For the last few months, I’ve been absolutely fascinated with the SerenityOS project and it’s awe-inspiring rate of progress. For every day that goes by, new features and bug-fixes get merged in, and development screencasts from the creator Andreas Kling are an almost daily occurence. The operating system itself follows a design philosophy that has all-but-disappeared from computing in the last 15 years or so – a philosophy that I, along with every other fan of this project, want so badly to reappear in the modern computing landscape. See below for a screenshot as of November 2019 —
It could be nostalgia, real productivity value, or both that drives my want for a return this kind of desktop computing metaphor. No animations, superfluous UI trinkets, padding or dark patterns. I’d describe it as a snapshot of the personal computing metaphor where the utility value for software developers was at it’s highest; right before a seemingly general pivot from what I’d call ‘focus-on-productivity’ computing to ‘focus-on-consumption’ computing. What we left behind in the early 2000s was, in my opinion, the perfection of the desktop metaphor for computing professionals.
In a spot of boredom last night, I attempted to get SerenityOS running in a virtual machine on my Surface Book 2. This proved harder than I’d had expected, so I’ll quickly outline the steps I took to get the development build working – in case anyone else can derive some value from my learnings.