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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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 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 Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Future
by CapEnt on Wed 29th Feb 2012 10:55 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 Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Future
by Alfman on Wed 29th Feb 2012 16:50 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 Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Future
by Alfman on Wed 29th Feb 2012 17:08 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 Parent Score: 2