Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Daily Archives / Thursday, February 16, 2012

  • Feb 16 / 2012
  • 18

The Future of OS X

Mac OS X has become OS X. There is speculation about why that is. Perhaps Macs are old-fashioned.

Another possibility, remote though it may be, is that Apple wants to go head-to-head with M$ on x86/amd64 hardware. Look at it this way:

  • Apple is not making much money on MacOS because it’s only licensed to run on Apple hardware.
  • Apple has a new boss not anchored in the mud of the walled garden.
  • Apple could make a ton more money shipping MacOS to OEMs and consumers of x86/amd64 hardware.

Apple clearly has the market/mindshare to do this. They might have driver issues because the world of Wintel is more diverse, but with enough money that can be overcome. How long do you think it would take manufacturers to produce enough drivers for OS X roaming freely on the plains of x86/amd64?

Apple is selling something like 20 million Macs per annum. They could probably sell 100 million copies of OS X per annum and charge $100 per unit with a licence to run on non-Apple hardware. That’s $10 billion, too much to ignore. I would bet Apple could swing its marketing department into high gear and make things happen before Christmas 2012. Would it cut into sales of Macs? Nope. Mac lovers love them and will buy them no matter the price or availability of OS X on other hardware.

The question remains whether or not Apple and M$ have a non-compete agreement over x86/amd64 machines. I doubt that would fly in court these days. Would M$ dare challenge them on it?

I think Apple sees the end days of the Wintel monopoly and wants to clean the bones of the dead dinosaur. They have to open up OS X to do that. While I despise Apple’s treatment of Android/Linux, the enemy of my enemy could be my friend if Apple helps kill the Wintel monopoly sooner rather than later.

  • Feb 16 / 2012
  • 8

MySQL Cluster on the Road Again

Oracle has released version 7.2.4 which they claim is greatly improved in throughput with redundancy. The thing is huge with a .deb package of 300 MB.

This looks like the kind of product a website might use to scale up LAMP while increasing reliability. The benchmark Oracle ran on 8 servers provided 1 billion queries per minute and could do 110 million updates per minute from RAM.

“In 2002 we passed the limit of 1M reads per second. Now we’ve passed the milestone of 1B reads per minute. We achieved 1.05BN reads per minute on an 8-node cluster using MySQL Cluster 7.2.5.”

The scalability has been greatly increased:
“We’re very proud of those scalability enhancements that have made it possible to scale CPU usage per data node to more than 5x of what is possible in MySQL Cluster 7.1. In addition we’ve removed a number of bottlenecks making it possible to scale per data node performance by even more than 5x. Comparing our benchmark numbers for MySQL Cluster 7.2 we can see that we achieved 2.1M reads per second on 7.1 and we’ve achieved 17.6M reads per second, both on 8 data node set-ups using the same HW. Thus more than 8X better performance per node for MySQL Cluster 7.2 compared to 7.1.”

Even those who just add a second server for reliability might find it useful. Anything that increases throughput is useful because it doesn’t take a very complex query to bog down a single server. Perhaps the acquisition by Oracle may actually make the world a better place… Too bad they didn’t treat Java and with the same loving care.

  • Feb 16 / 2012
  • 3

HP’s CEO Hallucinates

Meg Whitman is reported to have stated in public that WebOS could be an important player in the long run as an open-source mobile OS because Android could become closed source with Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility (paraphrase – not a quotation).

Clearly she does not get Free Software nor does she understand that there is a huge installed base of Free Software that is Android/Linux and it is not going away. Google has stated that it intends to stick with Free Software. So, how can HP and WebOS depend on Android/Linux going closed for opportunity? WebOS has merits on its own. It does not need Google to change in order to take control of its own market.

Sheesh! Where do corporations find these people? What kind of an audience would accept this nonsense at HP’s Global Partner Conference?

  • Feb 16 / 2012
  • 10

Bruce Byfield: Why Isn’t GNOME Listening?

Bruce Byfield swings hard. Sometimes he hits foul balls and other times he gets a home run. He has connected solidly with this piece:
Why Isn’t GNOME Listening?

The part I like best is where he compares recent GNOMEs to Lose 3.1, throwing away the huge advance in IT that allowed a desktop GUI to reflect the processes running to the user. Really, people do multitask and GNOME 2 did that much better than GNOME 3, a step backwards.

“Seventeen years of interface development, and it turns out that DOS and Windows 3.1 had the right idea after all?”

That’s a home run. I am not a great multitasker but even I have dozens of windows open to various documents, websites, applications and parts of my file-system. It boggles the mind that anyone would ignore the reason the GUI and the mouse were invented, to allow better interaction with more processes. Users don’t run an application. They run applications. Even the most devout user of FaceBook may want to look at his calendar or check his e-mail or change his playlist. Doing that with a single click or a glance makes sense. GNOME and disUNITY do not.

The idea of optimizing screen space may make sense on a smartphone but it has no place on a wide-screen monitor, or multiple monitors.

  • Feb 16 / 2012
  • 3

Letter to ACER

From: Robert Pogson

To: ACER Corporate Sustainability Office

I have been an observer of developments in information technology for decades and I enjoyed what ACER has done with the netbook and devices using ARM processors. These are areas of IT that fit well with ACER’s sustainability initiatives. Clearly, the world loves small cheap computers so this area also meets ACER’s business model.

When smartphones and tablets using ARM processors and Android software cut deeply into the netbook market, ACER suffered a difficult year financially. Unfortunately, the management of ACER has responded by developing small expensive computers like the ultrabooks.

I recommend that ACER increase consideration of the effects of products in the hands of the end user. It is good to consider ACER’s corporate impact but the products in use have a much larger impact. Clearly, x86/amd64 processors use more silicon and power per unit of productivity. By increasing emphasis on ARM processors, ACER can greatly cut the cost of making products and the cost of energy and the environmental impact of that energy in the hands of end users.

It is time ACER consider increasing production of small cheap computers. The margin on these devices can be increased by using ARM processors and Free Software such as Android/Linux and GNU/Linux. The lower energy consumption, price, size, noise and heat of these products all can be attractive for end users. There are issues of software compatibility but there are many users who use web applications or generic applications. Further, the client device can use Free Software in combination with any software on a server.

I recommend ACER consider offering for sale ARM processors in thin clients and thick clients, not just mobile devices. ACER should also provide powerful terminal servers that can run the software most users run today or Free Software according to needs. A terminal server combined with a few or hundreds of client machines is overall a much lower material and energy-consuming system. Even in the case of a home or small business with just a few personal computers this makes sense. The end user may use only a few watts in the thin clients, a few more in the display and a few more in the server. The server, instead of idling can have a higher duty cycle instead of wasted cycles idling as most PCs do. A fanless thin client is a lower cost of operation, a lower consumption of energy, a smaller size, a quieter device and there is less to recycle at the end of a long life. A single server is a better computing device and easier to maintain than multiple thick clients.

So far, mostly businesses are users of thin clients but even a home with two personal computers could benefit from using this technology. It is nearly perfect for schools. Networking and servers have advanced to the point where performance of thin clients is better than thick clients except for video. The end user can afford more memory and storage and a more powerful processor on a few servers compared to many client machines. Using files cached in memory gives much greater performance than seeking files on a slow hard drive.

I recommend ACER consider using Debian GNU/Linux software on personal computers. This software has increased performance compared to Android/Linux and is already ported to ARM. With such Free Software the end user and ACER do not have to pay for access to Microsoft’s software which offers no more value to end users. The money not spent on licences can increase ACER’s margin and attractiveness to end users.

I hope ACER will find it in the best interests of itself as a business, its customers and Earth to adapt Free Software, thin clients and ARM processors to all kinds of computing devices.

Thank you
Robert Pogson