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'Hybrid' HDD Technology To Allow Data Access Without Booting

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the wonders-of-the-mondern-age dept.

144

jfruhlinger writes "You've got a file on your laptop that you need to access — but you don't want to wait for your laptop to boot up to get at it. New technology from the company Silicon Storage Technology will make the contents of a hard drive accessible via a computer's USB port even when the computer is powered down. 'FlashMate combines hardware, firmware and software in a system application subsystem that manages a notebook computer's hard drive. It is based on SST's expertise in NAND flash controllers and memory subsystem design with Insyde Software's expertise in PC BIOS, system software and power management. FlashMate can work in conjunction with features such as Windows Vista ReadyDrive and serve as nonvolatile cache for the hard disk drive, thus enabling a standard hard disk drive to function as a hybrid drive.'"

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Hey, what a great idea! (4, Informative)

Megane (129182) | about 7 years ago | (#20953749)

Too bad that Apple has supported HD access without booting for years. Firewire target mode, and SCSI target mode before that.

Re:Hey, what a great idea! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20953861)

And this should prevent others from implementing a similar feature how?

Re:Hey, what a great idea! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954095)

And this should prevent others from buying a Slashvertisement for their similar feature how?
Fixed that for you.

Re:Hey, what a great idea! (1)

Foolicious (895952) | about 7 years ago | (#20953969)

Too bad that Apple has supported HD access without booting for years. Firewire target mode, and SCSI target mode before that.
Why is this "too bad"? I'd think this would be "too good" or at least "good" for Apple users, right? Unless you really don't care about discussing the actual functionality and just want to sling around a bunch of meaningless, childlike chatter for the purposes of ... well, I don't even understand why you'd do it, actually. Why do you do it?

Re:Hey, what a great idea! (3, Informative)

Tobenisstinky (853306) | about 7 years ago | (#20954101)

I think what megane was trying to point out was that this was being touted as "new and revolutionary" while Apple has been doing it for years. As for why we do it, it's great for data recovery if the OS goes bye-bye or a laptop screen gets smashed, we can copy the drive over to another laptop and contiue working. Because Apple builds the OS and hardware, it all plays nice together, and you can boot a desktop with a laptop in target disk mode. (Provided you have your architectures in sync - or have built a "universal" system. It's great for diagnosing hardware vs software problems.

Re:Hey, what a great idea! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954219)

I think what megane was trying to point out was that this was being touted as "new and revolutionary" while Apple has been doing it for years.
I assume you mean that apple has been touting old technology as "new and revolutionary" for years yeah?

Re:Hey, what a great idea! (1)

bdr529 (1063398) | about 7 years ago | (#20954111)

I think the OP was attemting to point out that, while the posted article makes this sound like something new, it is not. But I'm not an apple fan-boy...

Re:Hey, what a great idea! (4, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | about 7 years ago | (#20954175)

Why it's cool that's easy

my powerbook died. the graphics chip stopped working, so the display was all screwed up. I bought a new Mac Mini, plugged in my firewire cable into both computers. I booted the bad powerbook into target disk mode, and turned on the mac mini for the first time.

As OS X initaized it gave me the option of importing settings and applications from another computer. It mounted my poor powerbook as a fire wire drive, copied everything over including passwords and user settings. two hours(20 gigs of stuff to copy) I had a nearly identical system up and running. I had to change things like the computers network name, change the resolution, but I was up and running fully. No reinstalling software for a day. it just worked.

I took the powerbook back to apple for repairs. when i got it back I repeated the process in reverse restoring the powerbook to what I had before in just a couple of hours, not days of reinstalling software like windows requires.

Yes I said days as windows software installs don't like being transfered in such ways.

Re:Hey, what a great idea! (2, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about 7 years ago | (#20957005)

To be fair, software-copy-protected apps on the Mac don't like being transferred that way, either, but at least for most of them, you just have to reauthorize them. There are a few, however, that are poorly written and break completely (you have zero days to register this software before saving and printing are disabled), requiring reinstallation of the app after a transfer. (Finale, I'm looking at you.) Fortunately, such problems are rare in my experience.

Re:Hey, what a great idea! (1)

Foolicious (895952) | about 7 years ago | (#20954345)

Yeah - thanks for the responses. I guess I didn't explain myself well, perhaps because of my annoyance. My point was that the only reason this would be "too bad" would be if you were trying to tout one thing versus another, as opposed to talking about the technology. Is it new technology? No - as the so-called fan boys have certainly, and redundantly, told us all. Is it a new "application" of technology? I think this could be easily argued yes. So, while my annoyance could be that I just need a cup of coffee, it could also be that I'm sick of everything ending up as a debate about Apple vs. whatever, etc.

Re:Hey, what a great idea! (1, Flamebait)

FinchWorld (845331) | about 7 years ago | (#20954087)

Too bad that Apple has supported HD access without booting for years. Firewire target mode, and SCSI target mode before that. Too bad Apple never supported it via USB then eh? What with USB being widely more available on say, your friends/parents/co-workers/public computer as opposed to firewire.

Re:Hey, what a great idea! (2, Informative)

demon (1039) | about 7 years ago | (#20954665)

Mostly because you'd need a dedicated USB port - FireWire/i.Link/IEEE 1394 is a *peer to peer* bus, so all ports work the same, whereas USB ports have *host* ports and *device* ports. It makes it much more difficult to implement. On the older NewWorld PPC systems, FireWire target mode was simply implemented by a little bit of Forth that talked on the FireWire bus, accepted commands, and read from/wrote to the system's internal disk as directed - it's so dirt simple. (I understand the Intel based systems have it as well, and I'm sure it's implemented similarly, with a small EFI program.)

Re:Hey, what a great idea! (2, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about 7 years ago | (#20957275)

Mostly correct.

IIRC, software-switchable USB silicon does exist, though it isn't all that common. Of course, if you switch one of the standard USB connectors over into device mode, you'd still need a highly nonstandard USB cable with two "type A" connectors on it instead of a "type A" and a "type B"---a specialized cable that almost nobody actually owns. By contrast, FireWire requires only a standard cable that anyone who has any (non-camcorder) FireWire peripherals should already own. Thus, unless you waste a whole lot of space on the back of the case for a connector that is used exclusively for this, USB won't be even remotely as convenient as FireWire in spite of the ubiquity of USB.

USB really sucks for this sort of thing. I'd imagine that's why Apple didn't choose to do USB target disk mode when they dropped SCSI despite the fact that all Macs had USB by that time. USB just isn't suited to the task (not to mention that it is slower in practice, hogs the CPU, etc., thus making it a really bad choice for booting off another machine's hard drive).

Besides, who waits for a computer to boot these days? Haven't people heard of sleep or hibernation? It takes maybe five seconds from opening my laptop to actually getting work done, including the time spent typing in my login password....

Re:Hey, what a great idea! (1)

slart42 (694765) | about 7 years ago | (#20955519)

Too bad Apple never supported it via USB then eh? What with USB being widely more available on say, your friends/parents/co-workers/public computer as opposed to firewire.
Not really an issue, given that Macs all came with FireWire for quite a while, and that typical non-Macs wouldn't know how to access a mac-formated Hard disk anyways (yes I know there are ways to do it, but can your friends/parents/co-workers do it?).

Details? (1)

WK2 (1072560) | about 7 years ago | (#20954491)

The article is quite short on details. So you don't access your files by booting your computer. Then how do you access them? Does it act as external storage, so you can transfer files from your computer to another computer that is already booted? Does it provide some sort of minimal access to your files without needing a second computer?

Wow. (5, Funny)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | about 7 years ago | (#20953759)

You've got a file on your laptop that you need to access -- but you don't want to wait for your laptop to boot up to get at it.
Damn... and I thought I was fucking lazy.

Fucking Lazy? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954589)

Give us more details, please. Who is Lazy? Is he good in bed?

My dick! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20953763)

I can't fit it up my ass!
-Cory Doctorow

alright! (5, Funny)

snark23 (122331) | about 7 years ago | (#20953771)

Now I don't even have to boot to steal sensitive information. This will save so much time!

Re:alright! (1)

stunt_penguin (906223) | about 7 years ago | (#20953883)

That's my sensitive information, you insensitive clod!

Re:alright! (1)

arivanov (12034) | about 7 years ago | (#20954235)

Ahem. My thought exactly. I bet it does not recognise administrator versus user rights.

Re:alright! (1)

johnkzin (917611) | about 7 years ago | (#20956033)


Or access rights at all.

What if I want to mount my laptop on my desktop machine, but I don't want ANYONE else to be able to do that?

Further, what if my hard drive isn't formatted in a windows format? Is the vendor of this technology supporting HFS+, UFS, the linux version of UFS, etc?

Re:alright! (1)

fmobus (831767) | about 7 years ago | (#20956945)

There is no way of preventing someone from taking your harddrive, remount it and then accessing it circumventing whatever "user rights" mechanism the file system has. For example, in an ext3 filesystem, as long as your UID matches the UID of the file, you can access it.

The only way to be sure is encrypting the whole harddrive or encrypting your sensitive infomation. Period.

Macs (4, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | about 7 years ago | (#20953817)

That's odd, all the Macs I've owned in the last 7+ years have done that though FireWire Disk Mode. Boot, hold a key down, in 5 seconds or so you have a oversized, way overpowered, external FireWire disk. It's about time the rest of the computer world started getting this ability.

Of course, since I just put my computers to sleep I don't have to worry about boot time.

It's a useful ability though. I've used it a few times on my Macs. Plus, it makes getting a new Mac and transferring things over (using the installer's transfer wizard) trivial.

Re:Macs (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20953997)

Yeah, that's just it. Macs use Firewire, which means it's completely fucking useless to people who aren't pretentious. Isn't it about time Apple caught up with the rest of the computer world and started supporting it via USB so they could actually interoperate with non-Applers? Oh yeah, interoperation is a big no-no for Apple.

Re:Macs (3, Interesting)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 7 years ago | (#20954005)

Now why the hell don't reviews ever mention stuff like that? I'd have bought a Mac for that feature alone.

Re:Macs (2, Interesting)

quanticle (843097) | about 7 years ago | (#20954563)

Now why the hell don't reviews ever mention stuff like that? I'd have bought a Mac for that feature alone.

Perhaps because Apple doesn't publicize the feature either. There are many cool things that the Mac OS can do that aren't well publicized. Another example is universal spell checking [tuaw.com] , which I also never hear mentioned.

Re:Macs (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | about 7 years ago | (#20954781)

I was very surprised when I got my first iMac two years ago. I hadn't heard of half the neat stuff this thing (or laptop models) can do. I don't understand why Apple doesn't run something like it's iPhone adds for it's other hardware. Show off the actual features instead of the silly skits they do now. Almost like they're TRYING to hold back :\

Re:Macs (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | about 7 years ago | (#20955459)

There are many cool things that the Mac OS can do that aren't well publicized.

Target mode isn't part of the Mac OS, it's part of the firmware. It was damned useful for recovering data from my G3 iBook that had the logic board problem. It originally came with Mac OS 9 preinstalled, with Mac OS X disks included. It was independent from the OS.

Re:Macs (1)

quanticle (843097) | about 7 years ago | (#20956521)

Given that the firmware on Macs is much more closely integrated with the OS than on PCs, the distinction isn't as sharp on that platform. In any case, my point stands - Macs can do lots of cool things that Apple doesn't tell us they can do.

Re:Macs (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | about 7 years ago | (#20956651)

Well.. It depends... If one can turn on Firewire mode, and access an unformatted disk without OS... Then it's firmware and not the OS.

Never said they couldn't do a lot of cool things, but to me something that works on a computer without an OS or bootloader being present is by definition firmware.

Re:Macs (2, Insightful)

tengwar (600847) | about 7 years ago | (#20957943)

One they really should mention because it usually catches new Mac users out: how to de-install an application. I spent some time looking for the Add/Remove Programs equivalent before I found that you just drop the application in the Trash.

Re:Macs (0)

GiMP (10923) | about 7 years ago | (#20955091)

It is a feature they've had for over a decade, so its hardly new, and it doesn't matter to "mom and pop"?

Re:Macs (3, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 7 years ago | (#20955131)

Because the feature first showed up in 1991. Starting first with SCSI Disk Mode and evolving into Firewire Disk Mode in 2000. Here are a list of other features that I wish my XP laptop had that Mac has had as long as I've run them (Since system 7.1).

You can rename a file while it's open.
You can move a file while it's open. (Mac programs track it accurately, stuff like jEdit doesn't).
You can rename a program while it's running.
You can open a folder that is in the trash and move a file out of it without having to restore the folder, get the file and then delete the folder again.

Re:Macs (3, Informative)

Corporate Troll (537873) | about 7 years ago | (#20955533)

You do realise that all the "features" you list are a direct result of having a sane filesystem? (Apart from the last one, not sure about that) Most, if not all Unix operating systems can that and did that for ages.

Re:Macs (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 7 years ago | (#20956509)

Some additional thoughts:
How many cars do you see advertised on TV "Now with cruise control?". It's just assumed to most knowledgeable Mac Users that you can do this. Apple wants to show off their latest and greatest. Spaces, Expose, etc, this is old news to us.

Being able to take screenshots of the entire screen and saved to a file on the desktop. Later versions (9.1?) added the ability to take screen shots of areas selected by the mouse. I'm still fighting to find a decent screen capture program in XP.

Universal spell checking for Cocoa apps (as another poster mentioned)

Sleep mode that actually works. My XP laptop won't hibernate half the time because of some error. Another 25% of the time it'll unhibernate itself and run the battery dead and nearly bake itself in my laptop bag.

Dual Monitor support. I don't ever remember a time this wasn't available. XP insists that my secondary monitor (my LCD screen) is to the right of my laptop. Every.Single.Time.I plug it in. That's another 30 seconds a day that I have to fight with XP because it can't remember my settings. I was showing some friends my MacBookPro and plugged in my Dell monitor. It automatically came up and to the native resolution. Why do I have to "enable" a second monitor when I plug it in and then fight to get the right resolution?

Most of the time when I tell people "it just works" they don't believe me. They think I'm trying to trick them. (Note, before I get flamed, I said "it just works" I didn't say "it just lets you configure it to your hearts delight like Gnome/KDE.") I had a friend who bought a MacBook recently, I never had a friend with one so we decided to try out iChat. We both signed in and it just worked. I didn't fight with the router or any settings. I just clicked "Video Chat". 50% of the time when I try that with Yahoo or MSN in Mac OR XP I get "Connection failed. Is your party sharing video?".

I know there are some rabid fanboys, but there are some people out there who really want to show other people how much we like or Macs. When I tell people I get around 50 MPG in a car 9 years old (or that I got 45 mpg in a car 15 years old) they thought it was a trick. They think it's some magic concoction that I made myself. "It's a diesel." They think it won't start in the winter (tested down to -20F just fine). They think that it's loud. (I turn 2000 RPM on the highway, so it's slightly louder at idle, I spend more time *driving* my car than idling it). They think that you can't find fuel anywhere (just look for that diesel pump at 75% of stations). I had one person tell me flat out I was a liar because I told her that I could run my car on vegetable oil (I won't and don't modern injection systems don't like it too well for long periods of time).

When was the last time you asked an advanced Mac user what his/her computer could do?

Re:Macs (1)

quanticle (843097) | about 7 years ago | (#20956635)

How many cars do you see advertised on TV "Now with cruise control?". It's just assumed to most knowledgeable Mac Users that you can do this.

At least cars come with a visible cruise control knob, and have an entry in the user manual telling you how to operate the feature. Macs have neither. Things like target mode, and integrated spell checking aren't visible to the user. A new user doesn't even know that the feature exists until he/she comes across a reference to it on the Web, or someone else tells him/her. And with the "just plug it in and turn it on" philosophy behind the Mac platform, there's no user manual for you to look at for features.

Re:Macs (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 7 years ago | (#20956711)

I'm pretty sure target disk mode was in my manual.

Screen Capture (1)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | about 7 years ago | (#20957577)

Being able to take screenshots of the entire screen and saved to a file on the desktop. Later versions (9.1?) added the ability to take screen shots of areas selected by the mouse. I'm still fighting to find a decent screen capture program in XP.
Press 'print screen' key, paste into Paint or other image editing app of your choice. To capture a particular window, alt+print screen. Not sure about arbitrary mouse drag areas.

Re:Screen Capture (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 7 years ago | (#20957693)

And neither of these work for me. For some reason I get a memory error. Sometimes it doesn't even work and when it does what ever I paste into paint is black and white (not even gray scale).

Re:Screen Capture (1)

fbartho (840012) | about 7 years ago | (#20957949)

That's really weird, I've been using the print screen key on my keyboard for years, I don't remember if it worked on win 3.1 but win 98, win ME, win 2000, win XP, and win 2k3 server all had it work fine. (I assume vista too). I found a reference online:

To take still captures of video in Windows Media Player, turn off Video Acceleration (under Options > Performance). Otherwise, the area in which the video is playing will come out solid black in the capture.
Could your graphics card be part of the problem?

Re:Macs (2, Informative)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 7 years ago | (#20954143)

What's even more fun is connecting two Macs together using firewire, setting the first one to boot into target disk mode, and then having the other one boot off the first machine's hard disk. Great way to diagnose disk problems without ever opening a case.

Re:Macs (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954189)

Yeah. And all it cost was $4000!

Re:Macs (1)

demon (1039) | about 7 years ago | (#20954771)

I actually helped a friend use that method to install OS X 10.4 on his iBook - his girlfriend had one as well, but his didn't have a DVD drive. It's amazing how handy such a simple feature can be.

Re:Macs (1)

seebs (15766) | about 7 years ago | (#20955495)

That was how I finally got a CPU module problem diagnosed -- demonstrated that the problem went away if I booted my laptop from the desktop's hard drive, but the desktop couldn't do things. One CPU module swap later, everything was fine.

Re:Macs (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 years ago | (#20956467)

It's also convenient when both machines are booted as a network link. If you've got one machine plugged into the network, and want to share the connection with another you can just string a firewire cable between them for 400 or 800Mb/s networking. I understand the USB is cheaper than Firewire, but it's so inflexible in comparison I'm still occasionally puzzled by how popular it is.

Re:Macs (2, Insightful)

dctoastman (995251) | about 7 years ago | (#20954417)

TFA says while the computer is powered off. Not partially booted, not on, off. This is an evolutionary step from Apple's Disk Mode.

So, while Disk Mode is cool, it is still not the same. Because with this, you could transfer files from a desktop to a laptop during a power outage.

Re:Macs (1)

carlbeeth (42779) | about 7 years ago | (#20954529)

Sadly I very much doubt that USB will be able to power a desktop 500gig HD.

Re:Macs (1)

slart42 (694765) | about 7 years ago | (#20955647)

Sadly I very much doubt that USB will be able to power a desktop 500gig HD.
The summary seemed to be talking about Notebooks. 2.5" HDs can be powered by USB (I have an external 2.5" HD case, which only needs an USB connection).

Re:Macs (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 7 years ago | (#20954907)

"TFA says while the computer is powered off. Not partially booted, not on, off."

It might say that but I suspect its wrong. Would be interesting to see if it would still work with no battery in the machine and no mains power to it. Somehow I doubt it.

Re:Macs (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 7 years ago | (#20955165)

Go back and read your comment. Do you think that's REALLY what they mean?

It sounds like they've implemented pretty much exactly the same thing as Apple's target disk mode, but stuck a flash memory cache on the hard drive. So, if you want something that happens to be in the cache then you can get it only powering up the cache. If you want something that's not in the cache then you have to power up the drive too. Either way, you still need power.

One small difference appears to be that they've put a dedicated USB to memory bridge in instead of using the CPU to do the job.

Re:Macs (1)

langelgjm (860756) | about 7 years ago | (#20956203)

Well, I'm not sure what TFA is actually trying to say. In one instance, it says this:

FlashMate does more by giving notebook users the ability to access to hard disk data and various applications via the notebook's USB interface, without actually having to engage the CPU.

But in another place, it says this:

"Our FlashMate technology expands beyond hybrid-drive functionality by enabling notebook users to conveniently perform tasks without having to turn on the computer..."

How is the drive going to be powered? Through the USB port? I don't even think that's possible, at least in a desktop. It seems like the CEO is using "turn on the computer" as a synonym for "boot into the OS." In which case, all this really is, is a USB Disk Mode, so no, you wouldn't be able to transfer files from your desktop during a power outage.

Re:Macs (3, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 7 years ago | (#20954889)

That's odd, all the Macs I've owned in the last 7+ years have done that though FireWire Disk Mode. Boot, hold a key down, in 5 seconds or so you have a oversized, way overpowered, external FireWire disk. It's about time the rest of the computer world started getting this ability.


Actually, the feature is much older - dates back to the early 90's on the 68k Macs as well. Though, they didn't have Firewire ports, they did have SCSI ports. You could set them into "SCSI Disk Mode", and they'd appear on the SCSI bus as a disk (with the SCSI ID you set).

Heck, the SCSI logo that bounced around the screen while this went on even displayed the SCSI ID in case you forgot to set it properly (and thus can do some black magic to get your SCSI bus working again).

Was a great way of transferring files from my old Macs (one of which didn't have Ethernet!) to my new Powerbook about 4 years ago. (Admittedly, another neat thing was the fact that the old Mac with Ethernet didn't do AppleTalk over IP (which unfortunately, is all OS X supported natively). But OS X Classic could be booted and Chooser (remember that?) could find it, and it still magically appears as a mounted disk in OS X. I don't think I want to know how many layers of software was used for that to happen.

USB is much harder though - you can't just plug a USB Host port into another USB Host port - that's an illegal USB topology. (There can only be one host on a USB bus since it's a master-slave bus, unlike Firewire/SCSI which are peer-to-peer).

Re:Macs (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 7 years ago | (#20955785)

Earlier than that; I have a PowerBook from around 1994 which can boot up within a couple of seconds into SCSI slave mode, where it can be used as an external SCSI disk. Same thing for the connection technology at the time.

Not new - Sharp and Apple did it already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20953819)

Sharp MM20 and MP30 laptops can be used in USB disk mode. Besides,Aapple did if for ages, old macs can be used in SCSI disk mode and new macs in Firewire disk mode, no need to boot.

Sharp did it, not Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954043)

The post is about USB, and Apple did not do it for USB, but for SCSI and then for Firewire. You cannot use a mac in USB disk mode, only in Firewire (or SCSI) disk mode. Today every computer has a USB port, which is not true for firewire os SCSI. For consumer PCs SCSI is on its way out and firewire is usually found only on expensive computers.

Re:Sharp did it, not Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20955147)

Every Mac (even consumer ones) has a Firewire port, so what's your point? We can even boot off another systems internal disk.

It's a trap! (2, Funny)

n1hilist (997601) | about 7 years ago | (#20953825)

I hear these hybrids cause a log of smug!

target mode (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20953909)

The next step in making bits of a notebook usable without booting would be a bidirectional DVI-port, making the notebook's screen usable as a monitor. And why stop there? Keyboard and mouse should follow.

Re:target mode (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954261)

I've *always* wanted a notebook that could do this. It would be pretty useful for those of us that occasionally have to either fix data-center servers or have to work on family members' PCs out in the rural areas, where people don't *have* a shelf full of monitors at home...

Apple leads the way... again (1)

Speare (84249) | about 7 years ago | (#20953949)

I'm not an Apple fanboi, but you can hold the T key down when booting ANY Mac and it boots into a "firewire drive" mode instead of a full kernel and gui. This has been true for years.

Best tag ever (3, Funny)

Jesterboy (106813) | about 7 years ago | (#20953971)

I don't really even care about the article, but I have to say, "flashyourcache" is the best tag I've ever seen.

Re:Best tag ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954193)

I dun get it. What's the joke?

Never needed it. (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | about 7 years ago | (#20953973)

I cannot imagine a reason why I would want this feature. Sure it's cool, but.. what's the use?

Now, something that I did find myself wishing a couple of times is a laptop with a video in connector. But then again, I'm one of those freaks who has a server without any monitor attached.

Re:Never needed it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954265)

It's useful for getting at data while circumventing the OS. On macs this is useful for copying data from an old, possibly malfunctioning machine. It's also handy to circumvent any security. We had a few mac users at the last place I admined who felt that the company's macs were their personal computers. Booting into disk mode allowed me to retrieve their data without needing their passwords once they had been fired.

Who cares? (3, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | about 7 years ago | (#20953977)

Who boots a laptop? I just close the lid on my Mac, and it goes to sleep. I open it up and there's my stuff, in less time than it takes to plug in a cable. It'll sleep happily for weeks without running out of juice. The only time I ever reboot it is when it needs a software update.

TFA is an elaborate solution to the wrong problem. The right problem is, "how can we make laptops that don't need to be booted every time they're used?"

Re:Who cares? (1)

Nezer (92629) | about 7 years ago | (#20954929)

Who boots a laptop?
Lots of people... My wife for one. She has been a Mac user for years (since long before OS X). At one time she was told that computers needed to be shut down when not in use because it's better for the computer. She also wants to conserve power and sleep mode still consumes power (even if this amount is minuscule it does add up).

Re:Who cares? (1)

mollymoo (202721) | about 7 years ago | (#20955305)

The energy cost of rebooting and restarting all your applications is non-zero. For my iBook, it worked out that a boot cost the same as about 18 hours sleep.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Fred_A (10934) | about 7 years ago | (#20955311)

I too think that machines with longer battery life (that is more than the 4 hours or so we typically get with default batteries) would be a much more useful feature.

I don't think I've ever been in a situation where I wished I could get to my files without booting a machine... Either it was dead or I just waited the couple minutes required for it to boot (or the few seconds for it to wake up).

Either way while it's a kind of a neat hack in an abstract kind of way, I see it as a solution looking for a problem.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20955321)

You mean "how can we everyone else make laptops that don't need to be booted every time they're used"

What if your laptop won't boot? (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 7 years ago | (#20957481)

I can see a lot of uses for something like this. If the system won't boot, you can plug it into a working computer to diagnose it. If you need to mirror the system files to a new drive, you can do so without any annoying "file in use" errors. If a system is so chock full of viruses and spyware that you can't even get anti-virus/anti-spyware software to run, you can just mount it as an external hard drive and run the scan from a working system.

Just borrow not steal the laptop data you need? (2, Insightful)

Herschel Cohen (568) | about 7 years ago | (#20953979)

Does data become just a bit too accessible? Just asking, what are the built in safe guards. None were noted in the article, but I may have missed its being mentioned.

Re:Just borrow not steal the laptop data you need? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 7 years ago | (#20955287)

That's a very good question, does the system require a password before data can be accessed and if so is there a single master password or can it be seperate for each users files? Anyone know how apple handles this?

A bit underwhelmed (2, Insightful)

LarrySDonald (1172757) | about 7 years ago | (#20954097)

Ok, they jammed a USB frontend on the drive system. Good thinking, but not exactly revolutionary thinking - every cheapo device in the toy section seem to have a USB drive interface anymore (I'm only waiting for the first Happy Meal toy with a USB plug - "Experience vast adventures on your computer with the latest bid from Disney/Nick"). Should have always been that way, but good that it's getting that way now at least.

Re:A bit underwhelmed (1)

mikiN (75494) | about 7 years ago | (#20957589)

Exactly. I was thinking about posting about this not being news when I saw your post. USBIDE adapters are a dime a dozen nowadays. To do something similar to this so-called 'innovation', all you'd need is a few multiplexer chips (74xx something series), a switch, and some hacking/butchering of an existing USB cable/header and some power wires. Heck, I think you could even rig one of those old mechanical KVM switches to do the trick.
Switch position 'A': drive connected to the IDE bus on the mainboard, switch position 'B': drive connected to the USBIDE adapter.

So OS security be damned, eh? (3, Insightful)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 7 years ago | (#20954107)

TFA doesn't say a thing about authentication, authorization, or accounting. How does this know who's checking the data? How does it decide to allow them? Where and how does it store the facts about who accessed what and when? The AAA process is a cornerstone of security -- computer or otherwise.

Yes, I know physical security is paramount. A building needs more than one cornerstone, obviously. ;-) But other systems require the drive to be taken out or the machine to be booted at least. It's a lot easier to make sure no one can boot your machine (startup password, bootloader password, no booting from CD etc.) than to make sure they can't hook up a USB cable to it. It's also a lot harder to catch someone hooking up a cable for a couple of minutes than tearing down your laptop and taking the drive (or sliding the drive out if it's easily removable like some are -- taking it to another system and hooking it up are still time-consuming and conspicuous).

BTW, the other cornerstones are secure design (again, in software/hardware or outside computers altogether) and data hiding (encryption, shredding paper, window shades, closed doors, setting proper permissions so that AAA actually matters, etc).

Re:So OS security be damned, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20955125)

If your safeguard for the data in your laptop is your OS's password then you are doing something wrong: anyone could go to your current laptop, take out the HDD, and read away. If you have sensitive data, keep it out of your laptop, and if you need the sensitive data on your laptop, encript it.

Re:So OS security be damned, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20955203)

Not a problem. A simple switch in BIOS can turn this off.

Re:So OS security be damned, eh? (1)

riegel (980896) | about 7 years ago | (#20957573)

Give me a break, If I have the machine in my hands I don't need a password to access the data. I can take the hard drive and and see every bit on the drive. This only adds convieniece for me (the guy with the machine in my hand).

On the Mac I can encrypt my home directory so even if someone did copy its contents they wouldn't be usable without a password. Not sure about this on Windows, but don't say security is out the door when you don't know what you are talking about.

I have used Target Disk mode on my macs since 1998 when they first came out with firewire. It is the best way to move data from one machine to the other. If you have ever migrated to a new Mac all you do is boot your old one in target mode and the setup program grabs all your data. If someone steals your machine and you have set yor home directories to use FIle Vault them they will "not" be able to get your data without some sort of brute force attack.

I just setup a co-worker with a new machine. It took less than an hour and he sat down and was using his new machine just like he had used his old machine. I know everyone around here loves anecdotal evidence :)

SECURITY SECURITY SECURITY (1)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | about 7 years ago | (#20954129)

You know this is going to be exploited in so many bad ways. Did the NSA think up this one?

Re:SECURITY SECURITY SECURITY (1)

Devv (992734) | about 7 years ago | (#20954583)

If the data on the disk is not encrypted it's your own fault. With a little more hassle the same thing is possible today by booting a Linux disc or simply stealing the HDD.

not useful? (1)

legoman666 (1098377) | about 7 years ago | (#20954197)

How is this useful when you can bring a laptop out of standby (or hibernate ot a lesser extent) in mere seconds?

Logicube did this a long time ago (1)

Simon (S2) (600188) | about 7 years ago | (#20954221)

This [logicube.com] devices are used by the Police and other entities to create complete copies of confiscated computers and work on them without touching the original PC/Mac/Amiga/whatever. It can of course also be used for backup.

Avoiding the problem (2, Insightful)

jolyonr (560227) | about 7 years ago | (#20954243)

This seems like an excellent way of avoiding attention to the real problem - why a modern OS takes so long to boot.

Jolyon

Better buy a laptop with a removable drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954245)

In general Fujitsu and Acer provide easy drive access for their laptops, you are usually only two screws away from the drive. You have to carry with you a screwdriver and an IDE (or SATA) to USB adapter cable ($15-20) and you are all set.

I have a fujitsu laptop and swap drives almnost every day, not for getting files but for restoring operating systems for other laptops (with ghost in DOS or partimage in linux)

Recently Apople had a change in policy and provided easy drive access for theit macbooks (unfortunately not for Macbooks Pro)

Doesn't sound too useful for the average home-user (1)

zukinux (1094199) | about 7 years ago | (#20954367)

I mean... it's too much trouble not to boot up your computer...
Sorry... I wouldn't buy it for more than 1 $.

Re:Doesn't sound too useful for the average home-u (1)

riegel (980896) | about 7 years ago | (#20957683)

Ignorance is bliss. I remember the days when people said color monitors and sound cards were toys.

Damned buzzword (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954551)

And again the f'ing "New Technology" buzzword when the "tech" isn't new or barely even "tech" for that matter. What's with these americats and their re-inventive, buzzwording minds?

Limitations of the target mode -my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20954673)

I've used the feature both on pcs (Sharp MP30) and macs (PPC and Intel). In both cases there are limitations. I've experienced serious problems with a macbook on which I installed winxp and wanted to make a ghost image of the installation. I tried to connect the laptop in firewire disk mode to four different PCs running winxp and failed, winxp would not recognize the drive (apparently only MacOSX and linux can recognize it). Eventually I took the drive out and connected it to a pc with a USB adaptrer it worked without problems.
With Sharp MP30 I experienced a similar problem, under linux the USB connection would work intermittently and the USB bus would reset every 10 minutes or so.
Conclusion: it is better to offer easy drive access, take the drive out of the laptop and connect it directly to a computer (USB, SATA, firewire, whatever). This way there would not be any compatibility problems.

Re:Limitations of the target mode -my experience (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20955787)

It sounds like your problem was caused by Windows XP because it doesn't understand GPT. Bootcamp sets up a GPT/MBR hybrid disk partition, and thats what Windows boots from on your Mac.. Linux, Solaris, and Mac OS X can understand GPT. 64-bit Win XP supposedly can, but from here [microsoft.com] it sounds like it might not expect GPT on an external disk. I don't think Windows would be able to boot off a target mode disk either unless you had another EFI machine to put it on. 64-bit Win XP or Vista on two different Macs would be a great experiment.

Whoa.. (1)

DoctorDyna (828525) | about 7 years ago | (#20954697)

Am I wrong in thinking, with laptops that can play DVD's without booting, and now, with hard drives that are accessible without booting, that we are just a short fusion of technology away from having a machine where booting into an operating system is optional for most trivial tasks? I mean, how many functions do we have to breed into a PC before the OS (being a layer for hardware / software communication) becomes obsolete?

Personally, I'd love to see the full range of interesting ideas that can come out of the hardware industry along these lines that promote use of hardware in ways that don't depend on an operating system.

Re:Whoa.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20955033)

I think we can rephrase that a bit since one could argue that there's still an operating system. How about "a simple operating system in the firmware for trivial tasks?"

Re:Whoa.. (1)

DoctorDyna (828525) | about 7 years ago | (#20955207)

I stand adjusted. ;)

Question... (1)

fox1324 (1039892) | about 7 years ago | (#20955021)

Can it be made to work with encrypted drives?

/dnrtfa...at work!

great! (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | about 7 years ago | (#20955343)

thats great! MS finally realized that their OS boots up at about the same speed as a lethargic pig in treacle and decided to do something about it!

though they have scaled new and interesting heights of lateral thinking with this one...!

Makes little sense - what gets data w/o computer? (1)

scottsk (781208) | about 7 years ago | (#20955411)

If your computer isn't booted, then how do you access the data off of this not-booted hard drive? Another computer? Your MP3 player? Is it a NAS device, which would require a lot of not-booted services like Wi-Fi access to the network.

Re:Makes little sense - what gets data w/o compute (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 7 years ago | (#20956709)

It turns your computer into a giant USB key/external hard drive.

Who waits for their laptop to boot up? (1)

duckbillplatypus (596100) | about 7 years ago | (#20957103)

Oh wait, I booted up my macbook about 3 months ago. I hate waiting the 20 or 30 seconds it takes to boot. So, I never "turn" it off and rarely reboot. When I am done, I simply close the lid. When I need it again, I open it up and start working. For the PC guys, no I dont have to wait for the screen to light up and some bar to cruise across my screen. The mac sleeps and awakens as quickly as as I close or open the screen.
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