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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Interview with the founder of OS4

This is from a short interview I gave recently.  The answers are the ones not in bold print.

What is OS4?
OS4 is a new desktop OS that utilizes the Linux kernel and aims to bring ease of use to the desktop like Windows and the Mac.

How does it differ from Windows and the Mac?
If you look at the Windows OS and the Mac OS there is one constant theme, they obsolete the hardware they run on, and with all the desktop effects, transperencies drop shadows, bouncing icons, glowing buttons etc all that uses resources, memory, CPU and things like that.  Another thing you may notice is that Microsoft and Apple have both changed their user interfaces targetting touch screen PC's and tablets.  So where does that leave people who dont have touch screens and just dont like the touch interface.  Neither Apple nor Microsoft have built in the traditional desktop as an option.  So if you have to train your users in the changing interfaces, why not train them in a desktop thats faster, utilizes less resources, because we dont have all the fancy effects enabled by default.  You can enable them and use them if you so wish.  But, OS4 is a lot more fun to use and you can use it on desktops you purchased just a few years ago.

You bring up hardware they purchased just a few years ago can run OS4. So why buy OS4 when they can just use the version of Windows or Mac OS that shipped with that hardware?
Security and Application compatibility being the two top reasons. Older versions of Windows tend to be less secure as Microsoft does their best to button down the security on the newer versions of Windows.  With Mac OS X, same thing and try to run an app you bought for OS X 10.5 and run it on 10.8, it wont work.  Even apps that ran on PC/OS 2008, will work in OS4.

Your company wants to do hardware and software, how does that benefit OS4 and then what differentiates you from Apple in that case?
With hardware and software integration you get a much narrower test space.  See, the problem with the desktop, Microsoft and Apple can confirm what I am saying, is that you have a multitude of hardware and software you have to support, commercial, open source etc. and you have a variety of hardware that consumers just want to go to the store and buy and use.  The tablet and phone space, you dont have this.  In the supercomputer and Mainframe dept, you dont have that.  So producing your own hardware, you know whats in that machine and you know OS4 will support that.  We will also support the standard x86 and x64 market in that when you buy a USB key from us, you can install OS4 on any machine.  How we differentiate from Apples approach is that any PC will support OS4, you dont have to worry about meeting certain criteria.  Oh and our machines, ALL of our machines will be made in the United States and while we wont produce laptops initially, we will only incorporate partners who produce in the US and HP is a good partner for that.  Of course our hardware will be affordable and will have great, cool names too.

You are hard on Apple and not so hard on Microsoft, why is that?  Why do you dislike Apple?
I dont dislike Apple Computer.  When I was a user of the NeXT system and Jobs came back to Apple there were a lot of broken promises, promises that Apples OS X was going to be open and that it would run on all systems, not just Apples systems.  That and the fact they change the API every major release makes it a disaster for software developers and if you look at Apples share of the market, it reflects that.  Developers are important users to.  While yes, they may write code but nonetheless they are users.  Apple is a partner though, a very important one and they were willing to talk to me when everyone else said 'go away" so I thank them for that and there is always continuing dialog.  Microsoft, I think Windows 8 in parts is a disaster, I like Metro but I think it could be implemented better.  Microsoft caters to developers so I think when it comes to developers mindset between Microsoft and Apple, developers realize there is less work in Windows and you dont have to worry if your program is going to work next year

Where do you want to go with OS4?
My goals are very simple, to make an easy to use desktop and do it based on Linux. Do i see myself as the next Bill Gates?  No, if OS4 becomes a niche OS then so be it but I want to be in as many of those niches as possible.  Multimedia creation, air and space, medical, photography, oil and gas, and the automobile market.  Im happy with the pro desktop and Im happy with the workstation market and I would be very happy to be in the home users desktop.  We work from that mindset, we design OS4 to be as user friendly for the home user and build ourselves up to those pro markets as I described. We are extremely happy with the user friendliness we have achieved and we strive to make our desktop easy to learn, 10 minutes, and so far that has worked out extremely well, our beta testers and users are very happy with what we deliver.  Also, We work with all kinds of software, commercial, open source and everything else that people want to use. We are constantly talking to commercial software developers on how we can make their software run on OS4 and get paper certified to run their software.

Im going to say a few names and I want your opinion on each of them.  Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Linus Torvalds?
Bill Gates.  Very good businessman, very good programmer and an an even better human rights activist. He is a great chess player. Im a huge fan of his foundation work. He was a pioneer in the software market and everyone benefited from his involvement in the industry, whether it was making Windows a standard or trying to do better and make something better than Windows.  The market would not be the same without him.  Steve Jobs, good marketer, good motivater and a great chess player.  He proved the market was there for personal computers both at Apple and at NeXT, he was also that rare case where the CEO of a company truly makes a difference. The way he pushed people to do their best in some ways made the impossible, possible.  He is missed by a lot of people in this market and I was very sad the day he died.  Linus Torvalds is very smart, he is a pioneer and without his contributions to open source and the Linux community I wouldnt have been inspired to do OS4. OS4 is very much a product of his work, not only from the fact he created Linux, but I also made decisions on OS4 from interviews that he has had and the input he gives to the desktop market. But nonetheless, the open source community would not have gained as much respect, and notoriety as it has today, globally, if it wasnt for Linus's contributions.  When you say, open source, to the average user. You dont get answers like Emacs, a text editor, or the GNU toolchain. The answer is always Linux.

In closing what do you want people to know about OS4?
I dont want them to look at OS4 as just another Linux distro.  I want them to see the passion, the care and the attention to detail that we put into OS4.  We want them to know the love that goes into every pixel, every line of code that is in OS4.  I am fortunate that I surround myself with people that are not "yes sir" But truly love what they do and we share common goals and while yes, we do fight, we do have arguments and intense discussions its all to the advantage of OS4, Linux, and the people that we serve.  Despite the fact whether you love OS4 or you hate OS4, I am very proud of OS4 and the people that contribute to OS4.


  1. I'm assuming that the program will help out the establishment of a better itil service management that will in turn, improve and stabilize the overall system of the company which will be very beneficial to everyone else. I think it's really important to create an efficient back up plan system, change control and etc, such as this OS4 to secure any important company documents.

  2. Good news! I bet this will help the vmware instructors in creating a better module and lessons for their students. Also this means that there would be improvements to the way they run their systems.