Well as it turns out, it can run at the core of an operating system, and pretty well at that.
What’s more, it was developed to be run basically everywhere, from virtual machines to cloud based deployments, to the brick and mortar machines we’re sat in front of. I find this somewhat unique, as most OS releases are tailored towards one of these environments in my experience, but NodeOS finds itself as a jack of all trades in this regard.
The operating system itself has a low overhead, low enough to be run on a Raspberry Pi. This minimal hardware requirement, when combined with the single threaded nature of NodeJS (basically), means you can run an entire development cycle without ever really having to worry about any hardware requirements or concerns, save for disk size and space. This has the added bonus of increasing development lifecycle speeds, as less consideration needs to be given to the limitations of the hardware and operating system.
But none of the above is to say that NodeOS is misnamed and that it doesn’t have it’s place; it certainly does. I am saying that I would rather think of it as an environment. However as always I’m a fan of abstraction and removing the need for the developer to interact at a low level with a server, especially during the development phase (as opposed to production).
Side Note: NodeOS reminds me of a similar project I encountered back in 2016, called OS.js. OS.js was (and is) a project that was set up with the aim of emulating an operating system within the web browser. From the demo and a quick read of the documentation, it seems to me that it does this perfectly well.
So it seems that yes, there is a NodeJS operating system out there, and one that could potentially be running many websites we encounter right now. I wouldn’t feel comfortable calling it a competitor to Ubuntu or similar at this stage, but with a solid team behind it and an ever growing codebase, who knows if my answer will change in a years time. Let me know what you think of the NodeOS.