Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 18th Oct 2010 16:00 UTC
In the News An interesting discussion is currently raging through the world of computing, or more accurately, through the world of bloggers and analysts. It basically comes down to this: should the iPad be included in laptop and desktop sales figures? If it is included - Apple becomes the largest PC manufacturer in the United States. But, if the iPad should be included - why not the modern smartphone?
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RE[2]: Special vs General
by telns on Mon 18th Oct 2010 18:46 UTC in reply to "RE: Special vs General"
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I very specifically mentioned "for its time period."

The 386 time period was quite a while ago. Can you imagine anyone selling a new i386-based device now for anything other than highly specialized tasks? I didn't say 386s aren't PCs. When they were sold, they fit the bill for all the general computing I mentioned.

The OS is an important part of what makes a computer general purpose or special purpose. I had in mind a Mackie processor a friend uses. It is absolutely standard, commercial off-the-shelf PC hardware on the inside, but the OS it runs is D8B. By your definition it is a PC, by mine it is a special purpose tool.

My argument is that PCs are general purpose tools, and to be that they have to run general purpose OSs. Stick on a highly specific specialized OS (ala D8B), and it may cease to be what I would label a personal computer.

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RE[3]: Special vs General
by WereCatf on Mon 18th Oct 2010 19:00 in reply to "RE[2]: Special vs General"
WereCatf Member since:

My argument is that PCs are general purpose tools, and to be that they have to run general purpose OSs.

That's what I was saying: by your definition unless it runs an OS capable of all the most common general usage tasks then it's not a PC. And on the other hand, when it does run such an OS it is a PC, by your very argument.

That just places yet another dilemma in front of you: that would mean my Nokia N900 is indeed a PC as it runs Linux, with all the capabilities of any other Linux distro. And for example a PlayStation3 was a PC every time it was running Linux as OtherOS. And there's plenty and plenty of other examples around.

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RE[4]: Special vs General
by jgagnon on Mon 18th Oct 2010 19:27 in reply to "RE[3]: Special vs General"
jgagnon Member since:

Which is why I'm suggesting a much simpler definition: If it has an operating system, runs programs, and is in some way programmable, it is a "personal computer". There are obviously other varieties of computers that do not fit this description, but then I wouldn't preface their name with "personal".

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RE[4]: Special vs General
by telns on Mon 18th Oct 2010 19:33 in reply to "RE[3]: Special vs General"
telns Member since:

My Pre runs webOS (ie, Linux), but it is far from a general purpose OS or computer. My friend's N900 is the same. webOS and Maemo have about as little resemblance to RHEL or Ubuntu as WM does to Windows.

Let's compare the Pre to my PC. Hmm, word processing... no, desktop publishing... no, spreadsheets... no, programming... no, database... no, programming... no, photo editing... no, video editing... no, printing... no, games... sort of

I set out a standard that it should be able to do all of those things, "[A]cceptably well for its time period." That wouldn't mean "acceptably well" when compared to other phones. To be a PC that would have to be "acceptably well" versus other PCs. Are you really saying your N900 does all of that as well as a PC?

The Pre, as nice as it is, does nothing at a level that would be considered, "[A]cceptably well for its time period," when compared to other "PCs" as you are pretending I defined them.

It by no means fits the description I gave of a general purpose computer. HP obviously agreed; they didn't buy Palm to get "Linux", broadly writ as you do. They wanted Palm's specially crafted, special purpose Linux.

If a Pre can ever do all those things as well as a normal PC, I'd agree that the line has been blurred so much as to be indistinct, but we are a long way off, not least of which getting me to use a 3.7" screen and a 2.5" keyboard all day long.

I can imagine a day where our phones are our PCs though, with little docking stations. Someday, maybe, but not yet.

On one thing you are right, at least, that I do not think my friend's rackmount Mackie running D8B is a PC, even though it has PC hardware inside.

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