Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 28th Feb 2012 22:48 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems "Dell launched a new line of servers for enterprise customers, boosting its corporate business unit and shifting its focus further away from consumers, who are increasingly choosing such devices as Apple's iPad. Chief Executive Michael Dell said his namesake company is no longer a personal computer company and has transformed itself into a business that sells services and products to corporations, a lucrative market that he said is worth $3 trillion." PC has become a dirty word. All part of the war on general purpose computing.
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who is anymore?
by Adurbe on Tue 28th Feb 2012 23:17 UTC
Adurbe
Member since:
2005-07-06

IBM arnt
Apple arnt
HP arnt
now Dell arnt

Acer must me having a party!!
(until tomorrow when they decide they arnt either..)

Reply Score: 2

RE: who is anymore?
by fran on Tue 28th Feb 2012 23:27 UTC in reply to "who is anymore?"
fran Member since:
2010-08-06

Just about every PC maker is struggling except Lenovo.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: who is anymore?
by woegjiub on Wed 29th Feb 2012 02:30 UTC in reply to "RE: who is anymore?"
woegjiub Member since:
2008-11-25

Due to the Thinkpads?
Those machines are superb, and obviously widely used in business.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: who is anymore?
by fran on Wed 29th Feb 2012 05:08 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: who is anymore?"
fran Member since:
2010-08-06

Agree, thinkpads are terrific.
The main reason is demographics and the Lenovo's excellent marketing. They are the top vendor in the world’s leading market, China. And growing strong in countries like Brazil and slowly climbing the brand ladder to the top.
They are there and marketing in big countries where people are buying their first PC device and not secondary devices.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: who is anymore?
by shmerl on Wed 29th Feb 2012 23:07 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: who is anymore?"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

At the same time they are one of the worst when it comes to Windows bundling.

Reply Score: 2

The times...
by thavith_osn on Tue 28th Feb 2012 23:43 UTC
thavith_osn
Member since:
2005-07-11

...they are a chang'in

Reply Score: 2

Future
by CapEnt on Wed 29th Feb 2012 00:31 UTC
CapEnt
Member since:
2005-12-18

The future is soft-capped general purpose computers...

As much as i hate do admit, PC as we know is on a dead end. It can't really compete with a machine with no cables, no mechanical articulations to wear out, a brain-dead OS, a dock if in need of a physical keyboard and a larger screen and a 'longer than any laptop' battery for mobility.

And more: a tablet i can imagine it being truly personal, with every single member of a family with his own even from their earliest age, carrying it around like a paper notebook. I can't see this even with ultra-portable laptops. The market for such device is a order of magnitude larger than anything that current PCs ever had even of their apex.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Future
by WorknMan on Wed 29th Feb 2012 05:30 UTC in reply to "Future"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

As much as i hate do admit, PC as we know is on a dead end. It can't really compete with a machine with no cables, no mechanical articulations to wear out, a brain-dead OS, a dock if in need of a physical keyboard and a larger screen and a 'longer than any laptop' battery for mobility.


Unfortunately, I think you're right. The only real way to keep people from breaking their computers is to make them idiot-proof. And in doing so, you end up removing most of the functionality

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Future
by CapEnt on Wed 29th Feb 2012 10:55 UTC in reply to "RE: Future"
CapEnt Member since:
2005-12-18

Ya. But this is about preventing the computer from breaking itself too.

See, the greatest strength of PCs is also his biggest weakness: freedom to do whatever you want with the hardware, including making new boards by our own. But this made OS and system software maintenance a hell.

The near infinite permutations that you can do with the hardware gave rise to all kinds of loose hardware standards that sometimes do not agree with each other without some gross hacks, huge amounts poorly designed hardware who interfaces with the system in a too low level (not a USB, but PCI/PCIe boards), overcomplex north/south bridges and motherboards who need to support all kinds of stuff plugged in it, power management systems that are almost a OS by his own in complexity (ACPI), huge basic software (UFI and newer BIOSes) who needs to cover more and more obscure functionality to be "universal"... and the OS must support all this to be usable.

The PC right now is a infinite band wagon for stacked obscure standards with near 30 years of legacy stuff on top, that you should code your OS to work with.

All these stuff forced OS developers to craft layers upon layers of code to hide the complexity of the hardware from the user, creating a range of problems of their own, and making the OS somewhat fragile, something that can stop working for no discernible reason even in the hands of a advanced user.

One day is a new hardware who introduces bus noise in combination with some chipset brand, another day is a kernel module who need to interface with a poorly specified hardware going crazy, and sometimes we have these dreaded BIOS option that can make a hardware freeze aleatorily but if you disable you loose power management or shutdown another board... and the list goes on.

The tablet, in essence, has more in common with a game console than a PC: is a return to a clean design that is easy to keep. This came in expense of flexibility, but the reliability that you gain will make up for it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Future
by Neolander on Thu 1st Mar 2012 15:01 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Future"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

I agree that the current x86 ecosystem is a mess, but I think you have an overly idealistic view of the ARM one (as represented by "the tablet" in your post).

We're talking about a platform where the only thing that's standard is the CPU instruction set. Where OS developers must go as low as to force OEMs to use specific SoCs in order to get their stuff to work properly. Where hardware specs are nowhere to be seen unless you are ready to pay huge amounts of money to chipsets manufacturers.

The difficulties experienced by the CM9 team are characteristic of the ARM ecosystem : anytime a new OS version with a new driver model gets out, hell gets loose. Supporting old hardware with new software requires either driver reverse engineering or constant pressure on manufacturers. It's simply insane.

There is one thing in the x86 world that is nearly as bad as ARM stuff from a standardization point of view, and that's GPUs. Well, not exactly the part that works best in modern computers...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Future
by Alfman on Wed 29th Feb 2012 16:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Future"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

WorknMan,

"Unfortunately, I think you're right. The only real way to keep people from breaking their computers is to make them idiot-proof. And in doing so, you end up removing most of the functionality."

I disagree. Something all mainstream operating systems fail to do well if at all is to sandbox software.

Instead of prohibiting users from doing things, it should be permitted within a sandbox. There's no need for UAC or root passwords. PCs shouldn't be so tightly restricted such that normal end users would need a root password in the first place. In other words, it's a failing of the OS that a normal user should ever require root access.


Sure, we could lock down the computer features and prohibit root access, but we really should be eliminating the need for root while increasing functionality. Sandboxing is the solution.

Ideally the OS would have a nice GUI tool to move apps between sandboxes and configure shared resources. Every user would have a sandbox and could create new sandboxes on the fly for running downloaded software.

A sandbox can be trashed, but the OS as a whole will be stable. So, one can simply create another sandbox without reinstalling the OS. Alternately individual sandboxes could be rolled back to a previous state.


It's a shame that none of the mainstream OSes offer this kind of integrated sandboxing. An OS with one restricted UID per user just isn't good enough.

I developed my own linux sandboxing utility to dynamically spawn application level sandboxes "sandbox <command>". And it actually works to a point, but linux'es lack of copy-on-write file semantics yields inefficient solutions. I've used AUFS to address this FS limitation, but AUFS has it's own problems when used dynamically and wasn't designed for this.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Future
by WorknMan on Wed 29th Feb 2012 18:28 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Future"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Instead of prohibiting users from doing things, it should be permitted within a sandbox. There's no need for UAC or root passwords. PCs shouldn't be so tightly restricted such that normal end users would need a root password in the first place. In other words, it's a failing of the OS that a normal user should ever require root access.


See, that is where you fail. The minute you start talking about sandboxing and root access, you've lost 98% of the mouth breathers out there. In the eyes of your average, computer-literate user, the best kind of security and stability is the kind they don't have to think about.

IMO, this is a sad state of affairs for power users and geeks, but it is what it is. As long as you wish to sell to the lowest common denominator, you've gotta make it dead simple to use, and very hard to accidentally break something. In other words, make it more like an appliance than a computer.

Edited 2012-02-29 18:30 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Future
by Alfman on Thu 1st Mar 2012 00:41 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Future"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

WorknMan,


"See, that is where you fail. The minute you start talking about sandboxing and root access, you've lost 98% of the mouth breathers out there...."

That's a little presumptuous, obviously the defaults should be set reasonably enough such that they will just work for most. Add a shared area where users can store communal documents and that default becomes enough for "98% of the mouth breathers out there".

The sandboxes would eliminate the need for root access even if users don't understand them. Root access is a problem today because users become desensitized/dupped into constantly granting it as a mental reflex (the boy who cried wolf too many times and gets ignored when it's important). Good sandboxes would enable users to have full functionality without ever asking for root access.


Edit: I don't think sandboxing implies being difficult to use. For an OS designed head-to-toe with sandboxing in mind, it should just work transparently. Unlike what we have today using linux or windows.

Edited 2012-03-01 00:52 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Future
by WorknMan on Thu 1st Mar 2012 02:57 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Future"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

That's a little presumptuous, obviously the defaults should be set reasonably enough such that they will just work for most. Add a shared area where users can store communal documents and that default becomes enough for "98% of the mouth breathers out there".


Yes, what you're saying makes sense. Have the defaults what they are, but then allow power users and geeks to tweak settings under the hood. The only problem with this logic is that's a lot of work for a company to have to put in, just to appease the other 2% of us. Probably best to just cater to those 98%, where the money is, and let the rest of us go get f**ked.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Future
by Alfman on Thu 1st Mar 2012 14:42 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Future"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

WorknMan,

"The only problem with this logic is that's a lot of work for a company to have to put in, just to appease the other 2% of us. Probably best to just cater to those 98%, where the money is, and let the rest of us go get f**ked."

That sounds about right, manufacturers would rather ban sideloading entirely than to make it easy, safe, and reversible. It's true that this policy strikes harder against techies who write and distribute homebrew apps, but I do think even normal users are negatively affected when manufacturers take control over devices and impose walled gardens in the name of security.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Future
by WorknMan on Thu 1st Mar 2012 23:45 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Future"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

but I do think even normal users are negatively affected when manufacturers take control over devices and impose walled gardens in the name of security.


Maybe, but not like they're ever going to notice. And anyway, as long as they keep buying the products, why would these big companies give a damn?

For the minority of us that actually care about such things, it is a sad world we live in ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Future
by Alfman on Wed 29th Feb 2012 17:08 UTC in reply to "RE: Future"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

WorknMan,

Just to clarify, I think today's computers are far from idiot-proof and the current state of affairs is a disgrace.

Instead of jailing end users, we should be jailing the apps and giving users the tools to oversee them.

I don't think that giving users control is the root cause of PC malfunction. I think the root cause is that users don't have the right tools to securely manage apps and data. I should be able to immediately see and restrict what an app has access to without requiring root access myself. With the ability to run isolated applications from within our own user accounts, the end user need for root access becomes nil. A normal user should never be compelled to supply a root password once he has everything he possibly needs under his own account.

Edited 2012-02-29 17:26 UTC

Reply Score: 2

About time
by Lorin on Wed 29th Feb 2012 01:24 UTC
Lorin
Member since:
2010-04-06

Nothing worse than buying a dozen Dell computers for the office and finding that each one is different even though they have the same model number and were ordered at the same time.

Reply Score: 2

RE: About time
by MOS6510 on Wed 29th Feb 2012 07:34 UTC in reply to "About time"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

I recently ordered 47, they were all the same... but the NIC refused to work until I installed an update.

Reply Score: 2

Dell has never been about "personal"
by Morgan on Wed 29th Feb 2012 14:11 UTC
Morgan
Member since:
2005-06-29

From my experience with the company going back to the late 1990s, they have always thrown the bulk of their effort into putting out generally rock-solid enterprise and business kit. Their server support is top notch, in fact my boss at the part time job chose to renew our server's support contract for the third time because they have been so great over the years. Their business oriented machines tend to be very well made, though always a generation behind on certain specs.

Then again, you don't buy a Vostro or Latitude to play the latest games. Latitudes in particular are perhaps the most modular laptops I've ever come across. On my old D620 you could upgrade every major component besides the video processor with very little effort, and it even had a SIM card slot and an extra PCI-E slot for the radio hardware. If you chose not to use a 3G modem, you could use that extra slot for other devices. Even the Bluetooth module was upgradeable! It was also one of the few laptops of its generation that could address 4GB of RAM (with a BIOS update); the consumer laptops of that era were still using the older Intel chipsets that limited them to 3 or even 2GB.

Unfortunately, all of this it at the expense of good consumer equipment. I have yet to meet an Inspiron or Dimension that hasn't given me fits trying to keep it working right. From flimsy cases to cheap outsourced power supplies, to just cheap hardware overall...Dell's consumer branch has pretty much always left me wanting. I'm actually happy to see them shift away from consumer products and into the enterprise space.

As others have mentioned, Lenovo seems poised to take their place in the world of personal computing. My girlfriend's 15-inch IdeaPad at $500 runs circles around the $1000 Sony and $700 HP competitors, both on raw power and style. I'm seriously considering their 11-inch subnotebook for that same low price.

Reply Score: 3