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Thought Experiment: The Ultimate Creative Content OS 226

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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  • 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...

  • 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.

    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.

  • Re:So he wants KDE? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AbigailBuccaneer ( 3053535 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @06:27AM (#44795705)

    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 would almost certainly end up in the desktop environment part.

    If a KDE/GNU/Linux distribution installation comes with first-class support for these image formats, I don't see that there's any reason to disqualify it for having the image support in the KDE part of the installation rather than the GNU/Linux part.

  • 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.

  • All that exists in Linux. Both processes (nice) and I/O (ionice) have priority levels you can manipulate -- a normal user can decrease the priority of any task they own.

    Experience shows that we don't know enough about usage patterns to make it automatic

    And yet it doesn't seem like anyone is even trying. Why don't file copies get launched at a low I/O priority by default, just a notch down? Why doesn't the foreground app get a boost, just one point? Etc.

  • by RamiKro ( 3019255 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @07:30AM (#44795925)

    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.

  • 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.

  • by Life2Death ( 801594 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @07:53AM (#44796033)

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:10AM (#44796971)

    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".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 09, 2013 @11:42AM (#44798031)

    It's been done. Unfortunately, it was done in the Synthesis [] 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.

"The C Programming Language -- A language which combines the flexibility of assembly language with the power of assembly language."