Your original SU question
Let's start out with a big clarification. As far as I can tell, your question wasn't originally closed for being holistic, but primarily because it lacked one important detail -- The operating system. I fully agree with that original closure.
If it had included this when you first posted, I believe that it would have remained open. That it was closed made it then harder to get reopened under the (misunderstood, IMHO) "problems you face" rule. I doubt it would have been closed originally as a question that wasn't a problem you faced.
If the current reason for it staying closed is that it is off-topic (which seems to be *Mokubai's opinion in the comments above), then IMHO (and I could be wrong about the process here) the question should be reopened and reclosed with the new reason. It's certainly not lacking for detail or clarity at this point!
Regardless, it seems very clear to me even from that original question that you were trying to solve a problem. The "rule" doesn't say that you must elaborate on the problem. It's certainly recommended for other reasons (see XY Problem). However, it shouldn't be a close-reason.
And then there are comments saying that you should never need to do what you are asking, that it's a bad idea, etc. That's information that belongs in answers.
I voted to reopen, and it currently needs 2 more votes to be reopened.
This Meta question
But on to this question:
Is there nowhere on Stack Exchange where such questions are allowed to stand?
I'm going to read "holistic" here as a desire to obtain a high-level understanding of the system. In many ways it's similar to a "curiosity" or "hypothetical" question.
With that in mind, it's important to understand that the Don't Ask help page that @Mokubia cited in the comments is the same for most every Stack Exchange site. According to this Staff comment:
We generally avoid customizing Help Center articles for specific sites unless the current version of the page doesn't fit the site at all.
So we can actually find discussions related to your question throughout various Stack sites, and especially Meta.SE. And that help text and policy has been debated for years, it seems. It's even been debated on both sides by the site's co-founder:
So long as your question isn't hypothetical in a meaningless "I'm bored, entertain me" way -- that is, it is interesting to other experienced users, that's probably fine. - @JeffAtwood
But then it appears Jeff may have wavered on this somewhat, making this comment later:
Can you make me believe you, or someone you know, could conceivably face this problem? If not, then take it somewhere else.
And then @Mokubai has said in the past that:
While this does preclude some vague questions it does not mean you can never ask a question about hypothetical limits....
If you can imagine someone hitting a specific, definable and repeatable problem, then that could be okay.
General Stack Exchange consensus
However, the general Stack Exchange community consensus to:
Is there a rule of thumb for objective questions asked out of curiosity?
... was that they are completely acceptable on Stack sites.
Keep in mind that every Stack Exchange site has their own policies, community, and mod team, of course. For example, the Ask Ubuntu community and mods (in my experience and opinion) would certainly allow and even encourage a holistic question, as long as it was on-topic in all other respects.
Some sites just have no choice but to ignore the "actual problems you face" text entirely in almost any context. Imagine a question on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack being about "actual problems that you face"!
Examples from high-profile users
This is a bit "underhanded", to be sure, because everyone can ask or answer questions that they later feel they shouldn't (I have), but a couple of interesting questions that, IMHO, aren't based in a actual problem the poster faced, but were more curiosity-based.
And again, I don't personally consider these off-topic questions that should have been closed in the first place, but good questions that meet the "inspire how or why" guidance (see below in the My Opinion section).
Are "man in the middle" attacks extremely rare? on the Security Stack - By Jeff Atwood.
This is simply a question wanting data. It's a desire for information. Perhaps there's a "problem" that Jeff was trying to solve that resulted in the question, but it's never stated. And it doesn't sound like there was any reason for the question other than "wondering if there is any cold, hard, real world data to back up that assertion".
Jeff also answered quite a few questions even here on Super User that didn't seem to be rooted in any "actual problem", such as:
(Apologies in advance to @JourneymanGeek) What is the purpose of this rail on an intel X540-T2 NIC? -- This doesn't seem to be a problem; just a desire to know. And again, to me, that's a good question; it just (IMHO) shows that not all questions here need to follow a strict interpretation of being "based on actual problems that you face".
As one answer put it on MSE (just noticed that answer was from Atwood as well):
if you care enough about figuring something out, it is in fact a problem to you
My opinion and interpretation
My personal opinion is that anyone taking a hardline approach that every question must be "based on actual problems that you face" is taking that out of context.
That text is as part of a paragraph, which Oxford says "usually [deals] with a single theme". With that in mind, I see the very next sentence as the counter-example:
- "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face": Good
- "Chatty, open-ended questions": Bad
The next section even goes on to give an example of a bad, subjective question where:
there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
And then further goes on to say that subjective questions aren't always bad:
- inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”
- et. al.
I'm hoping that we can eventually come to an understanding here on Super User that "based on actual problems that you face" is part of a larger set of rules (and exceptions) that must be read in their full context.