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Jumping From Computer To Computer

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the wherever-you-go-there-you-are dept.

Software 474

Roland Piquepaille writes "Imagine a world where computers become so ubiquitous that the idea of carrying a laptop will almost be laughable, a world where any computer could be your computer! According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, this is the goal of Intel Research Pittsburgh's Internet Suspend/Resume (ISR) project, a project that may one day let your work jump from computer to computer without interruption by using the Internet, distributed file systems, and virtual machines. When the non-proprietary technology becomes available, a user will suspend a task on the computer he's working on, and resume this work using another computer in another part of a city or several thousands of miles away. The second system will look identical to the first one, with the same files and applications opened. This technology would also ease OS upgrades or eliminate the pain coming from a hard disk failure. The project has even a feature named Rollback which would permit to go back in time, eliminating these pesky viruses. A pilot test will start this fall, so don't expect to be able to use ISR for a while. You'll find more details and references in this overview."

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474 comments

Well... (2, Informative)

Steamhead (714353) | more than 9 years ago | (#9641968)

I use scripts to sync my work all the time. I don't see what the big deal is here.

Re:Well... (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642045)

Even more than that, thin client and terminal server applications have been around forever. Sure the scale would be cool, but there is nothing new here.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642145)

Don't worry, big deal or not there will be a patent on the way :(

TEH CNOLOGY (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642157)

Hi there! I'm ROLAND PIQUEPAILLE (yes, THE ROLAND PIQUEPAILLE) and I'm here to talk to you about how TECHNOLOGY can MODIFY your LIFE!

One time when I was in PITTSBURGH, I used an ABACUS!!!

I'm ROLAND PIQUEPAILLE!

Also, TECHNOLOGY allowed JEFF GOLDBLUM to upload the COMPUTER VIRUS to the ALIEN MOTHERSHIP! Thereby saving the EARTH!

I'm ROLAND PIQUEPAILLE, and I approved this message!

Hmmn... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9641983)

...so when Windows BSODs and you change to the next machine in the lab, you'll still have to sit and wait for it to restart?

I love this quote... (4, Insightful)

CommanderData (782739) | more than 9 years ago | (#9641984)

From the article:
Despite their outward sameness, most computers are so personalized with desktop preferences and software that borrowing someone's computer can seem as creepy as borrowing their underwear.

Does this mean that borrowing someone else's underwear could be made less creepy if it were made to look like your own? Will we laugh at people someday for actually travelling with luggage- Ha ha, fools- I just use the underwear that is laying around at the hotel?!

Seriously, who would use this? How long will it be after introduction before someone comes up with a way to hack/hijack an Internet Suspend/Resume account and get all of your data?

Re:I love this quote... (4, Insightful)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642141)

How long will it be after introduction before someone comes up with a way to hack/hijack an Internet Suspend/Resume account and get all of your data?

Your shell account can also be hacked. But that doesn't stop people from using Screen [gnu.org], now does it?

Instead of laughing about how noone will use this, try to come up with how you could make it secure and usable instead.

i already do this... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9641986)

with vnc for the few *nix machines i have to admin, and remote desktop to my desktop at home...

Already close (2, Interesting)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 9 years ago | (#9641987)

With SSH, "screen", VNC, and X-forwarding, whenever I approach a linux box, I feel right at home, knowing I can connect to my apps, files, and data with little trouble.

Um... (5, Insightful)

Raynach (713366) | more than 9 years ago | (#9641988)

Running VNC or X remotely? Why is this so revolutionary?

Re:Um... (2, Interesting)

dk.r*nger (460754) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642250)

Running VNC or X remotely? Why is this so revolutionary?

Do real work in VNC/X/Remote Desktop over a 128 kbs DSL and you know the answer to that.

This will run stuff on the local machine, and limit lags to filetransfers. I can live with a lag of a second or two when I save a file - NEVER a lag of 100-200 ms or even more everytime I hit a key or click my mouse - and this is the reality of X/VNC over anything but very fast connections.

Reminds me of... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9641989)

Screen [gnu.org] over SSH :)

What about roaming profiles? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9641996)

While the article refers to the idyllic view of being to work anywhere, the tech exists already. In a corporate environment with Win2K/NT4, there's roaming profiles.

There's also Citrix and Terminal Services which allow to have that experience throughout a LAN. Tie it up with a SSL-VPN solution and then you have that environment anywhere in the globe.

Uh, right. (4, Funny)

Jaywalk (94910) | more than 9 years ago | (#9641997)

Someday in the future, once people have stopped giggling about how all telephones once were wired to the wall, they'll still have trouble containing their laughter about laptop computers.
<SARCASM> That's right, and cell phones are just a fad. After all, there are phones all over the place, so why would anyone want to carry their own? </SARCASM>

Computers keep shrinking and prices keep dropping. Why depend on a remote site to host your desktop when you could keep the same data in your watch [thinkgeek.com], jackknife [thinkgeek.com] or wallet [thinkgeek.com]?

Re:Uh, right. (2, Interesting)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642098)

Maybe because you don't want to carry around the 15 inch lcd and keyboard required to do actual work? I dunno, I think this could be cool, though the security problems seem basically unsolvable--typing on someone else's keyboard is never trustworthy, and how could we prevent a kiosk from being able to observe what your mobile virtual machine is doing?

Re:Uh, right. (3, Insightful)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642215)

eeehhhhh.... NOT....

People like to own things, whether it be a car, home, clothes, etc. Only when there is no other choice will be use "communal" stuff (electricity, etc)

When I went to University we had this "virtual" computer concept (University of Waterloo). Everything was networked and you could log on anywhere and get access to your files and programs.

YET people who could afford it bought their own computer. Simple reason why:
1) Can use the computer when you want to
2) Can put silly stickers and colors on your computer and using your own keyboard and mouse. Remember not everybody wants to use an American keyboard and push mouse. I need a trackball because I have problems with my fingers.
3) Have access to a computer, without the hassle of finding one. Imagine going from your office to a library. With a laptop it is called suspend. Going from the office to library first means finding a free computer at the library.

Nope, generally speaking silly idea....

Re:Uh, right. (2, Interesting)

Azghoul (25786) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642123)

Why keep each data in your separate devices? It's far more interesting if everything you have digitally is accessible from anywhere, like an IMAP connection is for email.

The trouble for me is, I like my personal machines. Not just the settings, which are relatively painless to transfer (since I don't use Windows when possible), but rather, the hardware: I love my particular old Marble FX trackball and NMB keyboard...

Re:Uh, right. (1)

Meneudo (661337) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642187)

Unfortunately, until the day where a computer is anywhere in your reach, this idea isn't practical at all.

Many hotels offer complimentary high-speed internet access to people with laptops; providing a computer would just be a waste of money- the initial investment as well as maintainence and updates. If you really need to do work on the go, you probably already have a laptop.

Re:Uh, right. (2, Interesting)

Gingko (195226) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642254)

This is *exactly* right. Having terminals everywhere isn't the point, but having computers everywhere *is*. We're not far away from a situation where (initially only in localised areas) a computing substrate is ubiquitously available to all at all physical locations: the infrastructure might as well be wired/wireless Internet. The middleware is the key because processes are no longer tied to a particular computer. Processes and the underlying hardware can be supplied by separate vendors, and the process can migrate itself to another platform transparently - at a cost.

And there's the interesting bit. How do we automate the interaction and composition of processes in a market environment? How do we allow services to submit bids to some consumer, and have it choose the best bid; thousands of times a second? How do we arbitrate and regulate such an environment?

Welcome to my PhD :)

Henry

Umm.. Security? (5, Insightful)

leperkuhn (634833) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642009)

Maybe the average Joe won't care but I would rather have everything stored on my laptop that I physically carry with me. Why would I trust a random computer? Boo these men.

Re:Umm.. Security? (4, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642046)

Well, you could use things like SSH tunnels and VNC. But that only prevents network-level interception. You'd still be susceptible to keyloggers, video cameras, and the oddball looking over your shoulder.

hella no! (1)

SlamMan (221834) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642010)

So they just invented X-windows, or nfs?

Re:hella no! (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642192)

If I understand it correctly from the vague descriptions I've read, i think it's more like using Bochs or something similar to emulate a PC, and being able to suspend/restore/rollback the state of the emulator (just like zsnes! heh heh)--and also giving you the ability to restore and supend across a network.

It seems to me there are huge security risks involved with such an approach, but I haven't read very far.

Him again! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642011)

Piquepaille, nobody wants to hear your stupid stories!

Back to the Future (2, Insightful)

DaRat (678130) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642013)

You mean, sort of like logging into an old VT100 or X terminal connected to a central computer system except on a larger scale?

It's called "Screen" (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642020)

I know, it's not at all the same thing, but it is a little be similar in application.. somewhat.. if you squint and turn your head a little... in the fog..
but still! :)

Rollback? (4, Insightful)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642021)

OK, so let my just think a little bit here. You get a virus that remains dormant for say, 6 months. Then sudennly it does something really bad to your computer so what do you do? Rollback 1 day and have it screw up the next day or rollback 6 months and lose 6 months work? I think a litte more thought has to be put into that feature....Or maybe I should RTFA.

Re:Rollback? (2, Informative)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642079)

OK, I read enough of the article:

If a user's computer becomes infected, she could use the Rollback feature to go back to an arbitrary point in time prior to the infection and resume work there, deleting the subsequent work -- and the virus.

So I was right with my original assumption, if the virus simply hangs low for x days you rollback and still lose x days work.

Big Problem ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642022)

This may work great for people switching computers within an office, or for checking your e-mail at a friend's house, but there is NO WAY that I would access critical files from a public machine. You have no way of knowing what kind of keylogger or screen grabber could be running on those computers at the local coffee shop, or at the airport business center.


Take it from someone who's had their EBay account hijacked not once, but twice. Beware public terminals!

Sun Ray (5, Interesting)

FireDoctor (11071) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642026)

Sun's has had this working for years on Sun Ray [sun.com] thin clients. Your working session is frozen when you remove a smart card, and is resumed on another appliance when you put the smart card back in. It works all over the country, so a session can be resumed anywhere.

Re:Sun Ray (1)

davecb (6526) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642195)

In this case, the java card stores a reasonably small amount of identifying data, enough for the server to be able to hunt down your state and run it.

As the memory on the card increases, or if you use a bigger card (e.g., a USB memory stick) you can carry more around with you. In principle, this could easily be your context in a portable form, such as a java program... which may be why Sun currently uses a java card for its smart-card (;-))

--dave

Re:Sun Ray (1)

galego (110613) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642202)

And will this require a dedicated switches/really high-bandwidth like the sun ray? (At least the Sun Ray used to require that .... haven't looked at them in a while, well ... since I saw a demo by Sun 'round 2000).

Sun Ray was the first thing I thought of when I saw this. Of course ... I also like the underwear analogy [slashdot.org] made earlier ... very good point! I guess your underwear is really executed on the server in this case?

Re:Sun Ray (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642218)

> Your working session is frozen when you remove a smart card, and is resumed on
> another appliance when you put the smart card back in.

I sometimes work with large audio files (650megs). That is, when I'm not working with large graphics files (loads of 2meg files). Currently, any sort of portable storage capable of handling more than a few such files will cost more than a laptop.

I suppose I could use VNC or whatever it's called. But isn't that something from the past(not that it's outdated, just that it's already been done), not the future?

But... you can already do this (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642030)

You can already jump from machine to machine using Remote Desktop... Not EXACTLY what the article's talking about, but you can achieve the same effect by being able to control "your" machine from any other. However, the technology is still lagging in terms of response time and cross-platform compatibility. If Remote Desktop ran from any browser, and somehow went really, really fast, that would be pretty close.

Re:But... you can already do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642189)

RemotelyAnywhere can do that. It's a remote control tool based on HTML and Java. No need for software on the client.

I can access my PC at home 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

So I can (1)

Fisher99 (580290) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642031)

pause a MMPOG in a crap machine then resume on a faster machine somewhere else?

BTW this is not a troll, just think about the many factors that are involved in the market to day. "FASTER, BIGGER, BETTER"........

Been there.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642034)

Screen, SSH and puTTY on a pendrive... been done for years and years.

hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642036)

So, kinda like a world of VMware images, an assload of HD space, a fast pipe, and a distributed authentication system?

Already Happening (1)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642047)

I do this already using Terminal Services to log into my laptop at the office - whether I'm at home (in the UK), or at my parents-in-law in Canada. And yes, I leave stuff running on my machine, editors open, and go home, log in and I'm working exactly where I left off.

Also amusing to find, that when I'm in Canada, log into my VPN and browse the network, it shows my work PC under "Computers Near Me". I wouldn't call 3,500 miles near!

Jolyon

To simply "go back in time"... (3, Insightful)

4lex (648184) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642052)

...doesn't eliminate the problem of pesky viruses and the like (file corruption, unnoticed errors...). You don't always inmediately notice something is wrong, so you keep working. To go back in time a few hours/days might not be an option, if malware hits with high frequency. A cvs-like system might do the trick, although.

(Just my two off-topic eurocents).

Interesting concept (5, Insightful)

59Bassman (749855) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642053)

However the whole business model of the software industry would have to change. How would you manage licences for users across such a huge terminal system? I'd expect you'd have to pay for a monthly fee for access to your applications, something that a lot of folks would probably not look kindly upon.

This would also make it very difficult for any non-standard OS (Linux, MacOS, BSD) to get a foothold once it gets going - I'd guess you would be pretty limited in just what you could have loaded in order to use this system.

I dunno. It's an interesting concept, but I have my doubts. I actually like managing my own systems. I'd rather have the control than hand it over to a company who's going to do upgrades without my knowledge.

Does this assume... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642055)

...I wan't my data and application state stored in some other location that I have no physical control over? I'll stick with a palm and some floppies, thank you.

t3h h4x! (1)

Ag3nt (790820) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642056)

As with all leaps forward in technology, there are bound to be snags. A recent report stated that only 42% of all internet sites are secure. I quiver to think of the attacks that will be used by hackers to grab people's sensitive work/information. Lets just hope the govenment doesn't try to use this. ;)

Beautiful (3, Interesting)

12357bd (686909) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642063)

Beautiful idea, but I want to carry his memory/state with me on a little and duplicable box or card.

yeah right (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642066)

so i can go use your grubby mouse and keyboard crusted with finger jam?

no thanks

System Restore Anyone? (2, Insightful)

ReVeR5408 (723233) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642068)

Normally, it might take hours to reload programs and resuscitate this dead machine. But with Internet Suspend/Resume, Helfrich was able to instantly restore his work and proceed as if nothing had happened. Nothing to see here, everyone just move along...

Another technology idea fleshed out at Xerox PARC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642074)

They try to draw a parallel to VM technology from IBM, it seem to me that the most likely to be successful implementations of Ubiquitous Computing [ubiq.com] environment won't involve any VM-like architecture.

I think it will just have a bunch of web-deliverable apps and it will save all your data and the state of any running web delivered apps so that you can start down at any computer, whether it was part of the "Ubiquitous Computing World" before or not, open a web browser, enter a userid and passphrase for your pki key and the apps, your data and the state you left everything in will pop up on that machine. Copyright 2004, TM (R), SM and Patent Pending... by 26377731333

So now I can... (2, Funny)

scoot241 (794509) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642075)

resume my game of Command and Conquer Generals from anywhere? I can see the productivity numbers dropping off the chart already.

Good Luck with security (1)

mutewinter (688449) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642082)

Even if strong encyption is used, you still run the risk of hardware keyloggers.

Re:Good Luck with security (2, Insightful)

Hobart (32767) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642213)

I was thinking about this -- what if they offered a USB "pass-through" key, where the USB device could act as a smart-card (I.e. not have to divulge the secret key for HTTPS-client-cert or SSH2), and the keyboard?

Yes, the screen could still be recorded.

DRM (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642087)

this seems like a sneaky and highly effective way to deploy global DRM, to me. Especially the bit about 'not troubling with OS upgrades'.

Interesting, but incomplete (3, Insightful)

arieswind (789699) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642090)

Apparently the ultimate goal is to eventually have ISR software running on every computer in the public domain. What is in this article is a good first step, but even if they can make the process and the software bulletproof, there are still many problems left to be faced:

1. Most people have lots of data on their computers (here, I define a 'lot' as over 10 GB of data). Even if they were only using say 200 mb of data, at today's broadband transfer speeds, that could take 10 minutes to transfer, or much more if they can only get dialup speeds.
2. As I said, most people have lots of stuff on their HD's (I for one always have 80-100GB on my HD). Where are they going to get the space to store 100GB(or more) for every person who is going to use the system? It will cost them a fortune just in the cost of disk space, not to mention bandwidth to transfer the running state of all these systems.
3. It might seem obvious to some, but how are they planning on getting the system into widespread use? If you haven't noticed, people tend to resist change, and even if they do get it into wide use, not everyone will use it, so there will still be computers you cant just walk up to and use.
4. If it costs money to use the service, I guarantee it will take a lot longer to get into widespread use. The only place I can really see it being worth the cost would be in a business setting, where you could sit down at any computer and it would be like you are sitting at your own desk.

In conclusion, good idea, but it needs major work, and there are many major major problems to be solved before it "revolutionizes" computing

Re:Interesting, but incomplete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642234)

Why would you bother transfering all that data? If you need to access a file, you transfer that file (a couple of KB or MB). If you want to play your music you only transfer the audio file that you are currently playing (and maybe buffer the next one on the list).

You don't access all of your files even if you're sitting at your system do you? You usually only access the most recently used ones. A way to speed things up would be to find all the file that you've editted in the last 5 days and transfer them over to the terminal you're on (transferring smallest files first). Then you have a cache of the files you're most likely to access.

Re:Interesting, but incomplete (1)

JPM NICK (660664) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642245)

They would have to use a distributed form of svaing information. This would be needed for many reasons. Security, data intergrity, accesability. Just think, to have this feature, you would have to have the computer that has your information on 24/7. By distrubuting the files across a huge WAN (Think RAID 5 stripping across 10,000 computers, then mirrored to 10,000 more) you would always be able to get your information. Cost I am not so sure about. In theory, if you bought one computer and hooked it into this network, maybe that could be your pass. Then by paying for broadband, you will allow them to use your computer for part of this file distrubution system. It could cost you the same as now, just with the ability to get your EXACT computer setup any where, anytime. Also, it would almost make the need for data back up nil because it would all be distributed. Its a great theory. Maybe not so great in reality. But either way, this research and technology may spur something else. No reason to just shun it because you do not see a need for such a system (and i am not pointing this last comment at the parent, but to all the doubters who have posted saying "I can do this with 'nix and VNC").

The future is now. (4, Informative)

Zapman (2662) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642092)

Well, with Sun's 'sunray' stuff. YOu carry a smart card, pop it in, do your work. Mid work, pull the card, and the screen goes blank. Pop the card in another computer, and your work is still there.

The future is 10 years ago.

Well, with Xterminals... dummy boxes with small system image, loading a desktop off the central server.

The future is 20 years ago.

Well, with mainframe technology, and 3270 terminals.

It's almost here already... (1)

ites (600337) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642095)

What's really missing is a tiny standardized robust plugable hard-disk that provides the 20+Gb needed for a personal workspace. For the rest: any PC running a standard suite of applications (Mozilla, OpenOffice). In extremis, a bootable CD.

I almost do this today but USB flash disks are too slow for the purpose.

It should also be possible to package a complete OS, applications, and data onto a portable storage device, then load the OS, applications, and data through an emulation layer on the host system.

GoToMyPC?? (2, Insightful)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642101)

Can't you already do basically that same thing with GoToMyPC? [gotomypc.com]

"Do the Right Thing. It will gratify some people and astound the rest." - Mark Twain

Re:GoToMyPC?? (1)

BigNumber (457893) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642209)

How is this different from the VNC web interface? Point your web browser at a port on your machine, put in your password, and you're on your desktop.

Imagine that! (5, Insightful)

barcodez (580516) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642103)

Don't really have to imagine anything Sunrays [sun.com] already do this - just they aren't widely deployed. Is it just my or is it getting boring having people think things don't exist just because Microsoft isn't doing it.

I want my own stuff. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642112)

When will people understand that people like owning property? This is network computing taken to its next (naieve) step.

Another Rollback. (1)

fuchsiawonder (574579) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642119)

The project has even a feature named Rollback which would permit to go back in time, eliminating these pesky viruses.

Wait, Rollback? Are you saying this is a Wal-Mart project?

Pesky virus... (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642124)

... how rollback that one of those virus, trojans, etc sent the passwords you typed to some email or irc channel? Virus damage is not just altering the filesystem. And if well having a lot of things in the web enables me to do all that is related to that in any computer connected to internet, that don't means that any of those computers is trustable enough to write there passwords, credit card numbers, etc.

The seventies called... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642128)

...they want their timesharing mainframes back.

There aren't computers everywhere (1)

Shachaf (781326) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642129)

Why would somebody want to carry their computer around with them?

Because there aren't computers everywhere. Go outside. Can you see a computer there? Are you about to install computers everywhere?

How about places without Internet access? Say, an airplane? What would people do then?

Already done... (1)

AIXmaster (457997) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642135)

My old school in early 1990s have
large number of public UNIX workstations
( IBM RS/6000s, SUN IPX, X11-termials )
where you can just login anywhere. You just need
to remember your userid and password.
It was based on MIT's Athena project technology
using AFS file system where your home
directory is stored.

Now I heard that you need to lug a laptop everywhere at RPI..
Imagine carrying your laptop with your textbooks
and notebook in the middle of winter, snowing
or raining in Albany area.
Not to imagine if you lost that laptop or broke
it.

This is UNIVAC! (2, Interesting)

Ateocinico (32734) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642146)

The late Isaac Asimov wrote about a single
computer that had acces points in the style of an ATM machine, all around the world. The bad thing is that the computer, tired of that burden, tried to commit siucide hiring some terrorists for the job.
Do not put all your eggs in the same basket...

Network apps are the wave of the future. (1)

WombatControl (74685) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642153)

I know this has been said a thousand times before, but network apps are going to be the wave of the future. Look at GMail... that's better than a lot of mail clients out there, and thanks to its minimalist interface it's not all that slow on a decent connection. Already your mail application is portable to any machine with a browser.

With XUL and XAML fighting for market dominance, it's clear that the future of computing lies with small, portable, web-based applications for particular purposes. GMail is just one example of this trend.

The first wave of network apps were horrendous, but they were ahead of their time. Now that bandwidth, memory, and CPU power has gone up, the idea of composing your emails online or even creating documents online is less farfetched than it was a few years ago. Granted, there won't be a web-based 3D modelling application coming around any time soon, and there will always be a place for desktop applications, but even those will be increasingly dependent on networked tools. Imagine OpenOffice with Google search built in to the application - you could pull an RSS feed of Google results on any topic right from the UI. Even in those spaces where web apps aren't yet ready for primetime they'll still be an increasingly important suppliment to traditional applications.

What's interesting is that these apps are better suited to the UNIX philosophy - small and easy to interconnect apps rather than the monolithic feature bloat of traditional Windows programming. Even Microsoft is starting to realize that network apps are going to be a more important part of 21st Century computing, which is why they're trying to embrace and extend this sphere by trying to compete with services like Google and trying to get XAML as the standard for web app development.

The advantage of this over ISR is that ISR requires a lot of new technologies, while web-apps require a browser and standards like CSS, XML, XHTML, and JavaScript. With even Apple's Dashboard embracing this concept, my money is on the tools we have now for creating web apps rather than another technology that reinvents the wheel.

Not likely (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642155)

As the data we keep on our computers becomes more and more valuable, people are less likely to be happy with accessing their information across the internet.

Within the next 10 years, portable computers will be separate from cell phones, but they will start to approach the size of an old tape walkman or iPod. They will completely replace PDAs. They'll have a small touchscreen, builtin WiFi connection, DVI out, as well as Bluetooth or equivilent and probably one USB and one Firewire port.

You'll be crazy to bring a laptop because on all of the planes and in all of the hotels, they'll have a screen you can jack into, as well as a mouse/keyboard. Your data stays with you, but you don't have to have another carry-on to use it. Simple, secure, and well within current technology limitations.

Insecure as all get-out. (2, Interesting)

Hiro Antagonist (310179) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642167)

The Unix Guys at work (e.g., me and my boss) recently sent out a memo to all corporate employees about logging in from public terminals. Because they are outside of company and/or individual control, it isn't possible to know what sort of software is running on them. Concordantly, it's quite possible that any given public terminal has a keylogger, packet-dumper, and any other type of spyware you would care to name.

Note that this memo wasn't just idle paranoia; we sent it out after having some IP address in Korea attempt to log in to our corporate webmail server, after one of our salesdroids checked her mail from a public terminal in the lobby of a business hotel. He had her username, password, and who knows what else in the way of corporate data, all from her using a public PC.

Me? I'll stick with bringing my laptop around, even if it looks funny, just like I stick to using GPG and public-key encryption on my emails.

What about hardware differences? (1)

Mirk (184717) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642169)

I am an Englishman, living in London, and working for a Danish company. I often visit my company in Denmark, where all the computers have their keys laid out completely differently from the QWERTY layout that we all know and love. That's before you even get into the positioning of all the non-alphanumerics, and without beginning to fear the special Danish characters like the "o" with a diagonal slash through it.

How is Internet Suspend/Resume going to make those keyboards usable to me?

What goes around ... (2, Interesting)

torpor (458) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642172)

... comes around.

We've had this ability since the birth of computers, we just keep coming up with 'whiz-bang' junk that prevents us from maintaining it, as a feature, across consequent generations of computer technology.

seems like the further we get from the 80's, the more we forget about just how productive things truly were back then ... thank you Microsoft, for de-composing computer tech ...

Nearly there (1)

Tenebrious1 (530949) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642185)

Running Citrix in the office; anyone can log in at any desktop and it connects them directly to Citrix. No local apps, no local data, all work done in Citrix.

When they get home, they connect through a web page which redirects them to the same Citrix box. Anywhere in the the world, any computer system, they can connect to the office (as long as they can install the ICA client). Client exists for Macs, *nix, PocketPC, EPOC, Java... sounds like it's already ubiquitous to me.

I dont think so... (1)

Jason Hood (721277) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642186)

I dont see this taking off, at least for a really long time.

First, Do you really want some random computer that you know nothing about to have the ability to see your passwords, files and have access to your storage facility? There are many, many security concerns to be answered.

Second, I guess this means there will only be one OS? I dont imagine MS Winders will start supporting X11.

While I do think that rentable computers much like pay phones will be common soon, they will be pretty basic. They will contain an OS with email and web access and possibly easy access to an online storage appliance where you can keep certain documents and files. I dont see how the implementation that the arcticle talks about would be feasable.

I would rather keep my laptop/tablet/usbdrive and be able to keep my own files/movies/music/apps to myself without exposing them to seemingly everyone.

First step: VNC + VPN? (1)

jdmuir (207188) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642196)

How about this for a first step, not quite what is described above, but close.

I've been teleworking almost exclusively, and I can move from computer to computer, install a VNC viewer, and the VPN software to connect to a computer that I use as my desktop at work.

What I really need to do is setup a knoppix or mandrake-move style CD with my VPN software (proprietary) and a VNC client.

This is new how? (1)

SJS (1851) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642199)

Sun demonstrated something very like this at JavaOne a few years ago. It got me thinking about the fundamental failures of this sort of approach.

See, I *want* to have my own machine, as if you compromise the hardware, it's game over. So ubiquitious machines won't work -- it's too easy to get in there and compromise the system.

So I'm going to want my own keyboard (or input device). I might as well provide all the rest of the system, except perhaps for some local RAM, some additional CPU power, and a network connection. . . but by then, why bother? Just give me the 'Net connection and I'll go find my remote host,and feel safer.

Obviously, some people are insufficiently paranoid.

Fast networks or fast processors? (AT&T v Int (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642200)

If you believe in / have a vested interest in widespread unbelievably-fast NETWORKS, then you run your session on a server and use something like VNC. (Note the VNC / AT&T connection.)

On the other hand, if you believe in / have a vested interest in widespread unbelievably-fast PROCESSORS, then you'll move your suspended session around with you and run it in a VM. (Note this is Intel.)

Idiotic technofantasy (2, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642203)

It sounds like interesting and worthwhile work, but some of the projected benefits are silly and the projected risks are not discussed at all.

For example: "If a user's computer becomes infected, she could use the Rollback feature to go back to an arbitrary point in time prior to the infection and resume work there, deleting the subsequent work -- and the virus."

There are several reasons why that statement is idiotic.

1) This exact capability has, of course, been available for several years now, first as the commercial product GoBack, then as a built-in feature in Windows XP. (And it has done nothing substantial to solve the virus problem).

2) The breeziness with which the reporter acknowledges that using this capability would "delete the subsequent work" is astonishing. Most of us would not like losing one, two, or several days' work.

3) If you always were aware of the exact moment at which you acquired a virus, viruses would be a relatively small problem. The fact is, you don't know.

4) There's even a nonzero probability that in going back to a time when you did not have the virus that you might also be undoing security patches preventing you from acquiring new viruses.

Security (2, Interesting)

nuggz (69912) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642205)

Am I expected to trust someones computer?
Very easy to put in a keyboard, mouse, USB key sniffer in.

If I can't trust my own computer running the 'standard' OS, how can I trust someone elses.

People have finally gotten to understand they must keep their bank PIN number secret, they should be able to understand putting it into random computers is also a bad idea.

sharing computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9642206)

As was briefly mentioned before, this is similar to cell phones / public telephones. Who wants to be tied to using a (perceived or real) dirty public phone when cell phones are cheap and (ta-da) mobile?

The additional risk with shared computers is the owner or previous user may have installed a key-stroke logger or some similar program. Heck, the computer may just be poorly maintained and some bloke in another country may now own it.

With wireless-enabled PDA's, increased functionality cell phones, etc, I can't see people generally falling in love with a shared service - other than a shared resource that they can use with their own gear - a resource such as a wireless network.

One day, cars will FLY! (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642208)

I don't know about all this science fiction whoop-tee-do, but I've been using removable hard drives (those nifty cassettes that you put hard drives in) for years. As little as 20 gigs, you have your OS and data ready to go in any machine that can take the cassette.

But what this really sounds like to me is the OLD model of thin clients being served from a mainframe some place, or good old VPN.

VNC does this well. (1)

AllergicToMilk (653529) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642221)

I use VNC to provide me with exactly this capability though through different means. VNC has the added benfit of not having suspended it's activity when you suspend yours so processing continues to take place (a very useful feature for long jobs.)

Very familiar concept (1)

CdBee (742846) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642227)

This sounds suspiciously like the initial propaganda for Microsoft .Net - having both software and, eventually, storage hosted in secure online sites. Computing as a service not a product.

Its called the world wide web (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642232)

My most important apps are mail and browsing. Between work and public library terminals, I have daily access. Even if I am traveling in far-off cities and countries.

MS Virtual PC (1)

gregor-e (136142) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642233)

Microsoft Virtual PC lets me suspend and resume an entire OS, running whatever applications I want, at any time. I think it's the way things are headed. I've installed separate virtual machines for running Gentoo, Fedora Core and MS Win 2K3 server. Well worth a look [microsoft.com]. (They have a 45-day free trial).

already have this... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642235)

we have this in one of the offices here. It's called Linux terminal Server. set down at any pc, log in and voila!

Sun also had a system like this for decades. it's entirely possible inside of a company with an OS other than windows.

and yes it could be done in windows, but for much much more money.

How about... (4, Interesting)

burns210 (572621) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642252)

A pendrive/ipod (in size, harddrive space) bluetooth enabled device that carried core applications and your home folder? Wether in be a unix-style home folder layour, or an xml/generic folder layout that has an abstraction to windows/unix/linux(various conflicting layouts in unixes). and OFCOURSE, the drive, preferably solid-state, would be encrypted with a public key...

I walk up to an unused machine, sit down, the login script/screen detects my bluetooth device, notices that is a user account storage device, and prompts for a username/password that is checked against the device via encrypted bluetooth... If successful, links, shortcuts, small apps(putty), documents, contacts, email, etc.. are all 'loaded' onto the local machine, as if i were at my home computer...

Even better if these were on a linux/x11 setup so we could do some automatic screen attach/detach scripts on all processes/programs running!

Issues (4, Insightful)

sdjunky (586961) | more than 9 years ago | (#9642257)

There are some issues involved with this.
1. Where are the applications and data really going to be stored?
2. Who has access to this information/hardware?
3. Can I trust that a terminal doesn't have a keylogger (hardware/software) attached to it?
4. How traceable will this be if somebody gains access to my "environment" without my permission.
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