Linux Webpads Give PC Competition
The unveiling of Transmeta's Crusoe processor (see last month's article “Transmeta Writes the News”) highlights an emerging class of computing devices, often called webpads. These devices provide high-quality web access in a conveniently portable design. Resembling the display portion of a mobile PC (see Figure 1), webpads have no bulky keyboard or heavy disk drives. Better yet, they don't need Microsoft Windows—Linux or other low-cost operating systems are preferred.
These devices are only beginning to reach the market, and with prices as high as $999, they will appeal mainly to front-line soldiers in the gadget wars. But prices will inevitably fall, and at under $500, webpads will offer a great alternative to those who want the Web without the hassle of a Windows PC. Although webpads don't have to use Linux, its reliability, modest memory footprint and especially its open source code make it an excellent choice.
Webpads offer several advantages over a PC. The first is ease of use. A webpad does one thing: browse the Web. With a dedicated browser on top of a stripped-down version of Linux, the system provides a simple, reliable interface with minimal boot time. Microsoft offers Windows CE for such “information appliances”, but that OS still bears the scars of its Windows heritage.
Webpads offer mobility that can't be matched by a PC. All sub-$1,000 PCs today are desk-bound. Even if you pay more to get a notebook PC, you get a device weighing at least three pounds, and more typically, five to seven pounds. This weight is mostly due to hard drives, CD drives, large batteries and cooling mechanisms (fans and heat sinks) for the Intel-compatible CPU.
A webpad weighs only about one pound and has a longer battery life, despite using a smaller, lighter battery. Like a cordless telephone, it links to a base station using radio frequencies. Thus, a webpad will operate anywhere within a typical house or small office. The wireless link transfers data at 2 to 11MBps—enough to keep up with even a DSL Internet connection. Eliminating the drives gives webpads a sizable cost advantage, at least when compared to mobile PCs. In contrast to the cheapest desktop PCs, webpads will cost more, because their flat-screen displays are more expensive than CRTs and also due to the cost of the wireless link.
Today's PCs also benefit from economies of scale. Within a few years, increasing volumes and lower-cost screens should bring a webpad under $500, the price of the least expensive PC with monitor. At this price, webpads should greatly increase in popularity.
Other non-PC devices already provide web access, including WebTV, Sega's Dreamcast and the Palm VII. WebTV and similar devices use a standard low-resolution TV as the display, so they can't display a full web page from most sites without scrolling. And, of course, they aren't mobile. The Palm VII uses cell-phone technology to provide unmatched mobility, but its display has even less resolution than a TV, limiting it to web sites designed specifically for the hand-held device. A webpad, in contrast, will typically have a VGA or better color LCD display comparable to a 14-inch monitor, providing full compatibility with any web site. The Palm VII also requires a monthly cellular subscription fee; the webpad does not.
Of course, webpads are not PCs and aren't compatible with the vast range of PC software. But they are good for accessing a variety of services over the Web, including news, shopping, e-mail, chat, banking, voice mail and whatever the dot-coms think of next. In fact, the plethora of new web services is undermining the value of the PC's flexibility. You used to need a PC if you wanted to log your appointments, maintain an address book, track your stock portfolio and calculate your income taxes. Now all these services are available on any platform with a web browser. Still, webpads won't replace most PCs in the foreseeable future.
Using an on-screen keyboard or handwriting recognition, webpad users can enter URLs and short e-mail messages, but these interfaces are not ideal for creating memos, papers, spreadsheets, drawings and other documents needed for school, work and even some personal uses. High-quality voice recognition could begin to close the gap, but that is still years away. In short, webpads are ideal for viewing and interacting with information, while PCs remain an efficient platform for creating content. PCs are likely to stay on most business desktops and in many homes for this reason. However, high-income households may someday contain a single PC and one or more webpads instead of multiple PCs.
The real opportunity lies in penetrating the households that don't have a PC today: 50% of the U.S. market and far more in other regions. Many of these consumers can afford a PC, but don't want to deal with the complexity of that platform. By eliminating Windows, a Linux-based webpad solves this problem. Even if they don't displace PCs, webpads could one day outsell them.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
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- Managing Linux Using Puppet
- Returning Values from Bash Functions
- Rogue Wave Software's Zend Server
- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide