Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Google Packs it

Thumbs up to Aleem's post and the ensuing dialogue since we identify with most of it. Will keep this Google post for a few days only. Would you download a Google Pack too?

In a blog entry, Google advertised why they are packing software as one--to make computing simpler. What does it contain? Google goodies [Earth, Picasa, Screensaver to display ur pics, Desktop, Toolbar, Norton for 6 months, Adware, Acrobat 7, and Mozilla. No office, yet.] Nice for school kids.

12 comments:

atrophying said...

i just downloaded it a few days ago, and while i already have most of the software, i think its a great idea - plus, its also an indication that google 'might' be coming one step closer to developing their own OS. should bill gates be shaking in fear right now?

self said...

I don't understand why people think Google is developing their own desktop operating system. Writing an OS is simple; making sure people can work on Microsoft Excel documents and browse the web without running into web sites that don't support your browser is next to impossible.

Maybe if Google bought Apple, but I don't see it happening any other way.

SQ said...

I strongly disagree. Writing an OS is NOT simple! And as for websites that don't support your browser -- if everyone (both websites and browsers) stuck to the very well-defined protocols, there wouldn't be problems.

self said...

Writing an OS is NOT simple!
Actually, it is -- if you don't write one with a desktop environment that people are familiar with.

[...] if everyone (both websites and browsers) stuck to the very well-defined protocols, there wouldn't be problems.
Yeah...except that the standards aren't well-defined at all, and no browser out there implements all the standards right now. Why would you expect Google to do any better than the people whose day jobs are fixing bugs and adding features to web browsers?

SQ said...

So if you took X (and window managers) out of Linux, you think it would have been simple to write?

self said...

Linux is a bad example because it was originally written to take advantage of preexisting software (the "bash" shell, gcc, etc), and written against a set of available specifications (POSIX). The main differences between Linux 1.0 (released in 1994, after three years of development) and Linux 2.6.12 (released in 2005) are: more hardware drivers, more experimental code that has become part of the standard featureset, and a larger number of platforms supported (sparc, ppc, arm, etc). That's pretty much it. Oh, 2.6.12 is about 50 times larger than 1.0.

You could set up a Linux 1.0 (or even per-1.0) system today, and still use it to run editors, compilers, and stuff.

SQ said...

That didn't quite answer my question...

So are you saying that it would be simple to create an OS that didn't have a desktop environment, and didn't use any pre-existing software, or pre-existing standards / specifications?

self said...

So are you saying that it would be simple to create an OS that didn't have a desktop environment, and didn't use any pre-existing software, or pre-existing standards / specifications?

Assuming you mean pre-existing software standards, the answer is yes. (You'll always need to talk to hardware using pre-existing standards.) Why do you think otherwise?

SQ said...

Well, I guess I don't agree with you that writing an OS would be simple as compared to writing MS Excel or a Browser (whether or not you adhere to pre-existing software standards).

IMO, an OS deals with far greater complexities than a browser or a spreadsheet program.

self said...

IMO, an OS deals with far greater complexities than a browser or a spreadsheet program.

That's true, but look at it this way. The source code for Open Office 2.0.1 is about 260MiB compressed. The source code for FreeBSD 6.0's kernel (support for a thousand or so devices, support for multiple networking protocols, filesystems, etc) is about 93MiB uncompressed.

You can get the latter down to just a few hundred kb or a meg of source if you start from scratch, but it's doubtful that an application like a word processor will be smaller (not everyone is happy with WordStar).

SQ said...

Fewer lines of code doesn't make it simpler, does it?

self said...

Not necessarily, no. However, it is related to the number of features you need to support. When it comes to hardware, which is a large portion of what an OS deals with, there aren't that many features that need to be exposed to user applications (or the rest of the OS).

When it comes to contemporary user applications, you need to support a lot of stuff that's not related to the main task. Take, for example, the "undo" operation in a word processor. You can certainly write a word processor that lacks undo, but who's buy it? And, supporting one level of undo is easy; multiple levels, or unlimited undo is a lot more code -- all of it unrelated to letting the user write a document.