Wednesday, January 02, 2008

the perfect Linux machine

I was dreaming of the ultimate PC which is something we all engage in from time to time. Turns out that this machine is the sum of all the cool things I encountered in my history with computers and some projections. The main problem to realizing the ultimate PC, even the ultimate Linux PC is that technology does not stand still. By the time you settle on specific hardware, the technology has moved on already. The other problems involves the influence of software vendors upon the hardware manufacturers and targeting the requirements of various user groups, like home users, business and gamers. Building a machine that has the potential to shift priorities, change options while fending off obsolescence is a big chore. This is why there are so many hardware configurations.
Firstly I am not a gamer, so I believe that most gaming hardware can be added in a slot. Lots of memory and high-rev video and sound cards are out there. If I could add anything to today's computer to make it into an ultimate species is to put in a bootable flash drive just for the operating system. With USB ports being upgraded, it would be faster than rotating disks and allow both users and software vendors to change their stuff when they need/had/wanted to. The idea comes from the old days of dual floppy's, one for the operating system and one for data. The gaming machines like the Atari and Commodore had ports you plugged a software card into. With say a 8 gig flash drive you could put the OS and the Apps on it and isolate your data on the hard drive, safe from system crashes. Another thing I would do is make swappable hard drives standard like on servers and multimedia PC's. Even when you have only one drive, to be able to take a backup of your personal data and put it whole in a safe deposit box somewhere else is a good thing. I favor a smallish system a compromise between the desktop tower and the laptop. The big tower is an energy pig, demanding its slots be filled with options but the laptop has limited extendability. The thin desktop is very cool and with the functions built onto the motherboard, save the video card, it is ready for any desktop. I do like multiple built in media drives and slots for all sorts of memory cards. Networked storage systems that are OS transparent is the way to go. My data and media files do not need to be victimized by another OS. Some software vendors want you to have a "home server" to manage your stuff and sell you a vendor approved access control/management program (a server OS) when a simple network storage device is just fine for most of us. The ultimate Linux PC would be an open PC, able to accommodate. With Apple's OSX series running on Intel machines you get the idea that a vendor specific key is all that separates it from Linux or Microsoft OS's. We grew up with vendor locks in the old days and it was never pretty. Special ROM's, dongles on the parallel port, and activation codes, all to protect their turf by making hardware and software vendor specific. I guess I am running a theme here, transparency of data and OS transparency in my machine. With it all up for grabs, who knows what the tech world will develop into. But in any case users will benefit or be assimilated.

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