People are growing increasingly jaded with OSX and Windows, both of which lack a passionate visionary and are becoming increasingly bloated and making weird UX choices.
I do not mean making a retro device, or even playing off of some modern variant of AmigaOS, I mean rethinking/resurrecting the brand the same way Jobs did when he returned to Apple.
It would not necessarily mean completely reinventing hardware or software. Apple's switch to a BSD-based OS and Intel chips was an example of how you can build a great computer on top of existing hardware and software.
The Mac has no "real" competitors - that is, companies which manufacture both their own hardware and software to produce desktops (other than consoles, which are not really desktop replacements).
Anyhow, it is obviously no small undertaking, but I refuse to believe there should only be two mainstream choices out there for desktops, or that the space for innovation is dead (more so on the software/coding/UX side).
I'm not raining on your parade. I'm just trying to help in the thought process. Don't let anyone get in the way of your dreams.
That said, I think there is huge room for improvement in a couple areas. One is rethinking the programming environment - how easy it is to get into, how fragmented it is by a hardware ecosystem, how can you gain C-level performance while making the environment less rigid, how can you make dependencies a no-brainer, how can you make a UI system so good that nobody will want to use anything else - the list goes on and on. I would love to rethink hardware but realistically that is the difference between a million dollar startup and a billion dollar one. That said, the superficial aspects of hardware have room for improvement or niches that can be attacked. For example, I would love to have a portable device (like a laptop) that is able to compete with the comfort of my desktop (and yes, I regularly use the best laptops - they do not compare to my desktop in my experience :) ). I.e. something that can be ported around easily, but does not necessarily have to rest on my lap.
Does the world need another OS? Technically not - because need is a very strong word. :) Does the world want a better OS? To be honest, I am not sure how strong the demand is or how great the apathy is there - I think only the real-world market could tell.
In a way, its really similar to the question "do we need any more programming languages?" We can make do with what we have, but I would be arrogant to say we could not produce anything better. :)
The answer to this question, and other variants like it -- "does the world need another ____" to me boils down to ethics and vision. Maybe we don't need another version of this product, but maybe we can have a product just a good with a better vision and supports making more ethical decisions, and then we can expect over time the technology or the engineering, or the manufacturing process to catch up.
Another thought I have is deeply experienced operating system developers seem to be fading away. I could be wrong, and maybe the world doesn't care but we shouldn't take forgranted that OSes have gotten as good as they will get. Maybe a new OS will help inspire another generation of OS developers. (I would be one. Would love to hack on some low level, hard computer science problems instead of the same, mundane, line of business apps I build every day)
It is also something I find worrisome. Programmers spend their lives building up unique knowledge, only to have it fade into oblivion. We keep reinventing the wheel but don't care to invest in keeping the wheel rolling. :)
Nostalgia, and you can't really resurrect nostalgia. I loved my Commodores when I was growing up, but times have changed. The BBS software that I ran and modded are long gone, the friends I would post with are long gone, the doors would be fun for about 5 minutes.
It was great, but it's like meeting a great childhood friend that you haven't seen in 20 years. Most of the time, it's fun to reminisce, but there's nothing new there. We've both changed.
From a software developer's point of view the Amiga is worth resurrecting because the operating system design represents a promise that you can get great power and flexibility out of modest means, by keeping complexity at bay.
It wasn't always so rosy, but you could pack quite a punch by developing products for the Amiga. The system gave you a lot of leverage, which architect Carl Sassenrath rightly referred to as "empowering the user". The development environment (a 'C' compiler, a debugger and a decent text editor would see you through) and the operating system documentation were solid enough. You could comfortably hold the entire design of the system and its APIs in your head. That kind of knowledge is rare these days, given how complex our platforms of choice have become.
I have been an Amiga software developer for more than three decades now, through the good times and the less good times (it used to be a hobby, became a business, now it's a hobby again). It does give you perspective, and not everything that came around in these last three decades measured up so well: how much of the power of the hardware platform ends up in the hands of the user?
The (for lack of a better word) "thin" Amiga operating system layer allowed you to squeeze a maximum of performance out of the hardware. I recall that during the late 1990'ies Amiga networking software, tested against a HP-UX based logic analyzer's networking performance in the lab, came out on top.
"Because the C64 boots directly into BASIC the main user interface of the machine is an easily accessible programming environment."
Though I only realised it on a subliminal level back then, booting your computer and being able to program it right from the boot prompt with immediate feedback was one of the magical properties of the C64 and to some extent the Amiga. In a way you could say these computers offered the first general purpose REPL.
This property is severely lacking from every mainstream OS nowadays, which of course is intentional because for the most part these operating systems target consumers and hence quite understandably try to hide perceived complexity at all costs. Ironically, the environment that comes closest to these early desktop programming environments is Microsoft Excel. In fact, my father (whom I'm incredibly grateful for introducing me to computers at a young age) although not a programmer by profession used to develop business applications on his C64 while just a few years later he resorted to Excel for the same tasks, which in some ways of course made things easier but also was limited in what you could do with it.
I'm quite sure a modern, well-designed programming environment in that vein would be conducive to both business application development and education.
Sometimes in attempting to hide complexity we introduce further complexity. For example, many modern IDEs make some tasks more difficult than they need to be, when editing a text file would suffice (and provides more programmatic flexibility).
I think that it probably is too harsh to boot into a terminal, but to make a terminal readily available for users with a friendly programming interface would not hurt - and this exists in some form today but still lacks the magic of QBASIC/etc.
It has been cloned:
Both are open-source. Red has a Windows GUI and the OSX GUI is close. The language ranges from high-level DSLs to system programming.
On one hand, I want a language as simple as possible, with as few paradigms as possible, and as close to the metal as possible (or at least the ability to compile it down to something with C-equivalent performance). This would encompass the core of the language.
On the other hand, the language would have a wide variety of built-in libraries for UI, access to graphics hardware, networking, input, etc. The language's paradigms would also be easily extensible, perhaps as an added layer of compilation / meta programming.
How many big oil companies are out there: Three. Big banks: Three, four. Presidential candidates: Hillary or "The Donald". Visa or Mastercard. Red or Blue.
But: 32 ice cream flavors! 50 different types of noodles!! 250 varieties of sneakers!!!
Everything important is laid out for you.
Everything unimportant: endless, meaningless choices.
(I miss him so much. What would I give to see what he'd do with the material a Donald presidency would hand him?!)
I for one am happy with Apple. But still, it would be nice to have another good player out there. You wouldn't even need to be visionary. Just not-creepy would be nice already!
I am happy "enough" with OSX and Windows, in that they are sufficient for my needs. Maybe a 7/10 or 8/10. I am looking forward to that 10/10 experience. A perfect, painless experience. A system that does not cripple its ambitions with backwards compatibility, but rather boldly attempts to lead a new path. Is it even possible? I don't know. :)
Honestly, good luck and success! I owned a C64, and I remember a lot of fun I had with this thing at young age.
I wish such a revival would also happen to Atari ST. I owned this thing myself, and I remember how incredible performant it was. It was the first affordable workstation. There was software like Turbo-C (the harbinger of Borland C) and Tempus Editor. Tempus Word was a word processor that was more performant and responsive than today's MS Office on a 4 GHz workstation, despite lack of coprocessor and GPU, and despite the fact that the 68k cpu operated with just 8 MHz. Can you imagine that? I am not exaggerating. You have to see it in action to believe it. Only BeOS was performant like that.
That was possible because the ST didn't have all the bloatware of the current PC generation. I am really sick of all the Mac-only and UEFI/SB Win10-locked hardware, and I don't have much mind anymore to be continually aware of rootkits, ransomeware and all the nonsense on Android and PC. Even iOS devices have been hacked already. I don't have the mind to purchase a new device every year or two just to have a rather secure OS version.
It seems that we have no other options than to go back to the roots if we want get rid of all this trouble.
By the way, my personal dream is a workstation which is completely based on open hardware and software. RISC-V would be a good foundation.
The Free Software Foundation has a hardware certification program for this: https://www.fsf.org/resources/hw/endorsement/respects-your-f...
Hardware: Smallish form factor, not with an integrated keyboard like the A500 but maybe a flat elongated box that can sit between the keyboard and the display (or wherever people want to put it). It needs to be absolutely silent, or at the very least silent at idle. It needs good audio and a decent, modern GPU. It should have easy user access to RAM, SSD, and other upgradeable parts if applicable. It doesn't absolutely have to be an Intel/AMD CPU, although that would not be the worst idea, but it can't be a low power ARM - it has to have reasonably good performance. USB 3, Wifi, Bluetooth are mandatory! User-controllable GPIO pins would be a huge bonus. So would multi monitor support, preferably up to 3.
Software: a minimal BSD or Linux base stack would be nice, and a sane and tight GUI on top of it. No mandatory cloud shenanigans. Come to think of it, sane and tight should be the overriding software theme. Ship compat libraries so it's easy to recompile existing software for it, especially web browsers and game engines. People who want to ship software for it shouldn't be made to jump through hoops (looking at you, Apple). Choose a single minimal but powerful GUI toolkit (or invent one), and build all the OS GUI with that, make that the default choice for your IDE. No insane plethora of background system services. Fast startup time, under 10 seconds minimum. No console-based tweaking should be required of the user for anything that is within the standard usage envelope, but all system management APIs should also be usable from a text shell if necessary.
I now use a single 4k TV in place of my former 4-monitor setup, so I wonder if the mutli-monitor trend is on the way out? Having discreet desktop spaces is a must though, and most OSes don't handle this well on a single monitor.
Anyhow, I agree with pretty much everything you say :)
Part of piling all the features into the CPU is it gives old software a chance at longer legs. Modern PC's have the GPU, which seem to have morphed into special-purpose general processors through herculean API and driver efforts. I do wish the GPU could fade into the main CPU though, it feels like a sidecar concept until it does. CPU vendors and OS vendors need to do a better job at adding features to new software while supporting old hardware. The planned obsolescence of hardware in newer operating systems seems foolish to me.
A ruthless productivity UX is my "dream". I envision taking a non-mainstream OS like Haiku or the open source Solaris and building a new desktop environment for it. Standard hotkeys for actions across applications that go far beyond copy/paste, a very specific and detailed User Experience Guidelines that ONLY target desktop/large screen applications, and a fixed, standard desktop theme and look-and-feel that will only be updated once per decade. I would strongly encourage users to choose not to reskin the desktop or customize their keystroke mappings. Productivity demands that a standard interface is presented to all users who sit down at the machine. I would be accessibility-first, and all standards and conventions would work magnificently with screen readers and magnifiers.
No chasing fads, no reporting user telemetry back to the mothership, privacy is a given. My unparalleled stability and north star vision will be my only real selling points. I'd charge good money for my OS, and my slavish fanboys would pay up for every upgrade and t-shirt I put on offer after my yearly mock turtleneck pitch. That's my dream, at least, hehe.
Still, your ideals mirror mine quite a bit.
I have long been against discrete GPUs and specialized APIs/units, which have led to fast triangle rasterization at the cost of the beautiful and creative flexibility pure CPU coding once allowed. In fact, I'd be happy with a step backwards in graphics for this cause. I don't think gameplay has advanced significantly from the days of Doom and Duke3D (at least with regard to graphical improvements), and the more advanced graphics have led us down a rabbit hole of production costs and complexity. Quite a few people enjoy coding on the Pico8 for this reason. (http://www.lexaloffle.com/pico-8.php)
I'd really like to build a cohesive UI/UX experience with fairly rigid standards and an eye towards elegant programming implementation, data-binding, fluid layout, etc. Distributing an application should be a no-brainer, but at the same time programmers should not be handcuffed by over-the-top security constraints. Rather than go nuts trying to satisfy every hardware combination, take a more console-ish approach with a sane set of limited hardware.
You could not please everyone, but they are trusting you to make the hard decisions. Which is another Jobs thing (I swear I am not a fanboy, more of a Woz guy, but many of his philosophies are relevant here)
Annual turtleneck pitch mandatory :)
What do you think about Qubes on a Skylake Skull Canyon NUC (small desktop with Iris Pro and Thunderbolt) as a desktop research platform? Qubes/Xen would allow existing Linux/Windows to run in parallel with an experimental OS. There is a cross-OS compositing graphics stack (like VMware Workstation Unity) in Qubes that tries to balance security with usability - could be extended.
Qubes also has hardware-rooted measured launch ("anti evil maid") to verify the integrity of the TCB, with keys under user/owner control. As systems get more complex, we need boot-and-runtime integrity measurement to ensure components have not been unexpectedly modified.
An interesting area of research is "data sovereignty" as a counterpoint to "surveillance capitalism". We need a modern storage API that shares the data portability goals of the EA/Amiga Interchange File Format, http://www.martinreddy.net/gfx/2d/IFF.txt & http://www.fileformat.info/format/iff/egff.htm.
As new data rendering capabilities are added to the OS, apps get support for free, as IFF delivered on the Amiga. In exchange, apps cannot lock user data into proprietary formats. This data interoperability then enables multi-app data analytics and UX compositing, with OS enforcement of user ownership and policy, rather than vendor or cloud policy.
Since app/service vendors are impermanent, standardize data interchange APIs with OSS implementations, ensuring the survival of user data. Combine this with KSWorld/Rebol ideas about DSLs for OS-enforced user extension of apps (think Excel declarative programming), and "apps" become data pipeline components, instead of fixed-function GUIs where users have to plead for changes.
I like the form factor of many NUCs but would be willing to go even bigger (maybe up to the size of a tactical suitcase, something like this but with user-friendly design: http://www.governmentvideo.com/Portals/0/IMT%20Suitcase%20Re...).
I am the least qualified person to comment on security, but I'll give my viewpoint for what it is worth:
For me, there are two types of security: passive and reactive. Passive being that secure measures are in place to prevent foul-doing. Reactive being that threats are identified as they are created and appropriately eliminated. In the real world, our law system is passive and reactive. We are allowed to buy guns (but only by going through a passive security process ), but (severe) punishment is issued for misusing them (reactive security). In a way, reactive security functions as passive security - i.e. people do not steal because they are afraid of going to jail.
I believe in a little bit of both. I do not like security that obstructs users from doing what they want to do, especially if there are ways to circumnavigate that security anyway. A large problem I see in the software world is that we are too afraid to enforce security reactively, or the laws are simply not in place to be able to effectively do it.
( unless via a blackmarket/etc)
In the experimental phase, you want security to create strong isolation between the open area and the rest of the world, to maximize freedom within the protected area. As experimental code matures and wants to interact with external systems, and (possibly) the entire world via public internet, we can whitelist expected behavior and impose contextual limits, to regulate transitions across the biological system/world membrane.
One question is, who determines policy for non-experimental systems that interact with the world? Centralized app-stores are a blunt policy instrument, not to mention their propensity for business conflicts of interest. On the one hand, we want to encourage reuse of known-good policy defaults, which have been proven by other users against known threats. On the other hand, the long tail has many corner cases and even non-expert users can search the web to tweak config/policy settings to manage their own policies.
One techno-political precedent is CSS style sheets which at least tried to model a separation between "publisher" and "user" style sheets, acknowledging (a) the conflict of interest, (b) that users can override publishers.
What if every policy layer in client systems involved late-binding runtime negotiation among different stakeholders? An unplanned variation is happening with ad-blockers and anti-adblockers and anti-anti ... what if we developed DSLs for the purpose of efficient runtime and contextual policy negotiation? That would move us a lot closer to behavioral and contextual policy rather than semantic central policy.
While I know of quite a few people (at least 4) who owned, used Amiga, the Amiga was always the rich-mans computing option. Most home computing at that time was Commodore, PC even Trash-80s.
I'm probably viewing the Amiga through too much of a contemporary lens and just being too critical. But, at the time the Amiga was out and selling, I recall thinking it was a wacky piece of kit. It was brilliant but weird hardware with rough edges on the software side, and that wasn't what I was looking for in a computer.
Like this, maybe?
Make new video and sound chips based on SVGA and Soundblaster chips to run Windows if the user wants. Make the Intel the main CPU and add in a 68K chip and PowerPC chip that can run old code in a Window. When not running legacy software the 68K and PowerPC chip can be used for coprocessing. Add in an ASIC Bitcoin mining chip as well to mine bitcoins.
Systems like the Amiga existed when the complexity and economics of making software for one kind of computer (thus making it unique or special) really worked out -- and even then most things were ported between a variety of platforms. It's very hard to create a differentiated platform and keep it differentiated long enough that it doesn't just get overwhelmed with the rest of the world.
I've been looking for something as Linux/Unix friendly and sturdy as an IBM thinkpad for what feels like an age now.
From what I can tell only the Macbook is of the same class, even business line notebooks have horrible keyboards, screens and touchpads. (in the best case you pick any 2 of those to be good.)
I am delighted with the 2013 model, still available but only 4Gb RAM. RAM aside (not a problem for me) the keyboard is best out there as is the trackpad and the speakers. I believe the screen is the best too, because I prefer the 2:3 aspect ratio, but it may not have the most pixels etc. Everything is subjective but I think that the best hardware for a linux dev box is a rather high end Chromebook.
my Thinkpad from 2010 has 8G and is smaller and still has a pretty good screen for it's size (1440x900 @ 12"). Newer laptops should not be a compromise like that or a downgrade, especially not at the price of a Pixel.
FWIW I don't need much ram otherwise, I live in the CLI which tends to be much leaner. But I do not have to justify needing more ram, I desire it, I currently have it, and the cost of my machine twice over is still less than the cost of a Pixel.
However, I see Retina-quality screens from a few other manufacturers, and those are offered in non-glare variants.
I should also note that I'm by no means a power user, I'm still learning the ropes on Linux but I'm pretty fed up with Windows so I figure now is as good a time as any to make the transition!
EDIT: It also occurred to me that you were probably talking about more current laptops, in which case I can't really help you, but apparently neither can apple so I guess we wait :(
As a demanding and discerning desktop computer enthusiast, I find it very difficult to see how one could improve on the mac pro.
In fact, the mac pro is so perfectly executed, I would venture to say that the desktop computer is finished. It's all done. We've solved it.
Maybe the mac pro is not a desktop, which allows you to be dissatisfied ?
 Prior favorites being the SS20 pizzabox and the SGI Octane2
 The real mac pro, of course - not the weird spaceship one.
Yes, yes, snow uphill and all that, but my point is all of that energy was driven by a belief that you were just beginning to tap into real power, cracking open a portal. A glimpse of the future was in there, and the future was awesome.
Uh huh. Today I cannot believe how dystopian things have become. This is totally not the future envisioned back in the day. I’m not discounting all advances, but I am thinking about the state of the average home PC today. It is not filled with hopefully bliss, but instead it has become a nightmare of “how do I avoid Big Brother's claws today, this week, next month?” This of course was always the Sci-Fi possibility, but I personally never dreamed that this would be the norm.
IMHO, today’s computer environment destroys the inner geek. Going retro brings it back. Maybe something good and modern will eventually blossom.
I'm wondering if the case is enough to bring people back. There is something about a these retro machines that you have full control over that is appealing. Maybe I'm just gettin nostalgic.
They sometimes make it out to AmiWest in Sacramento, CA, (Oct 6th-9th http://www.amiwest.net/ ) from the site it doesn't look like they will be out this year.
But the AmigaOS name and rights are in the hands of Hyperion, who keeps developing AmigaOS 4.x, and new hardware is regularly (well, sort of - there's a new "high end" box in the works) released under the AmigaOne name by A-Eon, and supports running AmigaOS, so the situation there isn't that bad (incidentally, Individual Computers, which this article is about also produces a number of accelerators etc. for classic Amiga's).
Yup, I have one inside my A1200, along with their Video-2-DVI scan doubler that clips onto the Lisa chip, and provides a perfect XGA resolution display over DVI on ALL Amiga screen-modes.
But it's not exactly a large, well funded company.
There are new Amigas (on the horizon and people have gotten hands on some already), but future is a mess IMO.
I'd like to see a comeback of heterogeneity among desktop (home) computers, but I doubt it will happen again. If anything, the exact opposite happened and then mobile took over / moved in.
Sadly the C64R is currently out of stock.
Chuck Peddle didn't have the same opinions about Apple II nor Wozniak. It's a very interesting book.
ps I also have a working commodore amiga 500!
Tramiel: Unlike Apple I made computers for the lowest price possible enabling millions to own one.
Wozniak: Unlike you Apple sold their computers at the price point that allowed them to not go bankrupt.
I haven't watch all this yet but will do so. It never occurred to me to look this up on youtube as they seem from another age, but of course it's very recent history. Amazing.
Personally I would kind of like if there was an Amiga case that fit the mini ITX form factor and a graphics card. Not sure if the constraints for that would work out, but it would be awesome to have a full fledged gaming PC in an Amiga case.
It should be possible the DIY-way, but the biggest problem is going to be air flow to cool things down. The Amiga had passive cooling and you'd need a lot more openings in the case to handle the heat generated by a modern motherboard and GPU card.
* 1 GHZ 6510 compatible processor
* 8+ GB RAM
That alone would be interesting, but lets keep going.
* Beefed up SID with 16 bit sound
* Beefed up VIC supporting 32 bit RGBA color
* Add 3D graphics coprocessor
Probably not really feasible, but I find myself often wondering what it might be like to have the simplicity of a C64 back, but with present day specs.
There's still a couple on eBay.
"The original molds from the 2015 kickstarter project are acquired by individual computers and will be used to produce a new batch of C64C cases in four super retro classic colors."
I'm not sure if that means  full keyboards or just boxes
Honest question because I bet there would be at least some market for a new Commodore keyboard made to the same spec but just a USB keyboard that you could use for nostalgia, aesthetics, or for a more accurate emulation experience.
It support cores to emulate Amiga's, Atari XL, Spectrum and Vic-20 as well.
EDIT: English link: https://icomp.de/shop-icomp/en/shop/product/Turbo_Chameleon_...
(Yes, I am aware of how powerful the 1541 was.)