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Of cultures and operating systems
Without an operating system, computer hardware is inanimate and about as capable as a brick. In the early days, the operating system was considered to be an integral part of the computer until a brilliant move by Bill Gates when the hardware was separated from the operating system with MS.DOS Version 1.0. From this point, the operating system became glamorous, glitzy and branded as a consumer product - and had to be paid for separately to the hardware.
I use 3 operating systems - MS.Windows XPPro , Ubuntu 9,04 (Jaunty Jackalope) and Windows Mobile 6.0 on my HTC palmtop. I first started using Linux about 4 years ago. Up 'till then I used Microsoft exclusively apart from my experiences with some of the more exotic operating systems of the early 1980s which included the Commodore PET (with 16Kb RAM!), the Sinclair ZX-81, an o/s for designing integrated circuits called Gaelic and even an O/S called Gerbil.
In using different operating systems, I've noticed that each operating system causes me to interact quite differently with the hardware - an altogether different user experience. On Windows, there are particular rituals that are missing on Linux; I have to do defrags and chkdsks, run virus checker updates (I pay for virus checkers and anti-spyware) and and fiddle with swap files from time to time. I spend much more time on ubuntu now day-to-day and it has always been exceptionally reliable and stable. There are also thousands of software titles available for instant installation and download from Astronomy all the way to Managing a Zoo (I live in a house with teenagers!)
The point is that an operating system has many interesting parallels to culture - a culture inhibits certain behavours whilst stimulating others and in the same way certain programs can run within a particular operating system whilst others cannot. Your apple or Linux software won't run on Windows. A culture can also put you into certain patterns of being and behaving of which you can become completely unconscious - where things can become so commonplace and everyday that they become 'the way we do things around here' - they have become a paradigm.
Submitted by storytelling on 21 May 2009 - 7:42am. categories [ ]