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Intel

Intel Plans Linux/Mozilla Web Appliance 91

Quite a number of people have been writing about the latest Web appliance. Intel is unveiling a Linux/Mozilla box at CES that will run a Celeron processor. Intel is planning pricing to be between $300 and $700, with some upgradability. More technical details will be forthcoming, but one of the interesting parts is that they plan to include a phone in the device, perhaps hoping to replace phones around the house.
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Intel Plans Linux/Mozilla Web Appliance

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  • Could this be the beginning of the end of the Microsoft-Intel Axis?
  • Following recent discussions [slashdot.org] on /. about the apparent perceived demise of the Mozilla project, this is a much needed 'shot in the arm' for the project team.
  • Why Linux? If this box is just a web browser why does it use Linux (and does it matter). For a one purpose box (ie to get pages from a web server etc) is Linux really the right OS?

    I have nothing against Linux (in fact the oposite) but I do wonder if this is just a case of jumping on the bandwagon.
  • What other OS would you propose then? Linux has all the required services and hardware support already, and no licensing costs. No development costs. Does that explain why?
  • by Forgette ( 121463 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @04:36AM (#1402922)
    Even though I'm a linux newbie (so someone please correct me if I'm wrong) but with using linux they would not have to pay a licensing fee for an os (i.e. M$). Also I would guess that they could build a kernal that would be pretty darn small to run the apps that they need (read no code bloated os taking up tons of disk space), AND also have it be an open source so that they could modify the os to suit their needs. To me it is not jumping on a bandwagon but a smart business AND development decision.
  • by DragoonAK ( 17095 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @04:39AM (#1402923)
    While it's nice to see Linux in another device, I wonder how successful it's going to be. It sure better be at the low end of that $300-$700 price range. Kick in that monthly cost, which I'm assuming must be a combined ISP/phone bill, and it starts to get expensive while still reasonable. The only problem is, anyone willing to put out $300 for a Internet device might as well buy one of those bargain basement PCs and get the added use of applications and games.

    Who knows? They might get clever with the phone combination - perhaps being able to talk on the phone while still online at a lower speed? That would be handy for those of us with one phone line. Or perhaps they could integrate online games into the base unit. But I still feel that unless a company can offer a Web gizmo that's radically different from a PC or well below $200, PCs will continue to be the surfing platform of choice.

  • No. All device projects in this category are non Win based so far. The competitors (if I recall correctly) are:
    1. Oracle - stripped linux
    2. Sun - java
    3. IBM - OS unknown
    4. Compaq - 2 device projects (ARM and x86), stripped linux.

    I may be wrong but this is what I recall...

    This does not account potential use of Micorosft and Sony game consoles as web access devices. This usage is actually quite possible but nothing has been announced there so far and none of them is Intel based.

  • You are probably correct, but it's not quite what I meant - here we have Intel producing a consumer device that may compete with sections of Microsofts market (home market, possibly windows ce based browsers?). Microsoft is not famed for it's tolerance towards partners going into competition with it. Okay, Intel is one big partner/competitor to annoy, but it might result in less co-operation between the two, and therefore more consumer choice.
  • Yes, Linux does seem like a good choice. If you compare it with Windows CE, it is alot smaller and not as heavy on memory. (compare windows CE devices and Palm OS devices.) Linux also allows for alot of tweaking by Intel. I bet they are going to idiot proof these appliances and on top of that make sure that they do not become a too big threat for the PC market.
  • this may be the only way for Mozilla to survive. Having some heavyweight put behind it Like AOL?
  • Alot will depend on how it's packaged up I guess. You have to remember there are plenty of people who don't actually want a PC, but want to browse and do a little email. Look at the success of the i-Mac - it'll do the internet thing, but doesn't look like a normal PC. Can you find a market that might want to be connected but not via a beige square box. I can name quite a few people who might be interested. If it was cheaper than a PC as well, even better!
  • by dustpuppy ( 5260 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @04:48AM (#1402931) Homepage
    With the web applicance running Linux/Mozilla, I assume that eventually some smart cookie will write mods/skins/plug-ins for it.

    Image the possibilities of being able to adjust/add/complement the features of appliances around your home!

    Don't like the phone ring tone? Want to disguise your voice? Want to sound like you have company in the background? Want the phone to perform stress analysis on the caller (lie detector)? Add and change the features on your phone to your hearts content in the future with Open Source Applicances!

    I can't wait!

  • This seems a pretty weird combination of hardware specifications... DSL ready or ready for an upgrade, phone line ready... sounds ok but sort of double, a tv that can also receive radio while displaying a test image sort of thing.
    And a flat panel screen included for $300 to $700? wow! they must be expecting to earn a lot from the monthly subscription then.
    To me this device spells even more advertising in the homes of unsuspecting customers that buy it.
    I'm not going to spend money on any of those webpad-web appliance-set top box-things that require me to look at thousands of banners per day of surfing.
    I'll switch to a service like that when somebody provides me with a free T3 connection to the internet and a monthly bonus of say $100,- in exchange for looking at a small selection of exclusive "offers" once a week.
    It's time all those marketing dollars ended up in a place where the customer actually has a use for them, in his own wallet.

  • by sufi ( 39527 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @04:55AM (#1402934) Homepage
    This is presumably intels attempt at cementing their foothold in the current iMac/WebTV and other cheap internet access markets.

    It sounds like a bit of a prospective investment, reactions will be gauged and to be honest I can't see it taking off that well, but it's interesting to see none the less.

    Intel are in a threatened situation, more and more home users are turning to TV top boxes and cheaper alternatives to PCs for net access, maybe this is intels answer?

    Just a thought.
  • by substrate ( 2628 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @04:56AM (#1402935)
    This could be a really useful device, ground breaking even, the first true internet appliance. If Intel is good at marketing (and they are) they'll aim these squarely at the segment of the population who doesn't really need or want a computer but who may be convinced of the utility of browsing the web.

    Consider that a couple years ago I bought my dad (73 years old now) a computer. It was a Macintosh and despite my worries its probably the most used gift he's ever received. He writes email, browses the web and plays a few games. He's even managed to use google to find stuff I've written and other things he finds interesting. I'm actually pretty impressed seeing as this was his first exposure to a computer.

    My mom on the other hand has no real desire to use it. I've shown her a few things which interest her but she can't overcome the concept that she'd be "a computer user". I bet I could buy her one of these though and she'd use it a lot. It's got a regular phone so it is fine in the kitchen or whatever it is you call the area where we typically have dinner. If by default (or through a single click) it hooked up to the Searchable Online Archive of Recipes [berkeley.edu] she'd use it a lot. Add in some more links for other interests (quilting or needle point or whatever) and she'd use it even more.

    Eventually I'm sure she'd outgrow it and start using my dad's computer. That's fine. In a lot of cases despite this device being sold in a garage sale for 10 bucks within a year its still a win for Intel. They buy a new computer with... an Intel processor.

    I don't see this as a big win for Linux. My mom (or my dad) isn't going to run and buy an Intel box to run Linux on. Sorry, Linux just isn't applicable here at this point in time. Linux just enabled Intel to sell these boxes at a really low price point.
  • Mozilla is still beta. I think that's a rather good excuse for those bugs. I also think it will take some time before it is really stable, so Intel will have to wait some time before they can release their device.



  • This question may seems off-topic, but to me, if we are talking about Web-appliances, it is _on_ topic ....

    Can the Net exist without telephones?

    I ask this question because what to me, if the survival of the Net depends on telephone, then the telephone will not only be a BOTTLENECK for the Net, it would also become an LIFELINE for the Net, and that is VERY DANGEROUS.

    Think about this for a while, if you may....

    What if someone played havoc with the phone system? How will the Net going to survive?

    And if the Net crashes, well... perhaps not the ENTIRE Net, but let us say in some regions of the world the telephone stops working ... and when _THAT_ happens, web-appliances that depends on the Net will stop functioning as well, and, to make the story short - we ought to find a way out of the current structure.

    Do I hear wireless?

    But I don't think the "wireless" thing is going to work, because there is only _that_ many frequencies available, and if everybody and their mother-in-laws start to use wireless-enabled web-appliances, there won't be enough frequency available for the REALLY IMPORTANT MATTERS, like the two-way communication between air-traffic-controllers to airplane pilots.

    Is there anyone around who are more familiar with technology who can offer some insight, and perhaps even create a new way of extending the Net BEYOND the current shackle-hold of the POTS (Plain Old Telephone System)?

    Thanks for reading, and I'm all ear for any suggestion that you may have.

    Have a good day.
  • They make a lot of chips and boards and such, but compters? New one on me. I suppose it's for market share or some crap like that. This effort could flop because computer makers probally won't like it and they might start switching contracts to AMD or Cyrix or such, but if it backfires, Intel is out of several Mil at the least.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There were articles about this on mozillaZine. Intel's working with Nokia. It started out as a "set-top" idea, and has become a "web appliance". October 12, 1999 http://www.mozillazine.org/talkback.html?article=8 50 Nov. 11, 1999 http://www.mozillazine.org/talkback.html?article=9 23
  • Er, bucko, you seem to think that if a router at MAE East wants to send some packets to a router at MAE West, it just picks up the phone and dials a number. Sorry to disappoint you, but the 'net doesn't work this way. Never has, actually, except for the UUCP connections which I'll bet you've never heard about.

    At any bookstore you can find a couple of shelves of books about Internet. Please treat them as a clue dispenser. You are in a bad need of one.

    Kaa
  • BeOS has Stinger - licensing costs are extrmemely low and you have a company to back up the software quality. I'm surprised - ever since their initial investment in Be Intel hasn't done much of anything with them...
  • Agreed - I can't see the fact that Linux is installed on these boxes being the deciding factor for people to buy them. Look at TVs, Videos and other home appliances - nobody cares how the functionality of the device is implemented - who cares what kind of transistors are used inside your TV? As long as the device does what people want it to do at a reasonable price, then they will buy it. Linux - UNIX - Windows - whatever. If the price is right then people won't care.
  • But this could make sense if priced in a similar way to mobile phones - i.e. use the monthly revenue to subsidise the cost of the device itself.

    Say $50 to get the device and you're committed to paying $20-30 a month for a minimum of twelve months for net access.
  • This may not be a win for Linux on the desktop but I think its a win for Linux overall. The more market penetration Linux gets (in any markets at this point) is less market share for Windows (and in this case Windows CE).
  • It's not really a consumer win for Linux, but it is an important possible foothold. I'll explain:

    Two of the most common arguments against Linux are 1) it has no major applications for it, and 2) it is not used anywhere 'seriously'

    If the Intel box takes off, this is a fairly important embedded use (if you don't think embedded usage is important, Motorola makes vast profits from embedded sales, and whilst it may not be now [I haven't checked for a few years], it was bigger than Intel, despite not controlling the CPU market). It also establishes Linux as a consumer OS, and after all, that is what makes Windows 9x so successful. Plenty of people don't really know the ins and outs of Windows, but they know they have it, they know they use it. They buy software and hardware because it's "Windows compatible". If your mum or dad is happy with their "Lintel" box, maybe they will buy a computer that "is compatible" with it if they want to upgrade...

    If the devices take off big time then applications could follow: if everyone has ADSL to their home, shared between different devices (the PC, the Intel box etc.) and the device is cheap enough, why not have several of them, the kitchen, the bedroom, etc. People watch TV in bed, why not be able to browse in bed? Now, there are millions of these, maybe 25% of homes have them, maybe more. Is this a market for applications? Quite possibly. End of argument 1 above

  • by eshefer ( 12336 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2000 @05:17AM (#1402949) Homepage Journal
    Intel has been pissed at microsoft for years now. MS have been VERY slow in implementing diferant intel technologies, and as a result intel started looking at alternative OS's for some time. The best example of Intels annoyance at microsoft is the slow adoption of task switching (386 and higher I think) the chips intruduced in 1985 which had task switching didn't get a MS operating system until 1995. Another good example is MS slow adoption of USB. Although win95 versions (from OSR2.5) did include USB support, MS didn't do nothing to addvertize that fact to end users. They tryed to change that in win98 (3 years after the standard was finalized..). Intel is interested in getting people to buy intel chips. Not helping Microsoft. Intel has realized that a lot of high performance intel chips are going into machines that act as servers running linux and BSD and thouse comunities react much faster to improvments and changes that intel adds to their proccessors.
    --------------------------------
  • A very odd occurance is that AOL users use ie4 or 5 if they upgraded. Netscape is not built into aol at all. However there was some sort of Netscape and AOL merger. Still the only reason would use IE than netscape would be that it is preloaded on to Windows (for you newbies), and that it kinda has a sleek look to it,(AHEM!). People will still be using MSIE 4 for a long long time, say 4 years is my estimate. These would be the non-geeks.
  • Extremely low isn't the same as zero though, and BeOS on intel hasn't been around as long as Linux I believe (correct me if I'm wrong). Assuming Intel will be using RedHat (they have an investment there don't they?) then they too have a company to back up the software quality. Unfortunately BeOS is probably not going to set the world alight - this is not a reflection on it's qualities, but probably true.
  • Or maybe they've just realised they aren't likely to get any further share in the competetive low cost CPU market and are desparately trying to dump all those Celerons they don't think they can shift...

    Until hardware hackers everywhere turn on to these [mssi.com]

    I thought Intel said they would be using StrongARM for their appliance devices a while back ?

  • Mozilla is open source distributed from the USA without crypto.

    Presumably these boxes would ship from the USA.

    Are they then not going to ship with crypto?

    Would it be legal under the MPL to link with a crippled closed-source crypto library?
  • Agreed -- this is basically what MSN and other ISPs have been doing with their $400 rebates on PCs. I don't necessarily see why this would be more popular than the current offers, but if they can bring down the price...
  • From a business standpoint, this is no different than any of the currently existing cheap PCs with included internet service. The choice of Linux means nothing to the consumer, except that it won't crash very often. Why does Intel regard this as a desirable market segment? Is there that much market share left there? Aren't the existing cheap PC companies doing pretty poorly? What the heck is Intel thinking?

    It's of course great to see Linux making yet another advance into the mainstream and I applaud that, and expect it to benefit both the OS and humanity in general. I just don't see where this is a good business decision for Intel.

  • Good point, I hadn't looked at it in terms of market share. If they sell some insane number of them then it does increase Linux market share whether the average consumer knows it or not.

  • This could be a breakthrough if it works. If Joe Consumer can make it work it is great for LInux and takes away some of the technology misticism surrounding it. If it doesn't work for the average user, it will further the myth that Linux is only for techs. Nate
  • Good Point. I've been hearing about a wireless internet tablet that, while it can't be used for a phone, it can browse the web without wires all over your house. It is supposed to cost around $500. How would this Lintel box compete alongside that? This will be interesting.

    Nate
  • If I remember correctly, the patents on RSA are set to expire soon. This removes one barrier: more crypto can then be legally Open-Sourced.

    The next problem comes with crypto restrictions. My guess is, either Mozilla will have to get a permit or we'll have to wait for the crypto source export restrictions to be lifted. Alternatively, a module could be developed overseas which plugs into Mozilla (will Mozilla be able to work with plug-ins, by the way?).

    I agree; crypto is absolutely vital for a Web appliance. If Mozilla (or some version thereof) doesn't end up with crypto of some kind, then there's no way I could recommend it for this type of machine.
  • ... Assuming Intel will be using RedHat...

    I wouldn't assume that they'll use Red Hat - I'd actually be surprised if they use any distribution. It sounds like more of a minimalist system to me, so my guess is that they'd piece it together bit by bit themselves. I would of course expect them to use already available packages.

    Now that I think about it, my understanding was that (Net|Open|Free)BSD were very good as minimalist systems. I've not tried any though, but I can say that I don't know exactly what packages I've got on my Linux boxes - the dependancy checking pulled in loads of stuff.

    As for cost: it's only free if your time costs nothing. As a professional IT contractor, I can tell you that engineers cost a lot. It's more a question of whether it's cheaper to DIY or to buy in a solution. Mind you, seeing as Intel seem to have had a fascination with Linux for a while, I would guess that they now have a reasonable in-house expertise available, which may in turn help to make a Linux solution much more viable.

    Steve

  • There is a huge market segment that either a) doesn't want a PC or b) doesn't mind a PC but doesn't want one in every room. Look at how many (wired) phones there are in the world. Replace 50% of them with these boxes. Is that market big enough?

    Alternatively, look at the mobile phone market, and how big that is - the devices are simple and appeal to non-techies these days. In the UK we're almost at saturation point (I think we're expected to hit 50% of the population over the next few years, not bad considering most toddlers don't have mobile phones, and I suspect few OAP's do percentagewise)

    Computers actually only have a limited market share, so building a computer that looks like something else is not a bad idea, there are only so many people willing to keep upgrading their CPU's after all!

  • What evidence do you have that AOL is behind Mozilla?

    -jimbo

  • If these are going to be used as phones, why not overclock the processor to 900MHz (or 2.4 GHz!) to match the frequency of cordless phones?

    This would settle those occasional comments about CPU frequency interfering with radio frequency and vice versa, since they don't.

    AnandTech [anandtech.com], Sharky Extreme [sharkyextreme.com], Adrenaline Vault [avault.com], and Ars Technica [arstechnica.com] seem to have screenshots of a new overclocking record every week or two. I believe it currently stands at ~1300MHz -- is 2.4GHz unreasonable to think?

    --

  • Sorry for being off-topic...

    Since the new cryptolaw is delayed *AGAIN* it might be possible that this box wouldn't contain strong encryption. Which is quite a shame...

    Most webusers feel unsafe about e-commerce and don't use the online services because they think their payments are intercepted. Since everywhere outside the US and Canada strong encryption algorithms made in the US are forbidden no one can use the online service safely from outside the US.

    I think this is bad and the US government shoud reconsider entering the new Cryptolaw very soon or the online service should consider using different crypto algorithms from outside the US like IDEA.

  • Right, but BSD's licensing terms would suit them that much better -- in fact, other packaged products built/sold by Intel do use BSD.

    Here's a /. story about it from last week [slashdot.org].

    --

  • Yeah, this is slightly odd, considering Intel's use of FreeBSD [slashdot.org] in other products. Of course, Intel tries to be OS-agnostic, but at least on the surface seems to snub Microsoft a bit -- probably going back to when Microsoft gave the AMD 486 a "Windows Compatible" logo.

    Better question: Why Intel?
    AMD K6 processors would be cheaper, and BeOS/Stinger would be much more friendly!

    --

  • Branded versions of mozilla will have crypto.

    Mozilla will work with plug-ins. It already works with some now (flash seems to be working on some platforms and OJI is an architecture that allows mozilla to accept different versions of Java [a plug-in framework of sorts] I've heard that realaudio is working but havent verified that). I am confident that mozilla will be able to be made secure. Mozilla will not have crypto as part of its tree with the laws the way they are but Netscape's branded version of Mozilla will definitely have crypto and I'm sure Intel/Nokia will have it too with their versions of Mozilla.

    Asa

    (posted with a Y2K build of Mozilla)
  • Ummm. AOL through Netscape is funding a significant portiion of Mozilla's current development team. AOL has it's own developers (not netscape) working on Mozilla. AOL will be adding it's products (AIM) to the Netscape branded version of Mozilla. I'd say that AOL supports Mozilla.

    Asa

    (posted with a Y2K build of Mozilla)
  • Mozilla is actually quite alive, they just aren't concerned with adding "features" before getting the current browser to work reliably.
  • Mozilla is not beta yet. It isn't even officially alpha yet. There are many bugs but there are also many solid features and many improvemnets to performance in the last couple months. Intel is not waiting...they are paying their software development staff to work on Mozilla full time. Intel is paying for the development of entire pieces of mozilla (disk cache is one piece I know of).


    Asa

    (posted with a Y2K build of Mozilla)
  • That's what it says in the article.

  • not so odd. mozilla will eventually make it into AOL's product. AOl is counting on that I'm sure. but when AOL's new version was released mozilla was not ready yet and AOL has a contract with MS to keep it on teh windows desktop. It would be stupid to break that contract until AOL has a working replacement. I believe that they will soon have that replacement.

    Asa

    (posted with a Y2K build of Mozilla)
  • Actually, I agree 100%!

    About time that Intel figured out what to do with that Red Hat Software investment. A "Net appliance" running a smaller version of Red Hat Linux 6.1 and Netscape Communicator 5.0 (based on Mozilla M12 technology) will be just the thing for people who aren't so computer-literate to get onto the Internet.

    Now, if Intel can put in a 10/100Base-T Ethernet connection so you can plug in broadband Internet boxes for ADSL or cable modems and you're all set! The addition of a couple of USB ports means the "Net appliance" can also hook up to printers, keyboards, and mouse pointers also.
  • Actually intel has made common business desktop pc's since at least the 486sx and still continues to make them.
  • There was an article on /. recently.

    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=99/12/22/2111 218&mode=thread

    Their prototypes were Linux based, but went wince when the MS marketting machine jumped all over them.

    Sounds like Intel are coming up with a very similar box.

    Too expensive though, people will only pay £50 for a phone.

  • And you forgot another important item:

    Linux is processor agnostic. Intel puts millions of transistors on every chip for nothing more than support of a legacy OS. Microsoft only really supports X86 hardware, and all those old programs out there only run on something that looks like an 8086 chip. Intel spends a lot of money and time for legacy support.

    If Linux was dominant, then Intel could throw out the 8086 garbage, streamline their processors, save a bunch of silicon, and improve their processors more quickly.

    The Linux team would just port to the new chip in a couple weeks, recompile everything, end of story. Even if nobody in the Linux world wanted to support the new chip, Intel could make their own distribution. Paying someone to recompile and port the entire Linux system to a new chip has got to be much cheaper than putting 10 million transistors on a chip to support legacy instruction sets.

  • ok...but a pretty good alpha then. There are numerous software corps that would consider an application like Mozilla M12 near-shipping-ready :)
  • It seems like you got it in reverse here -- being "processor agnostic" is probably not huge feature over at Intel. Like Microsoft, they owe a huge chunk of their market to backwards compatibilty concerns, and are more than happy to engineer around them. What you call "8086 garbage" is Intel's ace in the hole. (Notice how Compaq markets the Alpha at Linux users and not Windows users.)

    Which is not to say that Intel doesn't like Linux. It gets their CPUs into markets that were once exclusively owned by workstation RISC chips, and in this case gets them into an embedded situation that they might not have been in a few years ago.

    However, Intel knows that they need to provide a better product to keep the Linux users on their platform. To that end they are paying to improve gcc's performance on IA32 and running a project to ensure that Linux/IA64 ships when the chips do.

    However, they are also pulling quite a few political strings, like buying big chunks of influential Linux companies like RedHat/Cgynus and VALinux. This will ensure that the distribution end of the Linux, Inc. is firmly wedded to Intel, and they will remain the better supported platform.
    --
  • That one uses b&w screen and filtered html code. The whole thing of using mozilla is that you don't have to strip down the code and choose any isp you like. (assuming it comes with a local phone plan.) I say $500 is good enough to support a color screen. And if they use touch screen, on screen keybroad is not that bad ala webtv.


    CY
  • The assumption you're making is that solutions you buy don't also have a cost in time. This has not been my experience.

    Another thing to consider: cost of duplication is small. Once the thing is working, it's fairly easy to run off a couple of million copies of the software. If you're expecting to sell a couple of million boxes, even a $10/box license suddenly pays for a lot of up-front engineering.
  • I can see it over at Intel HQ now -- "Those bastards at Microsoft have moved another $2 billion of our product. Damn them!!!"

    They companies are joined at the backward-compatbile hip, and they both know it.

    However, Intel is pissed at MS because of how badly they've handled the 16 to 32-bit transition. MS shipped it's first 32-bit OS eight years after the i386 shipped, and still to this day, 15 years later, most desktops run an OS that's largely 16-bit.

    Microsoft, on the other hand, just wants to keep Intel honest (and out of the software business). They also desperately want to get into the 'glass house' midrange market, and they think that Intel is the only company that can get them there.

    Advantage: Intel. (Notice how Intel supports more and more platforms through investments in Be and RedHat, while Microsoft has gone from supporting four platforms to one. If MS bungles IA64 like they bungled IA32, Intel will just go elsewhere.)
    --
  • This AC is right on. Maybe some of you like providing technical support for computer illiterate friends and relatives, or when you hear about their Windows 98 woes, it makes you happy because you can advocate Linux, but as far as I'm concerned my advice = money and time, so I try to keep my mouth as shut as possible. (If you know any lawyers, they have the same problem of people trying to get free, accurate advice out of them.)

    Now, I know it pleases some of you to drop a Linux box on your mom that you can telnet into to do all of the admin, but when my mom wanted something to surf the web, I sent her an admin-free solution. Unfortuantely, Microsoft is the only one with a product on the market right now, so it was a WebTV. (If she needed word processing, it would have been an iMac.)

    The hardware cost differential between a WebTV and a real computer isn't all that great. But the services cost difference is enormous. Don't forget -- every time you telnet into Gramma's Linux terminal, you are essentially providing a $100/hour subsidy to her computer use. (If you are providing Win98 support, knock the price down to $50/hour + travel.) As any business will tell you, hardware/software costs are nothing compared to the support.

    And, while I'm on this kick, I can't wait until someone provides an Internet Terminal box for corporate executives. These guys by-in-large are very busy (too busy to learn how to use Windows often), and if they use a computer, it's only for e-mail, WWW, and viewing Powerpoint presentations and other summary reports. Yet, the IT department insists on giving them $7000 ThinkPads that they never take out of the $1500 docking station. A glorified portable web box that always works and requires no support is really all they need.
    --
  • Yes, Linux does seem like a good choice. If you compare [Linux] with Windows CE, it is alot [sic] smaller and not as heavy on memory. (compare windows CE devices and Palm OS devices.)

    Hmm. I like Linux as much as the next FreeBSD geek, but, frankly, no, you're wrong. (What follows uses the acronym CE in two different senses. CE means Consumer Electronics, in the EU sense; it also means Windows CE. I'll try to use CE device(s) for the former and Windows CE for the latter.)

    (1) Linux is not small by the standards of CE devices. It's important to distinguish between kernel size (the Linux kernel is fairly small) and operating size (running Linux w/ X and Mozilla...that's not small, even by desktop standards, to say nothing of device standards.)

    (2) The Windows CE-based systems you mention carry a vast amount of baggage. If you're comparing a Palm Pilot to a (say) Compaq Aero, you're comparing aples to oranges. The Aero not only contains Windows CE itself, it also contains GWES.EXE (CE's equivalent of X), SHELL.EXE (CE's equivalent of the WM), a handwriting recognizer, a soft input panel, and a lot of other software. There are Windows CE-based embedded systems that carry a lot less baggage; believe it or not, they're quite slim, trim, and stable.

    A better comparison is to linuxce [linuxce.org] plus microwindows/NanoGUI [censoft.com]. The linuxce guys are having a lot of trouble getting things to fit in the Windows CE palm-sized device format. They're having a good deal less trouble getting things to fit in the VR form factor. Frankly, that isn't surprising; X windows was really designed for a device with a keyboard and a lot of power. It isn't terribly well suited to a keyboardless, low-power device. If they're having trouble with microwindows, then true X will be even worse...and unstable to boot! Not a good user experience.

    (3) And, finally, Linux still doesn't have a number of features that really are important for CE devices: things like quick on/off, recovery from unplugging, etc. I don't expect that those will be available in any context for quite a while.

    Frankly, this sounds like marketing hype to me. M$ is releasing a new generation of their Palm-pilot class devices today at CES (or so cnet whould have us believe.) Intel is trying to snub them. The Wall-street journal reports that Intel is not even demoing devices, for heaven's sake, just talking about the plans?

    Naah, this is vaporware and FUD, no more.

  • Easy, pal!

    Ok, coincidently our phones here in our office happen to be silent right now (some moron plugged the exchange into the wrong voltage) and still I can post this. That's not the point. The internet depends a lot on phone lines to be what it is today. That post is sure off-topic but you may be as well in bad need of taking a look through your lab's window, no matter whether you like windows or not, so as to see some more of the world out there.

    -------------------------

  • The internet depends a lot on phone lines to be what it is today

    You are confusing Internet with consumer access to it.

    Yes, I understand that "people make the Internet what it is" and all that, but keep in mind that the great majority of people using the Internet nowadays are consumers, that is to say, they do not add anything to the 'net, but just consume what's available: just like watching TV.

    you may be as well in bad need of taking a look through your lab's window,

    Lab? Window? I don't need no steenking window near my desk (and the nice doctors who feed me my medications think it's not a good idea to let me near a window anyway).



    Kaa
  • At $300 to $700, it will certainly not replace the household phone. You can get boxes for $200 or so and less if you sign up for some special internet service.
    And why such a fast processor? It would probably work fine with an early pentium. Or am I wrong?

    David

    All animals are equal, but some animals are
    more equal than others.
    --George Orwell, "Animal Farm"
  • Here's a chance to start telling the non-technical public about alternatives to M$. This promises Intel marketing as the host, without the usual M$ parasite inside.

    (I apologize in advance for referring to a suit buzzword that I had hoped would disappear with the 90's. In the 70's, it was "the bottom line". In the 80's, it was "world class". In the 90's, it was "branding").

    How does the Linux movement "brand" a product? If Intel is eager for M$ alternatives, it would probably be willing to apply something besides the 'Windows' sticker next to its "Intel Inside" logo.

    The Linux distributions have their brands, but what about generic Linux? We need to make some dynamite graphics available to help turn anti-M$ sentiment specifically in the Linux direction.
  • I agree.

    I remember an Intel exec (can't remember if it was Grove or Barret) saying a few years ago that if the code that suposed to emulate X86 code in merced will not work good enough - they would simply build a X86 along side merced (in the same die) and ship that...
    --------------------------------
  • I think we've got the graphic... the penguin. It's visually appealing, simple and insites curiousity. One of these under a clear arcrylic cover would look great and would provide a meme that points at Linux.

    I'm not sure whether this product implies that Intel is eager for Microsoft competition. One thing to keep in mind is that at 300 dollars there is not a lot of overhead to pay for a Windows operating system. Another is that this device as described is relatively single purpose. Not being able to run Microsoft Office isn't a factor.

    Intel can be OS agnostic, from their point of view who cares what OS runs as long as it runs on an Intel chip.
  • The perception of the Mozilla project of the average slashdot poster is really quite irrelevant.

    Mozilla goes on regardless, and it will succeed regardless.

"Irrigation of the land with sewater desalinated by fusion power is ancient. It's called 'rain'." -- Michael McClary, in alt.fusion

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