PUBLIC INTERNET NEWS 2000
Vol. 1 Issue #4 Nov. 15, 2000
Offering news and tips concerning the Public Internet
Industry. Each month we will bring you the latest information on
what's hot and what's not when it comes to offering Internet Access
to the public. Please feel free to contact us with any information
or feedback you may wish to contribute (yes, we will be publishing
contributing articles). We look forward to hearing from you!
Choose the wrong OS... and you could be SOL!
Sounds harsh...but it's true!
There are many Public Internet Software packages available
on the market today, each with its own unique benefits and
There is, however, one common thread among them all - the
Operating System. This is the engine running under the hood.
Just like the wide variety of automobiles on the market,
without a good engine, they may as well be scrap metal.
Without going into too much technical detail, let's talk
about exactly what an Operating System does for a PC.
All of the wonderful operations we take for granted these
days are a direct result of the evolution of the Operating System.
Cutting, pasting, copying and moving text and files were just a
twinkle in a programmer's eye years ago, yet they are an
integral part of what constitutes today's major Operating Systems.
The OS is the interpreter between man and machine.
The Windows we see, icons we drag, and programs we run are all
visual interpretations of what truly happens under the hood of
your common Personal Computer. When you see a cute animation
of a letter flying from one folder to another, the computer
100110010010 10000101010 10010010111 10010001000...etc.
You can thank the OS for sparing us the need to speak
in ones and zeros.
In the most recent years, Operating Systems have evolved to
handle tasks that were unimaginable in the early days of DOS.
Here are just a few of the jobs in the day of an average OS:
- Memory management
- Disk Maintenance
- Hardware detection and installation
- Program installation, execution and management
- Scheduled task execution
- Networking and PC communication
- Video and audio handling
- Resource sharing
- Starting up, shutting down and power management
Still think YOU work hard?
OK, OK...where am I going with this...
With all of the tasks an Operating System needs to handle, it
can easily get confused. In a typical Windows environment,
this confusion take the form of some off-colored screen with
cryptic technobabble, or even worse, the dreaded lock up.
For an average home user, a few choice words and a flip of
the reset switch solves the problem. No big deal.
In the case of a Public Internet Terminal, where a customer
has paid for usage, it's a very big deal.
In a candy machine, you can at least pound on the side of
the unit until your bag of chips is set free - no such luck
with an Internet Terminal.
You and I may know that PC Lockups or "General Protection Errors"
are just a part of the Wonderful World of PCs, but this won't
cut it when charging customers for time Online.
One of the best ways to arm your terminals against these
debilitating failures, is to choose a robust Operating System.
No discussion of Operating Systems is complete without making
mention of Goliath himself - Microsoft. This is the company
everybody loves to hate, but let's face it - they rule this
business, and they're not leaving anytime soon.
Microsoft's lineup includes the popular Windows Suite:
These six OS releases can be found running on over 90% of the
So what's left?
Linux and the MacOS run the majority of the remaining machines, with Linux
showing an impressive surge in popularity of late.
The $20,000.00 question - Which OS is best for your Public Internet
If stability was the only issue, Linux would win hands down.
Linux is a PC version of UNIX, a very well known and well established
Operating System found running on higher end Mainframes and
Web Servers. UNIX has survived in these environments for many years
for two major reasons - stability and security.
Two very handy traits for any Public Internet Terminal.
So what's the problem? Why isn't everyone using it?
Three big issues plague Linux - hardware support, application
availability and "user-friendliness".
It's a chicken-and-egg syndrome, plain and simple:
1) It's not super easy to install, so it doesn't appeal to a mass audience.
2) No mass audience means hardware manufacturers are in no rush to
produce compatible drivers
3) Not a lot of users = not a lot of buyers = not a lot of software
The good news? More and more businesses (and individuals) are jumping on
the Linux bandwagon. This should begin to remedy issues #2 and #3.
To date, there are few (if any) commercially available Public Internet
Software Packages that run on the Linux Platform. It's quite a
surprise considering that the industry is incredibly well suited
for this type of application...
(SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS....hint, hint, hint)
So What Is The OS Of Choice? Windows, of course!
Which version is best suited to the task?
I'm a big fan of using the well-established Operating System.
It's been on the market for a while, withstood the test of
time, and has plenty of available applications and hardware drivers.
That would make Windows 95 and 98 prime candidates for selection.
The problem with 95 and 98 (more so with 95..) is their annoying
"backward compatibility" issues. You see, both OSs can run all
types of 16 and 32 Bit Applications, making system stability
somewhat similar to shooting Craps in Atlantic City.
Windows 98 Second Edition seems to be the most stable of the
early OS versions. The strong point of these systems is their
ability to interface with virtually any hardware and software
combination available on the market today.
Windows NT took a huge step in the direction of stability when
the OS went to 32 bit, thereby sacrificing the dreaded
"backward compatibility". Windows NT is an excellent choice
for a Public Terminal as it manages memory, applications and
networking very efficiently, and as a result, it is quite stable.
The problem with NT is the lack of hardware support. One
very important element missing in its arsenal, is compatibility
with the Universal Serial Bus. USB is catching on like
wildfire, and many desirable add-on devices (like webcams) are
available in USB versions.
Microsoft's answer to this dilemma? Windows 2000! "The best
of Windows 98 and Windows NT rolled into one..."
I've never been a big fan of hype, but I've got to say that
Win2K is living up to the promise. The driver support is a
bit light right now, but this OS looks like a winner.
Its fast, robust, easy to use and runs the Applications that
matter most for a Public Internet Terminal.
Windows ME is the latest OS Release from Microsoft, and the
buzz is...it's pretty good. I'll have to wait before
I cast my vote (I won't even attempt a political joke...).
What about the MacOS?
The Mac wins hands down in the user-friendliness category, but
it suffers from the same ailments as Linux. There just isn't
enough industry support for the Mac Platform. Apple still
rules the schools and probably will for years to come, but
for Public Internet Applications, PC Platforms have an
That about sums up today's discussion on Operating Systems.
I hope it proves helpful in your decision-making for any
and all of your Public Internet Ventures.
Thank you for your time, and best of luck to all of you.
Media 1 Incorporated
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