NoSurf OS, a Linux/Smartphone distribution that would be cool to hack together


#1

I’ve been thinking more and more about how technology speeds up our perception of time and it’s making me want to redesign our current systems from the ground up to slow down the passage of time.

After all, what’s the good of living to 80 if it only feels like 25?

Keep in mind this “speeding up” effect isn’t just our screens it’s all technologies. Back in the day life was dictated by the speed that we can do laundry, wash dishes and cook but now that those activities have been sped up we can “cram in” a lot more during that time.

In reality we have everything we need to truly be a leisure class but instead of doing relaxing or enjoying the virtues of intentional laziness we try to do more (usually frivolous things, meaningless things).

So simple things would be to just embrace slowness. Eliminating things that speed up but take away. Just as an aside I know that @stdin_stdout_stderr doesn’t have a microwave in his home. I’m planning on doing the same to intentionally slow down the process of cooking to make it more of a craft that I enjoy.

So now getting back to the operating system, there’s been a few advances that don’t seem significant but really speed up our ability to fly through in operating an OS. Just a few things off the top of my head:

  • the first internet browser was one tab. Now we can open up a 100 tabs.
  • In the beginning we operated by mouse. Now we can use keyboard shortcuts to accelerate everything.
  • SSD’s speed up disk operations into millisecond territory.
  • Support for multiple windows within a single screen
  • Support for multiple monitors for further multitasking
  • Having multiple programs running simultaneously

With the OS it would be simply about redesigning to intentionally slow things down rather than expecting the user to do it himself. A bit like how cooking on a stove forces you to cook things slowly and more intentionally than sticking something in the microwave.

If you’re interesting in the design approach there’s already a browser built around the single tabbed concept that someone mentioned a while ago:

https://colibri.opqr.co


#2

In the beginning we operated by mouse. Now we can use keyboard shortcuts to accelerate everything.

Now, don’t get me wrong, but that is not true. Mouse is a late addition, and in the beginning there was only keyboard, and everything was operated by shortcuts long before the mouse came into existence.

Then again, I’m all for slowing down our technologies, our lives and our whole system.

So am I getting it right, you’re planning to design a new OS, a Linux distribution? I wonder if meddling with speed and interface on such a deep level would require rewriting the kernel or kind of that. But I like the idea!

Do also not forget about old and/or alternative systems. I still dream of having an old offline computer with Win98 on it.


#3

Yeah you’re right. Everything was done through keyboard on the command line interface but I personally felt like those early PC users weren’t in the same pool as “mainstream PC users” of today.

I think the first age was purely keyboard, the second age was hailed in with Steve Jobs and his vision of what the mouse was meant to be, then the modern productivity needs ushered in the return to the keyboard.

Also I don’t really have the skills to do this but I thought it would be a cool project if other people with those skills ever wanted to undertake. Seeing the colibri browser made me realize that at least some people see the value in it.


#4

Still going to be a niche product, but a nice one. It’s hard to build an OS that will gain traction, and you need that traction to bughunt it and fix it in time and make it usable. Might be less of an issue for Linux distributions, but if one opts for a completely different OS design, that’ll be a struggle. See Haiku OS, the project is serious and all, though it’s based on enthusiasm and didn’t even reach beta yet.

So if someone ever starts something like that, if he’s skilled enough, my suggestion would be to take the Linux from Scratch book, and build a kernel and a distribution with it keeping the nosurf principles in mind, and on top of that adding specially designed software (like Colibri, for instance. Im’ gonna give it a go today btw, thanks for suggestion).


#5

What would this OS be like? Both in appearance and functionality? Asking just for curiosity. Perhaps if one day I learn about making an OS I could work on that as well