ROS : Java Glossary

ROS (Roving OS) is a proposed future platform-independent operating system. Your files, configurations and apps logically appear to follow you around the world as you globe trot. They just appear in your hotel room when you sit down at the hotel’s computer, (or at your desk down the hall).

ROS conceptually runs on the web, not in a single computer. Its job mainly is to make sure all data is instantly available to whoever has permission to see it using a predictive caching scheme. It is not up to the provider of the information to serve it or deliver it, merely to maintain the master copy. You never again need fear being SlashDotted. The closest thing we have to the decentralised file/message distribution system I envision is Napster.

Almost all programming can be viewed as an exercise in caching.
~ Terje Mathisen
ROS spends much of its time ensuring that no one else can pry on that data or modify it. Everything is encrypted and digitally signed. ROS spends the rest of its time pretending to be a computer-friendly search engine, finding and retrieving information from the web, filtering the tidal wave of information down to a manageable stream.

Like the JVM (Java Virtual Machine), the ROS runs on a simulated highly evolved computer that has intelligent peripherals only, somewhat cleverer that today’s device drivers. They don’t need device drivers. This simplifies ROS and makes it more robust and secure. Various real OS (Operating System) ’s will host it (e.g. you can logically install an SQL (Standard Query Language) engine peripheral). Eventually ROS might develop some native iron to host it directly.

Many of my student projects are designed to be protypes for parts of this future operating system. It builds on top of the platform independence of Java, moving it from the language to the OS level. Have a look in particular at the following student projects:

4DOS/tcc Describe Helper

All files have considerable descriptive information tacked onto them.

Application Installer

Users don’t install apps, the just add them to their convenience menus. To users it is as if all apps ever written were already installed.

Associations Editor

There are rigid control on which apps can process which files. Apps can’t meddle with their competitor’s apps.

Automatic File Update

Apps and files are automatically kept up to date. This is the software vendor’s totally responsibility.


Hard disks keep themselves defragment via marthaing.

Delta Creator

Passes files about sending only compressed, encrypted changes.

Fast File Finder

It maintains a variety of indexes to its files so it can rapidly find what it needs wants in the exploding haystack of information.

Gespenster fast JVM load

It is based on memory mapped applications and files that load instantly.

Hermit Crab Variable Length Record Files

The OS provides a wide variety of data collection mechanisms that can be implemented by special purpose hardware.

HTML Glossary Presenter

Much of the focus on the OS is collapsing the huge mound of data to something manageable by intelligent filtering and predictive caching.

HTML Disturbed Link Patcher

The OS takes the DNS (Domain Name Service) concept that something can move to a new location and everyone can still find it as the prime directive.

Infinite Disk, integrated file migration/backup

Users act as if they had infinite disk space all magically backed up and restored automatically as needed by some magic. It is handled by a general purpose web caching mechanism.

Java File System

ROS sits atop other OS ’s but makes it looks if the other OS supported a standard very intelligent file system.


Ensures your mail is delivered and delivered only to those you want to read it. Also it ensures you can’t receive spam. Mail and newsgroup message delivery is just a special case of speculatively cached, auto updating, global objects.

Menu and Keystroke Configurator

Frank Sinatra might like ROS. You can do it your way. Every app has to use the F7 key for Search if that is the way you like it.

online Books

ROS delivers technical documentation in a way designed to avoid information overload. It can also be used to efficiently distribute books, movies, or anything else that can be described with a binary file, and keep those books up to the minute current.

POD POD (meaning)

ROS is based on a 64-bit operating system. From its point of view, nearly everything it wants is already resident in RAM (Random Access Memory).

Prebranded Software rental with auto updates

You usually rent software, rather than buy it. You can’t pirate it when ROS is properly implemented on CPUs (Central Processing Units) with dark rooms.

Proofreader Font

ROS is based on Unicode. You can work in Tibetan or Chinese if you please. You can customise almost anything and all apps are forced to do it your way.

Regex Proofreader

Even technical tools presume the use of colour and font.

Sanity Checker

ROS is self-checking and self-healing. If somebody meddles with it, it detect that and repairs itself.

SAX File Transfer Prototcol

ROS will eventually use communication protocols designed for interplanetary communication that don’t require such frequent acks as TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol).

SCID (Source Code In Database)

Programmers write code for ROS using tools that makes today’s look like the quill pen.

Scrolling Mad Bee Style

Again you have great control to control how your user interface works. Applications must conform to your demands.

SCROOM website avoider

The promise of the Internet was access to gigabytes of information. In practice the real problem is wading through it all. ROS focuses on tools for filtering and condensing that wave of data.

Super Compressor

ROS works very hard to compress all transmission maximally before sending them. It avoids sending anything the receiver already has. Current operating systems are very sloppy about this.

Systray Deleecher

You are king in ROS. No vendor can put an app on your screen you did not ask for.

Uncrackable Encryption

Everything in ROS is bandied about on the Internet. It has to be routinely encrypted. For truly sensitive information it uses one time XOR (exclusive OR) pads that cannot be cracked just by intercepting messages. ROS may have to be developed outside to USA to avoid their silly anti-encryption laws.

The Difficulties

How do you authenticate, and how to do prevent indentity theft by a dishonest provider of a ROS terimal? See my essay on the dark room concept. You would carry a smart card that handled authentication and decrypting data for you. The intermediate service providers that did backup and shuffled data from machine to machine the background would never see unencrypted data.

The catch is, you don’t really want the ROS terminal seeing your keystrokes, your screen displays, or your unencrypted data. Perhaps the smart card could be powerful enough to act as CPU (Central Processing Unit) and dark room, so that at least the ROS terminal never saw unencrypted data even if it saw the other two.

Perhaps you need a government certification on ROS terminals to ensure they don’t cheat, that they forget everything once you pull your smart card. Perhaps brand names on ROS terminals attesting to tamper proofing will be sufficient.

Anthony Yen wrote: What is to prevent a hostile computer from compromising your migrated sessions’ authentication tokens? Instead of a smart card inserted into the new desktop, and the new desktop can attempt to break the smart card without the user’s knowledge or have a keylogger that pulls passwords entered at the keyboard, what if you could assume the availability of a cellular phone that is in the physical possession of the user? Then password challenges are negotiated through a device trusted and possessed by the user.

If you go to a hotel in Switzerland, there will be a computer in your hotel room. You sit down at it, and your cellphone automatically receives a locater code ( IP (Internet Protocol) address or something more generic for NAT’d devices) from the computer via Bluetooth. You identify yourself with a passphrase on your cellphone, which makes a secure connection to your backup server, and instructs it to open a secure connection to the computer in the hotel at the given locater code. You acknowledge a question from you backup server on your cellphone that you see the session so that no hijacked sessions are possible by passing incorrect locator codes. At that point all your files and applications appear on the desktop, just as you left them at home.

Using this technique, no access passphrases are ever negotiated across hardware that is not personally trusted, possessed and verified by the individual user. Using one time pads, the final authorization step prevents hijack and replay attacks. The only attacks that remain are mirrored sessions, where someone installs hardware on the compromised system that shows what you see on the display. But if your data is so sensitive that you are worried about mirrored sessions, you probably would be using your own system all the time.

Perhaps you will not use ROS in the early stages of evolution for anything highly confidential.

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