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OSX To Feature Portable User Accounts?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the home-you-can-take-with-you dept.

245

eldavojohn writes "A new patent filed by Apple is causing speculation that OSX is soon to receive a new feature. From the article: '[the patent states] that the user account may be stored alongside general data storage or "other functionality". All of which seems to suggest that at some time soon we may be able to load our user accounts onto an iPod, hard drive or USB keydrive and take them wherever we go.'"

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245 comments

Ultra portable (3, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401023)

So, ideally this would be part of a uber road warrior ultraportable solution rather than an addition to a USB drive or iPod. Since the demise of the 12in Powerbook G4, many of us have had to shlep around larger form factors (15in Powerbooks/Macbook Pros) that are a bit harder to deal with on planes, trains and such.

I would hope for a little tablet much like the Newton, but running a full version of OS X and given the costs of flash drives, this may in fact be possible at 32 to 64GBs in size which would make for a usable battery life as well. Travel is difficult enough and for really long flights (international ones), battery life simply does not cut it, even with the new MacBooks. And even if you did have a power outlet in your seat, they are incompatible with the current magnetic and oh so cool MacBook power systems.

Having something like this that one could back up photographs to, give talks from, check email and calendar and address books, read ebooks and mark up pdf documents, be able to link via Bluetooth to your cellular phone and such would all be possible in a small form factor that one would not necessarily want/need the ability to run big apps like Photoshop on.

And when the trip is over, you plug into your desktop at home and automagically have everything sync up.

Oh, please... oh, please... oh, please.... Come on Steve! You and I have talked about this going back..... what, years now! The technology is there, the market is there, all the pieces are in place.

Re:Ultra portable (1)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401045)

Considering how much progress they've made with Portable Home Directories, I'd imagine something like this wouldn't be too great of a stretch.

or a DRM limitation (5, Interesting)

doodlelogic (773522) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401047)

Maybe for movies the studios are demanding only the paying user can view on their iPod - so movie downloads will be tied to a user account on each device.

Re:Ultra portable (2, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401143)

I would hope for a little tablet much like the Newton, but running a full version of OS X and given the costs of flash drives, this may in fact be possible at 32 to 64GBs in size which would make for a usable battery life as well.

I would hope for a 10-12" (~2lb) convertible tablet, much like a cross between the Thinkpad X-series and the old Sharp Actius MM-10 (it had a dock!).

But most importantly, I want well-supported syncing between systems. I've got two Macs now (an iBook and an iMac), and it's absurd that iSync is useless for them. In fact, syncing anything with iSync fails to work properly: I can't use either my iPod or my Palm PDA conveniently because although it syncs events, the categories, locations, and notes are lost!

Re:Ultra portable (1)

Brome (988118) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401865)

Link it to your cell phone ? Just add GSM/GPRS capabilities to it, and it won't have to connect to your cell phone, it will BE your cell phone.

I farted (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401031)

Hey guys, I just farted. It smells pretty bad over here!

Re:I farted (0, Troll)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401377)

I wish these damn Windows users could learn how to open a window and let some fresh air in.

Impressive (5, Funny)

TCM (130219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401041)

If only other systems had thought of that. You could implement it so that all the data of one user is stored in a single directory, called home directory.

We could even invent a new notation specifically for that. Like, I don't know, ~user/ or something.

Man, Apple users get all the goodies. :(

Re:Impressive (5, Interesting)

hypnagogue (700024) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401183)

You may want to consider that the problem is more subtle than that.

Just because you have your home directory on an iPod connected to a foreign Mac doesn't mean that you can authenticate and log in. Wouldn't it be interesting if you could have, in your home directory, credentials signed by a trustee that you could use to log in to any system, with your access limited to writing to public areas or your own home directory. Furthermore, encrypt that image on the iPod so that it can't be accessed unless you authenticate successfully. I'm not sure what the scope of the invention is, since I refuse to read patents or patent applications, but it might be a great solution to a tough problem. It also has implications for DRM licensing schemes -- licenses that apply to the user, not the computer.

I know sarcasm is like breathing after a few years on slashdot, but this might actually be an interesting invention. We'll have to wait and see.

Re:Impressive (2, Insightful)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401261)

with your access limited to writing to public areas or your own home directory.
Darn! I was gonna put a sudoer account on a jump drive and root every box in sight!

Re:Impressive (2, Interesting)

GCsoftware (68281) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401605)

Interestingly enough, this is almost identical to the system I implemented for using USB flash drives as authentication tokens as my MSc thesis. I might put up the PDF of the project up if people are interested.

Re:Impressive (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401671)

Keep it.

As 'prior art', this might net you some money down the road when MS would challenge Apple's patent.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401987)

Don't bother. Doesn't sound in any way interesting.

The Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16402657)

Method and apparatus rendering user accounts portable Abstract Improved approaches for enabling user accounts to be portable across different multi-user computer systems are disclosed. A user account created at a multi-user computer can be stored to an external, portable data store, thereby rendering the user account portable. The multi-user computer system, e.g., through its operating system, locates user accounts on not only in local storage of the multi-user computer system, but also in any removable data storage attached to the multi-user computer system. Hence, by coupling the external, portable data store to another multi-user computer, a user is able to login to any supporting multi-user computer and be presented with their user configuration and user directory. Since the data store that stores the user account is not only external but also portable, a user can simply tote the data store to the location of different multi-user computers. In one embodiment, the external, portable data store can not only store the user account but can also provide general data storage. In another embodiment, the external, portable data store can be a portion of a portable computing device (e.g., media player) that provides other functionality besides data storage. Inventors: Bowers; Robert T (Cupertino, CA), Ko; Steve (San Francisco, CA) Assignee: Apple Computer, Inc. (Cupertino, CA) Appl. No.: 10/304,291 Filed: November 25, 2002 Current U.S. Class: 713/1 ; 713/100 Current International Class: G06F 15/177 (20060101); G06F 9/00 (20060101) References Cited [Referenced By] U.S. Patent Documents 6449642 September 2002 Bourke-Dunphy et al. 6700839 March 2004 Auflick et al. 6850953 February 2005 Deshpande et al. 2002/0180803 December 2002 Kaplan et al. 2003/0174167 September 2003 Poo et al. Other References Apple Computer, Inc. "Just Minutes Away From New Abilities," webpage, http://www.apple.com/macosx/upgrade/install.html [apple.com]. cited by other. Primary Examiner: Browne; Lynne H. Assistant Examiner: Stoynoy; Stefan Attorney, Agent or Firm: Beyer Weaver & Thomas, LLP Claims What is claimed is: 1. A method for configuring a multi-user computer system for use by a registered user, the multi-user computer system including at least a processor, an operating system, a display device and a local data store, said method comprising: retrieving available user accounts pertaining to registered users, at least one of the available user accounts being from the local data store that is within the multi-user computer system and at least another of the available user accounts being from an external data store that is external to the multi-user computer system; presenting a representation of the retrieved available user accounts on the display device of the multi-user computer system; receiving a selection of one of the retrieved available user accounts by the registered user; authenticating the registered user as authorized for use of the selected one of the retrieved available user accounts; and configuring the multi-user computer system in accordance with the selected one of the retrieved available user accounts for use by the registered user. 2. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein said presenting comprises displaying a representation for each of the retrieved available user accounts on the display device of the multi-user computer system. 3. A method as recited in claim 2, wherein said displaying operates to distinguishably display the representation for the at least one of the available user accounts being from an external data store from the representation for the at least one of the available user accounts being from the local data store. 4. A method as recited in claim 2, wherein the representation for the at least one of the available user accounts being from the external data store comprises an icon, the icon distinguishably displays the representation for the at least one of the available user accounts being from the external data store from the at least one of the available user accounts being from the local data store. 5. A method as recited in claim 2, wherein the representation for the at least one of the available user accounts being from an external data store is displayed graphically distinct from the representation for the at least one of the available user accounts being from the local data store. 6. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the external data store is a peripheral storage device that is separate and apart from the multi-user computer system. 7. A method as recited in claim 6, wherein the peripheral storage device comprises a disk storage medium. 8. A method as recited in claim 6, wherein the peripheral storage device is within a portable media player. 9. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the external data store couples to the multi-user computer system over a peripheral link that couples the external data store to the multi-user computer system. 10. A method as recited in claim 9, wherein the peripheral link is supported by a detachable cable that couples the external data store to the multi-user computer system. 11. A method as recited in claim 10, wherein the peripheral link is a FIREWIRE bus, and wherein the detachable cable is a FIREWIRE cable. 12. A method as recited in claim 9, wherein the peripheral storage device comprises a disk storage medium. 13. A method as recited in claim 9, wherein the peripheral storage device is within a portable media player. 14. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein the account information including at least a user name and a password. 15. A method as recited in claim 1, wherein said retrieving the available user accounts comprises: retrieving the at least one of the available user accounts from the local data store in a first format; and retrieving the at least another of the available user accounts from the external data store in a second format, the second format being different than the first format. 16. A method as recited in claim 15, wherein the first format pertains to a database stored on the local data store, and wherein the second format pertains to a flat file format stored to the external data store. 17. A data storage device including at least computer program code for configuring a multi-user computer system for use by a registered user, the multi-user computer system including at least a processor, an operating system, a display device and a local data store, said computer readable medium comprising: computer program code for retrieving available user accounts pertaining to registered users, at least one of the available user accounts being from the local data store that is within the multi-user computer system and at least another of the available user accounts being from a portable data store that is connectable to the multi-user computer system; computer program code for presenting a representation of the retrieved available user accounts on the display device of the multi-user computer system; computer program code for receiving a selection of one of the retrieved available user accounts by the registered user; computer program code for authenticating the registered user as authorized for use of the selected one of the retrieved available user accounts; and computer program code for configuring the multi-user computer system in accordance with the selected one of the retrieved available user accounts for use by the registered user. Description BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates generally to multi-user computer systems and, more particularly, user account management for multi-user computer systems. 2. Description of the Related Art Multi-user computer systems allow a single computer to support one of a number of different users. In particular, when a user desires to utilize the computer system, the computer system requires that the user login to the computer system. The login process enables the computer system to determine whether the user that is requesting to use the computer system is able to authenticate themselves as an authorized user of the computer system. If the login is successful, the user is able to use the computer system to gain access to various resources either stored locally or on a network to which the computer system is coupled as permitted by a user account. For each user account, the multi-user computer system can provide a separate environment such that different preferences, directories etc. are used for different users such that restrictions on accessing other user's personal space can be imposed. Conventionally, a user account is stored locally within the multi-user computer and a user's personal space (e.g., user directory) for the user is also stored locally. Hence, one problem associated with such conventional approaches is that the user accounts and user directories are provided on local storage of the multi-user computer. While such provides for multi-user support, the user accounts are thus specific to the multi-user computer and stored thereon. Consequently, the user accounts are not portable. For example, a conventional operating system, such as Mac OS X, provides for multi-user support but all user accounts that are created are stored locally in a netinfo database and also have a default user directories hosted on local storage. A few sophisticated users have modified operation of existing operating systems, such as Mac OS X, to provide some portability to their user account from a work computer to a home computer. This requires specialized software tools to manipulate and modify the data structures for a user account in a database (e.g., netinfo database). Armed with such specialized tools, a very sophisticated user would first establish a local user account on the multi-user computer (work computer), and then use the specialized tools to edit the location of the default user directory, such that it is made to reside on an external storage device. Then, at the other location where a multi-user computer (home computer) is to be used by the same user, a user account would be again established on such a machine, and then using special tools to render the user identifier the same as that which the work computer used when creating the user account at the work computer. These modifications to the multi-user computers are not intended modifications and thus tend to compromise the reliability of the operation of the multi-user computers. Further, the required specialized tools, although available, are neither well documented nor user-friendly. Thus, there is a need for improved techniques to enable user accounts to be portable such that a user can carry their user account with them and login to any multi-user computer system that supports portable user accounts. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The invention relates to improved approaches for enabling user accounts to be portable across different multi-user computer systems. A user account can be stored to an external, portable data store, and thus the user account becomes portable. Hence, by coupling the external, portable data store to another multi-user computer system, a user is able to login to any supporting multi-user computer system and be presented with their user configuration and user directory. Since the data store that stores the user account is not only external but also portable, a user can simply tote the data store to the location of the multi-user computer system. In one embodiment, the external, portable data store is able to be coupled to the multi-user computer system for data transfer there between. The external, portable data store can merely provide data storage or can be a portion of a portable computing device that provides other functionality besides data storage. One example of a portable computing device is a media player. The invention can be implemented in numerous ways, including as a method, system, device, apparatus, or computer readable medium. Several embodiments of the invention are discussed below. As a method for configuring a multi-user computer system for use by a registered user, the multi-user computer system including at least a processor, an operating system, a display device and a local data store, one embodiment of the invention includes at least the acts of: retrieving available user accounts pertaining to registered users, at least one of the available user accounts being from the local data store that is within the multi-user computer system and at least another of the available user accounts being from an external data store that is external to the multi-user computer system; presenting a representation of the retrieved available user accounts on the display device of the multi-user computer system; receiving a selection of one of the retrieved available user accounts by the registered user; authenticating the registered user as authorized for use of the selected one of the retrieved available user accounts; and configuring the multi-user computer system in accordance with the selected one of the retrieved available user accounts for use by the registered user. As a method for establishing a portable user account for a user on a multi-user computer system, one embodiment of the invention includes at least: receiving account information for the user; producing an account record based on at least the account information; storing the account record to a portable data store, the portable data store being separate and apart from the multi-user computer system yet operatively connectable with the multi-user computer system; and creating a default folder for the user on the external data store. As a method for establishing a user account for a user on a multi-user computer system, one embodiment includes at least the acts of: receiving account information for the user; displaying a list of available data stores on which the user account can be created, the list of available data stores including at least one internal data store and at least one external data store; receiving a selection of one of the available data stores; producing an account record based on at least the account information; and storing the account record to the selected one of the available data stores. As a computer readable medium including at least computer program code for configuring a multi-user computer system for use by a registered user, the multi-user computer system including at least a processor, an operating system, a display device and a local data store, one embodiment of the invention includes at least: computer program code for retrieving available user accounts pertaining to registered users, at least one of the available user accounts being from the local data store that is within the multi-user computer system and at least another of the available user accounts being from a portable data store that is connectable to the multi-user computer system; computer program code for presenting a representation of the retrieved available user accounts on the display device of the multi-user computer system; computer program code for receiving a selection of one of the retrieved available user accounts by the registered user; computer program code for authenticating the registered user as authorized for use of the selected one of the retrieved available user accounts; and computer program code for configuring the multi-user computer system in accordance with the selected one of the retrieved available user accounts for use by the registered user. As a computer readable medium including at least computer program code for establishing a portable user account for a user on a multi-user computer system, one embodiment of the invention includes at least: computer program code for receiving account information for the user; computer program code for producing an account record based on at least the account information; computer program code for storing the account record to a portable data store, the portable data store being separate and apart from the multi-user computer system yet operatively connectable with the multi-user computer system; and computer program code for creating a default folder for the user on the external data store. As a computer readable medium including at least computer program code for establishing a user account for a user on a multi-user computer system, one embodiment of the invention includes at least: computer program code for receiving account information for the user; computer program code for displaying a list of available data stores on which the user account can be created, the list of available data stores including at least one local data store and at least one portable data store; computer program code for receiving a selection of one of the available data stores; computer program code for producing an account record based on at least the account information; and computer program code for storing the account record to the selected one of the available data stores. As a multi-user computer system, one embodiment of the invention includes at least an external data storage device and a multi-user computer. The external data storage device is removable from the multi-user computer and portable. The multi-user computer has an operating system that includes at least an account creation module and a login module. The account creation module permits new user accounts to be created and stored to the external storage device. The login module permits login with respect to users having their user accounts stored to the external data storage device. Other aspects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, illustrating by way of example the principles of the invention. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The present invention is illustrated by way of example, and not by way of limitation, in the figures of the accompanying drawings and in which like reference numerals refer to similar elements and in which: FIG. 1 is a simplified block diagram of a multi-user computer system according to one embodiment of the invention. FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of user account creation processing according to one embodiment of the invention. FIG. 3 is a flow diagram of user login processing according to one embodiment of the invention. FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a representative media player suitable for use as an external data store in accordance with one embodiment. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION The invention relates to improved approaches for enabling user accounts to be portable across different multi-user computer systems. A user account created at a multi-user computer can be stored to an external, portable data store, and thus the user account becomes portable. The multi-user computer system, e.g., through its operating system, locates user accounts on not only in local storage of the multi-user computer system, but also in any removable data storage attached to the multi-user computer system. Hence, by coupling the external, portable data store to another multi-user computer, a user is able to login to any supporting multi-user computer and be presented with their user configuration and user directory. Since the data store that stores the user account is not only external but also portable, a user can simply tote the data store to the location of different multi-user computers. In one embodiment, the external, portable data store can not only store the user account but can also provide general data storage. The external, portable data store can merely provide data storage or can be a portion of a portable computing device that provides other functionality besides data storage. One example of a portable computing device is a media player. Embodiments of the invention are discussed below with reference to FIGS. 1 4. However, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that the detailed description given herein with respect to these figures is for explanatory purposes as the invention extends beyond these limited embodiments. FIG. 1 is a simplified block diagram of a multi-user computer system 100 according to one embodiment of the invention. The multi-user computer system 100 includes a multi-user computer 102 and an external data storage device 104. The external data storage device 104 is typically a portable storage device that can couple to the local computer 102 over a temporary link 106. The temporary link 106 can be a peripheral bus (e.g., FIREWIRE, Universal Serial Bus (USB)). A cable can be used to provide the electrical connections for the temporary link 106. Although not specifically illustrated in FIG. 1, the multi-user computer 102 includes conventional hardware associated with a computer, namely, a microprocessor, semiconductor memory storage, peripheral bus controller, peripheral ports, disk drives, display device, etc. As the simplified illustration in FIG. 1 indicates, the multi-user computer 102 also includes an operating system 108. The operating system is typically executed by the microprocessor to control basic operations of the multi-user computer 102. The operating system 108, besides various conventional modules, includes an account creation module 110 and a login module 112. The account creation module 110 allows users to create accounts for use of the multi-user computer 102. According to the invention, these user accounts can reside either internal to (or within) the multi-user computer 102 or external to the multi-user computer 102. In one embodiment, the internal (or local) user accounts reside within a local database 114 hosted by the multi-user computer 102. In one embodiment, the external user accounts reside on the external data storage device 106, such as within an account file 116. The login module 112 allows a user to log into any of the previously created user accounts, regardless of whether such accounts are stored locally within the multi-user computer 102 (e.g., stored within the local database 114) or externally in the external data storage device 104 (e.g., stored in the account file 116). The external data storage device 104 provides portable data storage. That is, the external data storage device 104 is highly portable and able to be temporarily connected to different multi-user computers. Examples of external data storage devices include: portable data storage device, media player with data storage, and data storage drive (e.g., FIREWIRE drive). The term "media player" generally refers to computing devices that are dedicated to processing media such as audio, video or other images. Hence, the external data storage device 104 can be contained within a device that provides additional functions or capabilities beyond data storage. Often the external data storage device 104 is hand-held (or pocket-sized) or smaller to increase its portability. Although the external data storage device is noted as being external to the multi-user computer, the external data storage device can, in certain embodiments, plug into a socket, port or bay of the multi-user computer. FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of user account creation processing 200 according to one embodiment of the invention. The user account creation processing 200 operates to create a new account for a user with respect to a multi-user computer system. Hence, the user account creation processing 200 is invoked when a new user account is to be created. Once invoked, the user account creation processing 200 displays 202 an account information request screen. The account information request screen requests that the user enter information for the account that they wish to establish with respect to the multi-user computer system. The account information that might be requested from the user can include a user name, a password, password hint, and one or more user preferences (e.g., picture, background, etc.). A decision 204 then determines whether the account information has been received. In other words, once the account information request screen is displayed 202, the user is requested to provide the account information by completing the entries of the account information request screen and then submitting the information. Hence, the decision 204 determines whether the user has completed the account information screen and submitted the requested information. When the decision 204 determines that the account information has not been received, then the user account creation processing 200 awaits receipt of the account information. On the other hand, once the decision 204 determines that the account information has been received, then the user account creation processing 200 continues. Namely, an account volume request screen is then displayed 206. In one embodiment, the account volume request screen displays a list of available volumes associated with the multi-user computer system. The volumes pertain to regions of data storage devices (e.g., disk drives). The volumes are often associated with different data storage devices. The available account volumes include not only local volumes that are internal to the multi-user computer system but also external volumes that are remote with respect to the multi-user computer system. Since the external volumes are remote from the multi-user computer system, the external volumes are able to be coupled to the multi-user computer system, such as through a peripheral bus. The external volumes can also be considered to be hosted by portable data storage devices. Examples of portable data storage devices include external disk drives and external media devices that provide data storage. Next, a decision 208 determines whether a volume has been selected. Here, the decision 208, in accordance with one embodiment, can determine whether one of the available volumes that has been displayed by the account volume request screen has been selected. When the decision 208 determines that a volume has not yet been selected, the user account creation processing 200 awaits such a selection. Alternatively, when the decision 208 determines that a volume has been selected, then a decision 210 determines whether the selected volume is an external volume. When the decision 210 determines that the selected volume is not an external volume, the selected volume is thus an internal volume. When the selected volume is an internal volume, the user account creation processing 200 produces 212 an account record in a local database format. The account record includes the account information or a portion thereof that has been provided by the user together with other account information generated by the system. For example, the account record might include a user name, a password (in an encrypted format), a user identifier, a password hint, at least one user preference (e.g., a user picture), and a home directory (default directory). The user identifier and the home directory are system-provided. After the account record has been produced 212, the account record is stored 214 to a local database. The local database is provided within the multi-user computer system and serves to store account data for one or more users associated with the multi-user computer system. Further, a home folder is created 216 on the selected volume. Often, the selected volume is a base volume. The base volume is an internal volume for the multi-user computer system. In one embodiment, the base volume is a boot volume that is utilized by the multi-user computer system when booting up. On the other hand, when the decision 210 determines that the selected volume is an external volume, then an account record is produced 218 in a flat file format. The account record is then stored 220 to the external volume (which is the selected volume). Further, a home folder is created 222 on the external volume. Hence, following the operation 216, the new user account has been created on an internal volume of the multi-user computer system, and following the operation 222, the new user account is created on the external volume that is separate and apart from the multi-user computer system (though capable of coupling thereto). In any case, following either the operation 216 or the operation 222, the user account creation processing 200 is complete and ends. In one embodiment, the account record with the flat file format is a markup language document that contains name-value pairs for the account information. As an example, such a markup language document can be a eXtensible Markup Language (XML) document. In one embodiment, the local database that stores account information can be a netinfo database as used by Mac OS X from Apple Computer, Inc. FIG. 3 is a flow diagram of user login processing 300 according to one embodiment of the invention. The user login processing 300 is performed when a user of a multi-user computer system attempts to log into the system to gain access to resources provided therein. In general, for a user to log into the system, the user must have a user account with the system. As an example, a user account can be created with the system using the user account creation processing 200 discussed above with respect to FIG. 2. In any case, the user login processing 300 initially retrieves 302 user account records from a local database. Each user account record pertains to a different user of the system. In one embodiment the local database is provided within the multi-user computer system and stores account records for one or more users. These account records, however, pertain only to those user accounts that utilize an internal volume for storage of the account records. Following the retrieval 302 of the user account records from the local database, a decision 304 determines whether one or more external volumes are accessible to the multi-user computer system. As noted above with respect to FIG. 2, user account records can be stored on external volumes so as to provide portability of such user accounts. Hence, the decision 304 determines whether any external volumes are present. When the decision 304 determines that one or more external volumes are present, then user account records are retrieved 306 from the one or more external volumes. Here, the external volumes are typically portable or removable with respect to the multi-user computer system; hence, in order to retrieve user account records from an external volume, the external volume must be operatively connected to the multi-user computer system. Typically, a cable or other link is utilized to connect a storage device hosting the external volume to the multi-user computer system. In one embodiment, the link is a peripheral bus, such as a FIREWIRE bus or a Universal Serial Bus (USB) provided over a cable. Alternatively, when the decision 304 determines that there are no external volumes present, then the operation 306 is bypassed. Following the operation 306 or its being bypassed, available user accounts are then displayed 308. The available user accounts include those user accounts retrieved from internal volumes as well as those user accounts retrieved from external volumes. By displaying 308 all of the available user accounts, the user is given the option of selecting any one of the available user accounts to be utilized during a login. In one embodiment, those available user accounts that are stored to external volumes are distinguishably displayed from those of the user accounts that are from internal volumes. As an example, available user accounts from external volumes can be displayed such that each has an additional icon displayed proximate thereto. However, various other ways can be utilized to distinguishably display those of the available user accounts that are from external volumes. Next, a decision 310 determines whether an account selection and a password have been received. The account selection is a selection of one of the available user accounts being displayed 308. When the decision 310 determines that an account selection and password have not yet been received, the user login processing 300 can await such information. Here, in order to enable the user to log into the multi-user computer system, the user must select one of the available user accounts and provide at least a password in order to gain access to that user account. Often, a user name is also needed for the user to gain access to a user account. When the decision 310 determines that an account selection and a password have not yet been received, then the user login processing 300 awaits such information. Once the decision 310 determines that one of the available user accounts has been selected and a password (and perhaps user name) for entry into that user account have been received, then the user is authenticated 312. Here, the user is authenticated typically by at least the password and often by both the password and user name. When the multi-user computer system determines that the user is authenticated through use of the password and/or user name, then the user is deemed authenticated 312. In the event that the user is not authenticated, then the user login processing 300 would deny the user access to the selected user account. However, as illustrated in FIG. 3, after the user has been authenticated 312 (which is assumed to be successful), a system environment for the multi-user computer system is configured 314. The configuration of the system environment can, for example, set a user identifier to that value associated with the selected user account, set the user's preferences, and establish the user directory (home directory). Hence, the system environment is dependent on the selected user account that a user has successfully logged into. As noted above, the external data store can be a portable media player having data storage capabilities. FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a representative media player 400 suitable for use as an external data store in accordance with one embodiment. The media player 400 includes a processor 402 that pertains to a microprocessor or controller for controlling the overall operation of the media player 400. The media player 400 stores media data pertaining to media items in a file system 404 and a cache 406. The file system 404 is typically a storage disk or a plurality of disks. The file system 404 typically provides high capacity storage capability for the media player 400. However, since the access time to the file system 404 is relatively slow, the media player 400 can also include a cache 406. The cache 406 is, for example, Random-Access Memory (RAM) provided by semiconductor memory. The relative access time to the cache 406 is substantially shorter than for the file system 404. However, the cache 406 does not have the large storage capacity of the file system 404. Further, the file system 404, when active, consumes more power than does the cache 406. The power consumption is particularly important when the media player 400 is a portable media player that is powered by a battery (not shown). The file system 404 can also store one or more user accounts (portable user accounts) and store user folders, directories or files. In general, the file system 404 acts as a data store. In one embodiment, the file system 404 is provided by a disk drive. The media player 400 also includes a RAM 420 and a Read-Only Memory (ROM) 422. The ROM 422 can store programs, utilities or processes to be executed in a non-volatile manner. The RAM 420 provides volatile data storage, such as for the cache 406. The media player 400 also includes a user input device 408 that allows a user of the media player 400 to interact with the media player 400. For example, the user input device 408 can take a variety of forms, such as a button, keypad, dial, etc. Still further, the media player 400 includes a display 410 (screen display) that can be controlled by the processor 402 to display information to the user. A data bus 411 can facilitate data transfer between at least the file system 404, the cache 406, the processor 402, and the CODEC 412. In one embodiment, the media player 400 serves to store a plurality of media items (e.g., songs) in the file system 404. When a user desires to have the media player play a particular media item, a list of available media items is displayed on the display 410. Then, using the user input device 408, a user can select one of the available media items. The processor 402, upon receiving a selection of a particular media item, supplies the media data (e.g., audio file) for the particular media item to a coder/decoder (CODEC) 412. The CODEC 412 then produces analog output signals for a speaker 414. The speaker 414 can be a speaker internal to the media player 400 or external to the media player 400. For example, headphones or earphones that connect to the media player 400 would be considered an external speaker. The media player 400 also includes a bus interface 416 that couples to a data link 418. The data link 418 allows the media player 400 to couple to a host computer. In one embodiment, the data link 418 pertains to a FIREWIRE bus or a Universal Serial Bus (USB). The various aspects or features of the invention described above can be used alone or in various combinations. The invention is preferably implemented by a combination of hardware and software, but can also be implemented in either hardware or software. The invention can also be embodied as computer readable code on a computer readable medium. The computer readable medium is any data storage device that can store data which can thereafter be read by a computer system. Examples of the computer readable medium include read-only memory, random-access memory, CD-ROMs, DVDs, magnetic tape, optical data storage devices, and carrier waves. The computer readable medium can also be distributed over network-coupled computer systems so that the computer readable code is stored and executed in a distributed fashion. The advantages of the invention are numerous. Different embodiments or implementations may yield one or more of the following advantages. It should be noted that this is not an exhaustive list and there may be other advantages which are not described herein. One advantage of the invention is that a user is able to carry an external storage device to any multi-user computer system that supports the external storage device and then log into to the system in an ordinary manner to gain access to general and user-specific resources as if it were the user's personal system. Another advantage of the invention is that user accounts for multi-user computer systems can be stored on external storage devices. Still another advantage of the invention is that external storage devices can serve other purposes besides user account storage and/or be part of devices having additional functions and capabilities. The many features and advantages of the present invention are apparent from the written description, and thus, it is intended by the appended claims to cover all such features and advantages of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation as illustrated and described. Hence, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to as falling within the scope of the invention.

Re:Impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401185)

Except that reading the actual description, it includes apps (/usr/local or /opt, in addition to ~user/ for those of us who don't install EVERYTHING in home), and also syncs with the version of ~user on your "home" machine. So sure - it's nothing that a clever rsync script and some disciplined filesystem organization can't accomplish. That and the fact that one doesn't need to twiddle /etc/passwd on the non-home machines to get them to notice the new user, and let it run off of the drive.

Hopefully someone will mod the parent to this down to ignorant troll.

= instant rootkit! (4, Funny)

dolphinling (720774) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401059)

Wheee, I'll put my root account on my ipod and then I can take over any box I want! Woohoo!

Except wait. I don't run OSX. I run Linux. And I don't have an ipod.

Oh well.

[offtopic] Binary fun (5, Funny)

toadlife (301863) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401175)

"There are 11 types of people in the world: those who can count in binary, and those who can't.

So what is the third type? Those who think they can?

Re:[offtopic] Binary fun (0, Offtopic)

Knara (9377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401289)

tee hee, if I had mod points you'd get'em

Re:[offtopic] Binary fun (2, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | more than 7 years ago | (#16402479)

Only on Slashdot could a post like that get +1, Informative. Somewhat ironic that it truly is informative.

Re:[offtopic] Binary fun (1)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401457)

Hmm, that version of the joke might as well have been ""There are 11 types of people in the world: those who can count, and those who can't."

I don't know where I'm going with this.

Re:[offtopic] Binary fun (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401537)

So what is the third type? Those who think they can?

Heres a test for the third type. Binary 101. What value does 101 have in traditional Euclidean Math? A clue, it's not one hundred and one.

Re:[offtopic] Binary fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401615)

I thought that was pretty funny until I checked the GP and found that he didn't type that nor have anything to do with counting or binary.

So in keeping with /. protocol:

1) Quote yourself mangling a joke.

2) Answer yourself with a snide (albeit funny) modification.

3) ???

4) PROFIT!!! (mod-point-wise)

Re:[offtopic] Binary fun (1)

jaysones (138378) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401707)

You didn't check the GP's sig obviously.

Re:[offtopic] Binary fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16402207)

Who, Dolphinling? Saw nothing in his post and I checked his blog and website, no mention of anything binary. But I guess I'm not seeing something that everyone else is.

Re:[offtopic] Binary fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16402317)

If you change your sig, it's changed on all your posts, past as well as future. So the reason you don't see it is that the guy probably changed his sig.

Re:[offtopic] Binary fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401645)

Those who count in unary.

Re:[offtopic] Binary fun (2, Insightful)

goldmeer (65554) | more than 7 years ago | (#16402515)

"There are 11 types of people in the world: those who can count in binary, and those who can't."

"So what is the third type? Those who think they can?"

That would be correct. And you are one of them.

0 - The unwashed masses that do not realise that you can have a yes/no value represented by one bit
1 - The clueful
10 - "Psuedonerds" that almost "get it"
11 - I can only guess "underwear gnomes with hot grits"

The joke should have been:
There are 1 types of people in the world: those who can count in binary, and those who can't.
(Boy that would drive the grammar nazis craaaazy!)

Re:= instant rootkit! (1)

MicrosoftRepresentit (1002310) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401215)

Hi! I use Linux! Its really great! Can I have some mod-points too? I was going to put some sarcastic geek tought talk in here too but I can't think of any.

Re:= instant rootkit! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401291)

Fag.

Re:= instant rootkit! (1)

pkulak (815640) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401647)

So you proudly tell everyone you can that you run Linux and you screw up copying a geeky phrase off a t-shirt because you don't actually know what it means? Is this Digg?

Prior art? (5, Informative)

SIGBUS (8236) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401063)

Such functionality is already available in Knoppix [knoppix.org]. Not only can you store your configuration and updates on a USB thumb drive or HD, but the OS itself is portable, too.

Re:Prior art? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401203)

Don't worry. That just means Knoppix is illegal. Only The Terrarists use it. The USA's patent system is THE BEST IN THE WURLDS.

Re:Prior art? (5, Interesting)

lmpeters (892805) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401239)

I think the idea here is that the home directory is mirrored on the internal hard disk AND an external device of some kind. Then again, I think InterMezzo [inter-mezzo.org] has prior art on that. So this may seem like a novel idea for your average PC user, but it's not novel enough to warrant a patent.

Of course, it's not like the USPTO hasn't ever issued a patent on something that should never have been patentable...

Re:Prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401451)

Is it prior to November 25, 2002?

Re:Prior art? (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#16402271)

You think the idea, as in your gleaned it from incomplete information, or you know it, as in you read the patent, and you are a patent attorney, so you actually know something? I'm suspecting the former, but you may yet surprise me.

Re:Prior art? (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401479)

I dunno, I've been doing that with Mac OS X since 2001, when the first iPod was released.

In other words, I could install both the OS or keep my user account on the iPod HDD. In comparison Knoppix has only been around since 2002, hasn't it?

Re:Prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401691)

Or COW (Cache on write) blobs used in virtualisation systems like User Mode Linux... or any Kerberos like
account on a mounted removable device...or....

But remember patents are of the form a && b && c && d ... && x && y && z, if any term is not satisfied the
challenge does not stand. Having read through the claims the procedure is so specific that even their own
engineers trying to implement it from the patent description would probably leave something out and fail.

Why the fuck do they bother wasting money and time on this circus? Every patent a company files makes me
less likely to buy or recommend their products since patents are dead ideas from the 20th Century.

Hmm...doesnt windows have this? (4, Insightful)

dontbflat (994444) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401071)

This sure sounds a lot like romming profiles on windows. You can correct me if I'm wrong, but thats just my take on it.

Re:Hmm...doesnt windows have this? (1)

Ark42 (522144) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401155)

I dunno, but when I play musical chairs with various hardware pieces and build myself a new computer with a fresh Windows installation, I never seem to have any trouble just copying the entire folder from Documents and Settings over to the new installation. As long as I install the same programs, things always have worked just fine. Heck, the HKCU part of the registry comes with the user profile as well, so I don't have to re-customize the way I like things.

Re:Hmm...doesnt windows have this? (4, Insightful)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401253)

Roaming profiles is a synchronization mess unless the profiles are server-managed. I've never really seen roaming profiles successfully employed outside of the corporate environment. Sure, you and I are capable of handling it, but the devil's in the details, as they say.

If Apple pulls this off, it will be seamless and invisible and mostly foolproof--three adjectives you'll never hear associated with roaming profiles.

Re:Hmm...doesnt windows have this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401435)

You are wrong, Roaming profiles work over a network, this feature would work on any newer osx computer anywhere, with no servers involved. Essentually this would mean you walk into your friends house siyt at the computer plug in your flash stick and boom you are at your interface, the same background, programs, favorites/bookmarks, etc.. that you have at home even though this computer is not connected to your machine or a server. You do your work using your copy of word which your friend doesn't even have.. and when you get home it automaticly syncs your updated word file on your home computer.

Re:Hmm...doesnt windows have this? (1)

Hawthorne01 (575586) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401611)

But if it's a just a user account, I don't think it would have the applications as well. Unless you want to piss off the other users on your Mac and install all your apps in your user account alone...

Re:Hmm...doesnt windows have this? (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401837)

Hmm, that's actually a great point, but wouldn't the SW companies love that--licenses for each user instead of for each computer.

That asside, at a university, the place is usually awash with apps, but where are your documents? In your flash drive or email, if you keep them on the server, how do you get them from home (scp will do, but it's not the easiest to use relative to "click here, do that.")

Re:Hmm...doesnt windows have this? (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 7 years ago | (#16402073)

This is definitely different from roaming profiles, as it should require a lot less manual labor and know how, but it looks like this is something that could be easily implimented in Windows.

Re:Hmm...doesnt windows have this? (1)

bergeron76 (176351) | more than 7 years ago | (#16402309)

Uhmm, no. Roaming profiles is a client-server model. You have to have a dedicated authentication server (a PDC in the windowz case) for authentication.

Drat - I just feel for your flamebait...

So when... (4, Funny)

Quaoar (614366) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401083)

...does Apple release their 5TB iPod to help make my porn collection mobile? Or am I going to have to carry around a backpack full of them?

Feature removed from 10.3 (5, Interesting)

bubba451 (779167) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401087)

This was actually once promised and even advertised as part of 10.3 "Panther" and then was inexplicably removed. Here was the marketing blurb:

Home away from home

Ever thought you could carry your home in the palm of your hands or in your pocket? You can. Panther's Home on iPod feature lets you store your home directory - files, folders, apps - on your iPod (or any FireWire hard drive) and take it with you wherever you go. When you find yourself near a Panther-equipped Mac, just plug in the iPod, log in, and you're "home," no matter where you happen to be. And when you return to your home computer, you can synchronize any changes you've made to your files by using File Sync, which automatically updates offline changes to your home directory.

Mac Rumors [macrumors.com] has some of the history.

In the palm of your hand? (1)

Seoulstriker (748895) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401467)

Ever thought you could carry your home in the palm of your hands?

I know that I can carry my entire genome in the palm of my hand... about 15,000,000 copies of it. Beat that!

Re:In the palm of your hand? (4, Funny)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401755)

Yeah, but it's in a proprietary encrypted format which is unreadable without specialized equipment. (That has all been reverse-engineered to read the format: the original creator refuses to open their toolkit.)

Re:In the palm of your hand? (2, Funny)

dmd (404) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401773)

You must have really fucking tiny palms if that's all you can carry.

Re:Feature removed from 10.3 (4, Interesting)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401763)

At the time, according to some, the real problem was the hard drive of the iPod it isn't/wasn't designed to be used as a real HD, running for hours continuously. Hence the cache and spin up/spin down. Yeah, it saves on battery life, but it also saves the HD life.

But I still put OS X, drive utils & my home dir there. Very nice if you have accounts on your work & home mac. And my iPod is still going 4 yrs later, so I guess it wasn't too hard, or I got lucky.

They are waiting for the right time.... (3, Interesting)

d0n quix0te (304783) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401119)

... to turn on a new business model. I am pretty sure that Apple is waiting for two things before they release this feature. First, next generation EFI based PCs and second for 8GB flash memory to come down in pricing.

This way, you could safely run OS X off the portable device (mini-hard drives in iPods are not meant to take repeated read/writes...). Apple will then make a business of selling a 'home to go' device that you can take with you and plug into any next gen PC. Voila! Instant access to all your Apps and files.

This way they can make up any lost sales of OS X/Mac by selling us a portable device.

-S

Re:They are waiting for the right time.... (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401799)

I agree in theory, it would be a nice device.

But this makes you choose between your 8GB of music and your 8GB of apps+docs. Not a whole lot of room if you start sharing that space.

I would assume that they would allow, or maybe require!, the music directory to not be synced, since in theory it's on the music side of the iPod. Mine, however, is on a separate, larger partition.

In the 90's (2, Interesting)

LennyDotCom (26658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401243)

I used to have an external SCSI HD that I booted from on my mac. Back then I could plug it in to any Mac and boot to my Desktop with all my software I thought that was so awsome. Someone had a boot problen or what ever I just plugged in my HD booted then fixed it.

I life was so easy then

Re:In the 90's (1)

GLneo (993471) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401547)

You can just carry around an internal ATA drive and just boot your whole OS with all your Software and every thing!, but i think that defeats the point. What is the point? Can't you all ready put your software on a USB drive and take it with, what else is there other than your Docs + Apps?

Re:In the 90's (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401749)

Actually, you can boot off of the firewire drives now on the Macs. I don't know how USB is doing though. Or you probably could just bring a Mac Mini and boot off of it the same way you boot off of an external hard drive.

It's VERY handy for diagnosing problems, backup etc.

Re:In the 90's (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16402221)

Why just the home directory? Why not put an entire OS install in a VM and carry that around with you? I saw a demo last year by a guy from IBM doing that. He kept his OS and local files on a Xen image on a USB flash drive. It would resume state when he plugged it into a machine and if there was an Internet connection it could even establish a VPN connection back home and mount a remote share. When he suspended the VM, he didn't just take his documents with him, he took his entire machine state.

Re:In the 90's (2, Interesting)

eclectic4 (665330) | more than 7 years ago | (#16402393)

"I used to have an external SCSI HD that I booted from on my mac. Back then I could plug it in to any Mac and boot to my Desktop with all my software I thought that was so awsome. Someone had a boot problen or what ever I just plugged in my HD booted then fixed it. I life was so easy then"
 
I don't understand this statement, or why it was modded up. Go out and buy a 100 GB Firelite (or any external FW drive, FireLites can just fit in your pocket and are bus powered meaning no external power whatsoever, just a FW cord), clone your entire Mac to it, and boot it on any other Mac by holding down the option key on boot and selecting it. The Mac will find any mounted volumes with a blessed OS installed on it and you can boot from whichever one you choose. Been able to to this for years. I have a Firelite with three partitions on it, one is simply a clone of my home Mac that I can boot to and run and diagnostics, directory fixer-uppers, etc.., on the now mounted internal drive. I can copy files, whatever I want, and the other two partitions on my Firelite are images of Tiger and Panther install DVD's that I can use for installs (or archive and installs). Can fix almost all software issues on a Mac with a thing that I can easily fit in my front pocket. No CD's, DVD's, laptops, etc...

So Apple patents automounting home directories ? (4, Funny)

ccandreva (409807) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401269)

Amazing. To bad nobody thought of that 20 years ago.

Oh wait.

Re:So Apple patents automounting home directories (0, Troll)

nuckin futs (574289) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401369)

Apple did not invent it nor develop it, like a lot of things. They just make it easier for joe sixpack to use and implement such things. Simple, seamless and flawless integration is their forte.

Re:So Apple patents automounting home directories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401577)

Why aren't you the most cuddly woddly fanboi out there..........

Re:So Apple patents automounting home directories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16402147)

thanx!!! now i can run my microsoft while watching nascar on my sony tv in my trailer

luv,
joe sixpack

Re:So Apple patents automounting home directories (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401889)

...automounting home directories where there isn't a user account. It's the where clause that no one has quite come up with before. Maybe thought of it, but never figured out how to implement it. Even Apple has struggled with it for a couple of years now.

Re:So Apple patents automounting home directories (3, Interesting)

joe_bruin (266648) | more than 7 years ago | (#16402037)

It would be fairly simple to create a PAM module and daemon that, when detecting a USB device with certain information on it (say a passwd file), could mount that disk in /home/thatuser (overriding file permissions so that all items are owned by that user and nodev, nosuid), and allow that user to log in. It would not take any more modifications than that to make any Linux or BSD system be capable of doing roaming profiles on a removable drive. Quick, someone implement it!

.mac (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401299)

.mac provides some of this functionality. I have most of what I do on a daily basis on .mac, so it does not matter what machine I use. My mail, documents, etc can be easily synched between machines. This also means that I have three copies of everything, which is not as good as backup, but it pretty good. I can even sync my safari and camino bookmarks

What is missing is my library files, x-windows config and the like. So much is stuffed into the library files, mine is over 2GB, that I don't see how I could keep it remotely. I could put it on my ipod, but not my usb key.

Re:.mac (1)

ianwestcott (946158) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401743)

This strikes me as what they're really trying to accomplish with this patent filing. Not something you take with you, but something that's stored on the server all the time. When you sit down at a Mac, you could log in with your .Mac account instead of a local account for that particular machine.

This is new? (0, Redundant)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401359)

Just last week I set up a user account on my Linux box for my roommate. I partitioned his 80GB external hard drive so that he'd have a 1GB ex3 and a 79GB FAT32 partition.

The ext3 partition is mounted under /home/rensik, and the FAT32 partition under /home/rensik/Desktop.

For the past year and a half, my home directory has resided on my external 250GB drive, which might get connected to any of three machines.

yes, some sort of "archive" format might work (1)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401361)

This is brilliant. I can imagine some sort of program which could archive [gnu.org] all your files and configuration information, and then.. perhaps some sort of compression [gnu.org] could be applied to allow for greater portability. Great idea! Someone should try implementing this for Linux.

Can already do this with Yellow Dog Linux (3, Informative)

billdar (595311) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401403)

Put a complete Yellow Dog Linux install on your iPod [linuxjournal.com] and reboot any PPC mac into your entire OS with all your settings and applications. When on the move, it still plays your music and can be used with iTunes.

Even IBM does this [slashdot.org] to recover dead PC's.

Does this mean I can declare prior art? Get my lawyer on the bat-phone

Re:Can already do this with Yellow Dog Linux (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401929)

You're missing the point.

Take your iPod, plug it into another Mac, and log into that home directory. Where there has never been a user account for that home directory on the host Mac.

What you described can be done with OS X as well. I've done it on my iPod for about 4 years now. Install a bunch of disk tools on the iPod, and you have a great troubleshooting device.

Re:Can already do this with Yellow Dog Linux (1)

billdar (595311) | more than 7 years ago | (#16402149)

Naw, I see where you're coming from... but :)

My main point is that as where they are describing re-logging in for your home directory, you can just as simply reboot and get all your applications.

It doesn't exactly help to carry your presentations/spreadsheets/etc.. around with you if nothing on the host system will display them.

bahahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401415)

So kind of like the "Roaming Profiles" feature that MSFT has had since, what, NT4.0? I thought all the copying was in the other direction!

Uh huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401501)

Tell you what, call me when you Windows guys can boot into Windows from any old external hard drive with a copy of Windows installed on it, attached to pretty much any computer.

Macs have been able to do that for, what, 20 years now? It makes troubleshooting the occasional non-booting Mac I come across in my job a complete breeze. No messing with BartPE or anything like that here!

Roaming Profiles (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401445)

Thats what it sounds like to me, except you can store it on a removable device instead of a server.

Still, would be nice to have, if they can solve the massive security risks.

"OSX"? What's that? Is it like a rip-off of OS X? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401449)

Fer fuck's sake, I can almost forgive posters for being too lazy to know the name of the OS under discussion, but I'd like to imagine that the /. editors would take the time to learn how to write the name for headlines.

You can actually already do this on a Mac... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401493)

You have to enter a lot of Terminal commands to set it up, and setup isn't for the novice, but it can be done. MacAddict had an article on it some years back, and I used a combination of their article and another I found online to set up all of the user home directories for my Mac (running Tiger) on another partition. Which could as easily have been another drive.

Re:You can actually already do this on a Mac... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401613)

"A lot of" Terminal commands may have been an overstatement. Must have been me remembering my nervousness as I did each step, as I was worried about having to redo everything if I messed up. Four commands.
http://www.bombich.com/mactips/homedir.html [bombich.com]

Also, the MacAddict How To article was December 2004, but it seems that they had a shorter bit in the Ask Us section in January 2004.

iPod you say? Why yes! (1)

AWhiteFlame (928642) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401649)

This definitely sounds like something the iPod would win at and would still be apple-style. You can just picture the keynote where Jobs has 2 iMacs and an iPod with a user account, he removes the iPod from dock 1 and places it in dock 2, clicks around, "...and boom. I'm logged in with all my settings, bookmarks, and files." I think I could see myself using this functionality.

Lessee... Get Info... Calculating... (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401775)

That'd be a 12GB home directory on my iBook G4 - better pony up for the non-flash iPod.

evil (2, Informative)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401821)

This feature has been available under UNIX for more than two decades. For Apple to patent this is really evil.

Re:evil (1)

KayosIII (655272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16402049)

Almost but I can see a 2 subtle destinctions... 1) On Unix the user ID is a number and may not correspond to the user ID on another computer. So there must be another mechanism for identifying the user. 2) There seems to be an auto syncronisation between the Local Account and the Portable Account. IE changed settings and added data are written in both places. Personally I hate that stuff like this can be patented.

Old Planned Feature (1, Redundant)

beefstu01 (520880) | more than 7 years ago | (#16401853)

For what it's worth, I believe that this was meant to be a feature in 10.3, but it got cut. As I recall, when Steve Jobs first announced the OS, there was a small blurb on the "Sneak Peek" page about a "Home on your iPod" feature. It was up for a month or so, then disappeared. Guess it's been in the pipeline for a while. Source. [macrumors.com]

why would you want this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16401857)

wouldn't you just want to be root everywhere?

New? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16402029)

``All of which seems to suggest that at some time soon we may be able to load our user accounts onto an iPod, hard drive or USB keydrive and take them wherever we go.''

And we aren't able to do that yet?

Long live the NeXT! (1)

taweili (111177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16402055)

When Jobs brought out NeXT in the 1990, he refused to have harddrive in NeXT and insist everything on the 250MB Optical/Magnetic disc. The idea was the students can carry everything they have on the disc and use any machine available.
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