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A User Managed PC Operating System

With the “socialization” and idiot protection now the highest priority with Microsoft’s PC operating system (OS) software Windows 10, it’s good to have a power user alternative. Because there are alternatives, I care less about what Microsoft is doing to OS10. They cater to the bumbling hacker attack prone masses and that is their business plan. Power, specific need, PC users are a minority.

Microsoft once had options. MS has produced stripped down “light-weight” operating systems for special commercial applications like cell phones. They used to produce light versions for low end consumer computers, so buyers would have to “upgrade” to get all the features. But all those were never readily available “off the shelf” to the general PC user public. I assume there must be “hardened” military spec versions of Microsoft OS which I am unaware.

Corporate IT departments have special Microsoft tools and abilities that far exceed normal mortals. They definitely do not want their “users” to have any user managed control other than on/off. Sometimes that “feature” gets preempted too. Ha! There is nothing “personal” about a corporate network computer.

Before I retired, I spent 17 years in the automated Building Management System (BMS) controls business. I started with DOS computers and into Windows XP then Windows 7 for the front end BMS monitoring duties, The real control was done through a distributed network of micro controllers. The standard PC is used for the user interface.

I have lost touch with the industry specifics, but I can’t imagine a building management system front end computer surviving a two hour Windows 10 shutdown to upstate, then an automatic re-boot. No-Way! I am sure they are not using Win10 in a BMS in a stock street version, if at all.

There is a large market for specific application high level operating systems. It has been dominated by the seemingly unlimited variations of Linux. It is widely used where constant updating to stay hacker safe and socially relevant is not a requirement. Linux is the secret OS in many embedded application devices. If I were still in the building management business I would be looking to a Linux PC for the front end user interface.

For me, my application specific needs are for 3D printing and CNC machine operation. For that use, Linux is now my preferred operating system. It is user friendly and high level. I and other power users have full access to the source code and build packages, to create whatever variation is needed. A single Linux distribution doesn’t have to fulfill all needs to all people.

It’s not a fault that MS Windows for PC is built for a purpose that is different than my requirements. I am disappointed that it has morphed into an social communication behemoth that has to protect itself from user intervention. But I understand. It’s best for business and customer support if common users can’t break the system.

I have no brand loyalty to something that is simply a product that fills a specific need. I need MS Windows OS10 to run programs only made for windows. I use Linux when I need more system control than Windows will provide. It’s great to have an alternative. One choice does not make the other totally bad. I can live with the difficulties a universal OS like Win10 inherently must have, to be “universal”.

I had three PC computers running Windows OS in my workshop because the programming to run the machines connected to them require a Windows OS. If they were not connected to a network (that is exposed to the danger of the Internet) I would never have to upgrade them to Windows 10, with it’s application killer update policy. It’s Win10 that has the issue, not older versions. I still have Win XP running just fine on one of those shop computers

I purchase refurbished low cost PCs for machine controllers. The last two came with Windows 10 installed (for free?). $100 for a PC with OS is a great buy! If I leave them off the network, the OS will continually remind me that it needs to connect, so it can check for updates. It warns me I am at serious risk! (How can that be, if I am not connected to the risk?)

But I like to have the LAN connected so I can send files from my office to the workshop. I have a common network file server tied to my router. Otherwise I have to “sneaker net” using a thumb drive. That’s not as convenient.

The update re-boot issue is a hidden unwanted surprise in Win10 that destroyed several project runs before I DISCOVERED WHAT IT WAS DOING. An unacceptable feature for software that controls machine tools. Thankfully, I can convert to alternative software and it is business as usual.

One shop Win 10 PC has just been converted and is now running a Linux OS (Debian) so I can use a control program called LinuxCNC. I can’t change what Microsoft does for their business needs but I can change what I need for my own control requirements. That is what is so nice about having a choice and the ability to make a change.

I’ll use Windows 10 and a version (Ubuntu for now) of Linux for normal office work and the programs that require them, but the handwriting is on the wall for Linux being the new PC based machine control operating system of choice in my workshop.

1 comment to A User Managed PC Operating System

  • Warren

    Hi Dan,
    I had not so nice experience with Win 10 when it first came out. I replaced Win XP on a machine I was using for CAD and schematic capture, (why would I want to discard thousands of dollars in CAD/CAM software just to have an OS that causes every thing to crash?) First it, (win 10,) would not accept my older third party programs which did not provide an upgrade for Win 10, even after I removed all older software win 10 keep crashing until it locked up and the only recovery route was a reformat. I reformatted, reinstalled XP and up graded to Win 7. I am a computer engineer and starter with MS DOS 3.0, In my opinion the best PC OS is XP or win 7.