It turns out that you can be great. You can be great at anything you want. You don't have to be born with talent. This totally inspired me to try new things. I only wish I'd read it as a teenager!
Lawsuits against their customers? You're kidding, right?
You haven't tried this have you? I did. My 8 year old wanted a little netbook just for this kind of stuff (PBS Kids, Nick Jr and Webkins). The flash user interfaces for these things were beyond useless on the tiny netbook screens. Anything below 1024x768 isn't in the design center for these little cames and it basically doesn't work. Try it in the store before you buy if you're considering this.
I agree there is lots of good content, but much of it won't actually work on a low-end netbook -- and flash doesn't scale down to even try.
If you want to do this kind of hacking go get an Aurdino. There's a whole world of home brew stuff cooler than we could have imagined when we were kids.
For my personal machines I've long used the last names of my favorite authors: Eco, Calvino, Borges, Pavic....
At a startup we used names drawn from Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' to name practically everything. Unfortunately, I think that only really made sense to me. Servers were named after rivers (Anduin, Rauros,
xVM Ops Center supports SPARC and xVM Systems. The current version of xVM Server is focused on x86/x64 platforms, but you can use xVM Ops Center to manage Solaris virtualization technologies like Solaris Containers.
You mention Linux compatibility with barcode and other retail equipment: generally speaking Linux is 'compatible' with a great variety of equipment. I really don't think that will be an issue.
You mention datamining. I don't know the scale of your retail operations, so I don't really know what you mean by that. I assume that you want to know what particular customers are buying so that you can a) improve your ability to accurately order inventory, b) suggest items of interest to customers based on similar purchase patterns, and c) realize better margins by more intelligent up-selling. All of these boil down to good domain knowledge of your retail sector, good awareness of the market, and developing a good understanding of your customers. That is, ask yourself how much datamining is going to help before you go down that road. [ Do you have any kind of customer loyalty program (frequent purchaser discounts, points, etc.)
You mention output in a useful format. The format isn't that important. Understanding what needs to be reported using useful metrics is important, and the harder question. Transforming data into CSV is not that hard.
To that I'll add that I agree with some other posters as to whether you should produce your own retail systems. There is plenty of risk in such an endeavor, not the least of which is your implicit agreement to keep such a system running... forever. Of course, that's a nice inventive to do it well, too.
Since a few others have mentioned their credentials, I'll add that I produced and managed the development of a significant number of *nix retail applications for a Fortune 500 retailer.
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Why, yes, I am _that_ Jim Greer. Thanks for asking.