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Is a Windows based console really a good thing?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Jezza, Apr 27, 2007.

  1. Jezza

    Jezza Active Member

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    Alright, so I want to hear what everyones thoughts are on this. Is having a good portion of the most powerful and well respected lighting consoles in the industry Windows based a good thing?

    Windows, as we all know, is not meant to be an "artistic" operating system. Windows is for business men, mathematicians, etc. More importantly, Windows is VULNERABLE. I can't tell you how many times I see Windows running on a standard PC crash, flip out, need tech support, etc. Similarly, I can't tell you how many times I see PC based consoles (like the Hog iPC) go bonkers because of a systems issue with Windows. And come on, we all know we aren't supposed to use the "computer" or standard Windows OS functionality that comes on some of the consoles, but we do, and we all know its not good for the console. There is a reason for that.

    My position on it is this: Windows is an inherently flawed OS. By basing some of the most powerful consoles on it, aren't we just asking for problems? Shouldn't we create proprietary OSs or software versions that can run independently and do exactly what we ask for? "Dummer" consoles such as the simpler ETC consoles and many other of the older conventional consoles have are based on a code that was written exclusively for them. How often do/did you experience a "system error" or "kernal panic" on one of those.

    Now I'm not trying to get in a whole Mac v. PC fight here, but if we are going to base ourselves off of an existing operating system, for simplicity, cost effectiveness, power, etc., doesn't it make sense to go Mac. Mac's track record w/ bugs, customer service, and ingenuity is impeccable compared to Windows. And I'll bet that half of you on here use Macs and the other 50% wished they did. A Mac is built for the artists. If your a designer, board op, electrician, audio engineer etc., you are an artists in your own right. In my mind, it just makes sense.
     
  2. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    No I refuse to get into a PC vs. Mac war. Just don't want to go down that road. Having said that I think there are several points at which I disagree with you on a fundamental basis.

    "Windows, as we all know, is not meant to be an "artistic" operating system. Windows is for business men, mathematicians, etc."

    You have been watching too many Mac commercials. I have worked three seperate jobs at which I functioned as a graphics designer, all of which used PC's for their production department. I cut together video, music, graphics, etc. all the time on my PC. as quickly and efficiently as my buddies using a mac.


    More importantly, Windows is VULNERABLE. I can't tell you how many times I see Windows running on a standard PC crash, flip out, need tech support, etc. Similarly, I can't tell you how many times I see PC based consoles (like the Hog iPC) go bonkers because of a systems issue with Windows. And come on, we all know we aren't supposed to use the "computer" or standard Windows OS functionality that comes on some of the consoles, but we do, and we all know its not good for the console. There is a reason for that.

    I think you answered you own circular logic on this one. A console PC is a PC for the Console, not for Surfing the net, playing Halo, or attempting to hack the schools mainframe. Currently we run Horizon on a machine that hadn't been replaced for 9 years until last year when the fan on the processor went out. In that time the only "crashes" we ever had were do to power outages, or shorts in the KVM cables. On the same bent I'd prefer to wait the 20 seconds it takes my PC to reboot rather than the 45sec - 1 minute for most Macs.

    My position on it is this: Windows is an inherently flawed OS.

    Can't argue with that. It's the best flawed OS out there though.

    doesn't it make sense to go Mac. Mac's track record w/ bugs, customer service, and ingenuity is impeccable compared to Windows. And I'll bet that half of you on here use Macs and the other 50% wished they did.


    Mac's Track record with Bugs is great, Customer service, repair costs, and service availibility, however, is atrosious. When 75% of the kids in high school today can operate and do simple repairs on a PC running Windows, as opposed to having to go spend $200.00 to have a Mac tech tell you he's got to send it back to the factory for a Flugle Valve adjustment. I'd rather keep my Console on a PC thank you.


    A Mac is built for the artists. If your a designer, board op, electrician, audio engineer etc., you are an artists in your own right. In my mind, it just makes sense.

    Again I'll point you to my opening remark. Apparently you've been watching too many Mac vs. PC commercials.

    Something that you didn't address was cost, this is often the case, when the whole PCvsMac contriversy arises. I can afford to build / buy 2.5 -3 P.C.'s running Windows for my both with the same amount of money that I would need to spend on just one Mac to run sound. in the world of Non-profit ..... 'nuff said.
     
  3. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Two things:

    They are using embedded versions of Windows that are fairly well locked down. There are a lot of things you can't do with it in order to make it more stable. If, as Van said, you are a good little techie and don't mess with the system it should be quite stable.

    Secondly. Console software isn't some some great artistic graphic software. It's a simple program changing number values. The software itself is much closer to a spread sheet than to video editing software. Even WYSIWYG itself is pretty primitive by 3D rendering standards.

    Finally, don't be scared by the Mac disinformation campaign. My Home XP P.C. has only crashed when I was trying to run 6 different programs at the same time. Under normal operation with only 2 or 3 programs open it has never crashed. Windows isn't nearly as unstable and problematic as the commercials want to scare you into believing. Again this is especially true when you are talking about locked down embedded software.
     
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Totally agree with the above post. If you are doing the PC based console, great, just buy one computer for that, and THATS ALL THAT COMPUTER DOES. Windows is very stable, as long as you don't F with it. But if you want even more stability, go with a linux based console or a DOS based console (strand 300/500 series and the pallet's).
     
  5. jmabray

    jmabray Active Member

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    The inherent flaw in this argument is simply that a lighting console is doing more math processing than anything else. All of the effects engines are based upon sine, cosine and tangent operations. Running numbers up and down, fade times, etc - these are all mathmatical functions. not an artistic one in the bunch, as far as the computer is concerned.....
    To top this all off, if you are running a console that is running xp, it is embedded xp, which is significantly different from the regular xp or xp pro. And considering you aren't loading Doom or surfing the net while you are running a show, you are just fine running xp.
     
  6. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Software is software regardless of which os it is on... And PCs are fine if you're not a retard. If your running kazaa and downloading music on a pc you're running a show off of you deserve for it to crash.
     
  7. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    One of the reasons that we will probably never see a Mac OS basd lighting console is because, as Steve Jobs has said: "Apple is not a software company, we make hardware and innovations." This is the same reason that you can't run Mac OS X on a PC, but you can run Windows natively on any Intel Mac. Microsoft is a software company, if a computer manufacturer wants to make a machine that will run Windows, they can, but only Apple can make machines that run OS X.

    That being said, if console manufacturers wanted to use another os instead of Windows, the ideal choice would most likely be LINUX or UNIX. Strand was looking at LINUX for the new Palette lines then went with Horizon when Genlyte bought them.

    When you look back at the major players in consoles up to today you will notice that almost all of them are DOS based. All of the ETC consoles up to Obsession II and all of the Strand 300/500 series. DOS really has been one of the most stable OS's. Also, if you look at the Obsession II startup, you will notice that the Obsession II runs DOS and then another OS on top, and then Obsession is another program. Whereas Strand OS runs natively in DOS.
     
  8. Radman

    Radman Well-Known Member

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    I've heard that the Expression OS was based on Linux, was that true?

    I think that a good OS to go with would be Linux: no cost, stable, and its open source :)
     
  9. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    My "Day" job for the last 20 years has been IT work. (Information Technology) The thought of doing a live show on a Windows based control is about the same as getting on an airplane that was being flown by Windows based software.... Probably, nothing will happen, but if it does, it will be really ugly! (Imagine a reboot while there is a stuck scene (or worse) on stage!) Although the GUI in windows supports running a 3d version of your scenes for preview, my first priority is that the stage actually lights up! To "Protest" the migration to Windows based software is like swimming against the current. It's going there if we like it or not! As for Windows vs Mac, don't believe the ads on tv, Macs screw up big time as well. What is needed for any imbedded system is software that is written in machine language custom for that application. Both Mac OS and Windows were written to support 50,000 things that will not be needed to do stage lighting, but might get in the way. EOR (End Of Rant) One good plan would be to have a manual board in your back pocket ;)
     
  10. Jezza

    Jezza Active Member

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    Just to counter argue, I have not been watching too many Mac v. PC commercials. I have owned both in my lifetime and currently own an Intel based Mac but work with XP based P.C.s every day. So my claims are not based on television ads or propaganda, they are based on real life experience and findings.

    That said, this thread did become a Mac v. PC war. My statement about the Mac was just an option to toss out there, not an end-all, be-all solution to the PC based OS.

    I am attempting to address the whether running a lighting console off of any standard homeowner computer operating system (Mac or PC because those are the most popular) is a good idea in general. I attack PC because, well, no one has a Mac based console anymore. And well there may be good reasons why not, to me it is still curious as to why we base ourselves on Windows. Enough Said.
     
  11. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    The Lanbox which has been around for a long time was originally programmed for the Mac.
     
  12. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    I think that what icewolf08 was trying to get at is that there will never be an actual console (not referring to a DMX interface, not a usb control wing, etc) with a native Mac OS.
     
  13. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    I don't know anything about Linux, so I can't argue with you that it's more stable. I don't know that any lighting console will work with Linux, either. My guess is that they won't.

    As for the whole "get a pc for your lighting control only" idea, I must be either incredibly lucky or the biggest exception in the world. After over 6 years, I've NEVER had a crash or major issue with mine. If I'm programming/running a show and there's wi-fi I can access, I'm usually surfing or watching youtube WHILE I'm running the show. Sometimes I'll be listening to music, sometimes ... Typically, the machine I'm using is on for 10 - 12 hours straight, and heat could be an issue. But I make sure to keep it very clean and free of dust, and I also use a cooling fan on it.
     
  14. JSFox

    JSFox Active Member

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    There are a number of very important reasons why so many consoles and other devices are win based.

    First of all to say that this is not an OS war is disengenious. New control systems are going to be CPU based and anything CPU based needs an OS. Writing your own OS is difficult and extremely expensive so using an existing OS is a very quick no-brainer. So, it's an issue then of choosing which one.

    Linux is a first option for many and from a purely technical standpoint is generally viewed as the best option but has some drawbacks including lack of commercial support, limited pre-developed and supportable routines, limited hardware support, concerns about future viability, difficulty finding good and affordable developers, and end-users are not as familiar with it.

    Mac has 2 huge drawbacks. First is that hardware is limited to Apple (eg, they go under, decide to get out of PC business, don't want to develop a custom platform for a lighting company, etc.) Second is that the OS is fairly closed. Many routines that can be developed on a Linux or Win platform cannot be done on a Mac OS. The folks writing the DL2 & Axon software can tell you all about this. Stability is also questionable as most FCP users can testify.

    Win. Has many drawbacks, but are more easily surmountable than those above. It will run on a variety of different CPU's, it's easy to build custom hardware for it, it's commercial viability into the future is high, good developers are plentiful and affordable, there are tons of ancillary programs already written for it, etc. Biggest drawback is stability which can be controlled with good code and error handling routines (and keeping people from playing games on the lighting console).

    Many of the folks developing all of these consoles have done some fairly extensive evaluation of their options and have made the decisions they have for a reason.
     
    Van likes this.
  15. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    I think that the key to a good win-based console is not trying to screw with it. Not installing new applications on it unless they are essential to running the lighting program, not using it for anything other than lighting, and updating it as necessary. You may get a lucky streak, but when it ends, your show will...well...black out on a zero count unless you have a HOLD backup on your DMX line somewhere that holds the DMX values for a set amount of time (or infinitely).
     
  16. DarSax

    DarSax Active Member

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    Screw it I'm building a punch card based console.
     
  17. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Haha...there's no way that I can beat that one, but...

    And I'll build one with a BASIC stamp 2p40 module.
     
  18. wakkoroti

    wakkoroti Member

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    The Virtuoso is a Mac based lighting console, and one of the most stable in the industry - just sayin.

    Also, Linux isn't the 'holy grail' of OS either, a certain blue console is linux based and well, you know the history of that thing.

    Consoles are only as good as the team building it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2007
  19. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    PRG's Virtuoso® DX2
     
  20. JSFox

    JSFox Active Member

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    Still my favorite console even though I'm starting to fall rather deeply for a GrandMA.
     

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