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Opera CEO on Devices, Linux, and Web 2.0 66

An anonymous reader writes "LinuxDevices has an interview with Jon S. von Tetzchner, co-founder and CEO of Opera Software, on the growing importance of device computing, Linux in the device space, browsers as an interface platform for Linux devices, and how future WHAT standards like WebForms 2.0 and Canvas will make the Web more usable on mobile computing devices of tomorrow."
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Opera CEO on Devices, Linux, and Web 2.0

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  • WHAT is Ajax...? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TopSpin ( 753 ) * on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @03:58PM (#14672630) Journal
    Simultaneously both a question and a statement!

    The WHAT working draft Web Applications 1.0 [whatwg.org] certainly looks like Ajax with its XMLHttpRequest, drag and drop and other Ajaxish stuff.

    • Actually, it looks to me like a stripped down HTML DOM and XMLHttpRequest implementation combined with several "standard" components of questionable necessity. For example, I can understand the need for a "datagrid" component, but why is a calendar component considered important enough to make a requirement?

      Also, why are TCP Connections considered part of the specification core? IMHO, accessing direct connections via scripting represents a HUGE security hazard. What does this offer that isn't better offered
      • Re:WHAT is Ajax...? (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        why is a calendar component considered important enough to make a requirement?

        What's your alternative - table tags? ;)

        It's a question of semantics and structure. Because the browser knows it's a calendar rather than a table means the browser can provide a better interface. Obviously there are simple things like "how do I select multiple days" and "Can I upload .ics files to this calendar?" but there's also integration possibilities. Opera has browser / email / appointments -- so what if you could right-cl

      • If any webapps are complex enough to require a TCP connection, they should really become an application instead.

        There are several advantages to having an application on the web. First, it tends to be more portable. This is at least the way it is supposed to be — the reality is quite ugly, but I believe it is gettting better. Second, it doesn't require any installation, it can be run right from the browser. Finnally, HTML, DOM, etc. provide a nice high level language. Unfortunatly the browsers <c

  • by LordMyren ( 15499 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @04:02PM (#14672665) Homepage
    With widgets [opera.com] (new in Opera9 Tech-Preview 2, examples [opera.com] here), opera is not only a web browser, its truly an application platform, capable of running independent programs. The current examples are true to the namesake, widgets, little gizmo's to show time &what not, but its the first time the graphical web is begin used as more than a browser page.

    A little bit of polish is needed, but basically it's the only platform available for developing real SVG applications.

    I hope Opera attempts to bring some real conformance to this entirely new class of web application. If it gets too proprietary its useless.

    Myren
    • by baadger ( 764884 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @04:14PM (#14672764)
      One of the bits I love most from this interview is that Opera have a build that will run from a floppy (without compression, mail, news, rss or irc compiled in). Awesome.
      • Wouldn't it be cool if they could fit all that in?
      • >a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QNX">QNX used to advertise in a similar fashion. They had this "complete OS on a floppy disk" download that contained a full desktop environment, Spyglass Webbrowser, Towers of Hanoi game, and a few other utilities. (I believe it also had complete Ethernet and Modem code, but only one or the other on a given disk.) To use the OS, you simply put the disk in the drive and rebooted. QNX automatically detected the VESA hooks in Protected Mode (a highly underused featu
      • Why does this even matter. Most computers don't even ship with a floppy drive anymore. I think it's nice that they can make a cut down version that small, but who will ever use it?
        • I think it's nice that they can make a cut down version that small, but who will ever use it?

          No one. The floppy disk merely provides a nice frame of reference that directly contrasts the out-of-control growth in modern programs and data files. Given how useless floppies are these days, most people would be amazed if you could fit the equivalent of 50 megs of Desktop data into 1.44 megs. The floppy suspended on a rotating pedestal thus serves as a visualization of how small that really is.

          Personally, I think
      • That's nothing (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CarpetShark ( 865376 )
        Entire operating systems, including TCP/IP stacks and browsers, can run from a single 1.44MB floppy disk. I believe QNX is one example, unless I'm thinking of another OS. Don't let bloated things like Windows and Linux make you believe that it you can't fit a desktop in less space.
        • svg renderer, html & css engine, javascript engine, irc bitorrent & imap protcols, xml decoder, jpeg/png/gif decoders, caching algorithms, theme engine... pretty good really. most svg libs alone are over a meg, and they're just rasterizers, incapable of doing picking or animation. the raw .txt docs for these standards are probably a good 3 megs, even if you throw out the flavortexts.

          the browsers you were talking about include lynx. thats about it.

          actually wait, i used to use some fancy graphical
          • the browsers you were talking about include lynx. thats about it.
            Nope, I was talking about a graphical browser. Hell, 3D Modelling Apps used to come on one 880KB disk, if you didn't count the basic OS ROM on an Amiga. With 1.44MB high-density floppies, it's very do-able.
      • ya, i wget'd opera four times before i realized the download for TP2 really was only 4.0 MB.

        shows in the runtime too. 224 mb linux laptop and i can still run 200 tabs fine. lightweight, well built, nicely async design. if for no other reason, i use opera because its the only thing that works.
      • Our smallest client is smaller than that, at 55KB [opera.com] (though the full-featured Opera Mini client is just below 100KB).

        The reason why we need them so small is that size matters when on phones and embedded devices, and as phones get more powerful there are other devices coming in on the low end. As these devices not only come with little memory but also usually very slow processors (to save both money and battery), speed matters too. Thus we optimise for speed and memory, and we optimise pretty hard.

    • by Kelson ( 129150 ) *
      its the first time the graphical web is begin used as more than a browser page.

      Umm... what about Dashboard [apple.com] widgets in Mac OS X tiger? They also are built out of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (in that case, using Safari's WebKit rather than Opera's engine). In fact, the main differences [hyperborea.org] seem to be that they use a different config file and the zipped bundles use a different structure.

      There's been some discussion on the Opera forums as to compatibility, and last I looked the running theory was that it should be
      • Interesting. I honestly had no idea.

        I did some quick googling, and it seems Dashboard doesnt support SVG. Thats one of the biggest draws for me, being able to really build a complete UI "simply". Compiling a UI out of CSS, on the other hand, sounds "not fun". I wouldnt know where to begin piecing things together.

        What methods of communication do dashboard widgets have? Standard Safari class XmlHttpRequest, I assume?

        I'd be interested to see how much DOM support Dashboard has. Try some of the examples [opera.com] on
      • > Umm... what about Dashboard widgets in Mac OS X tiger? They also are built out of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

        Pfft. I was using widgets built out of SVG, HTML and CSS (SVG Clock Example [chaoszone.org]) on my desktop to track email and server logs in _1998_ (Active Desktop shipped with Windows 98 and NT4's shell update).

        Desktop Widgets are useful, but they're only going to _really_ catch on when multimonitor setups become common.
  • Now, if I could only get Opera to run on my Treo 650 without having to download the JRE ... too bad Palm didn't include Java with my phone ... one more thing I missed out on.
  • by pHatidic ( 163975 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @04:12PM (#14672742)
    There isn't one single program capable of running on every single cellphone today. Not one. Even if you could get past the different screen sizes, processors, and operating systems (which is almost if not entirely impossible) then you run up against the carriers who turn of Bluetooth and other services to prevent you from buying third party ringtones. I have seen the future of mobile computing, and it is not on cellphones.
    • I have seen the future of mobile computing, and it is not on cellphones.

      I quite agree with the latter part of your comment - care to enlighten the rest of us on the first bit?

      • I'm just saying that it is very difficult to develop mobile computing software on cellphones, both because of the diversity of hardware/software platforms (Nokia, LG, Palm, Palm OS, Windows CE) and also because of the carriers like Verizon, Cingular, etc.
        • I disagree.

          We are still the early days in an industry that has huge potential. Cast your mind back to the AOL days of the web and what Microsoft was saying about the internet, and make your analogies.

          The single biggest advantage for cellphones that will make them into the mobile computing hybrid of the future is that they are u-b-i-q-u-i-t-o-u-s. Around the globe, in developed countries, an average of >70% of people have and depend on their cellphones on a daily basis. Computers are so far behind these n
          • Ahh, yes I believe you are right for long term. However, I think it is more likely that cellphone functionality will be incorporated into another device rather than all other functionality being incorporated into cellphones.
  • What exactly does Opera sell these days to make money?

    Do the sales of their "mobile" browser [opera.com] really generate that much cash flow? Like... enough for them to keep pushing hard to innovate on developing the desktop browser?
    • Re:Question (Score:3, Informative)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 )
      Actually, the answer was sortof at the end of TFA

      Q25. In a quantitative sense, how significant are embedded and mobile to Opera from a business perspective at this point?

      A25. We've been [deriving] two thirds from embedded and mobile, and one third from desktop.

      Q26. Of revenue?

      A26b. Yes.

      Q26c. What about profit?

      A26c. We haven't been providing profit data from the different sections. The way we see it, they're intertwined. To be able to make a good embedded browser, it needs to be a good desktop browser.

    • Re:Question (Score:3, Informative)

      by rm69990 ( 885744 )
      Opera has a partnership with Google, so everytime you do a Google search from the Opera toolbar, Google pays Opera. This is where the money for the desktop version is coming from.
      • Yup, which, incidentally, is also Flock's business strategy, apparently, only they have a tie-in with Yahoo.
        • Mozilla has the same kind of relationship with Google also, which is why Firefox's default home page is a Firefox branded Google page. Go to www.google.com/firefox
  • Opera is doing some good things and I've missed having a good version of their browser for my handheld. Hopefully more software like this will spur someone (Sharp, maybe?) to release a great Linux-based hand held. I love my Dell Axim x51v, but I don't love Windows Mobile 2005.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Opera CEO has been ported to run on Devices, Linux, and Web 2.0. Must be a versatile guy!
  • by JourneyExpertApe ( 906162 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @04:39PM (#14672954)
    Who cares about devices, linux, and Web 2.0? I want to hear about swimming the Atlantic Ocean.
  • My favorite quote (Score:2, Insightful)

    by imess ( 805488 )
    I'm kind of proud of that; if Microsoft fails, you have a rescue system with Linux and Opera.
    • Except that I don't see where Opera fits in there. Why would you get Opera if you can get Konqueror, Firefox/Seamonkey or any of the other browsers? Opera is not a necessity, it's just one of the choices you can make for a browser.
      • One of the extra services that comes with a Thinkpad. If Windows fails to boot up, you still get the rescue system. This can be considered an embedded environment, something Opera excels at. Opera is not used as a traditional web browser here, but as a tool to help the user get the Thinkpad running again.
      • now that I have RTFA, that wasn't the full quote, apparently.

        Another product I'm proud of is IBM ThinkPads. If you have a technical problem and Windows won't start, there's a rescue system. That rescue system is running Linux and Opera. I'm kind of proud of that; if Microsoft fails, you have a rescue system with Linux and Opera.

        I guess that is quite nice.
  • WebForms 2.0? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Dasch ( 832632 )
    WebForms is a fundamentally flawed specification. The data model and the presentation are combined, making it pretty inflexible. I've been playing around with XForms for a some time now, and while it's definitely very different, it's much more powerful than WebForms can ever be.
    • WebForms is a fundamentally flawed specification. The data model and the presentation are combined, making it pretty inflexible. I've been playing around with XForms for a some time now, and while it's definitely very different, it's much more powerful than WebForms can ever be.

      I agree, Xforms is better.

      However, WebForms 2 is all about making one step in the right direction. Existing webforms suck. And they are not going away. The advantage of WebForms 2 is that it is easy to implement which hopefully

      • The problem is that it's a step in the wrong direction. As long as presentation and data are not seperated, it's all just eye candy and hacks.
    • webforms 2.0 is an evolutionary step, not a revolutionary step, hence it's sister spec is often referred to as "HTML 5". it is intended as an upgrade to the every day html/xhtml web forms you use day in day out, not a totally new new new "internet applications" spec.
  • I don't know why, exactly, but the Canvas tag strikes me as one of the worst web-related ideas that's lately come up. Using JavaScript for rendering? .... ugh...
    I can feel the headaches coming on already.
    Why does this strike me as such as pre-1995 idea?
    "Hey how about a tag where arbitrary code can draw to a rectangle??"
    "Hey how about a tag that makes the TEXT BLINK???"
    • Canvas wasn't actually created for the web, see. That's the trick. Apple created the Canvas element so Dashboard widgets (which are just little hunks of xml and javascript) could, you know, work. I have seen some rather fun stuff with it so far and I hope people keep up with it, honestly. Dig, for example, the canvas painter demo [caimansys.com]. Way cool. I saw another demo somewhere that could do palm-style handwriting recognition. Being able to do stylus-style input online without flash can lead to all sorts of possibi
      • Being able to do stylus-style input online without flash can lead to all sorts of possibilites.

        I expect handheld devices translate from stylus-to-text for the application when it encounters a text field...
        • The demo I was referring to is here [monstuff.com], and the idea is that you don't need a handheld device to interpret it, and it works in the browser. There is too much fun to be had for this to be ignored.
          • Oh, it's very cool, I just don't see any practical reason for it. (Maybe I am missing something?)

            Also it doesn't work so well for me, but I've never used graffiti before.
  • The number of Opera stories on Slashdot has now gone way beyond the point where a dedicated Opera category/icon for Slashdot is needed. Even Mozilla and Netscape each form a subcategory on Slashdot, and they could arguably go under a single one.

    The same goes for Qt, which always ends up under the KDE category, even when the story has nothing to do with KDE...

  • Fridge? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flamingnight ( 234353 ) <chris DOT garaffa AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @06:45PM (#14673850)
    This is the part that caught my attention:

    (stuff about Linux on a fridge at IBM)
    Q23b. Really? To look up recipes?

    A23b. It's kind of cool. It will actually recognize what's in there, and that kind of thing, with barcode reading and other technologies. I have to be careful not to say too much, but a lot of it is based on Linux, and they're using Opera.

    I want to hear more about this. It would be so very cool to be able to connect to my fridge (via email, web, SMS, whatever) while at the grocery store, and find out what I need more of.
  • in there quest for ever larger profits (as if making billions is not good enough)

    the mobile phone operators (on whose networks these devices run on) are killing inovation and use of networked services

    i mean what good is having a mobile with the latest opera browser if that "really cool widget i want" will cost me a fortune to get at 10 a megabyte (yes vodafone and Co. do rip us off blindly!!!
    i mean come on! on a broadband connection i can get 20 gigibytes of data for same price, which is ALOT of heavy brows
    • You don't say what country you're in, but in the UK there are a couple of reasonable options. I'm currently on T-Mobile's Web-'n'-walk package, which gives 40MB of data for about the same price as their voice-only tariffs - this is more than enough for the occasional bit of Jabber and web browsing from my 770, or connecting my PowerBook when I'm on the train (as long as you avoid flash, movies, and sites with lots of images). If you are a serious mobile data user, take a look at 3. You can get half a gig
    • The often high cost is a problem, probably the biggest one for the mobile web right now. But this is changing, operators realize that they will make more money by lowering their prices (so that people will actually use their services) than by keeping them at the current rate. If they don't, their competitors will.

      Here in the Czech Republic I can get unlimited GPRS for about £20/month, which I find quite acceptable considering a few years back I would have to pay about the same amount for a couple MB o
  • Web Forms 2.0 [whatwg.org] <> Web 2.0 [wikipedia.org]
  • I really hope Opera survives. They are one of the very few development companies in the computer industry here in Norway (together with Troll Tech). The rest of the industry is consulting companies that support an enormous bureaucracy generated from the oil business. In Norway about 40% of the employees are working in the public sector, and we are very "red" compared to the US and UK. Personally I prefer Fire Fox as a desktop browser, but Opera has some very interesting beta versions for voice recognition,

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