Most people only know a few operating systems – Microsoft Windows and Apple’s Mac OS X (and sometimes Linux). However, there’s a whole slew of other operating systems that bubble underneath the surface. One newcomer isn’t looking for world domination, but it will kick your ass. It’s the size of a floppy disk, has more speed than a trucker, and is, simply put, pretty. It’s MenuetOS. It would like to meet you.
A fast OS, an even faster growing community
Since hitting the scene in 2000, MenuetOS has been growing by leaps and bounds, with a large push since focusing primarily on their 64-bit build. This is remarkable given that it is written entirely in assembly language. For those unfamiliar with assembly, it is the language that is closest to how a computer actually operates, and so can be optimized at the machine level. This was very important back in the 70′s when there were pretty obvious computational limits, but now it simply leads to insanely fast (and small) programs.
Unusual design, a small (beautiful!) package
The creators have gone for a monolithic design, which has lead to a very cohesive design aesthetic – it’s obvious that they are trying to make something pretty from the ground up. There are 4 video resolution modes (up to 1280 x 1024 pixels), and there’s quite a few 3D demos that are pre-built in the system. If the demo scene were to take MenuetOS under its wing, it could quite quickly have the bling of modern operating systems with a much smaller resource footprint.
Gripes? I have a few…
MenuetOS isn’t POSIX compliant, which means that a lot of really good programs will have to be painstakingly ported over to the platform, and that’s going to take time. Another hazard of being non POSIX-standard means that anyone trying to build a program for the platform isn’t guaranteed any stability over time.
There’s other various technical problems that will need to be addressed over time, such as a need for a terminal and some polish on the UI. Once the basic tools are sorted out, there’s no reason why this couldn’t actually be used as a day-to-day operating system.
The development group also lacks a lot of the things which are taken for granted in other projects. A public bug tracker, for one, is a pretty basic start. As well, they’ve done little to get the average person started in the form of pre-made ISO’s. A wiki would also be a really easy way to make up for the lack of documentation (after all, this is a totally different beast). Most seriously of all, they should probably find a better source control method than just versioned zip files.
Should you try this? Definitely!
Despite the myriad of problems that currently surround the project, there’s no reason to not give this a test run. As a technical demo, it’s quite impressive, and the speed shows the bloat that’s currently plaguing a lot of software these days. As well, some of the 3D demos are pretty neat, and there’s already a DVD player and other apps one would expect to see on a modern system.
MenuetOS ISO Download
The current license does not allow for redistribution of the 64-bit code. However, the 32-bit version (which is a bit older) is under the GPL, so I’ve made an ISO so that you can easily burn this to a disc and try it out on your home computer. NOTE – I’m not responsible for any damage, etc. that may happen to your machine should anything go wrong. Have fun ;-)