COMP: Software and Operating Systems
Fri, 1 Aug 1997 13:19:09 -0400 (EDT)

Question: Why don't more operating systems come with built in programming
languages and compilers?

Note to Unix users: Yes it is great!

Most modern operating systems don't come with a built in programming language
and compiler, gone are the days when all computers had a BASIC prompt
(memories!). This is probably because today's OS is meant to be simple and
user friendly. But I think users have a right to create their own software
without having to buy any expensive compilers, etc.

When I buy a car, I can pull it apart, make modifications and remove parts to
put in other cars. Yet when I buy software all I can do is what the software
allows me to do. I can't see how it works, I can't super charge it and I
can't change the colour.

Here's my idea: Build an object oriented visual operating system (not a
operating system with a GUI strapped on but a visual software environment).
Create a simple object system that allows all objects to inherit simple
properties with zero programming (If it's not attached you can move it).
Include tools for editing text and objects (all tools can edit all documents
and objects, no more applications). Users can build (rather than program)
there own tools or they can buy third party-tools. When they buy third-party
tools they're allowed unrestricted access to modify them how they like (by
sub-classing, so they don't have to see the precious code).

Now, you could say this is the way operating systems are going, or even the
way they are (if you buy the right applications). But I think the ability to
create should be built into operating systems at the lowest possible level.
We need software environments where we can manipulate and create objects
directly rather than using bulky applications.

This has a deeper meaning than just allowing anyone to create software (and
thus insuring a healthy supply of programmers). It is also important for the
future of computing and the _death of the software industry_ (cue Jaws

As computers progress, they will reach a point where we <gasp> no longer need
to buy software (or download it from the net). Instead, you the user will
program your own computer via voice recognition/understanding and, through
Artificial Intelligence your computer will program itself. No software
applications, just a pool of reusable components and agents that are clipped
together as you speak. To get to this wonderful utopian freeware future we
need to point ourselves in the right direction…


P.S. Okay I'll admit it I'm using Windows, yeah I'm a hypocrite, could
someone point me in the direction of freeware land... I seem to be lost!