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Slate Speculates on Internet Operating Systems 248

Slate features a discussion of possible internet operating systems, a Google OS foremost among the potential contenders. The author views the fledgling YouOS as a proof-of-concept that an Internet OS is feasible. He dismisses the idea of a Google-built thin client, arguing that Google would rather build a service available from any Internet-capable device. Google's already-fast service would theoretically translate easily to other web-based applications. From the article: Dollar for dollar, network-based computers are faster. Unless you're playing Grand Theft Auto or watching HDTV, your network isn't the slowest part of your setup. It's the consumer-grade Pentium and disk drive on your Dell, and the wimpy home data bus that connects them. Home computers are marketed with slogans like "Ultimate Performance," but the truth is they're engineered to run cool, quiet, and slow compared to commercial servers. The author compares Eric Schmidt's denials of a Google OS to Steve Jobs's denials of a video iPod. However, he notes that potential obstacles to a Google OS adoption include: the desire to own things; the requirement for fast, flawless networks; and, the trust-deficit when putting personal information on web-based applications.
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Slate Speculates on Internet Operating Systems

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  • by MrNaz ( 730548 ) * on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:08PM (#15669464) Homepage
    This is utter crap. It sounds like Google planted hype to try to push the idea of "software as a service", Which is a stupid, unworkable and untrustworthy way of computing.

    So the guys at Slate thinks that the combined computing power of Google's umpteen million users is less than the power of their server farm? Unlikely, even for Google's impressive data centers. If its the case that as a general rule commercial servers were more powerful than the sum of their users' machines, we could do away with all those supposedly obsolete distributed computing efforts.

    Home PCs are far more powerful than the average user needs. This has been the case for a long, long time. Even Microsoft is having trouble saturating medium end computers that dell sells for the $900US mark. 2.5ghz with 1gb RAM, and you're trying to tell me that my broadband link can deliver application with faster response? I think not. And I like the way they FUDify the "cool n quiet" marketing campaign as well, utterly misdirecting its purpose.

    I'm getting really sick of this "software as a service" crud, but at the same time, I'm also getting scared that companies might actually convince the mainsteam to use it. It would spell the end of privacy and anonymity for users and massively increase the power of already too powerful corporations and governments. "Software as a service" is the ultimate spyware. Today we complain that Sony puts rootkits on their CDs, yet there's no real complaint that our entire OS can not only report to base, but runs from there entirely. Forget keyloggers, this thing will record your keys, mouseclicks and input from webcams, scanners and microphones in realtime.

    I sincerely hope that the tool that is the personal computer doesn't get taken away from the masses and replaced with drone terminals that could only be used in the way proscribed by our corporate rulers, and observed by their minions in dark rooms.

    Oh yea, feel free to call me a tinfoil hat wearing Google hater, because I am.
    • You tinfoil hat wearing Google hater!
    • by MarkByers ( 770551 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:13PM (#15669523) Homepage Journal
      Even Microsoft is having trouble saturating medium end computers that dell sells for the $900US mark.

      Despite the fact that they haven't released a new OS in 5 years, they aren't doing too badly in terms of saturating computing power. They preempted the market, so they actually aren't lagging behind as much as you would expect.

      Don't worry though, with the impending Vista release all your available system resources will be put to use for many years to come.
    • by MrNaz ( 730548 ) * on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:15PM (#15669553) Homepage
      Oh, and another thing, I don't see why these so called "online OS" projects don't just use existing X infrastructure to create an easy way to access standard X windows applications and run them remotely over SSH []. It'd a) eliminate the need for a whole new friggin' OS b) retain the privacy of users c) leverage the massive existing library of software that exists for Linux and X and d) be as easy as PISS to accomplish technically, with only some work needed to make it easy for the average user.
      • by Ant P. ( 974313 )
        The problem with X11 is it wasn't designed to be used by the average home user over the average home network connection. In fact, it's barely usable over anything less than Ethernet.
      • Mostly the bandwidth of X, the bigger issue being network latency. VNC is slightly better, but you're basically right, a virtual machine running on a cluster of thousands of machines, making use of the least loaded of them. I can be done now. I've actually built such a system, with tens/hundreds of servers rather than thousands, able to support hundreds -> thousands of concurrent users. It is simple and effective.

      • I don't see why these so called "online OS" projects don't just use existing X infrastructure to create an easy way to access standard X windows applications and run them remotely over SSH.

        You can actually get such [] solutions. []

        These are running over FreeNX [] which is basically a compressed X connection where the local machine pre-guesses parts of the communication to cut down lag. I've tried them and they work quite nicely over a 512K DSL. In principle dial-up should work ok too, but I haven't tried.


    • by raftpeople ( 844215 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:18PM (#15669593)
      You have some good points regarding privacy of data, but I disagree that "software as service is crud." There are a number of pro's to software as a service, here are a few:

      1) No need to install, low end user maintenance. This is important for businesses.
      2) Access to applications and your own data whether at your own PC, in the library or at the airport across the country, without carrying around a laptop.
      3) Increased ability for software to offer interaction with other services.
      • I hear those point, but I believe they can be addressed in other ways. Thin clients have their place, but I don't believe that they should become the norm, as it robs the users of flexibility. How would open source flourish, if our PCs were designed to only run software that was sent from HQ? Which is the eventuality that *would* occur.

        Look 10 years ahead. Good succeeds with this and we're all using some GoogleOS or YouOS or whatever, delivered from the Microsoft of the day. Do you relaly think they'd not d
        • by mrxak ( 727974 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:38PM (#15669832)
          Anything that requires a steady reliable internet connection is not going to work, at least not the way things are now. The internet is not as wide-reaching as it needs to be, not as reliable as it should be, and is plagued with far too many security problems.

          We don't have any kind of global (or even national) wireless internet access. This means that a laptop with local data and programs will win out in many many places.

          Most people aren't on super-reliable guarenteed 99.999% uptime connections. This means there'd be some times when you just can't get your data, again, a normal computer OS wins out.

          What happens when a hacker or virus nukes a GoogleOS server farm? Sure, there might be back-ups somewhere, but how many people's lives will get seriously messed up in the meantime?
      • by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:28PM (#15669733) Journal
        I tend to agree with both of you really - it seems to be a question of "right tool for the job". As an IT guy I could see the InetOS idea being a good thing. Of course the servers have to be able to claim 99.99% uptime and I would be pretty picky and choosey about who gets the job of storing my company's data. But assuming these issues could be worked out then I'd at least entertain the idea.

        As a home user/hobbyist I wouldn't want to give up my privacy, right to tinker, etc. And I defiantly agree that the Slate article is full of it when they say an online OS backed by servers will deliver better performance then my PC. I have a great internet connection, super fast and reliable; that said I don't think it could beat the performance of my modest 2.4 GHz PC with it's GB of RAM..
      • 2) Access to applications and your own data whether at your own PC, in the library or at the airport across the country, without carrying around a laptop.

        But that's really the problem with InternetOS. Mobile computing by way of laptops, palmtops, and even cell phones these days is really going to make everything else irrelevant. People don't need an InternetOS, they've already got very powerful computers with them all the time, or will soon. And while some hardware requirements are getting rather extreme,

      • We already solve the first two of your points using Citrix Presentation Server 4 with the Web Interface 4.0. With the Java fallback client you can get access basically anywhere you have access to a PC and you get the exact same desktop, applications, and data as in the office. The only downside is cost =) Oh and printing can be a PITA, but I think it would be even moreso with a web interface, I haven't seen one with decent printing support yet, and yes that includes google maps et all.
    • "I'm getting really sick of this "software as a service" crud, but at the same time, I'm also getting scared that companies might actually convince the mainsteam to use it."

      You use Slashdot, don't you?
    • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:19PM (#15669615)
      What's happening is exactly the same process which made factories economically viable during the industrial revolution... That, is the bandwidth of the transport system. We're at the point where it's far far cheaper to have the computing in a BFO data centre and decent bandwidth to the home.

      How many weavers, potters, carpenters do you know? Well, today's equivalents are programmers, system administrators etc.

      Things like VNC just make it easy.

      • There are personal vehicles. There should be personal computers. The most fascinating thing is, of course, that quite a lot of people DO play the equivalents of GTA or watch HDTV for far more hours a day than they use Word or Excel.

        Ghosting an image, with local storage (maybe some network-based backup) would also make manual sysadmin-like work for home users unnecessary. Good OSes shouldn't need any "support services", and I can accept if the OS itself it then instead offered in a pay-per-month manner*. Wh

        • PlayStation V or Xbox 720 or whatever for games.

          Your processing power won't be taken away, you'll just be able to buy a $30 VNC set top box, which is what 90% of the population will do and will be quite happy with. Hell, no virus worries, no CDs, no license keys, it'll just work. Actually, no, the computer will most likely be free with a $5/month service charge... It'll do most of the stuff your PC will do.

          We're getting to nearly 10mbps adsl rates, I don't think it'll be much longer, X and VNC work fine ove
          • No virus worries, no CDs, no license keys, it'll just work.

            No backup, no ownership, no security, no privacy, no upgrading, no DVD player.

            Really, when you look at the bulk of what costs money in a cheap desktop system: the monitor, the mobo, HDD, etc, you don't really save that much by putting it on the network. A solid system can be had for under 300 total. Computer-level text is unreadable on anything less than 1080p, the most expensive high-def monitors you can buy, so you'll need a monitor for the for
        • You may not want your processing power taken away, but the average computer user really doesn't care. I think that's why you're seeing longer and longer upgrade cycles on personal computers these days -- although there will be a blip when MS forces everyone to pony up in order to run Vista, most of the time, people don't care how fast their computer is, as long as it can do the stuff they want it to do.

          Once you have a computer that can decode compressed HDTV and play MP3s, you've fulfilled the processor-pow
      • No. Factories make something and ship it to me. They spend most of the energy making it, and little shipping it. I interact with my OS all the time. They'll spend more time/energy on the shipping (bandwidth/latency) than they will on processing power. They can't bundle up everything I need and send it to me overnight. Until bandwidth costs become negligible relative to processing power (somewhere in the 10Gb/s for $50 a month realm), I'll take my OS right in front of me.
      • It'll be completely screwed over by the "Net Neutrality" thing, if that isn't settled properly. If the bandwidth providers start charging different rates for connecting to different services all hell breaks loose.
    • True, home computers run too fast for the average persons need but you can't add up those peoples computer speeds and say a server needs to by X times faster to compete, because you have the added advantage of time-share, ie not all people are taxing their computers at all times. There are some speed advantages for this system though.
      1. Searching through your documents
      Even if its a complicated non indexed search as a small amount of users would be searching at any one time you can obt
    • Ahh, the annual discussion of Thin Clients again. Every year some company gets a hare-brained scheme to reintroduce some variation of thin clients. You can almost set your watch by it. The average buyer can pick up a barebones XP machine for a couple hundred bucks at their local big box electronics store. Who is demanding "Internet Operating Systems"? What's the draw? What can they do that a PC running a web browser can't?
    • Home PCs are far more powerful than the average user needs. This has been the case for a long, long time.

      Perfectly true, but...

      Even Microsoft is having trouble saturating medium end computers that dell sells for the $900US mark.

      Or even low-end computers that white box companies sell for $300. However, note that Vista will require at least $2K worth of hardware to get "the full experience".

      I'm getting really sick of this "software as a service" crud, but at the same time, I'm also getting scared that

    • If he expects us to believe any of that. The problem is that crap like this gets printed and managers actually believe it and the next thing you know your idiot CEO is saying "Web terminals everywhere!" We've gone through this cycle several times in the past. It hasn't worked then and it won't work now.

      Anyway for a single session big iron is almost never as fast as your desktop machine would be. The big iron is good at certain things, like disk IO. It's good at running a shitload of sessions side by side

    • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @06:03PM (#15671223)
      I agree wholeheartedly with you . . . except for a little bit :).

      As a home user, they can pry my computer (not a thin-client, actual computer) from my cold dead fingers. I've never seen a web application with the responsiveness or usability of a well-written desktop app. I also am dead set against anybody else having control of my data for the reasons you laid out.

      That being said, as an IT Prosfessional things like this are very, very attractive. I work at a relatively small (maybe medium?) sized organization with about 500 or so workstations. Even with that being a comparatively few machines, it's a pain in the ass to keep everything patched-up and all the applications updated. When we roll out a new app, there's 500 machines that need it installed.

      For this reason, though I hate using them, I look for web-based applications whenever I can so that we can simplify roll-out and maintenance on our systems. Most recently we've even looked at using a combination of VMWare, Citrix, and some thin-clients to move everyone over to using virtual machines that are hosted within our data center. Yeah the "user experience" sucks, but when the goal is for the users to just get their work done, and for the IT department to keep everything up and running as smoothly as possible, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

      Of course, the most recent problem that's cropped up is the large number of vendors that want you to "subscribe" to their service where they host everything and your users login over the Internet. This I'm against from the professional standpoint as well. If the users are gonna use a web-based app, it better be hosted in our server room. ;)
  • EyeOS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MarkByers ( 770551 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:08PM (#15669466) Homepage Journal
    YouOS is just sounds like a rip off of eyeOS [].
  • What? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Erwos ( 553607 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:10PM (#15669485)
    Am I the only one who doesn't understand what an Internet OS is supposed to be? I mean, you've got to have an OS to connect to the Internet in the first place...

    • Re:What? (Score:4, Informative)

      by someone300 ( 891284 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:15PM (#15669559)
      I'm assuming it's a buzzwordy way of saying thin-client, netboot, or referring to actually having all your applications as fancy AJAX things. When they say OS I don't think they mean it in a managing the hardware computer science sense, but more referring to the desktop environment.
      • I suspect the concept is like an app server. Not too different than a local JVM or a remote Tomcat. Since our apps are blurring the lines between remote and local, it only makes sense that other concepts that are required to enable capabilities may also be blurred.
    • I think by "OS", they mean the window environment, such as x-windows or explorer.exe. You obviously need something to interact with your hardware for connection, display, input, etc. From there, however, you can use any number of applications to control what you see and your access to applications, all of which could be hosted offsite.

    • Put something that boots fast like Damn Small Linus on a USB key, and do web-restores and internet-apps and voila you have a practical portable OS.
    • I imagine an OS on the local machine that's just capable of running Firefox. You boot up the machine and all you see is a full-screen browser. Firefox is written on a platform which runs XUL applications. They're XML + JavaScript that allow for "rich" interfaces. These XUL apps can be served up over the internet to run inside your browser application. They can be mult-windowed and themed just like any other application.
    • Am I the only one who doesn't understand what an Internet OS is supposed to be? I mean, you've got to have an OS to connect to the Internet in the first place...
      Yeah, I really don't see how they'd manage to get everything online. How would I get through my incomprehensible network at work without first inputting any kind of information just to get online?

      Online office suites are one thing. Once you get into the "online web browser" market, you've lost me.
    • There's been talking of building TCP stacks and micro-browsers into BIOSes so you can download useful things while fixing a dead machine. One of those could boot over the Internet with a little tweaking, kind of like an extension of PXE.
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stuuf ( 587464 ) < minus cat> on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:10PM (#15670171) Homepage Journal
      I think it was written by a windows user who never built a gentoo system from scratch and therefore doesn't understand the (not so) subtle differences between the terms "kernel," "operating system," "windowing system," and "desktop environment." The idea probably has some potential, but calling a bunch of AJAX apps an OS is just silly, especially on slashdot.
  • cool & quiet? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by doti ( 966971 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:11PM (#15669502) Homepage
    Home computers are engineered to run cool, quiet

    I want one of those? Where are they?
  • Trust Issue (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrxak ( 727974 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:11PM (#15669505)
    I think a lot of people don't trust the internet enough to put their entire computing lives on somebody else's server. People like knowing, even if they don't understand the technology, their files are in that box somewhere. It's a privacy issue to. I still know a lot of people who won't use Gmail because they don't trust Google to read their messages. And what about copyright issues?
    • I still know a lot of people who won't use Gmail because they don't trust Google to read their messages.

      Yes, one of the reasons why HoTMaiL is so popular is because it was created by an officially registered trusted company. What is more, it runs completely by itself in a locked vault 7926 miles beneath the Earth's surface.
    • I don't think it's that people don't trust their stuff being on other people's computers so much. Look at what most people are willing to send through email, for example. I think the larger issue is visibility. With all your files on someone else's computer, they are no longer private.

      And people's computers are actually more private than the diary books of old. They hold more private info.

      I worked for years as a computer tech back when I was in college. One of the things I'd do if I was bored was t

    • I think most people are too stupid to realize, if they had a computer running the GoogleOS, that their files weren't inside the box.

      Probably the only time they'd ever have the opportunity to notice would be if they lost connectivity, and even then, a well-designed system would fallback to a local cache while wating for the online service to come back up, and then reconnect and upload the user's changes.

      Lots of people send tons of personal information across untrusted networks without giving it a second thou
  • by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:12PM (#15669510) Homepage Journal
    I have had to use thin clients at several different insitutions and I can tell you that they do not work well. I have an RDP connection to a server now at work which links to my (reletively) powerful corporate desktop. Even this experience is utterly lacking compared to local applications. I think that the author has never really worked with a remote system.

    The only thing that I would like in this genre is if Google provided an official file storage service. I have my important stuff backed up on GMail, but the front end is a bit lacking.

    • RDP != thin clients (Score:3, Informative)

      by disappear ( 21915 )
      RDP is hardly the only way to do remote access, and it's true that most Windows-functional solutions (WebEx, PCAnywhere, ThinAnywhere, VNC, etc.) stink, from at least a performance standpoint.

      But those aren't really thin clients; they're really remote access sessions to a thick client running over a network.

      A real thin-client package does the computing locally, as well as the display. It just uses storage and some heavy features on the back-end.
      • I have also coded through TelNet (AHHHHHH!!!!!), worked through Citrix on a real thin client, and now I am on my current RDP setup. I have found that all of them are lacking compared to the experience of using a decent (read: 1ghz, 512 megs ram) computer. Granted, thin clients and remote desktops can be superior if you are trying to find the millionth digit of Pi, but I fail to see the use for most day-to-day applications. I already use Google products to write letters [] and spreadsheets [] and I can store se
        • If you're using Google to write letters and do spreadsheets, congratulations: your desktop is a thin client, and you didn't even know it. Guess thin clients aren't all that bad, huh?

          That was the point that the piece on Slate was trying to make, more or less. Did you RTFA?
          • TFA talks about fast applications (games, DVDs, etc) being run locally and other applications, including "optimized" image editing, being run through Google. What I am saying is that I already use Google's servers for what I want. I personally do not feel that I need an online desktop to combine Writely and Google Spreadsheets for me (among other programs). I have no problem with using them seperately.
  • Sure.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by someone300 ( 891284 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:12PM (#15669511)
    An internet operating system may be possible... but do we need it? The last thing I want is "503: Service Unavailable" when trying to print a document for a deadline. They may well have backups, but what use is that when I need it *now*.

    An internet linked desktop environment has all the advantages of the internet - updates, blogging, social stuff - with the advantages of a more traditional system - you actually have your documents stored locally, you're not subject to some company suddenly suspending your service and deleting your account (WGA is another matter...), and things load up quickly and run fast.
    • Re:Sure.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jugalator ( 259273 )
      The last thing I want is "503: Service Unavailable" when trying to print a document for a deadline.

      So you believe it's easier for a server farm to crash than your personal/work computer?

      As an example of a real world scenario with huge server farms and redundancy...
      When did Google last present this error message for you?
      • Re:Sure.. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by someone300 ( 891284 )
        Not sure if you use it, but Gmail goes down enough that I wouldn't use it for anything crucial. MSN messenger and Gtalk more so. Not only that, there are hundreds of points inbetween me and Google which could fail, 503 was just an example. When I have to tranpsort documents, I tend to put them on my server, use a USB pen and send them via Gmail. Each one has had issues at some point or other.

        One of my ISP's routers could go down. It's happened before and left us without internet for over a week (small ISP,
  • Too Many Users! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alexhs ( 877055 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:16PM (#15669571) Homepage Journal
    Too Many Users Online

    I just experienced a good reason why it won't work :P
  • by SoCalChris ( 573049 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:18PM (#15669599) Journal
    engineered to run cool, quiet, and slow
    My Dell XPS laptop begs to differ, especially on the cool & quiet parts.
  • Bandwidth? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nbannerman ( 974715 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:22PM (#15669649)
    Alright, so thin clients are nothing new. Let the server do the work. Save money on the desktop.

    Across my infrastructure, which typically has a gig fibre backbone, and 100mb at the desktop, this isn't a mean feat. Hell, I've got it running across the wireless as well.

    But to run this across the internet? Gimmie a break. To support my 450+ machines, I would need a rather serious pipe. Which will have a serious cost attached.

    Maybe there is a market for home users doing this, but the scalability is going to kill large scale adoption. And since people use (I generalise here, true) Microsoft at work, are they going to learn a new OS at home? Considering the market penetration of the other free OS', I doubt it.

    Apologies for sounding negative, but I don't think we'll see this for a while yet.
  • by rminsk ( 831757 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:22PM (#15669656)
    From Wikipedia:
    An operating system is a software program that manages the hardware and software resources of a computer. The OS performs basic tasks, such as controlling and allocating memory, prioritizing the processing of instructions, controlling input and output devices, facilitating networking, and managing files.

    This is a bunch of web based applications with a slick interface and some persistant storage.
    • One of the nice things about Wikipedia is that users can edit the entries. That will make it especially useful on concepts that are still evolving, such as Operating System.
    • Actually, there might be an Internet operating system.

      I assume you read this as "OS running on the Internet", which is, of course, impossible. But I read it as "an operating system for the internet".

      So, basicly an unified layer that allows to create applications running "on the Internet", accessed by thin-clients, abstracting the worries about underlying hardware, connection & login from the client, "traditional" OS, and other stuff. To paraphrase wikipedia : A software program that manages the hardware
  • But the network is the slowest part of home computing. The data bus is orders of magnitude faster than the internet connection (or even intranet connection) in nearly every circumstance. This doesn't make thin clients a bad idea necessarily—there are substantial advantages to having the equivalent of a system admin in every home—but performance isn't one of them.
  • Beta (Score:2, Funny)

    by Gat0r30y ( 957941 )
    And how long would an OS from Google take to get out of Beta? I don't think I'm gonna live that long.
  • Dollar for dollar, network-based computers are faster. Unless you're playing Grand Theft Auto or watching HDTV, your network isn't the slowest part of your setup.

    Network speed is one variable in the speed of an "Internet OS", another player is the speed of the implementation of the programming language used to develop web applications, currently JavaScript is the option for client-side web apps, and unfortunately it's much slower than other interpreted or compiled languages usually used for desktop apps, fo

  • by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:24PM (#15669685) Homepage
    1) The thing slowing down the PC isn't the local hardware.
    2) The network pipe has to be well in excess of a gigabit per second to be faster than the hardware.
    3) The author has NO clue about what he's really on about.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:29PM (#15669739) Homepage
    "your network isn't the slowest part of your setup. It's the consumer-grade Pentium and disk drive on your Dell, and the wimpy home data bus that connects them"

    Speak for yourself, mister.

    My Verizon DSL 768 Kbps/128Kbps service is a lot slower than my mighty 2.5" 5400 RPM Seagate ST9100823A (sustained transfer rate 38 MB/sec). Approximately fifty times slower "reading" (downloading), 300 times slower "writing" (uploading). No, wait... the DSL speed is in bits, the disk speed is in bytes. Make that 400 times slower "reading" and 2400 times slower "writing."

    • Things actually are worse.

      Supposedly, storage is on their servers, and it's right that their 15 000 rpm SCSI disks will be faster that your 7 200 rpm ATA one.

      What will be transfered however is, on your side, mouse and keyboard events (basically, almost nothing), and on their side, graphic commands, textures, ...
      That is, what's fair is not comparing your disk transfer speed but your AGP/PCIe transfer speed against network speed.

      PCIe 16x can achieve 4000 MB/s [] (100x your hard disk speed)...
    • Well, he did specify a consumer grade Pentium, not P3 or P4. So, I suppose that's referring to some of the original Pentium dells still in service with Windows 95 on a 4.3 GB 4000RPM ATA33 hard drive, which probably has only around a tenth the sustained R/W speed of current setups. Still vastly faster than network speeds.

      On the other hand, you're assuming that the data needs to be moved around in local storage. If everything is kept on the One Universal Server, most of the time you "only" need to match t

  • Heck if it was practical, I'd want google to be software running on my computer and I'd want the entire up to date content of Internet cached locally on my computer.

    Networks are great for communication, but communication will come to a halt from time to time which could excacerbate a crisis or cause one. The risk of being without critical information just when you need it most is a considerable risk, but the risk of everyone being without critical information at the same time is an even greater risk.
  • by Jerk City Troll ( 661616 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:33PM (#15669787) Homepage

    The author is wrong. YouOS is not an “Internet operating system”, it the functional equivlent of Windows prior to NT: an environment which runs on your existing platform. The client still does the heavy lifting and it will never be portable enough to run on anything with a “keyboard and a screen.” If Google were to go this route, they would provide VNC-like access to big iron on their end.

  • ... your network isn't the slowest part of your setup. It's the consumer-grade Pentium and disk drive on your Dell, and the wimpy home data bus that connects them.

    Erm, what? Sure that could be the "slowest part", relatively speaking, but if you move the functionality of your "wimpy" IDE/SATA bus to the incomparably slower home network connection, then yeah, the network will be the slowest part.
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:39PM (#15669838) Homepage Journal
    >your network isn't the slowest part of your setup.

    The only things on my computer slower than my DSL line are the legacy serial and parallel ports. To match the PCI bus I'd need an OC-24.

    >Home computers are marketed with slogans like "Ultimate Performance," but the truth is they're engineered to run cool, quiet, and slow compared to commercial servers.

    Last I heard, the Googleplex was running on dirt-cheap commodity boxes, with IDE drives even. A GoogleOS probably won't be running on heavy Sun iron.
  • "Unless you're playing Grand Theft Auto or watching HDTV"

    Yeah, who does that these days? Grand Theft Whosit? Destroy all home computers!
  • FTA: "A network-based PC could offer more file space" Huh?

    OK, a couple gigabytes of email storage is probably OK (for now). But I've got maybe 500 GB of other data here... I don't know who would offer to store that for free. And even if they did, it would take me, what, 385 days to upload it at 15 Kbytes/sec?

    And I'd still want to back it up in case the company holding my data went out of business. Well, OK, Google will probably still be around in 10 years, but YouOS? Right.

    I just don't understand the

    • Google will still be in business, but what happens to your data when they decide to start ramping up the profit in their GooOS. No one wants to get caught having to pay for their own data again.

      FWIW, they have been talking about something like this for the past 10 years. I remember seeing WebOS back in the late 90s when PCs and storage were so expensive. It's a neat idea, but I cannot see it happening anytime soon. There's just no business model.
  • Uhhhhh, ok... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nonillion ( 266505 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @03:51PM (#15669968)
    Pffffft, yeah, right.

    Until the big telcos are going to make good on their 6 year old promise of 45+ M/bit sync fiber connection; this idea won't even get off the ground. The thin client idea may be good for some, but not all people. I prefer running server grade hardware, not the consumer grade POS stuff you can buy at Frys. I want my power and files at home, not someone else's server.
  • Sorry (Score:2, Informative)

    But this is one of the fundamental problems, people don't understand what an operating system actually is.

    There have been many debates between geeks about what an operating system actually is, and obviously people writing about these "Internet" operating systems, and the ones creating them, don't have a clue as to what they truly are.

    An operating system isn't just a file manager, its a layer of software that allows you to interface with hardware, manage data, and control devices. By its very definition, an
    • Not just a shell, but also Web versions of most commonly used apps.

      The claims about the local bus bandwidths etc. from the article are a little crazy, but if you squint a little they can be rephrased: the local capacity used by most common apps is lower than the available network bandwidth. Given this assumption it makes a great deal of sense to create an Internet "OS."

      I'd guess the #1 problem with an environment like this would be outages. I've used GMail to collaborate on a paper with some coworkers, an
  • agitated tirade (Score:4, Insightful)

    by deuterium ( 96874 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:11PM (#15670181)
    Authors like this fail to appreciate the actual nature of an OS, the Internet, and hardware. I get the impression from reading pablum like this that people see the web browser as some fundamental new technology, above the scope of desktop apps, simply because they use the Internet. Your average user wouldn't know that essentially any app could be written to use the Internet to transfer data, or that the Internet is simply a mindless mechanism for moving data. It's this tunnel vision of "the browser as the Internet" that has really limited development of better Internet technologies. Things like Flash or Java apps can run on their own, but they're always embedded in a browser, leading people to assume the primacy of the browser. I was really kind of surprised over the years to see that Java apps never caught on, while browsers, nonstandard and programmatically inelegant, became the norm. Maybe the new WPF model will garner a bigger following. It'd be nice to have a sane programming model instead of the freakish raft of Javascript/PHP/ASP/CSS/DOM hacks I currently have to deal with, and I know, I know... Microsoft is evil, monopoly, blah blah, but come on! Javascript is too slow to be of any use beyond manipulating the DOM, so you can't write any real programs in it. Even as a display mechanism browsers suck. I can't overlay a div on a video? A dropdown list? It's just sorry.
  • OS??? (Score:2, Informative)

    by rrohbeck ( 944847 )
    Operating System == Software that manages the machine's resources like CPU time, memory and storage, and makes them available to applications in a controlled way. At least that's how I learned it.

    Maybe I'm getting old... Has the definition of OS changed all of a sudden??? Aren't they rather talking about an Internet-based application suite?
  • by MCTFB ( 863774 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @04:35PM (#15670386)
    Ahhhhhhhh, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • What about ripping/managing CDs? (library topping 30GB now, wouldn't want to wait for that to finish transferring over my 256k uplink)
    Editing home movies? (a single DV tape is what? 60GB?)
    Ripping DVDs? (I don't let my daughter play the originals, only burned copies)
    Fooling around with GarageBand?
    Video chatting with relatives in other states? (might work but why share limited bandwidth with the "OS"?)

    There are a lot of other things that people do besides watch HDTV or play Grand Theft Auto that would never w
  • It's always so sad to see these articles about Google's OS coming in the future. Doesn't anyone realize it's already here?

    It's what Google's services use to interface with their giant computing and storage cluster, and the thin client is the web browser.

    That's their whole business strategy, selling computing services as a commodity that people pay for indirectly with ad-views. Search is just their most successful application because most people use computers primarily to read documents.

    The fact that they tr
  • Slax Linux? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Clazzy ( 958719 )
    For anybody who hasn't used Slax [], they give you an option to upload personal data (passworded, of course), making it a very good live CD in that you can travel anywhere and are still able to access your personal data provided there is an internet connection. Perhaps an Internet OS could take a route similar to this?
  • Of course your internet connection is _the_ slowest part of your home setup. It's not like this guy doesn't know how to compare specs, I'm sure he understands that pulling data off the average hardrive is orders of magnitude faster than the average DSL connection. It wasn't really necessary for 90% of the last posts to quote these specs on their respective home setups and use it as the premise to dismiss the whole article. All those who did post as such were allowing themselves to ignore what the author was
  • Off Mark (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fupeg ( 653970 ) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @05:31PM (#15670946)
    WebOS is the future ... but not for the reasons listed here. Portability, i.e. being able to access your files and programs from any computer, is nice, but not a killer feature. It's ridiculous to claim that most people's computers are too slow, when in fact they are more than adequate. That's why PC sales stopped seeing such growth after 2000. Most people who could afford a computer had one that could do everything they needed. Hence prices have dropped while computing power has continued to increase.

    No, the reason a WebOS (err WebOSses hopefully) will come about is because computing needs have changed. Look at today's teenagers. Most of what they do with a computer is online. If you took their computer, and disconnected it from the internet, it would be practically useless to them.

    There are a few exceptions. They still use the computer to transfer pictures from their digital camera to an online service, like Photobucket [] or Flickr []. They still use the computer to transfer music to their iPods. The computer is just an intermediary in these cases, and it's not hard to imagine these things being done without it -- just add WiFi. Then their camera could upload their photos directly to Photobucket, and their iPod could download songs and videos from iTunes and YouTube [].

    Of course there is the need for office type apps, like word processing and spreadsheets. These things can also be handled online pretty easily. In the future they will be handled online not because it's better, but just because everything else is online. Right now these things listed so far: photo managment, music management, word processing, are small things to most young people. The big things are instant messaging, email, social networking, etc. The big things are online. The small things will follow.

    And that's why WebOS will come about. It will not be an OS in the traditional sense []. Traditional OSses were about providing the infrastructure for applications to run on a computer. The point of the computer was the applications, but you needed an OS to make the applications possible. Thus the OS had to manage memory allocation, device management, user input/output, etc. The point was still the apps. The apps are online now, and new infrastructure is needed for them. That's where WebOS comes in. That's what WebOS must be. It must provide the infrastructure for applications and allow these applications to interoperate.

    Right now if I'm a developer writing a Windows-based application, I don't have to worry about low level machine code for writing bits to disk, but if I'm writing an application for the web, chances are that I have to worry about creating database connections and issuing SQL in some form to read/write data. A WebOS will eliminate the need for this. If I'm writing a Windows app, I don't have to worry about peeking and poking pixels to draw things on the screen. However, if I'm writing a web app, I have to not only know about HTML and JavaScript, but the quirks of how different browsers render different things (CSS box model [] for example.) A WebOS should eliminate the need for such arcane knowledge.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard