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Re: The term "operating system"
- To: :
- Subject: Re: The term "operating system"
- From: Ken Hamlett <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 22:32:44 -0500 (EST)
At 09:20 PM 11/12/97 -0500, you wrote:
>Is there an agreed-upon definition of "operating system"?
For those of you who only want the bottom line of how this
ties in with point of this newsgroup just jump to the end
and save yourself the agony of reading my very hasty
and overly simple answer/preamble.
To the best of my knowledge, the definition tends to vary depending
on the view of the speaker and the point being pitched.
However my interpretation is one of the oldest and the narrowest claim
thus possibly the most valid. First a brief description then I'll get
to the other part of your concern. This will be the quicky version
so please don't hold me any precise standards on this.
The Operating system it the primary layor of software (typically not
imbeddeed or "hardwired") which acts as an interface between the
hardware (cpu, bios, et al) and input or control from other sources.
Thus in the most minimal view the kernal, system input/output
and possibly the command interpreter is included. Everything else
is basicly "other sources".
I personally exclude the command interpreter because it can be
separate and replacable. Anything other than this is a separate layer
used to extend the functionality of the base system.
This pretty much blows holes in the theory that by some abstraction
such items as graphical interfaces, compression programs, or other
such conveniences are in any real way part of the operating system.
>My overriding concern, as a consumer, is keystrokes. My understanding
>is that Windows handles certain keystrokes in a manner that application
>programs cannot "see," and that it provides apps with no way to handle
>those keystrokes themselves. Can our tech types confirm or refute this?
>Such behavior, in my carefully considered opinion, far oversteps the
>bounds of what an operating system should do.
For your "keystroke" question I will respond according to my
interpretation although you may simply be asking about
standardization of keystrokes or exception handling.
For the ultimate answer you might check with a software and
a hardware engineer for the nitty gritty but basicly there should
be a way to get around a rougue program so that the environment
can take control. The same
is true that the environment should be bypassable to the OS or a
direct sytem call. Thus this may not be a flaw as much as a failsafe.
On the other hand it can be an annoyance or just plain dangerous
You see, each part is a software "layer" which has a
level below it until you get down to the hardware(which in turn
has it own software/firmware/control system/or what ever you want
to call it.
This is actually very relevant to the discussion of browsers or other
components that are being called presented as part of the OS.
Just as you can bypass a layer of software with keystrokes, you
can also bypass a software layer by other software. This does
not make the component doing the direct call part of the OS
but some companies such as Microsoft use this as a crutch
for the integrated platform argument.
One might also just move a software module from one
package to another and then claim that the later is part of the
former. It all depends on how far one wants to bend a definition.
If we carry this one step further, if the next implementation of
Word were to bypass the OS and make direct calls to the
hardware it might also be enfolded into the theory that it
is part of the operating system. Still not literally true any more
than the browser/OS concept.
Of course the current browser integration issue is a smokescreen
to keep everyone from mentioning the Active Desktop. This is
another layer of software being slipped in which makes the
separate browser issue irrelevant. As far as I can tell so far,
this is the layer that will cause the greatest distress for products
that compete with MS offerings. This could become lengthy so
I will leave it for others to expand on that particular layer since
I don't expect I will bother to gain more than a passing familiarity
with the active desktop layer.
Just a few thoughts... more than you really asked for, eh ;-)
(but much less than could be said)