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Old 12-08-2012, 05:52 AM   #1
edbarx
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About the future of home computing....


Some days ago, a local TV station (Malta, EU) presented an interview with a university professor holding a doctorate in ICT. He said that the future will bring less powerful machines, the user programs will move to the cloud and users will use/hire programs as they may need them.

Since I use GNU/Linux and I like to have my machine doing the processing locally on my computer, I am inclined to think this will put some drawbacks to whoever like me wants to use a free and open system. Imagine if the grand majority of computer users switch to this model with programs not needing to reside and run on home computers, the price of a system capable of running and holding programs locally would shoot up making it financially difficult to purchase a computer with a capability which currently is available with very accessible prices.

I would like to know what other GNU/Linux users think about this "new" model of doing home computing and whether it will remain possible to have one's programs run on a local machine.

Thanks.

http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=89221
 
Old 12-08-2012, 06:01 AM   #2
H_TeXMeX_H
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It is a power grab. I will not relinquish my power. I will buy the last most powerful system plus replacement parts and keep it until I die.

You can go ahead and get your terminals and use "cloud" programs, but you will be monitored and restricted in every way. They are centralizing power into these servers so they can monitor and restrict what you do. This fits in with everything else they have been doing. It's a good plot, and it will likely succeed. If they want my power, they can come and take it over my dead body.
 
Old 12-08-2012, 07:09 AM   #3
pixellany
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"They".....I'm not sure who you are referring to. I really don't think that trends in IT are being orchestrated by any central body.

To the original question: While there may be trends to smaller devices, distributed computing, "cloud" apps and data storage...etc., I don't think we'll lose the option to have our own "traditional" setups.
 
Old 12-08-2012, 08:56 AM   #4
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Powerful local machines will always be needed, for people that need that power to work. No one that has to work with CAD, to solve mathematical stuff, to compile software, to edit images, or just the user that occasionally wants to encode video, will do that on a low-power system or even a tablet of some form. Not to mention gaming systems.
There are already things like Google Docs and they are used, mainly because collaboration is easier this way, but not because this is such a power-hungry task. Even the simplest tablet or netbook has more than enough power to run office applications.
I personally think that there will be a mix: People will use less powerful (compared to desktop machines) mobile devices together with cloud services, but many people will still have their powerful desktop machines (or desktop replacement laptops) to do serious gaming or just work on it.
 
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Old 12-08-2012, 12:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edbarx View Post
Some days ago, a local TV station (Malta, EU) presented an interview with a university professor holding a doctorate in ICT. He said that the future will bring less powerful machines, the user programs will move to the cloud and users will use/hire programs as they may need them.
Since I don't know the interview contents I can't check his credentials or publication history, I don't know the context in which he said what and if you interpreted or presented what was said the way it was intended.

Speculation aside you only have to look at the cyclic nature of things and concepts like thin client and GRID computing. Those weren't invented this side of the millennium (as in Cloud computing being nothing new under the Sun), they did help diversify the computing landscape and when seen from an OS point of view (as "enabler") the overarching idea has always been technology inclusion, not exclusion. That's why your installer disk provides you the basis for your Desktop, thin client, multimedia server, computing cluster or redundant multi-tier business setup or whatever else you can think of doing with it. That's not going to change.

*Obviously that doesn't work for Operating Systems or partnerships (hardware and OS vendors, OS and mobile phone vendors, mobile phone providers and telcos) whose strategy relies solely on commerce and the need to find creative new ways to milk customers for money in an increasingly competitive market with margins that only decrease. If you look at the myriads of ways customers are locked in (OS versions, restrictive licenses, provider switching, carrier bias, roaming charges, vendor-controlled app market places, etc, etc) then you know whatever Cloud computing offers them will just be more of the same: another way to lock the consumer in and control spending.
 
Old 12-08-2012, 09:34 PM   #6
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I suspect that persons who use their computers primarily for entertainment, web-surfing, and email (i.e., the general populace) may well be seduced by the allure of the cloud.

They will also find themselves wandering naked through the internet while the marketers point and laugh. (In my lexicon, H_Tex_MeX_H's "they" are the marketers who would track your every move and the governments who would sniff your every packet.)

Persons who do serious computing will not be sucked in, but, since computers became a thing for the general population, persons who do serious computing and who actually understand how this stuff works are the minority.
 
Old 12-09-2012, 04:34 AM   #7
edbarx
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As readers of this thread may have realised, my preoccupation, primarily is, whether the future prices of computers capable of running an OS and programs locally, will be accessible by people like me who opt to use a free an open OS. If such hardware become just a very small fraction of the entire market, the prices are bound to rise substantially. This is because only professionals like programmers, architects, multimedia editors and maybe a few others may need them.

The most important question is: whether it will remain financially attractive to use GNU/Linux when the hardware prices go up? My reasons for using GNU/Linux are: availability of a large set of free and open software and the ability to control how my OS works keeping my privacy at a maximum and keeping advertisers from putting their noses in what I do with my computer. There is also the value of having software accessible to all because it is free and open.

The discussion may take a more objective outlook if anyone can give an idea by how much prices of hardware capable of running an OS and programs locally will rise.

Last edited by edbarx; 12-09-2012 at 04:57 AM.
 
Old 12-09-2012, 04:59 AM   #8
H_TeXMeX_H
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankbell View Post
Persons who do serious computing will not be sucked in, but, since computers became a thing for the general population, persons who do serious computing and who actually understand how this stuff works are the minority.
Yes, exactly, that's what they are playing on. I believe there was a certain generation or generations that had the opportunity to know computing in-depth. The ones that came before have a hard time getting to grips with any technology (my parents). The ones that came after did not have the opportunity or interest and all they do all day is use facebook and twitter on their wimpy mobile devices (my nephews and colleagues). There is a minority that have an interest in computing and that know how to use a computer, and that don't use facebook and twitter, and they surely are concerned about the future, because it looks dark. It looks dark because the ones leading are blind, and because the ones who can see are the minority and have no voice. Yes, I fear for the future, and I have to make my own, because everything will go to hell in a hand basket and that's not where I wanna be.

To those who "don't believe", I'm not asking you to believe, I'm just stating my view on things. It may seem paranoid, but from my POV it's not.
 
Old 12-09-2012, 08:11 AM   #9
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edbarx View Post
As readers of this thread may have realised, my preoccupation, primarily is, whether the future prices of computers capable of running an OS and programs locally, will be accessible by people like me who opt to use a free an open OS. If such hardware become just a very small fraction of the entire market, the prices are bound to rise substantially. This is because only professionals like programmers, architects, multimedia editors and maybe a few others may need them.

The most important question is: whether it will remain financially attractive to use GNU/Linux when the hardware prices go up? My reasons for using GNU/Linux are: availability of a large set of free and open software and the ability to control how my OS works keeping my privacy at a maximum and keeping advertisers from putting their noses in what I do with my computer. There is also the value of having software accessible to all because it is free and open.

The discussion may take a more objective outlook if anyone can give an idea by how much prices of hardware capable of running an OS and programs locally will rise.
No one of us is able to look into his crystal ball and see if that what the author claims will really be happening at some time. It is not unlikely that the majority of people will be happy with small devices that are powerful enough to watch videos and surf the net, but even these small devices are nowadays as powerful as most of us that are not into heavy computing need. You are happy with a netbook? Well, the current dual-core ARM CPUs with Cortex A-15 cores are as fast as many Atom CPUs and will in the future beat the crap out of them. Current mainstream computers have a quad-core CPU with 4 or 8GB of RAM and deliver more power than most people really need.

The real questions are: How much power do you really need? What is your current system and are you happy with its performance? Will you be willing to adapt if ARM or MIPS (or any other architecture) in the future are the cheaper options to get the same performance?

To be real, for most of my friends (the ones that are not gamers) a Raspberry Pi (when it would have more RAM as it currently has) would be a sufficient platform for their needs and the majority will always get the best prices. But as long as people insist on using Windows with Microsoft Office and Photoshop you will see reasonable priced mainstream computers and as long as there are gamers you will see powerful machines for a somewhat higher price.

Will the prices rise? Possibly. Will they rise to a high that it would be unreasonable to buy a new powerful machine? I don't think so.

I am currently more concerned about the current decline of AMD and the possible consequences for the CPU market than about this prediction.
 
Old 12-09-2012, 02:20 PM   #10
sundialsvcs
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I'll jump in and opine that the professor is right. Computing for the majority of people already has become "their phone" or "a tablet."

And, no matter what it is they want to do, there is an app for that. (Not "a web site.")

Furthermore, "apps" have already doomed themselves to be free. They're not "big phat apps" running on phones: they're surface interfaces that depend entirely on back-end computers without ever calling attention to that fact. Point is, the end-user neither knows nor cares.

People in forums like this one should be scared witless by what's happening here, because "your precious PHP skills" are, I predict, within calendar 2013 already going to be crumbling in market value as you find yourself stuck in a market that's overbuilt with millions of people just like you are ... all looking for the work that is simply drying up before your eyes. Your employers sell products, and I assure you that they never wanted to have to "run a web site" in order to do that. Now they don't. They can contract for on-line selling of their product (which is no longer a "special" case deserving of any adjective), and their mobile presence is ... advertising. They never wanted to bulk-up on "an IT department" to begin with, and they've been drooling at the chance of dumping what has until now been a very large and hitherto-unavoidable expense: you. Now, they can. And they will.

You have the misfortune of working in a cutting-edge business that is constantly cutting itself. Nothing in this business has a long shelf-life, or ever will. It started out, as all new fields of endeavor do, as consisting entirely of "craft work." But nothing stays that way. It turns into a mass-produced consumable; an economy of scale.

The "dot com era" into which many of you were first introduced to the software industry was a curious aberration in the usual flow of things tech: a brief "perfect storm" of cheap computers, cheap fast internet, cheap fast mobile telephony, and strong demand for ... web sites. Places where you (had to) go to find the content that you wanted. Places which individually implemented whatever the paying business wanted to do "on line." Companies had no choice but to pay huge sums for that; and, for a time, they did so. Well, my great-uncle worked in a shop where they could and did build steam locomotives from scratch for the (then-almighty, now-nonexistent) Pennsylvania Railroad . . .

Last edited by sundialsvcs; 12-09-2012 at 02:25 PM.
 
Old 12-09-2012, 06:30 PM   #11
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edbarx View Post
He said that the future will bring less powerful machines...
Less powerful than what?
  • less powerful than we would have otherwise obtained, if Moore's law had continued unabated and compared to current desktops (and, even today, 'desktops' encompasses a range of 'powers', so compared to what, on average, people use, or what you could buy if you really wanted to splash the cash?)
  • less powerful than today's desktops, but more powerful, say, than today's mobile phones?
  • less powerful than people currently use in a similar role - so, maybe, de-specced phones and tablets compared to current laptops and tablets?

That covers quite a range, and based on that, whatever finally happens, you could probably could claim that it was a far-sighted and correct prediction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by edbarx View Post
...the user programs will move to the cloud and users will use/hire programs as they may need them.
Possibly. There is a lot of 'push' towards cloud computing. I don't see it as an advantage to me, nor do I see it as an advantage to most people that I deal with in general, but there are certainly some specific cases in which there are advantages. On the other hand, it may end up being less about the advantages to the users, and more about the buzz taht can be created around it.

But you have to bear in mind (without getting all tin-foil-hatty about this, yet) that there are powerful forces who want the world to go this way. Google, for example would like this, as part of their attempt to take over your entire life, and every couple of years from the mid-nineties onwards, Microsoft (boo, hiss, etc) have a go at trying to persuade people that hiring their software would be a good idea. So far, I don't think they've really got past the 'hiring MS software would be good for MS...' phase of this argument, but maybe if Ballmer throws chairs at it, or something, it'll all change.

Quote:
Originally Posted by edbarx View Post
Since I use GNU/Linux and I like to have my machine doing the processing locally on my computer, I am inclined to think this will put some drawbacks to whoever like me wants to use a free and open system. Imagine if the grand majority of computer users switch to this model with programs not needing to reside and run on home computers, the price of a system capable of running and holding programs locally would shoot up making it financially difficult to purchase a computer with a capability which currently is available with very accessible prices.
So far, and with the possible exception of the Thai floods which could possibly be regarded as a blip, but a rather longer blip than would be convenient, the history of computing prices has been a downward trend. The worst that I would reasonably expect would be that the price of some items would stabilise, rather than continue the trend pattern downwards. That said, there probably is a threat from Moore's flaw, but that's only tangentially related to this particular theme.

Quote:
Originally Posted by edbarx View Post
I would like to know what other GNU/Linux users think about this "new" model of doing home computing...
Well, I share your feeling of unease, but perhaps for slightly different reasons
  • there are all sorts of data security and privacy issues - maybe they could be solved, but currently there is a conspicuous lack of evidence of any sort of rush to solve them
  • there is the 'big bullshit' issue; I get a general 'the dotcom boom was such fun, let's re-run that' feel about the general approach of many of the suppliers - maybe that's not important because these are the bad suppliers who'll go in the next crash, and the good ones aren't that brash, but that's not something I see much evidence of (yet???)
  • there is the general 'follow the money' issue; eventually, someone will have to be making money out of this, or they'll all give up and go home; it is a bit unclear whether the buyers and sellers are on the same page with who will be paying how much for what. While everyone is in 'get 12 months free' mode and VCs are being sold a 'but look how fast we're accumulating users, and then when we move to monetisation...' proposition. Whether it all works out once the early adopter madness is over, I don't know.
That said, I think that more and more of computing will be done from portable devices. whether you are telnetting in to your own server (in principle) or using some package at a data centre run by a multi-national is up for grabs. The portable device is just the front end, but whether it really is a new model of computing? You could compare to various things, like thin client computing or even dumb terminals, so it might be more accurate to say that it is a new commercial model rather than a new model of computing.

The other aspects are collaboration and data availability - if you have some kind of cloudy solution, collaboration can certainly get easier and you can have access to your data out on the road, but again it isn't fundamental whether that;s an 'own cloud' or a 'big cloud' solution, you can still get at your data.

Note:
Predictions are always difficult, especially when they concern the future.
 
Old 12-10-2012, 11:47 AM   #12
edbarx
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I used "home computing" referring to desktops because tablets and phones are mobile devices. Since the market is slowly moving towards mobile devices, desktops will be become much less used implying their demand by the common computer user will drop. As the original post clearly indicates, the problem is the price of desktops going up making the use of GNU/Linux for the common user, much less attractive because of the extra expense that would inevitably be introduced.

Knee-jerk reaction posts do not contribute to readers reading this thread, and are rightly disregarded by the majority of forum readers.

The financial problem I am highlighting, is real and it will inevitably mean, that GNU/Linux users will have to be contented with more pricy hardware than the rest of computer users. This means, the financial advantage of using a free operating system will be neutralized by having to buy costlier hardware.

Where I work, I manage a Windows 7 thin client system of 14 clients served by two i5 computers with Windows Thin Client Server installed. The clients use a simple module the size of a modem if not smaller than most modems. Users have access to the internet and Microsoft Office. I think, this is an experiment by Microsoft to study how users will react to such a system. Unbelievable many users consider these thin clients as independent computers and I witnessed users switching clients because they believed the other client was faster! Instead of the i5 computers, Microsoft can easily create servers online that can easily avoid users having to install Windows and the programs they use on their machines (thin clients).

This should enable Microsoft to further control piracy by charging a fee for using its severs and for using Windows on the thin client, the price for a home "computer" will drop and software companies can hire their programs instead of selling a license. These advantages will inevitably be considered by anyone who sees computing as a business.

The problem is us GNU/Linux users who will have to be contented with costlier hardware. It is businesswise ridiculous to imagine a company offering its servers to serve a Linux thin client system for no charge, because this is unsustainable in the long term, and expenses have to be always covered.

I am discussing this topic, because I want to continue using GNU/Linux but I am seeing it will put some real problems in the future that anyone using Linux should start thinking about finding a workaround.
 
  


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