Posts Tagged ‘operating systems’

Hackintosh attempt: begun

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I’ve really wanted to buy a new Mac Pro. Really. I have the money. I could afford one if I wanted. (That said, I don’t like wasting money… who does?) I appreciate Apple’s attention to design and, normally, functionality. However, Apple has completely screwed around since the Intel changeover on their “Pro” line of computers. It’s late February. Nearly one year since the release of the beleaguered i7 Mac Pros. I cannot justify spending $3850 for the same hardware I can build myself for $1800. I just can’t.

So, I’m willing to cut the cord from Apple. I’ve ordered a “hackintosh”-compatible Gigabyte X58 motherboard, i7 950 processor, and corresponding peripherals, and hopefully it’ll actually work with the Chameleon bootloader. I’ll post back here if it does. (I bought a family pack of OS X 10.5 *and* the Snow Leopard upgrade, so I’m mostly covered on the licensing front… except for the obnoxious “Apple-branding” clause of the EULA).

The objective of this project is to get as close to an unmodified, retail build of MacOS as possible. We’ll see if it happens, but frankly, I’ll live if it doesn’t work out. I’ll just use FreeBSD and Windows (for gaming), if all else fails. Apple has pretty much turned their back on “Pro” developers like me. Updating their Pro line of hardware (and pricing) once every 16-18 months, given Intel’s update cycle, is pretentious and obnoxious. Worse, Apple is obviously more concerned with the faux-mobile computing market of the “iPad” (read: iPod Touch Maximum Edition) than they are with making reliable, high-performance computers anymore. Read the horror stories with the 27″ iMac sometime — good luck convincing me that Apple gives a shit about computers anymore. Or, the fact that they took a year to fix a serious performance problem with their i7 Mac Pros. Or, that they capriciously provide nonstandard power connectors for video cards just to throw up an obnoxious obstacle against modularly upgrading (software still required anyway!) the ALLEGEDLY MODULARLY UPGRADEABLE MAC PRO!

So, to hell with Apple. I’ll try hackintoshin’ it, and I’ll see what happens. But if it doesn’t work out, I’ll live. And I know, I know, Apple doesn’t give a crap about losing a sale from someone like me, despite the 3 Apple computers and 4 iPods in my household. I get it. They don’t give a shit. The feeling is mutual.

Windows 7 hype annoys me

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Windows 7’s launch is impending, and the review sites are frothing with praise (specifically, ZDNet).  You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone in technology talking about how awesome Windows 7 is, how it totally rights Microsoft’s ship after Vista.  I’ve run the RC version of Windows 7, and I gotta say, I don’t see the big deal — at all.  The interface is nothing short of irritating.  It looks like what the gnome folks would come up with if you asked them to copy KDE.  It’s seriously that bad.  The knock-off version of the dock/taskbar?  Lame.  Could they waste more space around taskbar icons, by the way?  It probably wouldn’t be as annoying if it wasn’t so goddamn huge, but it is.  But, that’s cosmetic.  What about the nuts and bolts?

Here’s the deal:  Windows 7 is Windows Vista plus 3 years and a shittier interface.  That’s it.  The driver model:  the same.  The security model:  the same.  64-bit compatibility requirements for software vendors?  (You can’t ship a program with a Windows 7 compatibility logo claim unless it works under both versions):  Check, same as Vista.  Graphical whiz-bang enhancements?  Same.  UAC?  Same.  Windows 7 is better about not having so many different versions (Vista Home Basic/Home Premium/Business/Ultimate/Enterprise?  Really?), but that’s not something I care about that much.  (Windows 7 Professional will do the trick for me — I can log on to my work domain if I need, and it has Windows Media Center).  The notable differences seem to be that they added “XP compatibility mode” (running your Windows XP-compatible programs in an XP Virtual Machine — only available on some versions of Windows 7), Digital Cable Tuners (cablecard-capable tuners) will no longer require OEM certification (ie, they will work on homebrew computers), and allegedly managing networks is more intuitive than Vista’s god-awful Network and Sharing Center.  Oh, and they fuglified the desktop interface.

Ok, so these are nontrivial differences.   But, they aren’t the focus of the hype, previews, and reviews of Windows 7.  Instead, the coverage mostly talks about how much more “streamlined” Windows 7 is, and how it won’t have the pitfalls of Vista.  Why?  Because drivers and applications have caught up to the new API requirements of Windows Vista, and these are the same requirements for Windows 7.  Applications can no longer write willy-nilly into the registry, and drivers have to comply with a newer version of Microsoft’s driver API (ie, the revision introduced for Vista).  In other words, the benefits that reviewers believe are the primary benefits of Windows 7 are available today in Windows Vista, for no other reason than applications & drivers are now compatible.

I actually like Windows Vista.  I’ve seen the compatibility problems that people complain about, but I knew that those were the hallmarks of poorly written applications.  Also, most applications seemed to be updated within 6 months of Vista’s launch.  I use Vista Enterprise at work every day, and things generally work fine.  (At home, wifi mysteriously craps out.  There are other general Windows annoyances.  As far as I can tell, none of that is dealt with in Windows 7).

Microsoft got destroyed in the press and in (followup) online reviews because people were used to their poorly written applications from Windows Version X working in Windows Version X + 1.  Vista changed all of that, and for the better.  The security measures implemented in Vista were badly needed, and they did break quite a few drivers and applications.  Users seem to have all decided this was Microsoft’s fault.  In a way, it was, but not because “Vista sucks”.  It was Microsoft’s fault because they rolled out bad solutions beforehand and reaped the rewards when they had to fix it.  Yeah yeah, Vista performance was slightly worse than XP — it ran like crap on old hardware.  That’s all true.  But that’s always been true for Windows upgrades.  (Good luck installing Windows XP on Windows 98-class hardware).  Windows 7 will likely be successful because it isn’t a major deviation from the prior version of Windows that every major vendor has been writing to.  This is exactly why all the “best version of Windows ever!” hype regarding Windows 7 is so frustrating, but I suppose I should expect it to continue.

New-computer choices

Monday, September 28th, 2009

My 2006 Core 2 Duo iMac is showing its age a bit (well, compared to Nehalem-class hardware), and I’m wanting to get a new computer, but the choices here are not easy.  My requirements for my primary operating system are:

  1. Must support an Exchange 2007 client
  2. Must support my work VPN
  3. Must be reliable

For now, #1 whittles things down to either Windows or MacOS.  (I’ve used wine to run outlook.  It crashes randomly).  If an open-source Exchange 2007 client comes about soon (it may be possible considering ongoing interoperability legal action in Europe, and I’ve read rumors of a Google-developed library), this might no longer be true.  Both Windows and MacOS support my VPN, so that’s a nonissue.  Reliability is the remaining issue.  At work, my desktop is Windows, and for the most part, it works.  That said, every now & then I have to waste about 2 hours out of my day with some bullshit issue (updates stop working, networking goes batty, stuff like that), and my time is valuable.  2 hours of time at home is 2 hours not spent with my family, or not regrouping after a day at work, or possibly 2 hours not working when I need to be.  Hence, I’m strongly leaning toward a new Mac, but the only hardware I’m remotely interested in right now is a Mac Pro, which costs more than $1000 more than a Dell of equivalent class.  (Yeah yeah, they use Xeons versus regular Core i7s.  I’ve seen the benchmarks.  BFD).  Even so, it might be worth it, but this is a tough choice to make — if only Apple had the mythical midrange tower (the laptop-component-featuring iMac does not count).  I may be going back to running Windows primarily at home, and I’m not too thrilled about that.

Apple’s iTunes 9 kills syncing with Palm Pre, again

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

As noted over at precentral, Apple’s latest update to iTunes once again kills the ability to sync an iTunes library with a Palm Pre.  I mentioned this last time when Apple did the functional equivalent with iTunes 8.2.1.  Unless Apple intends to force a data-negotiation phase with iPods (which would require mandatory firmware updates to every existing USB iPod), Palm will be able to continue working around such annoyances.  In this case, Palm will likely spoof the manufacturer ID (in addition to vendor-ID spoofing, which they’re already doing).  But at some point, this is going to have to stop.  Apple will have to decide if they really are going to force a firmware update on all existing iPods, and Palm will have to decide if they want to keep chasing Apple’s annoying counter-moves.  (It may be a moot point anyway — Apple may run out of options completely and may have to eventually give in, or use lawyers instead of technological means.  It’s not clear if the hardware on old iPods can be made to facilitate an authentication handshake — if the USB microcontroller isn’t software-programmable and is just a dumb data transport, then Apple is out of luck there).

In the end, customers lose.  Palm’s customers lose for obvious reasons, but Apple’s losing customers as well.  I’ll never understand the mentality behind turning your back on people who want to use your portal and presumably can & will buy music.  (Apple made the point pretty clear yesterday that people who use iTunes overwhelmingly buy stuff).  The other problem here is that Apple is already under investigation by the FTC regarding potential anti-trust issues (stemming from the App-store rejection of the Google Voice app).  Do they really want to take on another anti-competitive, anti-consumer cause?  I get that Apple wants to “control it all”, and in many ways, that’s worked for them over the years.  But if they continue being so rigid with it, they’re going to ultimately wind up losing control (under Federal regulations), in addition to losing the customers they’re literally booting out of their store (iTunes).

Snow Leopard Exchange Bug Confirmed

Monday, August 31st, 2009

After the official launch Friday, several people within my company are now reporting the same bug I experienced with Exchange support in Snow Leopard.  Email folders and calendar events just disappear from the server.  This looks very nasty.

MacOS 10.6 “Snow Leopard” Review

Friday, August 28th, 2009

I’m a member of the Apple Developer Connection, which gives me access to Apple’s “developer preview” releases of MacOS.  The latest release, launched today, is version 10.6 (dubbed “Snow Leopard“).  I’ve been running the last developer preview (build 10A432) for two weeks now.  Though developer previews are subject to Apple’s NDA, the non-disclosure terms do not apply to publicly-available programs and information.  Fortunately, a friend of mine found that his fresh install of the retail disk that arrived from Apple today is also build 10A432 (that is, the publicly available disk is identical to my installation).  Because my experiences reflect those of use with (what is now) a publicly-available product, I can share those experiences now.

Though this is not a comprehensive review, these are my perspectives as an end user.  Overall, I like the responsiveness, disk-space efficiency, and (as a geek) the promise of improved capabilities through the rearchitected (“refined”) kernel.  I had severe data-loss issues with Exchange support such that I would strongly advise caution before using it in a critical setting, and I had a couple of kernel panics that are troubling.

Installation went smoothly and took about an hour.  I ran the installer from within my pre-existing 10.5.8 installation on my Core 2 Duo Late 2006 iMac, which has 4GB of RAM.  I disliked the fact that the installation of Rosetta (Apple’s mechanism for emulating PowerPC execution so that you can run older applications written for PowerPC on Intel hardware) is disabled by default.  I thought they could do something more intelligent like look in your /Applications folder and check for PowerPC applications.  It’s a minor issue, however — I had read that this was a known change, so I enabled the optional install.  More serious to me was that the installation deleted Xcode.  I suppose this, too, was an optional installation, but this seems rather stupid.  It’s Apple’s software that ships as part of a fundamental part of the operating system.  If you’re upgrading the rest of the OS and are saving settings and so on, why on earth was Xcode passed over?  I reinstalled it after I discovered it was gone, but finding my basic tools (gcc et al.) gone was disturbing.  The installation initially did seem to reclaim about 6GB of disk space, but after reinstalling Xcode, the difference was negligible.  Allegedly the major source of reclamation is removing unused printer drivers and installing them on-demand instead, but since I had already removed them, it makes sense that I missed out on the big disk-space savings.  I also installed 10.6 on my late-2006 Macbook Pro, which roams more often and therefore I’ve left the printer drivers on it.  The disk savings was closer to the claimed 6GB on that machine.  Regardless, both worked fine with my networked Brother laser printer after the upgrade.  The installer no longer gives installation-type choices (“upgrade in place”, “archive and install”, “erase and install”) — it just does an upgrade.  Apparently you *can* “erase and install” manually, if you erase your disk before booting the DVD, but that’s not the method I chose.

After installation, the first thing I did was configure Mail to use my work email account, which is hosted on an Exchange 2007 server.  This is probably the big user-noticeable feature that’s added in 10.6, which is otherwise mostly a rearchitecting of the kernel with very few user-visible changes.  I was very excited about Exchange support.  For those that don’t know, Exchange integrates calendaring, a user database, and email.  All information is stored on the server and fetched by the client, so that you can have multiple clients connected to one server, yet they all have a synchronized “view” of your account’s email, calendar, and contacts.  It’s a Microsoft standard, and frankly it’s annoying to use because there are so few non-Microsoft clients.  I had been using (the Rosetta-requiring) Entourage 2004 client, which is functional but has a terrible interface and is slow.  Setting up my account was trivial.  Mail quickly started fetching my mail, and before long my calendar was synchronized with iCal as well.  Exchange contacts were accessible as expected in Mail, and things seemed to “just work” — until they didn’t.

About 3 days after using Mail, disaster struck.  Somehow, one of the clients (either my iMac or Macbook Pro) was out of sync and deleted several folders worth of email from the server.  I lost about 3000 emails, possibly permanently.  (I’m in the process of finding out from our IT group how difficult it might be to restore them, since I know that our email is archived as per Sarbanes-Oxley compliance).  Most of these were not critical emails, but this was extremely troubling.  I immediately disabled my Exchange account on my 10.6 clients.  Apple’s bug-reporting tool has been broken for weeks, so I’ve no idea if they’re making progress on this issue.  Worse, a backup could not save me — it’s a synchronization bug that wipes out your emails on the server.  I haven’t seen anyone else report this issue.  Obviously I looked in the trash (on all my clients) and saw nothing — this clearly seems to be some sort of bug in the synchronization mechanism Apple is using.  I have perhaps 15,000 emails on my account, and I do wonder if their testing has overlooked cases like this.  I also have about 20 filtering rules (for mailing lists), which may have complicated the issue, and I always have several clients connected to the server simultaneously (usually my Outlook 2007 client at work, my iPod Touch, and then my laptop & iMac at home).  Regardless, I’ve been doing this with Outlook and Entourage for a long time now and have never encountered this, so I’m definitely chalking this up to some sort of bug that Mail either has or triggered in the other clients.  The take-away point is that users should be extremely cautious of using Mail for their Exchange accounts until Apple releases an update that mentions something about improved Exchange support.  I certainly won’t be using that feature until then.

Other than Exchange support (which is unusable for me now), changes are subtle.  There’s a new look to context menus for items in the Dock, which was the only interface issue I noticed as different.  Window decorations and the Finder look identical to 10.5.  Bootcamp adds support for reading HFS+ volumes from Windows, which is nice.  The other major differences are all under the hood.  I did not do any benchmarking, but threading and context switching seem much, much faster.  (I hate reviews that say useless crap about how something “feels snappier” — how is that quantified, exactly?  It always seems to be in the reviewer’s head).  Specific things that I noticed as improved was the responsiveness of Expose and the Dashboard.  The Finder has been rewritten in Cocoa, which may also explain its speed improvements.  And surprisingly, Firefox 3.5.2 is much more responsive on 10.6 than 10.5.  Opening new tabs is far quicker than before, and I get far fewer “spinning beachball” pauses when I’ve got lots of tabs open on Safari or Firefox.  These perhaps are the effects of scheduler and memory allocation improvements in MacOS — things that have, traditionally, been kind of crappy in performance, and which seem to be addressed in the marketing material for 10.6 (things like the “Grand Central” multicore dispatch mechanism, which seems to reveal heavy work on the scheduler).  10.6 also has support for a 64-bit kernel and extensions, but my hardware does not have a 64-bit implementation of EFI and therefore is not compatible with Apple’s 64-bit kernel.  (It’s possible to run a 64-bit kernel on 32-bit EFI, but Apple isn’t supporting it, which is fine.  Even on machines where a 64-bit kernel is supported, it likely does not make sense to enable it by default until drivers and 3rd-party extensions have a formal, rigorous qualification process).  Likewise, my graphics hardware does not support Apple’s hardware-accelerated h.264 playback, so I can’t comment on that, either.  Unlike the 64-bit kernel, I do hope that Apple aggressively rolls out expanded hardware support for this acceleration to other models.  It may well be that Apple will support these features on all new Macs, which would be great.  Now, they are of limited (or nonexistent) value for upgraders.

Unfortunately, the architectural and performance improvements aren’t all ideal, either.  When using Safari on a guest account that I was testing, I managed to trigger a kernel panic (!) twice when using the “Top Sites” feature, which I normally disable on my own account.  Unfortunately, this feature is enabled by default.  Thinking it was a fluke, I tried again, and boom, panic() again.  Apparently Apple has not taken the advice from my blog (that is, “don’t panic()”).  🙂  Again, I haven’t seen other reports of this issue, but I have not had stability problems on this hardware for the 2.5 years I’ve had it, including some 3D graphics use.  The panic log showed that the failure occurred in, therefore this may be a graphics-driver issue.  I say “may” because any other driver in the system could’ve DMA’d memory into the driver earlier that caused the eventual fault.  It’s tough to say.   So, it would seem that a few corner-case bugs still require addressing.  In the meantime, I’m disabling “Top Sites” everywhere and will be on the lookout for an update.  I’m also going to beware of 3D graphics, actually.

So to summarize, these are the Pros and Cons from my experience — on newer hardware, I’d think that the “Pros” would also include hardware acceleration for h.264, but perhaps an update will come with that.


  • Improved application responsiveness
  • Disk space reclaimed
  • HFS read support from Windows (via Bootcamp driver)


  • Potentially catastrophic Exchange support
  • Mysterious kernel panics that seem graphics-related (using Safari’s Top Sites feature)
  • Features that seem tightly restricted to a small-ish subset of installed hardware (h.264 hardware acceleration, OpenCL support)

On the whole, it seems a fairly solid point-zero release (10.5.0 had its share of troubles).  The only potentially glaring problem is if the Exchange issue is encountered by many more people, given that it is the primary end-user feature of this release.  I’m hopeful for an update on this issue and perhaps hardware acceleration for h.264 as well.

Microsoft and the GPL

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Microsoft recently released several paravirtualization drivers under the GPL (version 2).  People are making way too big of a deal about this.  (I suppose that’s to be expected from “Linux Magazine”).  There are two primary reasons that Microsoft chose the GPL:  maintenance of their own code, and proliferation.  This is not an attack on Linux.  This is not a trick on the GPL.  This is not Microsoft experimenting with Linux.  This is not a patch to the Linux kernel.  (“Linux Magazine”, indeed).  Modules are not the kernel proper, people!  My nVidia driver is no more “a kernel patch” than are Microsoft’s paravirt drivers.  The difference is that Microsoft’s drivers will ship with the overall kernel tree and get built with it, but so do drivers for arcane capture cards from 1994.

This is a practical move given the realities of how Linux is structured and distributed, and it’s comical (if not annoying) to see people who are supposedly Linux advocates completely misunderstand and mischaracterize what’s going on.  Look, the way the Linux kernel is structured, almost all useful APIs are exported ONLY to GPL-declared code.  That means if Microsoft was to declare its module as any other license, it could not use a ton of high-level APIs, including basic stuff like, say, the entire devfs API or any of the IOMMU APIs. There are numerous other examples.  This means that Microsoft would be forced to implement their own versions of these APIs, based on low-level constructs in the kernel that are subject to frequent change.  This is a maintenance nightmare, and Microsoft would have to be insane to pursue this strategy.

The other major reason to use the GPL for their drivers is that, without it, Microsoft’s drivers won’t ship with the base Linux kernel + drivers distribution.  Microsoft wants to get these drivers out to as many people as possible so that Hyper-V’s paravirtualized features “just work” with as many Linux installations as possible.  This move by them increases those odds, so it’s a smart business decision.  It’s no different than Intel wanting their drivers to ship with the kernel.

I understand that Linux enthusiasts are (justifiably) leery of Microsoft, but making up crazy theories does not exactly make you look like a rational, reasoned critic.  Rather, it makes it easier for Microsoft to publicly discount any and all claims that the Linux community may ever have regarding Microsoft’s tactics, because they can point to previous nutty behavior.  Acting “shocked” that Microsoft would pursue its business interests is the juvenile equivalent of rolling one’s eyes.  And, claiming (even in jest) that this is a first step to Microsoft using a Linux kernel inside a Microsoft product does, indeed, count as nutty.  I’m reading this crap all over the Internet — it’s not funny, it’s not clever, and it makes OSS people look like idiots.

iTunes update kills syncing with Palm Pre

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Apple’s latest update to iTunes (8.2.1) has apparently “fixed the glitch” wherein a Palm Pre could effectively mimic the iPod interface and convince iTunes to let it sync as an iPod does.  In other words, it used to work, and now it doesn’t.  What an epic fail for interoperability.  A buddy of mine (who has a Pre and wanted to see what the update does on his non-primary Mac) watched his log during the update and noticed that the new iTunes replaces USB .kexts.  Laaaaame.  It’s shady enough to break support for the Pre at the app level, but mucking around in the driver stack to do it?  Weak.  Presumably the Windows version is doing the same thing, since I believe there is a USB driver there, too, to detect that it’s an iPod & prevent Windows from automatically mounting the filesystem.

I like a lot of Apple products and generally prefer OS X over anything else (nice mix of power-user options, orthogonal configuration choices, and “it just works”), but this is both stupid (wouldn’t you want everyone to standardize on your portal — iTunes?) and plainly irritating to users.  How many iPhone/iPod sales have they just protected with this move, versus how much ill will did they just stir up?  I get that Apple is a company for the mass-consumer market that doesn’t care about this and just buys iEverything.  It’s not a company for geeks like me, no matter how much I dig the geek-ish options in OS X and the automatic inclusion of all my handy unix tools.  I think they know that people like me won’t buy Apple stuff (again) if they do crap like this, or if they do stupid things like eliminate non-reflective LCD screens in their lineup.  (The clock is ticking on that one — I’ll probably get/build a PC for my next computer to upgrade from my 2006 iMac if they don’t offer a sub-$2000/non-crappy antiglare option in the next year or so).  They just don’t care, because I’m not statistically significant compared to people who just will just buy Apple stuff because it’s hip.  It’s frustrating, but it’s not surprising.  Microsoft does much the same stuff with their pricing/feature/partner-maneuvering stuff, which is similarly annoying.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear you out there, OSS people.  Don’t talk to me about Linux until you’ve got something that’s configurable without jacking around in an ever-changing layout of .conf files or doesn’t require non-stop incompatible updating.  FreeBSD is awesome & much better on the configuration/consistency front, but unfortunately has craptastic desktop hardware support for gadgets like cameras.  Neither of them have an Exchange 2007 client (crossover-office is cool, but still crashes occasionally).  Long story short:  it sucks, but I guess I’m just glad I’m not a Pre user right now.

Google Chrome OS – the next big thing?

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

So, Google announced their development (and impending release) of their so-called “Chrome OS”.  Because Google has a huge amount of resources and has a track record of delivering at least some revolutionary stuff (search + adwords, obviously, but Android and their locality-aware search stuff are promising), this is getting quite a lot of press. Given that this is not their first foray into Linux distributions, I think some of the novelty here might be a bit overstated.  Google’s done a Linux distribution before – this is not groundbreaking. Yes, it’s been for different target markets (server w/ no UI, or handheld with a very customized, simplified UI), but still, let’s not pretend Google is going out on a limb when they have, in fact, been comfortably seated on this branch for a while now. The interesting, new aspect to me is that this could become ubiquitous on a large class of PC-ish hardware (netbooks), which could seriously impact the overall ecosystem of hardware vendors (targeting/supporting Chrome OS) and developers (moving to Chrome OS from… probably other Linux distribution).

Will developers stop working on Ubuntu and hack away on Chrome OS? Well, a lot of the open-source community seemed to really covet Mac OS from the beginning (specifically the closed-source Aqua interface), and Ubuntu never really seemed to adequately whittle down the configuration GUI tools into simple, usable applications the way Apple has with OS X.  (Yes, you can do everything at the command line — that’s not the point.  If that was the end of it, Linux would have 50% market share by now).  So if Chrome OS is sufficiently slick and finally puts some of the “just plain works” polish on Linux, who knows. How Google “welcomes” the open-source community, particularly if/when they attempt to tell Google how they ought to handle their own operating system or if they manage to introduce incompatible/problematic “enhancements”, will be interesting.

Or, maybe it’ll be completely locked down & just a glorified enhancement to Android, specifically (and only) for a subset of netbook hardware.  Preliminary announcements from Google suggest that’s a distinct possibility.  I’m skeptical of the Chrome OS project — the “the Web is the computer” marketing sounds all too familiar — but I’m also undeniably interested in how this could change the landscape of desktop computing, particularly as it pertains to the existing players in desktop operating systems.