Reliability and stability of (Mostly) Common Operating systems
Written by: GORE.
This is a text file that I hope will help others in the quest for knowledge of reliability and stability of some operating systems they may come across. This text is being written on a Linux box in XEmacs.
Operating Systems (Here after known as "OSs") Are the software that stand between the hardware and the software of computers. Every computer now needs an OS of some sort, even though in the early days this was not even thought of.
Before OSs, programmers and researchers had to write all of the programs they wanted to use, and then, had no way of saving them. If you can imagine trying to write a program, it crashing, and then reading a print out of what happened because their was no "Core Dump" in these days, then you can see why someone started to think of the concept of an OS.
An OS has a lot of responcibilites. It has to control your hardware, your programs, and of course, make it easier for coders to make new programs. My main goal with this text will be to try and teach you a few things about OSs, and the stability and reliability of ones you probably come into contact with.
Now, before I get to far into detail, you may be asking (Or you may not be asking, I really don't care either way =) ) What exactly IS an OS?
Well, an OS is software. Software is nothing more than a series of instructions, in a syntax that can be understood by either the computer, or a compiler, or, for BASIC, an interpreter. The instructions basically tell the computer what to do, and how, and when.
Most users interact with a lot of different programs on a daily basis. Some common applications you may use are: An internet web browser, an e-mail client, a word processor application like Word, Word star, and Emacs, Text editors, like Vi, Vim, Emacs (I count it as both), Notepad, Edit, and Joe, and a lot of other types of programs. These are all software too.
In a basic sence, an OS is a set of programs containing instructions that coordinate all of the activities among computer hardware resources. The OS recognizes input from a keyboard or a mouse, tells the monitor how to display things and where, the printer how to, and where to, print, and is in charge of data in RAM, and saved data on the disk.
More jobs the OS must do include:
Starting the computer
Providing a user interface
Accessing the internet, and or a network
And all around doing some house keeper type jobs on the computer to make it useful for more than a paper weight.
Most computers people come into contact with store the OS on the Disk, smaller computers may store the OS in ROM, or "Read Only Memory".
Not all platforms use the same OS. Mac computers for example come with MAC OS. You can get other OSs to run on a Mac though, like Linux.
Mac OS will not run on PCs though. X86 based PCs however have hundreds of OSs available. And for SUN hardware, Solaris and SunOS are the main OSs, but Linux can run on these types of things too.
The Kernel of an OS is the very core of the OS itself. the Kernel manages memory, devices, the computer's clock, starts applications, and assigns the computer's resources.
The Kernel is also memory resident. It remains in memory while the computer is on.
When using an OS, the two most common ways of communicating with it as to what you want to do, are through a GUI (Graphical User Interface), which Windows XP uses almost exclusivly, and a CLI (Command Line Interface).
The GUI can be nice to get common things done fast, but the command line is the best way to perform advanced tasks.
Different types of OSs:
Not all OSs are the same. Most you are likely to come across may be very similar in what they do, but that doesn't mean they are all a like. Some OSs are for servers, some are meant to be clients, some are single tasking single user, and some are embedded.
For the most post, I will be discussing mainly server and client and desktop OSs. Embedded OSs are not something I use much.
The best known single user single tasking OS is without a doubt DOS. DOS stands for two things:
Disk Operating System
Dirty Operating System
In 1981, IBM was coming out with a Personal Computer. They needed an OS to run on this "PC", and thankfully IBM succeeded with the PC, as we all now have a computer in our homes.
They went to Microsoft for an OS, and Microsoft lied and said they had an OS for the PC. They found a clone of Digital Researche's CP/M OS written by Tim Patterson of Seattle Computer Products called QDOS (Quick Dirty Operating system).
Microsoft bought it cheaply, and changed the name to MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating system). In some original copies, you could actually find the real name of it, as Microsoft had left some in, which I would guess was just a mistake when they looked for everything to change in it.
DOS seemed like the answer to IBM needing an OS. It was small, didn't take up much space, and would work without a Hard Disk. The original PC had no Hard Disk anyway. they changed the name to PC-DOS for IBM, named after DOS/360, an OS of the mid 60's. Microsoft of course called it's own version MS-DOS.
This was around the same time that BSD was being created too.
DOS is a fairly stable OS. Most versions of course allow you to only do one thing at a time, but IBM has a version of DOS that came out around the year 2,000 that actually can multi task.
As for security, DOS is great...To an extent. I havn't heard of many DOS users getting owned, as it can't handle another user to break in. This would in theory point to DOS actually being secure network wise.
It can't handle more than one user, and can't handle more than one application at a time, so that would limit what could be done to it remotely. Remote access is possible in DOS though. Remote access tools were built for it, and a lot of applications that run in DOS, run much faster and much better than their Windows counterparts.
The most well know OS in this category is without a doubt Windows. For a desktop, Windows is fine, but as for stability and reliability, they have had a less than perfect track record.
Windows 3.X was decent. It was fairly fast, and was simple. It was a bit reliabl, heh, much more tha Windows 95. And it was faster than 95. This OS is not in in use much anymore today, as support was dropped for it long ago, and it wouldn't be able to handle the new features that people have come to expect out of a modern OS. If you have older hardware lying around and don't want to use Linux for some reason, this could still be a valid option.
Windows for Workgroups:
Well, I am going to make this into another category. It was basically part of the 3.x line. Windows 3.x could be added to a network, but Windows for workgroups made the task much easier to perform.
Windows for Workgroups 3.11:
This was a pretty good upgrade compared to Windows for Workgroups 3.1, which added 32 bit file access, fax capabilities, and higher performance. This was of course back when Microsoft released updates for windows to add new features, not because they had found some un fixable security hole.
There were actually 4 releases of Windows 3.1x :
Windows 3.1 : The first release of Windows 3.1x.
Windows 3.1 for Work groups.
Windows 3.11 for Workgroups.
For Windows 3.1 to use networking features, a DOS NIC driver, protocol, and client software had to be provided. And as networking software became feature rich, the size of the client software resident in the 640K portion of RAM grew to the point that many applications would not run do to insufficient free real mode RAM.
Windows for Workgrops solves this problem by adding protected mode network support. Rather than loading the drivers in the 640K segment, The Windows networking software loads as .386 files. (VxD files).
Of course this means as soon as you went back to DOS, you lost the network. ( Some of the text you just read about Windows for Workgroups was NOT stolen, but learned by me from http://www.toastytech.com/guis/win311.html I did not just copy and paste this, but this stuff came out LONG before I had a computer, and some of it when I was in diapers. I found this site very informative, so I'm going to give some credit for THIS Windows 3.x section to them, as I learned a lot of it there.)
This is what happened when you pressed CTRL ALT DELETE.... The Sodding paper clip strikes again in pop up window form...It appears that you are grossly disgusted with Windows, would you like me to reboot the system?????????? LOL. This version of clippy seemed a little coked up and excited.
Windows NT 3.51 running new applications like Mozilla...And somehow working a little.
Windows 95 - Windows 95 is great for doing basic tasks like surfing the internet, and sending email. That is about where it stops though too. It is very unreliable, and for stability in Windows 95, think WTC AFTER the planes. Both crashed bad.
Windows 98 - Windows 98 was an update to Windows 95 where some bugs were fixed, and the internet was "integrated" into the OS...Supposedly. Windows 98 was decent though. It was more stable than 95, and more stable than the next home user OS, Windows ME.
Windows 98 SE was probably the best for gaming untill Windows XP home came out. And even then some games won't run on XP, so the ultimate gaming machine would have to have 98SE for the games to all run correctly.
Windows 98 for stability is not to bad. Don't expect it to stay crisp after about a day though, but it can be up for a month or more if you know what you're doing.
Windows ME - Doesn't belong in a conversation, or discussion about stability.
Windows NT - Windows NT was something that came out just before 95. I have no idea why they released 95 when NT was already there. NT was much better, even though it needed more resources.
NT machines have been known to stay up over a year without a reboot, but according to a Microsoft manual that no longer exists, you are supposed to reboot once a month for the memory leaks it has spilling out.
Microsoft took this tip off the web site, but it is quite funny. As I am writing this on my Linux box, I have 58 days of uptime, and I'm not planning on rebooting yet. That's the problem with Linux, you don't need to reboot so you may have to buy a better power supply.
I can't say I don't like Windows NT though. It was the first OS to have NTFS (Shocking, I know), and it was decent for being an old OS. It is somewhat dated now, but I would rather run it than nothing at all.
Windows NT has been around long enough that most of the bugs that are in it have had time to be found and fixed. Now if Microsoft would actually support it, it would be great.
All in all Windows NT is fairly decent, but no longer supported.
Windows 2000 - Windows 2000 was the update to NT. It was based on NT but had the new features NT was missing because of age. A lot happened between when NT came out and when 2000 came out, so 2000 is usually a little better if you want newer options.
Windows 2000 is fairly stable. The netcraft site showing the top 50 uptimes once had a Windows 2000 box with 900 days of uptime on it. Not bad at all. Windows 2000 is still in wide use today, and hotmail.com seems to be running it too.
I have used Windows 2000 Professional enough to know I can run it with confidence. Windows 2000 is all around a good OS if you actually take the time to learn it correctly.
Windows XP comes in two forms mainly, and a third and fourth known as Windows XP for PDA type machines, and Windows XP Media Center edition. They are basically XP with some added features to run on the machines they were designed for.
the other two main versions are Windows XP Home edition, and Windows XP Pro.
Windows XP Home edition is pretty much the one made for home use, and XP Pro was the update to Windows 2000 Professional. Huge difference huh?
Windows XP home is what I use at home, and I use XP pro at school. I'v messsed with both a fair amount, and from what I can tell, XP Pro's main difference is an extra $100.00 Price tag, and about 3 networking tools you could download anyway.
Oh, and of course XP Pro has encryption built in...Another feature you can download.
XP seems to mainly be a mix of Windows ME and Windows NT/2000. It is very stable, and also has a very good way with multimedia. Kind of like the best from both worlds. A lot of people have said XP was very insecure.
I believe an OS is as secure as you make it to be. Pooh Sun Tzu proved this theory with a couple of tests he shared on Anti Online, proving XP more secure than anyone had ever given it credit for.
I think Pooh Sun Tzu should be given a fair amount of credit for actually taking the time to learn Windows XP more than others have, and for teaching everyone that it can in fact be secured.
For Windows XP, it is the only version of Windows I have right now running. I have it on a box that came with it, and I just never took it off as I need it for school, and use it for a few other things too.
For stability, XP is an amazing OS compared to other OSs Microsoft released. It is very stable, and I have yet to have to reboot unless I was installing something that required it... Or because I was worried about it over heating.
I'v had XP running for quite a while without any problems, although after about a week some games would start to lag untill I rebooted. This is still better than other OSs Microsoft has released though.
XP does have a bit of a resources fetish though. You should have at the very least 256 MBs of RAM, and a decent processor to run it. I personally have the XP box I talked about a bit earlier, and it runs great. It has 512 MBs RAM, a 2.13 GHz AMD Athlon XP 2600+ Processor, and a 120 GB HD. This is a great machine for XP, as it has room to use.
If you can give it a lot of resources to play in, you should have no real problems there.
Windows server 2003:
This right here, in my opinion is one of the fastest, and best OSs they have ever released. I started playing with it on a box here at home, and right away noticed a speed increase.
It seems to load applications much faster than previous versions of Windows could. I think they should take all the server software out and release it as a desktop OS alongside the server one.
It seems very stable. I havn't had a problem with it at all.
Not much else to really say about it, as it is based on Windows 2000, so is very similar, but in my opinion, much better.
The install also goes a lot more smoothly than other versions.
I actually like it. They really should make a desktop version of it. I'd use it.
June 5th, 2004, 04:32 AM
Honest and accurate....
I agree about XP and 2k3 especially.....
What else do you plan to add?
June 5th, 2004, 10:42 PM
Well, maybe a little more about Windows or DOS, and then a little about Windows code names, which I'm probably going to do here in a minute. Then I'm going to start on UNIX.
June 5th, 2004, 11:39 PM
Kinda out of the topic,
I was talking to a guy up in Huntsville one day about old computers. Anyways, he told me he used to work at an old mainframe and I asked him what OS they ran (I assumed unix). He told me Tim. So I asked him what that was and he told me a man named Tim.
It turns out that Way back in the Way, instead of having an OS move programs in and out of the memory, there was a person at the main console whos job was to pull things in and out of memory. If he filled stuff up, then nothing else could be put into memory or else the entire system would crash (and seeing as how the computer was the size of a gym, restarting it was no easy task).
Also, he told me of the MASSIVE 10 mb (yep that is 10 megabytes) hardrives that took up a whole room. He told me that one platter had a length of 5 feet across.
It was just a real fun conversation I had with him. Oh and for those who want to know, when they got rid of the computer (aka 1 billion parts that filled up gyms), they sold all the scap to a fridge maker.
Back to subject, Gore, this paper really spells nostalgia. What you could add would be at the begging of every heading
Would be to mention a set of specs so users can see how everything goes up over time. Stuff like Year, display, size of average install, filesystems supported, max hardrive size, etc...
June 5th, 2004, 11:39 PM
pooh sun tzu
Have to spread points around before I can give you some greenies again, but know that this is an excellent tutorial with great potiential :)
June 6th, 2004, 03:14 AM
The headings I already planned on adding, I just havn't yet because this is still a work in progress. I'm working on ways to add more without making it TOO long, but I will not sacrifice good information because of this reason either. If it gets long, oh well, heh. I havn't started on the UNIX section yet, but I will probably tommorrow because it's my day off.
Also, I got paid, so heh, hopefully I'll have SuSE Linux 9.1 Professional tommorrow so I can do a review. I've been working on my network a little too. Taking bad things off and so on. I've been keeping busy, since I havn't hardly been here at all, so sorry whoever misses me, I'll be around still, just been working on teaching myself more.
OK so I have also been ripping CDs into MP3s on my HDs too, but hey I need to relax ;)
So now you know what I plan on doing, sort of, and what I've been doing. Thanks for the information and suggestions, now tell others to come here and read this so I can see what direction to pull it towards.
You can tell I got my Vicodin refilled, and that I'm feeling better, I'm working on this again ;)
June 6th, 2004, 07:04 AM
I think gore should have a custom title under his name... AntiOnline OS Master
Anyways, I sanned through it... I can't really think of anything more you could say... Unless you want to take the time to add a section on *nix.
June 7th, 2004, 03:25 AM
I'm posting a screen shot here of my uptime, and also, because instead of replying with another long thread, I can give you just a tiny sneak peak at another text I began working on ;) It will be added to this text, but I'm not sure where yet. I also talked ot Negative to ask him where this text would be appropriate, as I had no plans of making it a tutorial, it's not, it's just information, and won't teach you how to do anything, and that is why I posted it here to begin with. I had no intentions of making this a tutorial, and the answer Negative gave me made me happy with it, so for those who want to know, this text I'm working on, when finally finished, will be posted here in the OS forum as a sticky, added to another post I made, and Negative said he would merge them for me as I can't, and then when newbies had any questions he would point them to this "super thread". I thought it was a nice badge of honor to know I did so well making this. If more people can reply and let me know where improvements could be made I would really appreciate it, I can't be doing that well already, heh.
Also, planned improvements include:
I'm going to bold the text for each section, and do a few other things to make it easier to read. Think of how I did the "Looking for a new OS?" thread. I will do it that way. Also, I have started thinking about what to add for UNIX. MJK, I have been planning on adding UNIX since day one, so don't worry, that will have it's own section. I just want it to be good, so I did it in sections, and for some of it, in separate papers.
June 7th, 2004, 03:32 AM
Seem's like it would definitely make a good tutorial. :) And I, like pooh sun, have to spread my antipoint's as well.
June 7th, 2004, 03:36 AM
Originally posted here by Spyder32 Seem's like it would definitely make a good tutorial. And I, like pooh sun, have to spread my antipoint's as well.
Thanks man. I don't really think it would be a tutorial though, but this forum is my forum, and it belongs here with me ;)
Like I said, I asked Negative, and he gave me a good reply that I was pleased with. And he was very fair considering in the addicts forum I was trying to get his wife to call me Daddy ;) LOL!
Anyway, more feedback please :) Doing good so far.