Modern legacy: boot screen

image via Leslie Wong:
image via Leslie Wong:

Modern legacy: boot screen

Although modern technology currently moves forward faster than ever before, there are still plenty of legacy solutions that are resilient enough to stand the test of time. Like digital equivalents of living fossils, they have managed to survive the disruptive effect of technological innovation and still thrive in many modern IT-environments.

In this series, we will take a closer look at technological dinosaurs that are still present in our modern times. In this article we’re going to point the spotlight at the boot screen, a common concept from the early days of computer and software programming.

“pull yourself up by your bootstraps”

The phrase “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” is a distinctly American saying and originated shortly before the turn of the 20th century. It’s commonly attributed to a physics schoolbook from the late 1800s that contained a very hypothetical real-world example of gravity in action: “Why can a man not lift himself by pulling up on his bootstraps?”

Socioeconomic advancement

Eventually, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps became a colloquial catchphrase in the socioeconomic realm. It was (and is) often used as a sarcastic pun at the conservative and naive interpretation of the American dream. This view on society and politics implies that socioeconomic advancement is something that everyone should be able to achieve without outside help. It largely ignores the importance of factors such as inherited wealth, access to education, job opportunities, and differences in capabilities between individuals.

“Booting” a computer

The bootstrap idiom also found its way into the world of technology and IT. IT professionals and enthusiasts are more than familiar with “booting” computers and using boot screens. Booting is basically the process of starting up a computer or system. The concept goes back to the early days of programming, in which you used a small and simple program to start a more complex system.

A boot screen is the graphical representation of the boot process of your operating system. Sometimes the screen is merely a simple, no-nonsense visualization of the scrolling boot messages, but the boot screen (especially the newer ones) can also present some fancy graphics. Although booting systems and screens have evolved significantly throughout the decades, in the core they still are legacy solutions with a long tradition.