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Russian rides Phantom to OS immortality

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Like Android (Without the Yawns)

All of this sounds neat, but the astute nerd will object: "But you have to re-write all of your code for this Phantom thing. Seems like a waste of time to me." Possibly. Programming has come a long way since the days of the Segmentation Fault and the Bus Error. We have efficient virtual machines now, with write-once-run-anywhere functionality. Java, C#, Ruby, and even languages that don't suck - like Python - support this.

Phantom will target these VM-based languages so that you won't have to rebuild any code. However, it may not be as simple as just copying over bytecode, a developer may have to modify the code a bit to take real advantage of Phantom's "timeless" feature. Old code should still work fine. It would just be inefficient if it does a lot of file I/O.

The Phantom OS is still very much in development. Currently, it will boot on a computer, run programs and perform its state-preservation-to-disk magic trick. Cross-development tools are also in production, to automate porting code.

Still to be done is the GUI. You know as well as I: All that matters in this life is a good command line. Still, the daily-user type needs some sort of mouse. Sounds like a crutch if you ask me.

After the GUI, the next step for Dmitry Zavalishin is marketing Phantom. The best code in the world doesn't mean anything if nobody's buying. Actually, this step has already began, with Zavalishin telling the world that unlike Linux, Phantom is better than Windows.

"You can not compete with Windows, repeating it," Zavalishin says. "It is impossible to compete with Windows, creating a functionally weaker system, such as Linux." (This works best if you read it to yourself with an assertive, Slavic accent). Phantom, he says, will increase programmer productivity by at least 30 per cent - and perhaps as much as 400 per cent.

He likens this to the benefit of VM-based languages. "Growth in productivity from a simple shift in the development of C++ software programming language to Java and C# languages is estimated by experts to be as much as 500 per cent – as, indeed, it explains the displacement of the first language by the last two over quite short period of time."

Nonetheless, breaking into a market is no easy task. The mobile space, one of the markets Phantom will target, is dominated by the iPhone. "iPhone has strong brand name and it is difficult to surpass it technologically,” Zavalishin says. That doesn't mean there is no room for competition, as Google is, well, still trying to prove with Android. "Android got no one impressed," he says. "[But] Android will prepare the market of software developers.” True, Android's debut showed us that the iPhone isn't the only game in town, but it took resources on Google's scale to bring it to market. And even then, its adoption curve has been flaccid compared to the iPhone.

If Zavalishin can get hold of some of that Steve Jobs divinity, Phantom will likely do well. ®

For more on Phantom, you can visit Dmitry Zavalishin's website here.

Ted Dziuba is a co-founder at Milo.com You can read his regular Reg column, Fail and You, every other Monday.

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