The importance of hardware innovation...and open source hardware.
..[extended re-post of my g+ post]
Why hardware innovation is so important?
Over the internet not too many people discuss about hardware. while discussion of software and lots of other stuffs are ubiquitous.
Now having a pc, laptop or mobile etc.. are part and parcel of millions of people's life. They all are primarily hardware, and the software, starting from os to the cool apps all reside on the top of the very hardware device.
Well, i am not extending to all kind of hardware world,
But i would like to take interest in the day to day basis used hand in hand hardware devices, like laptop, mobile. tablet etc.. that has a huge User base.. and worth take importance.
What do we have till date. lets take example of the laptops, that would be enough for this topic.
Apple is one of the leading quality laptop makers. Its great. Other popular are Dell, HP, Samsung etc..Google has also released Chromebook as a new starter, not available everywhere though. Some Indian names HCL Infosystems, Wipro, Zenith etc are worth mentioning.
It sounds great that there are lots of laptop makers and there should be no problem at all for users, that they have lots of option as per their need, affordability, brand..etc.
So far so good, then why am i extending here onwards. it is because it only happy part of the story.
Now lets look at the pain part of the story.
Ok, great you have a laptop working nice, great feature, great look, great software.. etc
..and then start troubling, feature not working, virus attacked, system crushed and shutdown!!
What now, well i am pretty sure everybody is not a hardware technician. They will reach out to service center or get a technician to repair. But that doesn't ensure your laptop will come out healthy as before. And lots of people doesn't want to place their laptops to service centers' den. It is because they might temper with other untroubled original parts and there people don't trust too much. Apple still have a more trusted support system with APP. but apple is too costly for everyone. But the other pc markets are placed so badly that it is very difficult to get even a small part when required and brands are not compatible with each other.
Here the users fall into prey, they give-up and look for a new one. They give up for small part, that should have never been so. Imagine your laptop stuck just for the malfunction of its fan, how frustrating. The pc markers are not user friendly at all. And the worst part is hundreds and thousands of laptops go into trash for no valid reason, creating lots of non bio-degradable electronic waste. That is not good to know about.
Google has released Chromebook as new hardware player, but it is not there yet and also not available everywhere. The other pc makers doesn't seem to change their policy as of now.
Hardware is not software you will download, install or uninstall whenever you want.
So how to make an user friendly hardware. The answer is open source hardware.
I was very pleased when i first came to know about Limor Fried, an MIT grad,
who first announced the idea of open source hardware and she provides lots of them as open source and allow to manufacturer everyone.
Well, it will be good if people start to think of hardware rather seriously. It is more earthly thing. It is not possible make a machine run forever. But its life can be increased much more than it is now. The number of users will be increasing from here onwards. So, longer life hardware will generate less garbage as well.
It is not an unprofitable also, they can't be download and installed. It has to be manufactured and tested. And people always look for original manufacturer. Whoever uses the open source, they have to test it and make a trustworthy name of themselves,e.g there are lots Linux OS, but people seems to like Ubuntu more than others. Lots of people can contribute and add improvement and enchantments. There can be different manufacturer and people wouldn't have to throw away their laptop for a small part.
We need longer life hardware not more electronic waste. Flexible to use is very important and more people will learn more easily about hardware internals.
Ok with software, but not ok with hardware yet.
So, people.. use your valuable head and resource to improve the very familiar laptops.
Make computers people can trust, they are not meant for data centers or server rooms only.
Lets have some flavor of most popular os and see some good and downside of them. It is relevant to discuss about them here, as they are the primary software for the machines.
1) Windows OS:
Normally windows mean the computer to most people, It is most user friendly, almost everything is made possible with mouse click. It is made fantastic and addictive enough. Other than the hardcore developers and server side people, most of them will stick to it. Windows have server version also, but i am not sure about its popularity.
There are lots downside, here are commonly known..
Vulnerable to virus attack, there are lots of antivirus available though, ddl errors, most of time it needed to reboot while installing or updating something new. Command line and shell activities are not upto the mark. It has done some revamp of the command line with PowerShell on the newer version of windows.
2) Mac OS:
Mac OS is the built in apple machines. Apple machine are great hardware. It is quite stable, still placed better compared to the other peer hardware. It is a darling of graphic designers, showoff and fancy people..:). It is good for designers, do writing and presentation stuff, mostly the activities on the surface and visible part, single click installed software users like windows.There are unofficial workaround to use boot-camp and make double or triple boot, with windows and Linux along side. May be vmware or oracle virtualbox kind of tools can give more flexibility to use different os as per purpose. And there is not too much known issue of virus attack.
Heats up very badly, cost is not so justified, start up anything takes frustratingly longer time than other machines such as windows. It may really burn head of command line geeks even for a simple installation. Although it is Unix based, it is not as good as Linux, to do command line activities.
3) Linux OS:
Linus torvalds made the original kernel and the gnu provided other software package and accessories, and together built Linux. That's why its sometimes called GNU/Linux. With times lots of people have built different kind Linux. All are open source distributed. It is just set of different directories rather than different drives on windows, anyone can scan through it, anyone interested can take the source code and tweak it and improve it. It is very secure and preferred for server side use. It is friend of the true geeks and command line freaks.
It is not for computer beginners. Although lots desktop feature enhancement on graphics is happening, Its is yet catch up fans. Graphics designers are not big fan of them. Installation and maintenance is not so simple.
..and there are other OS such as Solaris, aix etc.
Evolution of virtualization is making tech life much easier. It is becoming easier to use portable OS using such as oracle virtualbox or vmware workstation. You can run one os on another just like any other software tool, plug and play. If you want windows as primary OS and do some other stuff on Linux, it is much easier now, bit cumbersome though. You can use Linux as primary OS and use windows as virtual OS and vise-versa without creating bootable partition..
So, there.. the differentiator will be the underlying hardware, how stable it is, how high performance it is. The bigger challenge is building high performance and stable hardware.
Morale of the story: The capabilities are there and it can be improved, we don't need super human and super perfection.
All we need is HONESTY.