix3.
    Take a look at Squeak.
    Take a look at a ZUI, Zoomable User Interface.
    Take a look at Croquet.

    There are many ideas that have not been implemented in trad OSes. With the coming multi CPU systems it would be a disaster if Unix/Windows was to prevail.

    With the coming display technologies the old fashioned GUI built from WIMP is history. I hope people understand that a GUI is not an OS and should not be part of an OS.

    The idea that disk will be used to as anything other than persistence is old and limiting. Your data and applications will not be separable. An application will not be opened to use a file but rather the file will always be ready for use.

    In short Von Neuman is old hat and a new way of looking at machines is coming.

  4. Alistair: That’s a highly ignorant observation. The four Amiga derived OSes (AOS, MorphOS, AROS and Syllable) stems from original AmigaOS that predates Win95 by ten years regarding UI and architecture. AmigaOS was multitasking, dynamic and using powerful GUI even before Win3.. Who’s copying who?

    Two OSes I miss in this line-up is RISCOS and Zeta.

  5. Why don’t you help the Wine project instead?

    Actually we work very closely with the Wine project. Wine probably has a lot more in common with ReactOS than with Linux. The Wine project has the goal of implementing the entire windows API on top of WineServer. There are only a few WINE dlls that cannot be used in ReactOS. These are NTDLL, USER32, KERNEL32, GDI32, and ADVAPI. The rest of WINE’s DLLs can be shared with ReactOS. We have several developers in both the WINE and ReactOS projects that work on cross-compatibility issues between the two projects. It is our view that Linux + Wine can never be a full replacement for Microsoft(R) Windows(R). ReactOS has the potential for a much higher degree of compatibility – especially for Microsoft(R) Windows(R) drivers – which WINE does not address.

  6. Henriok,

    you’re right about precedence but why not go all the way back to the first GUI WIMP sometime in the 60’s I think. Doug Englebart I think although I could be wrong.

    But you completely missed the point of my post it wasn’t about who did it first but to point out that it’s old hat and there are better alternatives. Also the GUI is not an OS.

    There are some radical OS ideas out there for instance look up the MCP of the Burroughs B5000 and the OS/400 of the IBM AS/400.

    But I think there is a huge sea change just around the corner with multi processor machines. It would be a shmae to see a Von Neuman OS win on that architecture.

  7. The difference between ReactOS and wine is that wine is just another tool to attract users to Linux, the better methodology and operating system. Even if one day ReactOS can run anything from Windows it will still be riddled with holes, bad code and proprietary requirement, if only from the poorly written applications that will run on it. It’s possibly the only idea worse than windows itself that I’ve ever heard of. The idea is to get away from MS, their ideals, their ideas and the stunted commercially driven nature of them and every hardware/software vendor associated with them. I can’t see how supporting all the applications currently available on that platform can hope to take computing in any other direction and it’s clear that the direction we’ve been taken for the past 20 years is the wrong one.

    How exactly can you hope to ever support code from Vista. Any app or driver written for it is full of DRM riddled slow cap requirements. Even if you remove them from the api’s those apps will still be pigs due to the spaghetti of MS legacy.

    If you have the talent to code an OS you have the talent to write apps better than what is currently commercially available. Far too much time is spent trying to replace MS (using their software base), rather than replacing their software base.

    1. “If you have the talent to code an OS you have the talent to write apps better than what is currently commercially available.” Thats how it works, by doing so we keep Microsoft alive and letting them make more millions and millions.

  8. @Alistair Moir

    you’re right about precedence but why not go all the way back to the first GUI WIMP sometime in the 60’s I think. Doug Englebart I think although I could be wrong.

    But you completely missed the point of my post”

    How did he miss the point of your post? This is what you said:

    “There is nothing amazing about these OSes. They all follow the tired Win95 model and offer nothing new except some eye candy. Ooh look this one goes to 11!”

    You ignorantly said they all follow the Win95 model which is idiotic. You should have been called on spewing out false information. As he said the AmigaOS predated Windows 95 by more than 10 years yet with people like you babbling on about things you apparently know nothing about… you are misleading others who may not know the facts so how about checking yours before you spew any more ignorant nonsense here or elsewhere on the Internet.

  9. The only thing less relevant than a legally encumbered Amiga OS running on hardware that isn’t even in production is perhaps a half written x86 port.

    If you want to run old amiga software, the solution already exists – winuae. Heck, since **ALL** amiga software is old software, is any of this effort even relevant any more?

    If Amiga International was to announce a v5.0 version of the OS for x86 with full win32 api compatibility (such as wine can only dream of, as good an effort as that is) and released it tommorow – then maybe, but probably not even then.

    The only group in from the original Amiga that seems to still have its skill base intact are the lawyers. Based on that, I would remove Amiga OS from ANY OS roadmap, except a roadmap how to destroy an awesome OS years ahead of its time with incompetence and legal fighting.

    I used to love my Amiga, and I even checked out AROS – WinUAE remains to this day the only real option to revisit an OS that was ahead of its time 2 decades ago, but now is clearly at least a decade behind the times.

    Nostalgia is the basis of a business plan if you are releasing old movies on DVD, not operating systems.

    Put a fork(); in this one folks, it’s done.

  10. @Rex

    It was clear that Alistair was complaining that the original article had concentrated on the GUI of the OS. His comment “followed the Win95 model” was plainly a paraphrase of a long and boring argument that people have been having about who wrote the first desktop+trashcan+window interface ever at least 1984, and he was just briefly listing, for *your* edification, a number of more interesting operating systems, though Amiga certainly has its place among them.

    (At least it was clear *to me*).

  11. who cares, nothing will overcome Windows nothing has and nothing ever will for very big reasons that thick headed people can’t admit to.

    the post has no meaning and just to fill white space and writers block.

    1. i will have to disagree, ive been able to run mac,windows android software simultaneously. without using emulaters or virtual machines ( with it almost impossible) i was able to design a linux based os that out preformed any windows 8 or 10 model even with its inferior hardware.

    2. If you are Windows lover and Microsoft worshipper why are you even reading this post. This post was written to inform people like me who arent aware of all other alternatives that exists.
      “the post has no meaning and just to fill white space and writers block”, you are hugely mistaken, this informed and showed people the other side of operating system world.

  12. I don’t find why someone will switch the desktop from Un*x, Windows, Mac OS X to one of the operating systems of your list (except ReactOS for a replacement). There are not enough benefits and they didn’t use any new operating system theory behind.

    In the other hand, the mobile space has currently enough room for improvement and it’s sad that we don’t have already some completely open sourced (what Google Android is not) and with a good GUI ala iPhone (and don’t forget multitouch).

    1. if OS has similar look or GUI that doesnt necessarily mean based on Linux. in that case we can say Linux is based on Windows, since Windows was developed before Linux.

  13. The title of this post is highly misleading. Not only are many of these OSs not that amazing, but there’s hardly any explanation on “what they could mean for the future.” And the screenshots seem to focus more on the graphical shells than whatever cool things might be at the core. Even so, it’s frustrating to see that so many of these are Windows lookalikes that still can’t even get the basics of Fitts’ Law right. If this list is truly representative of the “future” of operating systems, call me a neophobe.

  14. One which probably (in my opinion at least) means more for the future of computing is eyeOS,
    the idea of true fully functional thin clients in a business environment is perfect. All that is needed it a splashtop style system when the client just needs a web browser to run. no hdd even required. That has future potential.

  15. If you bother looking at MenuetOS, I’d personally say skip that and go take a look at KolibriOS (Which is a fork of Menuet that is quite a bit further along). It too is Open Source, and although the developers working on it are primarily Russian, they are really easy to communicate with on the Forum and quite helpful (and, I use Google Translate to view the forum if I can’t understand something).

    Kolibri OS works fine inside VMWare Player (just attache the IMG file to the floppy virtual-device). And, it is quite fast, and pretty stable. Well, just my input. I played with Menuet first, then Kolibri, and never went back to Menuet (seems like little work is done on it… well, the 64-bit CLOSED-SOURCE MENUET seems active, otherwise not). Enjoy!

  16. ReactOS is the key for the OS future, because it will impact Microsoft income. The user/admin will be able to replace original Windows in many commercial situations and follow to other options.
    Less money for Redmond – less innovation – better strategic situation for others. They won’t be able to sell OEMs because there will be an free and hopefully compatible alternative.

  17. In response to some critical of ReactOS it does have a point. To me me means a way (eventually) I can run things Windows wise without having to have Windows. The need for that comes from working where as when I have full freedom I use Linux.

  18. The ACube link is wrong on the AmigaOS 4.1 entry – it should point to http://www.acube-systems.biz
    OS4’s official website is at http://www.amigaos4.com and the developers are Hyperion http://www.hyperion-entertainment.biz

    I’d also like to add my name to the “why is RISC OS not on this list?” list. It has one of the most intuitive drag’n’drop user interfaces I’ve had the pleasure of using, and most of the implementation is very well designed. Unfortunately it was plagued by the same bad luck that affected AmigaOS but was nowhere near as popular at its peak.

    AmigaOS and RISC OS share similar (separate) history, but they are both completely different from user and developer perspectives and excel in different areas. I could name a number of features of each which, combined, would make the Best OS Ever, and none of them are present in the OSs most people (are forced to) use.

  19. A bit of info about what ses their architecture apart from the crowd maybe? from what i can tell, its all linux/unix derivatives here… What sets them apart?

  20. A few complaints about not enough said about the future….

    IMHO, we only need a full os today because the prohibitive cost of always connected wireless data for use with mobile devices. It forces us to “replicate data locally” or use bandwidth saving protocols like IMAP. Another bottleneck is the limited visibility of mobile display devices (which will be solved using mini projectors built into the phones)

    Future OS’s will be shaped entirely by available bandwidth. For those early adopter countries that provide high bw (wireless and to the premises), the BIOS will be a thin client booting into a web OS. It will contain little more than local diagnostics and a browser. Later on, the whole process will be done using single chips (so when I include a TFPP capable processor in my design, I just add an antennae and it becomes capable of booting an entire os).

    Once we remove the mouse and the keyboard as input devices, add the full screen video projector to the mobile phone, then the mobile devices will become the full pc.

    Later on, high speed optical serial buses will become the future of all IC interconnects. This will be the enabling technology for distributed computing platforms. Single board computers will be replaced by distributed scalable self organizing pc’s (when I walk into the house with my phone, it will become a supercomputer as it joins the computing mesh already running there).

    Later on, personal computing will evolve so our bodies become part of the computer network. Identity fraud will disappear at the expense of privacy (the surface area computer on our skin will contain everything about us, our health, our diaries).

    The home will become more automated. Technologies that are currently expensive and military only will be in all our houses. Self repairing, redundant electronics. The light bulb can fix itself once or twice, after that it will contact the electrician and make an entry in your personal diary.

    Right now, the older generation is afraid of computers as they did not exist when they were born and they’ve “missed on the boat”. Younger tech savvy generations have in insatiable thirst for innovation will not be afraid of rapidly evolving computing. Self mutilation will become (even) more fashionable. Today its tatoos, multi body piercings, calcium implants and prosthetic limbs are disguised to look like real ones. Supermodels of the future will have “fashinable” robotic limbs that will be out there and visible. Your lifespan will depend on how many body upgrades you can afford.

  21. @ Varthall -> ya, and where exactly would you get said mystical powerpc system capable of running amgia os 4.x?? Very little makes an OS less relevant than an inability to find hardware to run it on (as the BeOS people found out too late).

    Please do not get me wrong – I liked Amiga in its day – I owned an awesome A1000 with a 2.5mb ram drive to supplement the floppies, and I even did some programming on it.

    However, so many mistakes were made and continue to be made that the OS has long since seen the sun go down on it with ZERO hope of recovery. The companies continue to be more about litigation than performance and the OS continues to lack basic modern security features like memory management. Even if Amiga managed to start selling a few units, due to the utter lack of system security, they would soon be so virus riddled that the bad press would kill its recovery.

    Yes, its sad, but the reality is that anything they do come up with now is way too little way to late.

    Thanks to the legal fighting over ownership, they can’t even open source the bloody thing once everyone finally admits the ship sailed so long ago that it might as well be called the Santa Maria.

    And as for the x86 recreation, its even further behind. So relevant and meaninful? Not even remotely, at least not without a time machine and business plan that focuses on the technology instead of the lawyers.

  22. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oberon_operating_system

    Oberon is an operating system, originally developed as part of the NS32032-based Ceres workstation project; it is written entirely in the Oberon programming language. The basic system was designed and implemented by a team of two part-time programmers at ETH Zürich (ETHZ), Niklaus Wirth and Jürg Gutknecht. It was later extended and ported to other hardware by a team at ETHZ. For a full listing of team members, see ETH Oberon Hall of Fame.

  23. Great article and very informative. I’ve seen a few of these, others not.

    @srw – I’m not sure it’s a question of someone dumping a standard ‘big three’ OS, but rather a great set of alternatives that can be used on test machines, media servers, etc. For those of us that like to tinker, some of these alt OS’s are leaps and bounds more flexible than the current status quo.

  24. @Xepol

    The Sam440 boards are currently on sale from ACube and various Amiga resellers around the world and the first units have been already sold on the Pianeta Amiga fair held last weekend. The release of OS4.1 for Sam is imminent, Vesalia.de mentions 13th October as the release date for the OS. Despite the ongoing court case, Hyperion has continued (and it’s continuing) to develop the OS.
    The security issue is a serious one, but at least no virus still exists for OS4.x thanks to its obscurity, and this is valid for most, if not all the OSes listed in this article. I’m using OS4 for 5 years now, I connect to the net through a firewall and I have never had any virus/malware problem.

  25. Nice list..

    Using AmigaOS4.1 here, the OS is GREAT I’m just wishing for better hardware. Being tied to PPC does not make it easy or cheap to get HW.

    The SAM board from Acube has a price/performance ratio that will make only enthusiasts buy it but that is fine for now. Let OS4.x evolve and then take the shot at a port for X86 at some point. Until then it is cool to be one of the few Amigans using it 😉

  26. @christian ledermann

    Memory management is on the roadmap for Amiga OS4.x and existing apps will be moved into a sandbox environment so they can’t cause any problems.

    If Amiga OS becomes big enough to attract developers of malware it will also be big enough to attract developers of security software.

  27. What with the changes that come about every three years in hardware. We need to look at this part to see what kind of OS the furure will bring.

    I see a world of possible changes coming. Faster and smaller is in the future. One of those above or even a new one that is unheard of today could be the next big OS.

  28. [Sorry I cut&pasted the your site link instead of that from article. 😛

    Please moderator here is the right version]


    BTW, I am a MorphOS user.


    Read an article about how 1.4.5 version works (now we are at 2.1) here, written by another user:


    The major lacks as stated in the article, the TCP-IP stack and a modern browser that need to be downloaded externally, are now integrated into system.

    And the DOS works now at 64bit, the Desktop is 3D accelerated and MOS now features a data stream system.

  29. I’ve tried the Amiga1000 once playing some kung fu game and even got to mess around with workbench and stuff. But Xepol is right, most of these operating systems are no longer relevant in today’s world. But we can also look at the positive, many people have claimed that the Amiga and BeOS were some of the powerful operating systems during it’s time. I liked Amiga’s lightwight kernel, I also like it’s centralized structure supporting datatype. Maybe we can implement that on Linux? And these are hobbyist OS, yet they are simple to use and don’t require configuration to install compatible software, something linux can take note of.

  30. The problem is they’re trying to be like Windows. Even Linux is trying to be like Windows. They need to focus on a niche. LoseThos is for programming as entertainment. Unlike Linux, it’s code is easy to understand. Linux is to complicated. You need a reason to be. A cheap Windows has no market because nobody cares about price that much.

  31. Just go by a Mac.
    They can multi-task much better these days, and support Microsoft documents for people still using Word and such.

    Macbook Pro has a multi-touch pad like the iTouch.

    Welcome to the future.

  32. I am happy MorphOS user. MorphOS 2.1 is the best system of this list. 🙂
    Screenshot isn’t presentable. Typical desktop and windows in MorphOS 2.1 looks better.

  33. Alternative also implies at least parity with the features of major operating systems. BeOS 5 in my experience is the only option that provided superior driver, software and multitasking support.

    All of the “alternatives” fail to provide a full selection of fully functional software. Good luck on end-user installation of drivers too. Want your old data or smooth integration with Windows networking? Good luck!

    Not dogging the poor things, just, alternative not equal better experience.

  34. One great OS they forgot to mention is FreeDOS. Mark my words, thats the future 🙂 .

    Seriously though…..

    @Terry A. Davis
    Are you even serious when you say price doesn’t matter?? If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be something called piracy and something evil called DRM created against it.

    I bet most people here have never done OS developing. I have, and except for Morphos and AmigaOS, I have used all the the listed operating systems. I have even used Plan9 and GNU/Hurd some mentioned. I also have tinkered a lot with GNU Mach’s(used in GNU/Hurd) memory manager. So what I am telling is from experience.

    Most people here are completely missing the point this article, each OS is good in its own respect and its desired goals. Thinking an OS *useless* because it doesn’t meet your goals is just crazy. And you have no idea how much it pisses off the developers when someone says “xxx OS is useless and has no future beacause [insert some reason here]”. Its not at all helping to anyone.

    Though I will accept that the title of this article is misleading. The terms “amazingly alternative” should be replaced with “promising”.

  35. This is a joke right? These suck! I’d rather run windows 98 than an Amiga wanna be OS. Yeah I loved my Amiga… 15 years ago! Get a clue people. Linux MAYBE… half ass crap, no way.

  36. I’m happy MorphOS 2.1 user. It’s the nicest, fastest and greatest OS ever made! Multiple multiresolution screens, 3D accelerated desktop and nice graphics, micro kernel, low memory/CPU footprint, AmigaOS 68k/PPC binary(!) compatible (f.e. Lightwave runs on MorphOS and other great software), etc. – MorphOS Team did awesome job! MorphOS is #1 for me.

  37. Let me guess,

    They are all Windows wannabes
    They are all ßeta
    They all require C/Perl/Bash knowledge for simple tasks like “mounting an external disk”

    Sir, sorry, real world NEVER uses these fellas.

    Not even Ubuntu is suitable for office use.

  38. @LemmeGuess

    You’re wrong:-)
    At least AmigaOS4.1 is not Beta anymore, is certainly NOT* a windows wannabe and does not require any special knowledge for disk mounting etc.

    *AmigaOS is more than 20 years old, how could that make it a windows wannabe? Where was windows in 1985 😉

  39. Unless someone can show me an operating that doesn’t crash,load spyware,thinks it can control what I try to get it to do,works when it wants to,thinks it knows exactly what I want installed and what I don’t,etc,etc,then I’ll have to stick with sorry,dumb Microsoft windows who just told me I could not use my WINXP PRO number because I had used it one time to many…and why was that? Because I had to keep reformatting to fix error after error after error and spending hours,sometimes all night trying to figure out what I did wrong. I had to teach myself how to even use a computer and I find that so many disagree on whats best. But I’ve also found that those on forums and blogs such as this site are a total lifeline to people such as I who need the sincere help of combined minds who have done their homework…and I am grateful!!!

  40. 04OCT08

    An OS should not even be noticeable to the user. It should merely provide a stable platform for software to interface flawlessly with the hardware. An OS should provide enough code information to software developers to allow them to develop software that will not crash the OS.

    An OS should be concerned with:

    1) Distributing workload across multi-core processors, allowing software developers to concentrate on innovative software instead of CPU management.

    2) Providing tools to protect the users most valuable part of the computer…namely data, represented by man-hours of scanning and saving old photos, creating databases, spreadhseets, and documents, as well as protecting digital images since we are becoming a filmless society. Such tools include:

    a. built in back-up, everyone has external drives now, let the OS help people back up data…lost data is the fault of a poorly designed OS which fails to anticipate the disorganization of most computer users.

    b. a dual pane viewer to make it easy for users to copy, move, and back up data from on device to another…PCTools v7 had a dual pane viewer back in the mid 1990s when the only external device was A:, and 2Xexplorer has offered dual pane viewing capability for nearly 8 years.

    3. PCs are nearly 20 years old now, but are no smarter than my IBM Selectric typewriter was in 1979. If a user opens a file browser and immediately browses to C:data 80 percent of the time, why can’t the OS ask the user if this should be the default directory to open when opening the browser? Sure, I can edit the registry to accomplish this and increase my productivity, but where is the AI we all feared that would take over our lives?

    Craig Knapp

  41. People who criticize ReactOS are very shortsighted. One should not feel threatened by an open source and free implementation of one of the most used family of programs, ever.

    Religious linux fanatics need to get over their “holier than thou” attitude. Seriously, the linux “community” is so completely full of hate, it makes Westboro Baptist Church envious. Just look at the comments in any topic related to linux. When they aren’t attacking windows or other linux distro’s that are 98% the same as their own, they are telling everyone how their distro is the best and how their distro is so user friendly that even their grandma can use it. Bullshit. Mind you, that is not to say that there are not very intelligent and nice people that offer great help (I’ve met and appreciated many), but they are like Majestic Galleons moving over a raging ocean of piss.

    Why ReactOS is worth our time:
    ReactOS offers a free and open way of using the hundreds of thousands of legacy programs, many of which were quite expensive, and are still in use by companies. Where I work, we still have Pentium I’s that run Windows NT. Upgrading would cost money we don’t have, and introduce lots of problems we don’t have time to fix, everyone knows how to use windows, no one has the time or patience to get linux working or try to find or program an application to replace our current ones that are specifically tailored to the work we do.

    Also, GAMES. That in an of itself is good enough reason for why ReactOS is worth every effort put into it.

    Also, some of us *audible gasp* prefer windows to linux. I myself prefer windows, even though I agree there is a lot of bullshit. But I dislike what linux is today even more. I could tell you the reasons, but then someone would just come along and, point by point, attempt to prove why the linux way is better. Except I’ve heard all sorts of arguments, and none of them have convinced me. The only distro I like is GoboLinux, which is a big step in the right direction.

    There is a reason programs like ScummVM and DOSbox exist. I hear no one saying “jeez what a waste of time, I can’t believe someone would copy something made by ~evil corporations~, they should work on linux instead” about them. But somehow the NT kernel from which many more programs are written for is just not worthy.

    Also, feel free to replace any reference to linux in my post with amigaOS or any operating system of your choice. Religious OS fundamentalist act the same no matter what logo is on their shirt.

  42. This looks like a great list. Thanks for posting it. I use Mac and Ubuntu and I have been wanting to look at other operating systems. I hope to try some of the os that you mentioned.

  43. With the possible exception of AmigaOS and Haiku, all these operating systems suck. They cannot even compare with the elegence and simplicity of truly revolutionary operating systems, such as Genera, Plan9, and NeXTSTEP (in that order).

  44. What is an OS ?
    I have built kind of boot loaders for simple computers of only one chip. The smallest OS I ever built was 256 bytes for Z80. Was it a boot loader or an OS ? I don’t know.

  45. The mere existence of an alternative OS doesn’t necessarily make it “interesting”. Yes, the AmigaOS was great, but it’s been horribly mismanaged over the last, well, 14 years since Commodore failed. Their decision to support the failing PowerPC platform — a decision I repeated tried to get SOMEONE there to question — was a religious one, not a good engineering or marketing decision… and based on a dead religion at that.

    The OS4Depot is not a testament to the life of AmigaOS 4.1, but to it’s death… there are 2096 FILEs there, not programs. These include skins for things, plug-ins, and a few ports of Linux and Windows programs. Nothing at all compelling here.

    In this day, when one can buy a Quad-Core x86 system for under $500, any OS claiming to be for desktops that cannot support this hardware is not relevant, and never will be.

    With that said, I’d really like to see Haiku move forward… we really do need a well designed break from Windows and Linux inspired OSs, and that’s about the only one on the list with a real potential as a general purpose OS that fits that bill. As for some of the others.. if you’re still in Alpha after 10+ years of development, I hope you’re having fun, because there’s no reason to believe other people will be using your OS.

    -Dave Haynie

  46. Alistair Moir

    I agree with you. There is a new wave of computing coming, both in the low levels and UIs, that will make the past 20 years of computing feel trivial.

    Best of luck to in your future, I’m sorry others here don’t see it or are set on pestering you.

  47. Wow I didn’t realize there are that many different operating systems being marketed. Does the PC need more than 3 (Microsoft, Linux, Ubuntu)?

    It would be crazy if one person can manage to use more than 2 at a time. Switching between MS and Mac is already hard enough.

  48. I’ve been able to get four of the alternate operating systems on this page to run so far on my Windows XP machine. While I’m having a lot of fun, all of them are hampered by a lack of programs, except for React. Humorously enough, I was able to correct a Windows problem through React, which a very anti-Bill Gates OS.

  49. Excellent post. I’m going to have to try at least one of these out. I am getting sick of Windows. I have an insane amount of security on my computer but somehow my wife always seems to get a virus or malware on it…this time I can’t get rid of it. I’m going to have to format and reinstall. I’m going to try one of these out.

    Thanks again!

  50. Some time ago, my friend David Goemans recommended the Eye OS. He is correct in saying that it has a future. This system is designed to be run on an intranet system within a school or business. It won’t be affected by Windows malware. It is heavy on different types of messages, is easy to use, and includes enough pro0grams to serve an organization’s communication needs.

    They post a working demo (I have beaten their chess game two out of four times) that loads slowly, but you can run the full demo easily, without requiring a partition. Go to http://demo.eyeos.org/# and be prepared to reload the page if it tells you that it doesn’t exist. Remember that the demo is very slow-loading, and you have to give the apps extra time to get running.

  51. No Reactos is dead, here is why:

    All real developers left in 2005 between Reactos 0.2.3 and 0.2.8 releases. As a consequence:
    A) Reactos have now lot of regressions: It doesn’t run anymore on real hardware.

    B) Nobody worked on the driver model which is currently based on 15 years old NT 3.5 while Microsoft switched to new models (NT4 then Win2K WDM in 1999 and then Vista K/UMDF in 2005).

    C) No new drivers even based on the old NT 3.5 were introduced since 2005, no NTFS, no protection, no USB, no accelerated 3D graphics, no WIFI, no Bluetooth. This in a situation where existing GPL drivers for Windows 3.5 and Windows 4 exist (c.f. Alter.org, Zhiming’s USB, and existing closely related softwares such as Captive NTFS, NTFS3G, NDISWrapper etc..)

    D) Why bother to develop on Reactos now when you can even look at Windows 2003 kernel, completly legally on Microsoft web site?

    Reactos is *not* what it is claimed currently, it’s not a Windows XP/Vista/Server 2003 clone, it’s a very very buggy clone of Windows 95.

  52. Ehh.. different OS has purpose for different tasks; pick the OS best for the task or for what ever one are comfi with; heck I still make use of OS/2 here at my side for client mixed together with Debian for server and as well OS2 Warp Server. Of course a unit with XP as media server integrated with the audio system, etc. While OS2 is considered dead by the most and while it still struggles with keeping up with latest hardware; it still does and works. Suggestion to browse into http://www.os2world.com

  53. from my point of view we will have the taskbar, the dock and linux distros for a long time to come. the OS that will make a noticed impact on curent market is the one that will run windows games and softwares nativily without using emulators. let’s face it and get real, the big software commpanys will stick with these 3 giants (especially with windows).
    a better aproach for re-inventing OS is to re-invent software programming (for ex. what is with these folders and lots of files? isn’t time for softwares and games to be made up in a single file?)

  54. there are those of us who prefer to compute ‘off the grid’ – in a wireless world it is sometimes comforting, safe, and a bit more secure at times to avoid connecting

    this is why i prefer a self-reliant system that is not dependent on the ‘net to function…

  55. My view of the future of operating systems is that most will become open source and possibly that GNU/Linux based operating systems will become mainstream to a very large scale and possibly (not saying definitely) could beat out Microsoft because of the fact that many *nix operating systems are better quality all around than Windows (most people admit that).

  56. The criticisms of the article are for the most part valid; it really doesn’t say enough, but it is a good starting point if you’re interested in researching operating systems. I found the subsequent comments to be as valuable as the article itself. Overall this has been a fascinating read. Many thanks for this information.

  57. Most people are forgetting the real reason why people choose an operating system: to run a specific program or type of programs. If the applications you want to run aren’t available on a particular OS, then you don’t choose that OS, unless you’re an accomplished programmer that likes to write their own applications and has the time to debug them as well. Most people certainly don’t fit into that category. It’s like a graphic designer wanting to run Photoshop and Quark, choosing a Linux or Amiga-based OS; it’s just not gonna work, no matter the “advantages” the said OS has. Said designer is either going to choose Windows or Mac OS, because they are the only choices he/she has. The operating systems in this article are simply not going to be accepted outside a select few enthusiasts because there simply isn’t the wide array of software available as for Mac or Windows. My office hasn’t upgraded from Win 2000 because it runs their software well.

  58. I’m an old man, 72, who not only missed the boat but did not know that a boat existed. Here are my non-knower comments: When technology is good I don’t see it or think about it. I do recognize new technology. New technology does not work very well. Once upon a time I could not start my car in cold weather. I had to move that throttle thing-a-ma-jig in and out. I never did learn how an automobile works.

    Now I have an OS that constantly needs to be updated. Every company in the world asks me to give my privacy to them, and they promise to take good care of it. Vandals are putting viruses onto my computer. My keyboard works just like the ones that the girls learned how to use in high school.

    Here is the future that I want: I want the OS to disappear. I want the keyboard to disappear. I want the mouse to disappear. I want to talk to the computer. I want to use my computer without something or other that I have to twiddle with. It’s like wanting the throttle to disappear.

    Do any of these operating systems point towards what I want? I hope that some of them do because I want to be included in our future society.

  59. Lol, I think some of the idiots that commented need to realise that NONE of these OS’s are mainstream, and probably never will be – THATS NOT THE POINT!!!

    The point is that in their owns rights they may offer features etc that make them ‘interesting’ to the hobbiest who is sick to death of backwards craparse Windoze and the 4 million different “almost compatible” spaghetti distros of linux!

    I myself use an X86 pc with Ubuntu (easiest to keep under control and up to date) and windows Vista (which takes it up the tailpipe) for any ‘work’, but when I want to play around with some FUN computing, I use my Amiga One with OS4.0, my Pegasos 2 with Morphos 2.3, my efika or my Aros X86.

    These systems are efficient, fast, elegant and fun to use, unlike Windoze.

    Wake up to yourself guys, no one pays $1000.00 aud for a motherboard (Amiga One / Pegasos 2) in this day and age unless they really enjoy computing, and whilst people like that exist, so will ‘fun’ OS’s.

  60. I was surprised to see so many OSes on the market.

    What it says to me is that it is not that hard to create an operating system. Like Bill Gates did, they started it out of their garage. Yet for some reason we have allowed a two party system with some minor independents on the side.

    As a kid, I would use an Amiga 500 and had many great times on it. Their graphical UI is just as good or better than another operating system. The Amiga was actually a superior graphics system but was dominated by IBM, Microsoft, and Apple. Xerox created the whole thing and they don’t seem to get any credit.

    The first thing I thought of was that I don’t need to spend $90-200 dollars (I buy OEM) for a Windows operating system that comes pre-installed with bugs and viruses and only forces you to buy more from companies whos only job is to create viruses so that they can sell their anti-virus programs.

    I could get all the free OSes I want and I could install as many OSes as I pleased on any computer that needed it. Especially old ones that could still be used as emulators and internet machines without having the RESOURCE HOG of the WINDOWS or APPLE systems that FORCE people to upgrade their computers. Especially for people in developing countries who can’t afford an overpriced Apple or their only other alternative a Windows operating computer.

    Do they sell pre-made Linux computers? I don’t even understand the concept really. I speak from an average person’s point of view.

    1. Bill Gates didn’t start out in his garage. Steve Jobs did.
      Microsoft may force you to upgrade your software all the time but Apple don’t
      Yes, they remind you there are updates, but you don’t have to use Safari to update your OS unlike IE with Windows, you don’t need to use all the default programs in OS X.
      And yes, Apple’s hardware is overpriced, but they don’t have 50 vendors to make the hardware and install their software on it. 

    2. Linux has a almost similar sized following as mac (kinda sorta). They do make linux pre-installed computers, but their hard to find, and it is VERY, VERY hard to right a working OS. But I get whatcha mean.

  61. The computer is just a fancy toy in a home setting. Game console systems are unfortunately the future they already have web browsers, media players and text messaging clients. Admit it other than a few misc tasks you use your computer %80 of the time for games, web browsing, playing movies/music and texting. The OS as we know it may be just the outdated thing in the computing world. Just wait in 10 years we will mostlikely be talikng about “10 amazingly alternative Firmwares and what they could mean for the future” and the ps8 and the xbox980 fans will still be fighting each other. =P

    1. You are correct in that consoles (pre set-up, uneasily modified computers) will begin to take over for the majority of common peons and consumers needs (unless you count cell phones, because I think those will boot out consoles eventually as well). Computers will go back to the deserved spot of reserved for the intellectually elite and business needs. 

  62. ReactOS has become a bit of a joke, with Linux becoming more popular every day ReactOS is taking too long to develop and it will be obsolete by the time it’s finished..Iv’e been watching them for a few years now waiting, waiting, I couldn’t wait any longer so i made the switch from Windows to Linux Mint… a very friendly and easy to use Linux OS.. I won’t go back to Windows or bother to wait for ReactOS.

  63. Hellow I find most of you discuting. First ReactOS is not dead at all. It now works on real hardware and they are getting more funding to hire programers to help them. Next Linux is a good os and you don’t have to use it if you don’t like to. Linux is not trying to be Windows. Linux is at war with Windows, what do you expect us to do lie in the dirt. You say that it is all about price and while this is true it is also about freedom and democacy. You all use Windows because you want to, but many out there HATE Windows and only use it because they ether can’t afford a Mac or they don’t like Mac’s. Now Aros is a good OS, it looks nice and I will look forward to useing it. Now Dex OS looks cool and I might be able to install it on my Xbox or Xbox 360 as they both suck. Now the Xbox won’t be called 9 any thing as the 360 is the last consle that microsoft  and I can’t say the name as I am under a agreament. Now Menuet is ok, but it does not have a good site to download it from. I like this article. I also use LH which is a os that has a GUI kernal. It has distros called compaens and distros which are buildings of compaens. It is kind of hard to explain in words. I think that have many OSes is a good thing as it enchourages compation and that protects us. I know that it will take awhile for anyone to read this as it is not a populer site.

  64. I like open source operating systems. The problem is with the drivers. Which one would you suggest for Acer 4715z laptop?

  65. Syllable, Haiku, Kolibri and Visopsys downloaded (ISOs) in less than 1 minute, started up in less than 30 seconds on Virtualbox and worked as fast (or faster) as my host Windows 7 system (or linux systems I have tried previously).  There’s something to be said for lean systems like these, despite the downsides.

  66. Since when has the majority of the people been right about anything? I like different things. I always have the question “How can this be done better” in the back of my head. I use Windows, and in fact support it at work, but at home my wife has a mac book, I have a Ubuntu Linux running on a laptop that I also run Windows 7 on, have an AmigaOne XE running OS 4(soon to run OS4.1) sitting next to an XP machine. I can’t really say I hate any of them. Hyperion has done a great job with the AmigaOne and it is really something you have to experience rather than just see in a screen shot, because it feels more responsive and when your done with it, just count to 5 and hit the power button. Something you can’t do on a mac, Windows or Linux without messing it up. If you like to program, I think your efforts are much easier to get recognition for with an alternate platform. The same program made for Windows or Linux or Mac will most likely go unnoticed.

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