Sunday, September 20, 2009

When Will We Get Computers That Don't Crash?

I just had Mac OS X crash totally, twice in a row. I suspect it was downloading some video podcasts in iTunes that did it (at least that's what's in common to the two crashes).

I can understand applications crashing. But surely to goodness by now we should have operating systems that can handle misbehaving applications. Don't we have hardware process isolation? Do I have to run my applications in VM's just to get sufficient isolation? (not that that is complete protection either!)

Similarly, people continue to give (and accept) misbehaving hardware as an excuse for systems crashing. Again, surely to goodness the operating system could be written to survive misbehaving hardware/drivers. Especially when most hardware interfaces in a standard way through USB. I've crashed my Mac importing photos. People say, "oh yeah, there are problems reading SD cards via USB". Why is that "acceptable"? Surely enough time should have been spent on the USB driver to make it crash proof?

And even if a device driver has obscure bugs (they always will), why is this able to take down the whole operating system?

I don't understand why the state of the art hasn't progressed further than this.

1 comment:

Larry Reid said...

It's a bad day for me to read this. I've just spent too many hours wrestling with the usual inane problems of trying to use Linux laptops with external video. The state of the art in software -- Microsoft, Apple or open source -- is embarrassing.

I don't think running everything in a VM will do it for you, because I suspect that many of my problems result from running VMs on my laptop. :-)