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Thought Experiment: The Ultimate Creative Content OS 226

Posted by timothy
from the bits-and-bobs dept.
Dave Girard has written a lengthy description of how to design the best possible operating system for creative pursuits (video editing, photo manipulation, and sound editing, in particular) — at least the the best possible one he can imagine by selecting from the best tools and behaviors that he finds in Mac OS X, Windows, and (mostly Ubuntu) Linux. He makes a compelling case for the OS (or at least a GUI on top of it) having baked-in support for a wide range of image formats and codecs, and makes some pointed jabs along the way at what each of these three big players do wrong.
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Thought Experiment: The Ultimate Creative Content OS

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 09, 2013 @05:33AM (#44795523)

    is paper-and-pencil-OS, or PPOS.

    • is paper-and-pencil-OS, or PPOS.

      Kudos to Microsoft then as Windows 8 is widely regarded as POS. Just one more P to go.

    • Now! Connected to the internet via IPoAC [wikipedia.org]!
  • So he wants KDE? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Njovich (553857) on Monday September 09, 2013 @05:35AM (#44795531)

    Aside from a couple of things (not sure how 30 bit monitor support would work here), it sounds like he's describing KDE.

    Of course, in the real world, KDE is awesome for more advanced tasks like creative designs, but the limited support for the most used quality creative software keeps it down a lot...

    • by MrMickS (568778) on Monday September 09, 2013 @06:03AM (#44795629) Homepage Journal

      ~sigh~ have you read the article. KDE/Linux doesn't have the image formats built into the OS. It's one of the things OS X does right.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I think this is merely due to the fact that the definition of "OS" varies from OS to OS. In the GNU/Linux world, the "OS" generally refers only to the kernel and the minimal set of command-line utilities necessary to get a basic system up and running, whereas in Windows and OS X the definition of "OS" also includes the desktop environment and many programs that come installed by default. If Windows or OS X were to be split into a desktop environment and kernel, then their support for these image formats wou

        • Is it possible that the author is a pony-tailed ponce with ridiculous earrings and a tiny dog that he takes everywhere? You know, the kind who calls the monitor "a TV".

      • Re:So he wants KDE? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday September 09, 2013 @06:37AM (#44795739) Journal

        ~sigh~ have you read the article. KDE/Linux doesn't have the image formats built into the OS. It's one of the things OS X does right.

        Given that (especially for 'creative' type use cases, who get the oddball formats) you may have a change of format before you have an OS version bump, why would you want to couple image formats directly to the OS?

        A mechanism for the OS to do some useful things with formats it understands, and a plugin mechanism for vendors to tell the OS about theirs(with a few common ones preloaded so jpeg and whatnot work out of the box for normal users), certainly; but don't basically all modern graphical shells do some degree of that already?

        This can lead to issues, like the blasphemous nightmare that is fucking around with a directshow filter graph after half a dozen shovelware media-viewer programs have had a fight over it; but it's really the only alternative to either treating images purely as files, nothing more, or assuming that your OS vendor will be always accurate and always timely for every little subcommunity's oddball file format of choice.

        • or assuming that your OS vendor will be always accurate and always timely for every little subcommunity's oddball file format of choice.

          That's why MPEG documents its file formats thoroughly, even if MPEG-LA ends up paywalling the right to actually use them.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        ~sigh~ have you read the article. KDE/Linux doesn't have the image formats built into the OS. It's one of the things OS X does right.

        What is "built into the OS" supposed to mean? If you mean that the typical linux distribution doesn't come with libraries for parsing images, you're wrong. If you mean something else, what else could you possibly mean?

      • by smash (1351)
        Plus anything to compare to automator. Seriously, those who call themselves nerds. Google/youtube/play with a friend's mac and try out automator.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Let's just wait another 15 years and we might see a *working* color management solution under linux. THEN, KDE will be great for creative stuff. This already makes me stick to apple for now.

    • Either the OP wants Adobe Creative suite or is complaining that something like this isn't freely available in a modified Ubutntu install out-of-the box.
      Who else would redefine "creative" in this way?

    • by smash (1351)
      Did you entirely miss the systemwide scripting support (amongst other things)?
      • by Njovich (553857)

        KDE is really second to none for scripting support in nearly any language throughout the interface and system.

        So, no, I didn't miss it, you missed it.

        As for your comment on 'automator'. I would say I like automator (I use Mac OS about 90% of the time), but I like Sikuli better.

  • by ehack (115197) on Monday September 09, 2013 @05:52AM (#44795587) Journal

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BeOS [wikipedia.org]
    "BeOS was optimized for digital media work and was written to take advantage of modern hardware facilities such as symmetric multiprocessing by utilizing modular I/O bandwidth, pervasive multithreading, preemptive multitasking and a 64-bit journaling file system known as BFS. The BeOS GUI was developed on the principles of clarity and a clean, uncluttered design.

    The API was written in C++ for ease of programming. It has partial POSIX compatibility and access to a command-line interface through Bash, although internally it is not a Unix-derived operating system."

    There's a reimplementation, Haiku
    https://www.haiku-os.org/ [haiku-os.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Life2Death (801594)

      Mod parent up. I came here to say this. BE is still used today to mix audio since its a real-time OS and very capable of doing things other OSes of the its day just plain were not up to.

      The interface is ultra minimalistic and it follows a lot of what an awesome OS should be.

    • by coofercat (719737)

      Since it's a thought experiment, and it's slashdot... I think all this, running on a Raspberry Pi. ;-)

    • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Monday September 09, 2013 @08:12AM (#44796129)

      I was going to say BeOS as well. One interesting thing was their codec API. All you needed to do was drop a codec binary in a directory and any program could now open that file. So if you wanted to play mp4 files through your favorite video player, you simply dropped an mp4 codec in there and any video player could now open those files. The idea was to move all media processing into the OS API so building applications was more modular.

      Another interesting thing was that audio CD's were mounted as a directory full of wav files with CDDB data that you could simply encode or play directly or drag and drop into another folder.

      It also used a microkernel (Though JBQ once told me directly that it was marketing BS and wasn't much of a microkernel) and ran most of the OS in user space including drivers. You never had to worry about trying to run new beta drivers, just copy them over and restart the corresponding server. If the driver crashed you were informed via a message box with a humorous Damn button instead of an Ok button. Though, it was also a drawback as the networking server in user space was notoriously slow. So slow that 100mbit cards couldn't push more than 10Mbps. Though its strong point was multithreading and parallel processing built into the API. It scaled nicely with multiple CPU's (I ran mine on an Abit P6 with dual 333MHz celerons OC'd to 450MHz) and there were reports posted of it running on quad and octal Xeon systems playing two dozen videos and all the demo apps without the machine breaking a sweat. You also had the pretty sweet Pulse application which was a CPU monitor which also allowed you to switch CPU's on and off. Before R3 you could actually turn off all of the CPU's and crash the system :-).

      Some of this might sound trivial by todays standards but they were doing this in 1998. Before Microsoft got its shit together with 2000 (NT 5) and before MacOS X. In fact, Be was founded by ex Apple employees and BeOS was supposed to be an alternative to MacOS on the old PowerPC Macs. It was very efficient and made old Pentium 133MHz systems with 32MB RAM feel fast. But its closed source nature coupled with user space networking made it slow to adopt new technology. It was a nice OS with a pretty cool community. Too bad its pretty much dead.

      • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Monday September 09, 2013 @08:58AM (#44796387) Journal

        If the driver crashed you were informed via a message box with a humorous Damn button instead of an Ok button.

        Sounds like XV. Not officially updated since 1994 and still one of the best image viewers out there. It had "Bummer!" and "That sucks!" buttons for write errors such as disk full or permission denied.

        And they were right. It's not OK.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Some of this might sound trivial by todays standards but they were doing this in 1998. Before Microsoft got its shit together with 2000 (NT 5) and before MacOS X. In fact, Be was founded by ex Apple employees and BeOS was supposed to be an alternative to MacOS on the old PowerPC Macs. It was very efficient and made old Pentium 133MHz systems with 32MB RAM feel fast. But its closed source nature coupled with user space networking made it slow to adopt new technology. It was a nice OS with a pretty cool commu

      • by Misagon (1135)

        The codec directory was an idea that I think they got from AmigaOS' "Datatypes" mechanism.
        I remember that Amiga was the first platform where all* web browsers would support PNG, because someone had written a PNG datatype and released it as free software.

        *: Yeah, yeah, Lynx did not technically view images, but it could download an image and launch an external image viewer ... which would usually support datatypes.

    • I mostly used BeOS in grad school because I liked alternative operating systems, but several times I'd try to port my work to Windows or Windows NT and find myself astonished at how impossible my this stuff was to do on other computers at the time (late 1990s.) NT's architecture and event processing often prohibited the sort of real-time audio and video apps I was writing, and the API standing between me and the data was much more restrictive.

      In retrospect, I think a number of my research successes were ac

  • BeOS (Score:5, Funny)

    by marcello_dl (667940) on Monday September 09, 2013 @05:56AM (#44795599) Homepage Journal

    Thought experiment, what if we completed the pro feature list of the main linux multimedia apps and optionally ported them to a BeOS derivative (haiku)?

    You see, thinking is easy.

  • Since when does creative = audio & visual pursuits only.
    Why isn't the title simply something like "ultimate audio-visual os"
    say what you mean. mean what you say.

    • by MrMickS (568778)

      ~sigh~ this is addressed in the first paragraph of the article. I guess it was too easy just to jump on that fairly minor point though rather than actually comment on the article at length. Slashdot at it's worst.

      • Oh, sorry. When you read this, somewhere in the first part of my post I actually mean that "Pickle Juice" means that I am talking about not expressing yourself accurately and you need to read an article just to see how some prat has redifined a word or phrase that most people would assume means something else.

        "Slashdot at it's worst" indeed!

        • Headlines have a maximum length. For example, I've often had to abbreviate Microsoft as M$, recalling its origin as a BASIC interpreter publisher, to fit it in the 50-character headline of a Slashdot post. How would you have rewritten the headline to be no longer than the original headline?
  • by advid.net (595837) <slashdot@a d v i d . n et> on Monday September 09, 2013 @06:15AM (#44795671) Journal

    If I copy huge files, while doing video processing, running a VM, and switching from one tab to another in the web browser, the system become quite unusable...
    He could still be responsive with dynamic I/O priority handled by GUI and kernel.

    What we lack most is some intention-aware GUI and OS kernel, working together so that the right process get the right priority and that I/O bottlenecks are handled gracefully.

    Content creation activities are often I/O and CPU demanding, and even on creativity praised OS such as Mac OS we have this big problem of I/O channel unawareness.

    Example:
    One need to be able to start a huge file copy with a background intent so it will be throttled when the user starts a video effect preview which writes temporary files on one of the same disks of the copy.
    The GUI gives the video preview higher priority, even on I/O, and the kernel detects the bottleneck on one of the disks and decide to almost freeze the file copy.
    But then the user start the full video rendering in background, the GUI assigns the lower priority and the file copy resume to full I/O speed.

    • If you want a good kernel and good file management, then you want Linux.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RamiKro (3019255)

      The Linux scheduler under-prioritizes user interaction (keyboard\mouse\remote input and monitor\serial output) over disk and memory i/o by design since it's a server OS. There are out of tree schedulers that resolve all that and even a few Real Time ones that can guarantee interaction but Linus (justifiably) rejects them since Linux IS a server kernel.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's been done. Unfortunately, it was done in the Synthesis [valerieaurora.org] kernel, which was made out of self modifying 68k assembly, and thus subsequently forgotten about. Apparently by going with adaptive scheduling they ended up with a soft-realtime system.

  • A true OS aimed at "creative" in my opinion needs much more than this. To name a few things:

    - OS level handling of color information and an OS API/CMM which every application accesses and uses (no app-specific color management and no app-specific algorithms and "rules". Same for printer drivers
    - specialized file system which offers the possibility to actually have "asset" folders. Not the possibility to create a folder and name it assets, but an actual logic to files stored in it's parent folder which d
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      OS level handling of color information and an OS API/CMM which every application accesses and uses

      Who doesn't have this? All major operating systems include OS-level color correction.

      specialized file system which offers the possibility to actually have "asset" folders. Not the possibility to create a folder and name it assets, but an actual logic to files stored in it's parent folder which different applications again can understand and access

      So far you have utterly failed to explain the difference.

      The OS has to understand what we are working on, and not give us the possibility to think up our own project folder structure

      What? Seriously? That was the dumbest thing I expect to read all day... and it's 0350. The fact that Unix doesn't understand what you're working on, and gives you the possibility to think up your own project folder structure is a benefit, not a weakness. Those who do not understand Unix are doomed to make dumb suggestions about operating systems.

      integrated, transparent versioning of projects, their main files and assets

      Finally, something you

      • The fact that Unix doesn't understand what you're working on, and gives you the possibility to think up your own project folder structure is a benefit, not a weakness. Those who do not understand Unix are doomed to make dumb suggestions about operating systems.

        Welcome to GNOME and the new world order!

        Go to a terminal, cd into some project directory heirachy. Start a program which uses the gnome based file dialog boxes (openoffice, inkscape, and so many more) to edit a file using the commandline.

        Now go to sa

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Welcome to GNOME and the new world order!
          Go to a terminal, cd into some project directory heirachy. Start a program which uses the gnome based file dialog boxes (openoffice, inkscape, and so many more) to edit a file using the commandline.
          Now go to save as.
          Where are you? Certainly not in $PWD, that's for sure. Quite possible in the last place you were when you used such a program.

          I will readily agree that there are many things about GNOME which reasonably piss users off. Now, name any OS or distribution without stuff that pisses you off. I'll wait.

          Who needs directory heirachies anyway?

          Until someone gets the intestinal fortitude to actually deliver an OS based around a next-generation filesystem, everyone. Sure, there's ACLs and extended attributes and structured metadata functionality available at the OS level in several operating systems, but nobody's making better use of that than Windows, which is not making very goo

      • Who doesn't have this? All major operating systems include OS-level color correction.
        Windows seem to lack it ... never saw any option fro that (and I just checked the PC I'm working ong for it)

        Finally, something you said makes sense. All operating systems should include a versioning filesystem. What year is it, anyway?
        Makes sense, and in some regard Macs have that now with time machine and the auto saving features of "modern" Applications.

        However making a solid "versioning" filesystem is not as easy as you

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      So basically, since you're incompetent and can't set up the right software and subsystems for your workflow, you need the OS to mandate it for you?

      • by tepples (727027)
        It's because people have to work with other people less competent at IT than themselves.
        • by loufoque (1400831)

          Report to the project manager that the interaction with your colleagues is inefficient, and ask him to set standards for the team.

          • by tepples (727027)
            I think the point was supposed to be that the operating environment would make it easier to follow the project manager's standards.
  • It's titled as being about operating system features, but it's almost entirely about application level stuff such as codecs and user interface.
    • by loufoque (1400831)

      Yes, it is stupid.
      The best OS for creative editing is the OS that supports all of the software that you plan to use. Typically, it would be Windows, since some critical software only runs on that operating system.
      More and more software gets ported to Mac and Linux though, so it's mostly a matter of what you need to use in your workflow.

  • Video Editing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday September 09, 2013 @07:48AM (#44796001) Homepage

    Right now is Windows. Final Cut Pro was bastardized into Imovie pro. and Linux has absolutely nothing that is useable.

    Windows has a lock on it as the only platform that runs AVID and Sony Vegas for the only two professional platforms for video editing and After Effects as the ONLY EFX software platform that is useable.

    And this makes me sad. All the Linux options are utter garbage or for making videos of your cat, none are usable for a feature length film or even a professional looking TV show.

    The only good option is to use Blender, a 3D graphics program to do some video editing by using one of it's side functions, but it is unusable for anyone doing professional work or needs to collaborate with others OR work with large projects, Blender chokes hard on anything large. And the problem is that 99% of all the developers out there are far more interested in ooooh shiny features and not basics that need to be 100% reliable.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Lightworks for Linux? www.lwks.com

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Lightworks for Linux? www.lwks.com

        Where is the linux download? It's not under 'download'

      • by omnichad (1198475)

        It's very powerful, but it has a truly bad UI. UI doesn't stand for unintuitive. And why should you have to drag a shark onto a window to close it?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Right now is Windows. Final Cut Pro was bastardized into Imovie pro. and Linux has absolutely nothing that is useable.

      Oh dear...

      Windows has a lock on it as the only platform that runs AVID and Sony Vegas for the only two professional platforms for video editing

      Most of those switching from FCP7 went over to Premiere or Avid MC on OSX.

      and After Effects as the ONLY EFX software platform that is useable.

      I think you meant unusable and what is "EFX"?. AE is a motion graphics tool that evolved into a compositor

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Oh please, FCP X is better than ever but that didn't stop AVID from going all out with the FUD. Once you get used to the FCP X workflow everything else just seems antique. Usually the people hating FCP X are aging baby boomers who will hopefully be forced out of the industry in the next round of lay-offs. Then they can sit around the house editing home videos of their grand kids using AVID crap and complaining about age discrimination.

      Also even Premier Pro is a hell of a lot better for video than fucking Ve

  • An OS for that? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Monday September 09, 2013 @07:48AM (#44796003) Homepage Journal

    You don't need an OS for that. What would be needed would be an application suite that handles everything on his wish list seamlessly. It could run on any OS.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      So tell me again how an application suite solves the issue of kernel level multi-tasking support?

      The problem is a suite of applications for doing anything creative ever would be infinitely harder than simply creating the correct OS to run a creative application to begin with. The alternative is to create an overly complex super application with hooks directly into kernels to allow it to run it's own multitasking stack, a system that trawls through the filesystem and indexes everything the OS already does be

      • So tell me again how an application suite solves the issue of kernel level multi-tasking support?

        That and video hardware support issues were the only kernel-level issues I found when I summarized the article [slashdot.org]. The vast majority of mentioned points could fit into a new desktop environment targeted at creative professionals.

  • Ugh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RazorSharp (1418697) on Monday September 09, 2013 @08:12AM (#44796127)

    With a dual-boot setup, this machine was also my first foray into Linux outside of a virtual machine.

    He also just kind of lumps all Linux distros into one, it's not until the last page that you get to this:

    Things that are coming in Ubuntu are meaningless to me because all the programs I use that have Linux versions require RHEL-based distros.

    First, some specific examples would be nice. I've never had this problem and unlike most Linux users, I deal with the world of making "creative content" more than maintaining servers or hacking out code. Most Linux programs don't seem to care about what distro you're using. Ubuntu Studio is my OS of choice for the creative stuff. I used to use Mac OS X but it's just pointless now because there's a free alternative for everything I do on Linux.

    I use Mint for the standard OS stuff. The Red Hat distros I always viewed as more server-oriented, which is why I found this statement to be so bizarre. Ubuntu Studio is tailored to the creative types so he should have reviewed that distro specifically. He mentions Ubuntu here and there throughout the article, but from his statements it's very apparent that he's using the standard distro with the Unity interface. The applications that Studio comes preinstalled with can be manually installed on Ubuntu, and the XFCE interface it uses can also be installed on Ubuntu, but what makes studio unique is its low-latency kernel.

    That's not to say that Ubuntu Studio is the uber-creative OS this guy seeks. I'm an amateur musician and when I need to do image manipulation professionally it consists of little things (I'm not creating 3D models, animations, etc.). Maybe the professional creator who "works efficiently at an almost pathological level" needs some of the advantages of Mac OS X and the propriety software available on it, but it would have been nice if he had at least singled out the Linux distro that's attempting to compete and only used that one as a comparison.

    As an amateur, Ubuntu Studio fits my needs perfectly and allows me to avoid the high costs of buying OS X software. The OS X software does look nicer but that's not worth anything to me as it doesn't alter the end result. Comparing Ubuntu Studio to OS X for me is like comparing my made in Mexico Fender Jaguar to a custom shop American Jaguar. Sure, I had to change the pickups to get an optimal sound, I had to adjust the neck a little to get the action just where I wanted it, but it was still a way better deal than forking over several times as much cash for the custom shop guitar. The custom shop guitar would have all sorts of little cosmetic details that would really impress people who see it, but when people listen to the final recording they can't tell the difference.

  • This will be the next big thing ... after HURD
  • by ikhider (2837593) on Monday September 09, 2013 @09:54AM (#44796825)
    What I noticed is that the so-called 'creative types' who use OS/X tend to produce the same work. They use the same software with the same methodology that produces roughly the same results. Instead of thinking about the result and trying to get to it, s/he wonders how the proprietary software X, that everyone uses, can get to that result. Heck, maybe the best way to get at the answer does not even require software. We have centuries of design and there are some wonderful concepts that people developed without proprietary software crap or pricey, boring crapbook pro. Maybe what we need is to get creative. There are ARTISTS who made great work WITHOUT a computer. When I flip through contemporary design books, much of the stuff tends to bore me out of my skull. I love Anime for instance, but notice that the designs now tend to be the same. When it was free cel, hand drawn, you tended to have more variation in style. Same with music, as a electronic music enthusiast, new albums sound same-ish because the same damn software and plugins are deployed. The great masters of sound produced with analog limitations, but somehow had richer, more varied textures than what I hear today. Look at King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry who had to build their own equipment, and now how many "dub" electronic artists try to reverse engineer that sound through computers. I am not anti-computer, but really, stop making it the default approach every damn time.
    • by omnichad (1198475)

      The only thing this has to do with tools is that it's cheaper to hire less talented people because the tools are easy to learn and there's a lot more of them now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why is it that people think creativity applies exclusively to art? "Creative types"? I've seen scientists who are way more creative when doing science than most "creative types".

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