The roles of OSs have changed


I had an overdue realisation last night:

  • I use Macs for work, for specific business software
  • DOS, and various 1990s versions of Windows are for nostalgic fun
  • (GNU/)Linux is for simulation/world building games
  • FreeBSD is for everything else, and then some

All of this is such a shift from before. Macs used to be seen as creative tools, not something you’d use for business. DOS and 1990s Windows were endlessly frustrating, not sources of fun. Linux couldn’t have been broadly used for games.

I can still remember in the early 2000s bringing my iBook G3 into a corporate office for school work experience, and all the ensuing discussion about what it was, and whether it could be supported by their corporate LAN. They were even more confused when I booted it into NetBSD. How things change.

Though I do wonder sometimes, with just a slight tweak to history, how things might have been different. In another dimension somewhere, I’m using the latest BeOS-powered PowerPC laptop, and a shiny new Palm smartphone. Both of these represented the pinnacle of UI design in the 1990s, and still in the 2020s have yet to be surpassed. People call me an Apple fanboy, but I’d drop all of it in a second for that gear.

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