View Full Version : Beyond the “LiveUSB”

01-10-2010, 05:57 PM
Beyond the "LiveUSB"
Hi everybody,

this topic here is more or less a continuation of the following topic:
taking a different direction than the original there.

It's basic an exchange of information around the idea of "LiveUSB" concept.

I'm sure the information that we can exchange on the subject can benefit not only the Knoppix users and develop but it can benefit anyone who has interest on the matter.

First I like to share the way I personally look at the concept of a "Live" system running out of an USBKey and its relation to a more traditional system. This diagram represents my current view of the "live" stuff.


The diagram shows (at right) a small GNU/Linux Project I'm starting around the concept of "subito operating system", which is the third block at the right side.

I like to invite everybody to participate on this "dialog" here about this subject.
Anything related to "liveCD" and "liveUSB" will be interesting.

My first take on the subject is that perhaps we should start to use the term "Native USB" instead of just "liveCD on a USB Key", which, in my opinion does not translate the full potential of the idea in a correct manner. The current 6 series of Knoppix, in my point of view is part of a "Native USB" rather than a (just) "LiveUSB".

Please, participate and share your ideas.

Thanks all,

01-11-2010, 06:58 PM
Hi, my second take on the subject is around the GNU/Linux "marketing".

I believe that this following diagram illustrate well the options we have every time we want to talk about GNU/Linux with somebody that currently don’t use it and don’t have technical knowledge of PCs and etc.


hires here: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3109/2826407145_dcfed629b2_o.jpg

The way I think is that if we focus on the "live" and "virtualization" modes as the introductory way to talk about GNU/Linux, we reduce and almost eliminate all initial barriers that a first-time user may have. In this sense we, introducing GNU/Linux at beginning using the "live" or "virtualized" modes, can help make it more popular because it avoids the technical needs that are part of a "dual boot" or "native HD" install.

It is not a bad idea to show to the new potential users that he/she has 4 alternative ways to "install" a new OS, and 2 of these are completely safe and very easy.

As for the virtualization mode, the VirtualBox is currently, in my point of view, the best alternative to use for such purposes.


01-13-2010, 07:03 PM
Hi, this is my third take on the subject here. This time the arguments are around the whole FOSS (free/open source) and possible areas of opportunities (from now). And only part of this argument is related to "USBOSes" (usb O.S.).

This is just a small but I believe, very important point on effort and where part of if should be going. The reasoning will be very simple and I believe can make a good point.

Here is the point: Today 1% of the (PC) users use Linux, and the other 99% dont.


Then, who is this "1%"?

The answer to this question, in my view, is quite simple. GNU/Linux is a greater success amongst IT professionals, technical oriented people and hobbyists alike. Because of its flexible tools and structure, GNU/Linux became a weapon for this group of users to achieve higher and powerful usage for information technology.

Much more can be done for this "1%" of users, and it will, as GNU/Linux walks towards maturity in several areas it becomes much more powerful in the hands of people in this "1%" group.

So, here is the main point of my "third take":
There are opportunities "there" on the "99%" group that today may benefit from GNU/Linux but for several reasons are not achieving a happy relationship with it.

I believe that the present and future of FOSS relies on putting part of the effort to "achieve a relationship" with the todays non-users, changing a little from the current (and past) approach which is almost 100% focused on the "technical group" of users.

It is not the best example I can put here but take a look at the following picture.


We can definitely argue that this is "Linux" for the "99%".

Of course, the correct is that this is "Free and Open Soft for the 99%". And iPhone uses more than the BSD foundation, but the argument is that these examples of devices here can be successfully used by the "99%" group without demanding higher "technical" knowledge.

One particular important notion here is that, the "server operating system" and the "desktop operating system" are not the only ones where GNU/Linux can aim for, and these examples of devices given here show another area of importance because it can reach the other "99%" of users that can have huge benefits from FOSS, but currently are, for several reasons, not enjoying this powerful tools and resources.

In this following diagram Im trying this argument, using the word "local" and "power" to the server and desktop installation scenarios.


hires: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3062/2816902069_e4bcb881dd_o.jpg

One consequences of my argument here is that the "Native Live USB" is as important as the "Desktop" and "Server" categories are, and with further attention and development can be of great value for the "other 99%" of "us and them".


01-18-2010, 01:35 AM
I think this is interesting, and targeting the 99% really IS something to go for. But I think it will, at least to end users, look more like Windows/Linux than one might think. And practically all the heavy application software will be based on standard versions.

I also think it is worthwhile trying to do such things on the basis of Knoppix, at least in the first place. And, starting from collaborations of technically minded users, we will have a resource base. I don't think I'm that untypical myself: In a pinch, I could do most systems maintenance tasks myself, but I'd rather prefer to avoid it, if it's possible. But I would be happy to participate in projects to develop a ready-made system "for almost all".

01-28-2010, 02:41 PM
Hi all.
In this four remark about NativeUSB (LiveUSB) I like to emphasize the fact that a NativeUSB (and beyond) represents a departure from the traditional "desktop era" in the information technology.

We can think as (big) computers as the first era in IT, with focus on the hardware and system software specific for that hardware.

[Desk PC era]
We can think as the Apple II creating a new era in IT, the era where people can have a computer in their desk.

[Mobile Render Devices and Cloud Processing (Computing)]
The appearance of the "web2.0" and the creation of the iPod and the iTunes Music Store can be used as the "mark" when the so-called "cloud computing" appears. Then, the creation of the iPhone upon the iPod Platform consolidates the idea with the introduction of the "render device" as counterpart of the "cloud computer".

Render Devices like the Kindle, Google Nexus One, iPhone does not need to have massive power processing necessarily, they can achieve great results by combining mobility with the "cloud" that they "talk to". In fact, the combination of the "cloud massive power and resource" with the mobility and convenience of the "render device", they can achieve a breakthrough experience in results when compared to the "desktop PC".

This "breakthrough" in experience doesn't come from the power of the CPU or the sophistication of the (traditional) O.S., rather, the innovation achieve unprecedented results by combining relative simple and low power render devices in one side with network of relative simple and cheaper networked "PCs" at the other side. Perhaps none of the sides are using sophisticated Operating Systems to achieve its functionality (although it may be used).

What we have here is a relative higher form (sophisticate) combining simple components, creating something bigger (higher) than previous possible.

So, instead of:
Exploring powerful CPUs and sophisticated Operating Systems.

We can explore the idea of:
Explore the power of combining LESS powerful CPUs and LESS sophisticated Operating Systems.

As this following picture suggest, I believe that we can use Google, Amazon and Apple (what they are doing) to get inspiration and insights into this "cloud/render device" paradigm, and try to capture ideas to put into practice.


Hires: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4014/4311583992_c8f1ba3d42_b.jpg

So, to conclude this four point I like to put the idea that Apple, Google and Amazon are already exploring the idea of different conception for what and OS mean, and by creating SMALLER and packing LESS functions into the OS, it still possible to achieve higher level of results by exploring the combination of small pieces connected together by the net.


01-28-2010, 02:58 PM
I also think it is worthwhile trying to do such things on the basis of Knoppix, at least in the first place. And, starting from collaborations of technically minded users, we will have a resource base.

Hi Capricorny.

One thing that I am motivated to try is a remaster of 6.2 with the "bare minimum" software infrastructure to run the VirtualBox.
Something like "USB Knoppix VBox Player", so people can "use it" as the basis for build all sorts of FOSS (free/open source) USB systems.

I succeed in "opening" and "closing" a remaster following the instruction on this site few weeks ago and I will be looking more at it later.
I'm excited with this because it combines TWO things I believe is "hot" stuff:

a) VirtualBox virtualization
b) NativeUSB (LiveUSB)

These 2, combined into one "bare minimum Knoppix VBox Player" can potentially create a tool for further exploration of the GNU/Linux in new ways...

[Definition for "NativeUSB"]
Perhaps the starting point to explore the current topic is to have a more precise (or at least one) definition for what a NativeUSB system is.
As the first diagram (on the thread) shows, I have the idea but I don't have a good definition for it.
Because I'm very interested on the topic, I keep taking notes and conducting little experiments, so, when I arrive at some useful definition for the "NativeUSB" and its scope, I will made it public and putting here...


01-29-2010, 10:24 AM
Just want to put a complement to the last remark (the four) taking some notes of some features of the "cloud" and some of the "render side", so that it may help people to think about these two categories of "OSes" and what kind of roles they may play.


Hires: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4035/4313525796_f565f30fa9_b.jpg

Perhaps, if we can list a whole range of (desired or intended) features for these two categories we can end up with better ideas about what kind of practical implementations we should be targeting.

For me, there are few basic things that are very clear (and for me, source of inspiration):

a) The "desk top" paradigm reaches a peak and limit to deliver more value.
b) Cloud structures can achieve transcendent higher "computing stuff" results.
c) 24h connected and 24h battery organic mobility opens up a "new universe" in software.
d) For GNU/Linux, there are opportunities on the cloud side and on the render side.
e) The "cloud" uses the (traditional) notion of "server" but goes far beyond it.
f) The "render device" relies on the notion of user interface but goes beyond it.
g) The combination of "cloud" and "render device" IS A GREAT WAY to explore innovation.


01-29-2010, 04:00 PM
The above discussion has been quite nice and I don't really have anything that would meaningfully add to the discussion.

However, I'd like to relate something "tangential" that happened maybe five years ago.

A fellow down in Texas(USA) spent some money advertising on radio and in the newspaper that he would give a "live cd" to anyone who requested one.

Don't know the numbers because he didn't report them anywhere that I could find, but supposedly the response was....small....

So the question that was asked by some was...

We in "Linuxland" know what a "live cd" is but probably NObody in Windblowsland knows what a live cd is.

Now.........admittedly, the term "live cd" is a cool term, that is a fack jack as Bill Murrey said in the film...

But.... maybe there might be a rethink of "terminology" and a focused effort to put adverts into "free places" such as Craig's list, local newspaper forums, yada, yada, that would use a "quick" term that is more understandable by non Linux people while still retaining the "coolness" factor.

That might help, at least somewhat, get people in the door as it were so that other factors in this thread could then help funnel them further in.

I don't intend this to be a diversion of the main thrust of the thread, which is a good discussion, it is just a comment.


02-02-2010, 01:44 PM
We in "Linuxland" know what a "live cd" is but probably NObody in Windblowsland knows what a live cd is.
Now.........admittedly, the term "live cd" is a cool term, that is a fack jack as Bill Murrey said in the film...
But.... maybe there might be a rethink of "terminology" and a focused effort to put adverts into "free places" such as Craig's list, local newspaper forums, yada, yada, that would use a "quick" term that is more understandable by non Linux people while still retaining the "coolness" factor.

I think you are right and this seems to be THE KEY point for GNU/Linux to appeal to the "99%" group, Windblowseans, as you put...

No matter great the technical argument might be, for the "99%" group what we should be doing is to put a great dosage of effort on the process of communication and use a "language" effective for "them" instead of a more technical arguments that is being used inside the LinuxLanders groups.

In other words, perhaps THE key question is to depart from a "technical advantage approach" to a "mundane, why not use it too"...

I think that you raised the central question.
At least in my point of view, this is where the greatest challenge is and where the effort cannot be ignored...


02-05-2010, 02:18 AM
My take on this is a very practical one in the first place: What is the minimum necessary to get things working?
I think as a "Live USB" current Knoppix CD installed on a stick is about as close as we get right now.
It has a minimalistic approach (e.g. LXDE), still you can do most of what you want right out of the box (e.g. Java installed).
I would like to see arguments for stripping it still further down. I don't see what big advantages we get.

In ordinary user space, premises are changing quite rapidly, some points:

* Live CDs never were a great idea for actually running programs, too slow, too static.
* The practical minimum for a software base nowadays is about 2GB installed, and growing. So current CD can be considered minimal.
* USB3 will, in practice, solve the remaining problems with USB access speed. SSD USB3 disks will be fast enough.
* 16 or 32 GB sticks will be enough for programs and personal user data for quite some time.
* "Installs" in the Knoppix form of copying images to disk and loop-mounting them, is extremely useful and will only work better and better.
* Remastering may actually become more usual, to cater for customizing and upgrading. User interests are diverse, and diverging, "install everything" is not a viable option.
* Using services in an intelligent way, for instance a LAMP stack, may really help ordinary users.
* We should NOT distinguish between "ordinary" and "expert" users until we really have to. "Experts" are getting increasingsly fed up with system maintenance and installs.
* Configuration tweaks on standard software versions are essential, special versions must be avoided as far as possible.
* With vmware workstation running under Knoppix on a memory stick, running Windows is within Linux USB-land, even without Wine, so no need for further fuss about that.
* There may be a convergence going on, with different Debian-based Linuxes on mobile devices, like the Nokia N900. Utilizing the potentials in this may be essential.
* Getting Wine to run important user software like Photoshop and video editing programs (especially when Linux versions are not easily available) is gaining in importance.

I think Klaus has moved in exactly the right direction with Knoppix, so we can safely build on that as a standard basis.
From there, I think that a minimum-maintenance "expert" version could be the way to go. Think, for instance, of enabling an interested user to re-create Quantian with minimum work.
Look at the reasons why most remastering versions are not updated.

I would like to add that making ISO images will still be a good idea for quite some time - they just have to be considered and used as starting point for tailoring.

02-05-2010, 04:32 AM
Again, this has been a very interesting thread.

The discussion, to me, has been a very good exposition, and distillation, of the diffuse discussions that we have seen the last couple of years.

Perhaps a critical item is this and I take leave to quote:

I think Klaus has moved in exactly the right direction with Knoppix, so we can safely build on that as a standard basis.

Like most long toothed Linux folk, we all have a lot of silvery coasters, or skeet, for use; but Knoppix is one of the two or three that has really arrested my attention and is almost perfect in every way.

Whatever the ramifications which may arise from this discussion, I think that they will be of widening consequence in the Linux universe.

I'll continue to read with interest.


02-09-2010, 11:27 PM
This is my fifth point on the subject.

Just want to share something that I believe is a "trend" that is worth thinking and considering.

I use the following diagram as part of justification and reasoning behind my above-mentioned project (subito Linux - SubiTux), but the idea goes beyond it, and, in my point of view, would affect the entire industry. This "trend", I believe, has effects on the structure of operation systems in general. I think specially Knoppix, which is a (already) departure from the traditional concept of OS, should be paying special attention to this subject. The reason it is useful is very simple: the "trend" can help to point to the "what's next" kind of question.


hires: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2797/4344708454_c25032e206_b.jpg
*It is a good idea to include Kindle Platform on the above diagram too, as well (now) as the iPad.

I believe that there are 2 main implications here: number one is the trend in narrowing the functions in the software, and number two is the cloud-device trend.

The diagram points to a departure from "full packages" to "single functions" and at the same time shows the paradigm of "cloud-device" using the trend.

For years I'm following this "trend" but to the present day I still unable to figure out how to "translate" its meaning (more directly) for the free/open source universe...

At least in theory, the Google Android AppStore will be a candidate model, but in real practice it seems that there is "something missing" in the Android AppStore model... perhaps the Nexus One can fill the (what I am thinking as a perceived) "gap"...

[The Power of The AppStore]
The amount of power that the (Apple) AppStore unleashed within the iPhone Platform Ecosystem is something that cannot be ignored nor misunderstood, if we want to fully appreciate the iPhone phenomenon and its power. Without the apps and the developers and how they interact with the AppStore the iPhone is "just" a very cool device phone with an innovative OS installed on it. But when the AppStore is added to the equation, a new category is born as the resulting power far exceeds the others similar devices and OSes.

It should be possible in some way for the free/open universe to understand the implications and adopt (follow) the trend... or, to understand it fully and to place more emphasis on its possible equivalent for the free/open universe...

Finding a way to harness the same amount of power, or at least part of it, in the free/open universe, will help to create a lot of innovation...

[From Packages to Single Function]
Considering the success of the iTunes Store and the AppStore, I believe that it is a nice idea to think further on the fact that they have a common ground: instead of selling a package of things, they offer a single (or few) function (song in the case of iTunes). By learning and "translating" it to the free/open world it should be possible to harness the same kind of power and enjoy the same kind of popularity (almost...) they are experiencing. This is definitely a "trend" to observer and to understand. This "single function trend", at least in my point of view can be directly interpreted when thinking about operating system that used to be "general purpose", offering a package of features, but now can be something that offers a narrow range or few specific functions.

Packages still attractive but as the "trend" shows, there are alternatives towards "narrowing the offer" that may be worth considering.

PS.: While writing these few words, some ideas happen to me about how the free/open world can "interpret" this new "Cloud-Render Device Paradigm" and what can possible be the implications. I will leave it for another text, as they are different subject than the current piece.


02-10-2010, 12:55 AM
I don't think PC-type devices are going in the direction of the iPhone, rather, we will have minimal, but general, platforms. Like JavaScript (and classical Java applets) is used to move a lot of the processing from the server to the client (which therefore becomes much more than simply a rendering device), we will have a dynamic sharing of processing tasks. And my guess is that the generalist will win in userspace here, not the one-trick-pony.

The "single function" you talk about, I think may be more aptly called "plugins" - and their function depend on the local infrastructure. Making efficient use of the infrastructure Linux and relatives are offering is much more important than specifying models for plugin development/marketing. It's not about acting as a server, but using local server/service functionality optimally to become an efficient and intelligent client/renderer.

02-13-2010, 12:38 AM
Hi everybody.
Since I believe the "AppStore Power" is very interesting, I like to place a further note on the aspect of the "Development Ecosystem" which the application store represents.

This text helps further explain what I said before as some possible "missing" equivalent of this Development Ecosystem in the FOSS (free/open) world.

The argument here is very simple and is represented on the following diagram:


I don't claim I have a full research or even a deep analysis on the subject, but I do have follow this matter since around mid 90's, so, I think I my doubts have some justifications attach to it.

Let me repeat this doubt.
Looking at the power that Microsoft have with its Win32 franchise plus with its Visual Studio Tools plus its Microsoft Developers Network and "categorizing" it as a Development Ecosystem 1.0, and looking at iPhone Form Factor plus Apple AppStore plus the SDK plus the development/publishing model of 70/30 as a possible Development Ecosystem 2.0, then, my doubts is around the following question.

What is, if it exist, the counterpart of the dev-ecosys 1.0 (MS) and what is the counterpart of the dev-ecosys 2.0 (Apple) for the FOSS universe?

As I said before, if we look at Google's Android Platform, it seems to have "almost" all the features to be the equivalent model for FOSS, but to this day, I personally still thinking that there is "something" missing on the Android Platform to put it in direct comparison with the two mentioned models.

And, as I said before, the eco-systemic power that this dev-ecosys unleash for the whole platform is so powerful that it leaves all the "competitors" (that don't have it), into a whole layer "behind".

To conclude, I don't even know if this "counterpart" is possible for the FOSS universe directly or if it can be "translated" in some way, but I do know that the kind of power that it represents cannot be misunderstood. A better comprehension of the subject is necessary for the FOSS world. Its implications are too much important to be ignored.

Any kind of "translation" or "adaptation" of the idea to the FOSS universe is something that is worth considering. If the whole thing cannot be achieved, at least parts of it would be enriching the FOSS universe in unprecedented ways.


02-13-2010, 01:08 AM
I don't think PC-type devices are going in the direction of the iPhone,...

I just want to clarify one point that perhaps are not clear in my present texts in the topic.

[The Desktop PC]
I don't have any thinking or suggestion about the "desktop PC" in the current topic pointing to a possible direction that it will turn all to a "pocket 3G" like device. In fact in my current view I don't see the "desktop PC" becoming a "pocket" stuff for several reasons. Perhaps in the future, with new technologies, the "desktop PC" can become a different thing than it is today.

The entire reason of this topic is to point to "alternatives" to the traditional desktop PC, as not always people will have all the need that a desktop PC offer to the user.

Like the big computers, they remain big and still a very good business to this day. In the same sense, my current vision is that the "desk PC" will remain at the "desk" and it will remain a "PC", at least until lots of innovative technologies start to make possible to change its shape, size and efficiency.

So, in the way I look at technologies today I can't see big changes in the "desk" PC computer in the immediate time frame...

Like the big computers, that still around and strong, the "desk" PC is something that, I believe, will be around for while...

To finish: just clarifying the matter that the center focus of the topic is around the idea of something "beyond" the "desk PC" and all its correlated vision about "computing devices": the trends, the opportunities, the chanllenges, etc...


02-16-2010, 03:53 AM
This is just a complement I want to put to the "store" idea expose in the last post.

I just watched the 2 video presentations about the MeeGo project (Moblin + Maemo)…

I think it is interesting because it can bring together the evolution of Moblin and of Maemo into one unified platform. And, with Intel and Nokia in direct support for the project, it means that the basic financial support is there.

I believe that because the Linux Foundation is connected directly, such things like transparency, openness and legitimacy will be as highest as it can be, or at least, in very high levels.

[More alternatives]
Based on the content of these 2 videos available, my first impression is that it is an alternative for the Android on an "open platform for devices".

[MeToo Store]
Instead of thinking a MeToo "AppStore", I believe this project can fill what might be a "missing something" on the FOSS universe, by creating a "me" "too" store that goes beyond the software application and include (reflects) large portion of the richness of what the Open Source Movement has created around the world. I'm talking about things that use software but goes far beyond the software application itself, in this sense it should not use the name "app" store but only "store".

As strangely as it may seems, after watching these 2 short videos, I think I've learn something about the "missing something" that I'm referring in the last post… I guess it is some kind of "aha" moment…

Well, I have a long and detailed explanation, but here is the short one:
The "appstore" way for FOSS is NOT, at least in my current perception, the same thing it is for the commercial world…

Perhaps the best way to do it is NOT by having a "developers-applications-ecosystem" but instead a "mee-too-want-a-piece-of-the-cake-ecosystem" (thus MeToo Store).

The short reasoning for that is that the commercial store embraces the C++ programmer and its services, but the FOSS "way" must (may) embraces more than C++ people (which is the "1%"). FOSS must (may) embraces "mee" "too" (everyone* interested in doing so). In other words, it must (can) reflect what the whole FOSS philosophy is, not only C++ programmers.
*Well, not "all" everyone but at least "much more" everyones; Maybe 20%… instead of 1%.

Perhaps by just trying to sell C++ code it is not "selling" the real (or full) power of the FOSS universe, so, the end result don't share the same success…

This is, more or less, the short version of my first perception of the possible "missing" attractiveness of the current "app store" model for FOSS.

I hope to learn more about this "store" thing, and how this MeeGo Platform can unfold in this regard.


02-25-2010, 04:19 PM
I like to put two pictures related with past post(s) I did.

Picture 1 is the market share of Apple App Store (Gartner research) for 2009:

Picture 2 is the split between desktop, notebook and mobile for Apple's Q4 2009 sales:

I believe we can think of these two related data as representative of the combination of the following:

1) The power of the Cloud-RenderDevice Paradigm
2) With the power of the Developers-AppStore Ecosystem "2.0"

Alone, any one of these two data reveals powerful facts, but put (multiplied) together these two factors gives Apple unprecedented power.

I think it is more than facts, they show powerful trends into play, and they show the "where" we can look to grasp the important developments as an industry.

The reason I'm putting these two graphs is to reinforce the importance of the current stage of the "cloud-device" paradigm and the current stage of the "appStore-developers" ecosystem, so as to prepare for my seven (the concluding last one) series of remarks about the general trends that I think will be (is) affecting Free and Open Source Software.

In the last "remark" I like to point to a possible "what's next" for FOSS and what kind of thinking can be useful and applicable in the present and near future.

As stated, while writing one of the pieces last week I have an insight about the whole stuff that (now) I believe IS, at least one way to the future of, not only of the FOSS but the entire information technology field.

I just like to point that this "aha" came as result of at least 10 or 12 years quest, so, I believe I'm more or less "on the track" on this particular point that I will make.

In general lines, the "thing" is here, implicit on the pictures and texts above, so, I will only be making a more precise mention to the thing that I now believe IS the "next stuff" for the information industry. And, even more than before, I'm sure that the future Knoppix can benefit by getting inspirations on all these points exposed on the whole topic.


02-28-2010, 08:50 PM
One thing that I am motivated to try is a remaster of 6.2 with the "bare minimum" software infrastructure to run the VirtualBox.
Something like "USB Knoppix VBox Player", so people can "use it" as the basis for build all sorts of FOSS (free/open source) USB systems.

I succeed in "opening" and "closing" a remaster following the instruction on this site few weeks ago and I will be looking more at it later.
I'm excited with this because it combines TWO things I believe is "hot" stuff:

a) VirtualBox virtualization
b) NativeUSB (LiveUSB)

These 2, combined into one "bare minimum Knoppix VBox Player" can potentially create a tool for further exploration of the GNU/Linux in new ways...

Hi all.
Just want to point to an interesting announcement from Parallels I saw today from Ars Technica:
Parallels Server Mac Bare Metal Edition.

As I mention before, one thing that is in my “todo” list to try with Knoppix is the creation of a remaster with the minimum enough to run Knoppix wireframe and VirtualBox out of a USB key, which I refer then as “Knoppix VirtualBox Player”, here on this topic and as well as in another one.

It seems that this new Parallels edition is going in the same direction of thinking...

The reason I’m writing here about it is that it IS ONE of the “what’s next” stuff I believe we can consider, and it is one of the thing I’m going to try to argue here on my next post.

Since last week, I even have a much more “clear” vision on the subject of this “wireframe" (bare matel) than before, to the point that my interest on this “wireframe” almost multiplied by a factor of 10x, or more. The reason is that this “wireframe” stuff is one of the “next thing” I believe we all should be aware of, thinking, experimenting and doing around the idea.

I don't have much details from the new Parallels product, but its name, in my view, is absolute significative about its true meaning, and it gives me a confirmation that the concept and the vision is worth paying attention.

[The Ars article]

[Parallels website]

I hope to have a small and concise text within few days, dealing with this next argument (which deals with the “what’s next” thing).


03-05-2010, 10:44 PM
Hi everybody.

I'm thinking about the best way to simplify this seventh argument and here is the way I believe it can be simple and yet enough to communicate what I want.

To make easier, it will be in 3 themes:

7a) The Platform
7b) Tools (Knx Vbox Player is here)
7c) The community, the meaning, the elegance and the beauty

I think that these 3 categories holds distinct argumentation and perhaps the best thing to do is to clearly separate them to avoid loss of objectivity.

Each text will be a separated post.


03-05-2010, 10:46 PM
The Platform.

Let me start by giving two examples on the subject that I want to expose:

1) VirtualBox, PC virtualization
2) ZFS, HD (or storage) virtualization

The subject here is 'virtualization', and I like to make a distinction to allow for more clarity in my argument. The distinction I want around the word 'virtualization' and the term 'PC virtualization', that, in some cases are being used as the same thing but in reality the 'PC virtualization' is ONLY one form of virtualization. So, let me make it clear that the subject I am writing here is 'virtualization' (the general notion).

I believe the VirtualBox (as well as Vmware and Parallels) and ZFS are not only two good examples of virtualization but they represent a TREND in the overall landscape, and this general trend is virtualization which I like to try a brief definition to serve my purpose here: The achievement of the hardware functionality into a entity that is detached (or uncoupled) from the hardware itself.

What I think is that the trend exist but it is in the 'first phase' now and in my point of view it is possible to start a 'second phase' of this trend. In the following diagram I will like to try a visualization of the current 'first phase' of the virtualization trend:


Now I like to try a visual idea for the 'next step' in virtualization that we may explore:


In this 'next step', instead of a traditional OS running the virtualized function, I believe it is possible to provide the function with a 'suitable enough' environment so that it can perform its job. So, the quest here is to realize an OS that fits the function, instead of thinking of an OS as a means to use (fully) the hardware.

If we look at VirtualBox and ZFS as products that are examples of virtualization, in the sense of being components, we may start to think not in terms of products only but extrapolate and ask ourselves if there is an opportunity here to achieve a 'functionality detached environment' that includes the architecture, the tools and the ecosystem. So that we not only use virtualization but create and environment where it can grow not only in performance of its components but possible generate a whole new meaning for the use of information technology by extending its power far beyond it is today.

The idea is that the 'attachment' of the function to its providing hardware (which is a natural thing since the function was first achieved in that hardware) may be limiting the outcome of the current platforms by limiting factors like combination of usage, reliability, grow in scale, cost, etc. In this sense, if the achievement of the function, detached from its hardware, can be made into a whole platform (and I believe it can), then we can have a quantum leap in power as soon as we achieve the necessary elements to characterize it as a 'platform'.

To the present day (Mar/2010) all the virtualization stuff that exists is running on top of 'traditional operating systems', which (may) mean that there are much more opportunities if we have a fully environment where there is others resources to take more (the most) advantage of it.

I like to abandon the text here. It is small but I believe it communicates what I like to express about the 'platform' aspect of my argumentation.

There is an opportunity to think of a platform to capture (make it coherent) all the power of this trend. This can be the "next" stuff for GNU, Linux and OSS… or at least, being the inspirational direction, help to promote further development and evolution.

On the other hand, if we do not perceive and behave towards this trend as a platform, we will end up underutilizing its current representatives (like VBox, like ZFS, etc) and not enjoying its full real potential and the true real meaning that they represent.

End of 7a.

03-19-2010, 05:15 AM
Hi everybody.

In this text I like to deal with the tools, stuff that are needed in any kind of platform, to allow people to use the environment.

There are so many things that can be said on this subject that it is difficult to choose where to start and how to not try to make too many arguments, so that the text can be small to fit our purpose here. Trying to deal with all implications that we can think of is outside our scope and doesn’t serve us here.

I like to focus on a single tool that its need is more visible for the vast majority of people. So I like to deal with the subject of "tools" (in general), by using the idea of a single tool that I'm proposing below.

[The Wire-frame "OS"]
When the subject is virtualization on the server machines, there is a concept called 'hypervisor' that describe an environment that sits on the hardware and control its function, exposing it to several other operating systems to use those functions, thus allowing the same hardware to be used by more than one operating system. In this sense my current argument deals with the notion of 'hypervisor' software but the present arguments are not towards the subject of 'server machines', instead, the idea is to include server machines and 'clients' machines, as well as any other categories of 'machines' that we can think of.

What I'm going to propose here is that instead of embedded OS into the hardware, we can think of "embedded OS into the software", so that this particular piece of software can perform its function without a traditional environment (trad. OS). This is the equivalent of "installing an operating system", but in this case to install it into the software we want to run.

More specifically, I believe that by just stripping down the current Knoppix 6.2, reducing it to the "bare OS" infrastructure, we can achieve a working prototype of a 'Wire-Frame Operating System' that fulfills this function (as Wire-Frame OS).

So, the idea is to start using Knx (+ VBox inside) as an Open Source, easy to use 'hypervisor'. This time, the 'hypervisor' will be less connected with servers and more general in nature (all kinds of "machines").

[Why Knoppix?]
Because Knoppix is in its sixth generation, we should expect that thousands of hours has been spend in doing and testing that 'infra-structural' part of the OS. And, because this kind of 'Wire-Frame' (in my point of view) should be a "live OS" instead of traditional OS, I see very few "candidates to fulfill this role" and I believe Knoppix is the best choice, if we want to do such 'Wire-Frame OS'.

[Why the need to "strip it" down in size?]
Let me try only 4 arguments in connection with size (of the wire-frame).
The first is execution in RAM. I believe that lots of software are going to be executed from RAM rather than rotating hard disk. The difference in response is significantly enough to justify it. In this regard, every byte makes difference.

The second is that SSD price still high. Solid State Disk is a crucial component (and trend) for an evolved information technology to take shape, but the average price still around 10x the price of the rotating disks, so, it is a good idea to think that software that doesn't need to be there, is not there taking precious space.

The third is about the need to scales up to dozens, hundreds and thousands. Virtualization makes possible to think of hundreds or thousands of "machines" running software, in that scenario each time you have a software component that you are not using, it may be taking a 1000x its own space size if you have a one thousand "machines" running. Something like an application that fills 100MB in space will make a huge difference if it is multiplied by 100 or by 1000.

The fourth is that loading, disposing and saving "machines" is one of the great features of virtualized environment, and again, to scales hundreds or thousands of times in short period of time, we must thing of having the 'wire-frame' as small as we can get. In this context, just one full minutes multiplied by 100 times equals 1 hour and 40 minutes of extra time (this 'extra' is in reality unnecessary time).

Powerful proprietary 'wire-frames' already exists (for server infra structures), but I believe we need a simple, easy to use, open source and yet, good enough 'wire-frame' to help the common users, professionals and businesses to start to fully experience and take advantages of the idea of virtualization. A Knoppix VBox WireFrame can fulfill (for Knoppix it will be the second time) the role of making the concept practical and popular. When it reaches the hands of the whole global users, it will unleash the full power of the 'virtualization' stuff…

In the current case, I believe we can fairly say that we have the following multiplying factors for success:

a) A working "prototype" already exists (Knx6 series with its microknoppix core).
b) The power of the Open Source.
c) The need to give the users a real practical (and easy) software to "see" the benefits (of vt).
d) The "live OS" experience (which differs in simplicity from the traditional).

I like to stress the point that, in my current assessment, traditional OSes cannot fulfill the role of a true 'wire-frame' for virtualization. I think that the "live" is the best approach.

The final (and necessary) point is that I'm not arguing that Knoppix should become a wire-frame only stuff, but instead to have this alternative available in easy way so that anyone can click a button or invoke a script and enjoy it. And, since (I believe) there is no other competitor at the same stage and level, Knoppix can become a tool for everyone that wants to have the full benefits of virtualization. Once you have a strategic tool like this in your hands, you start to explore and create new ways to use virtualization (what I'm calling "the 2nd phase").

Since there is no other "competitor", if we launch a small effort to materialize this 'wire-frame' using Knx6, we will be "creating this new category" and giving users (home, pros and business) a key element to make virtualization widespread and thus help (in some way) the whole IT industry to "cross" to the next level. Considering that almost everything is "already done" (in Knx6), the effort is minimal but the rewards are far reaching, to say the least…

…we may end up with a cool stuff for the 99%, and this is enough motivation…

1000 Knoppix running in RAM?
Ok, I exaggerated a little bit here, and, Knx6-Wire Frame is not going to save us from 2012 Mayan Prophecies, but I think I made my point in a way that is easy to appreciate.

The idea of this particular tool is to have today a way to experiment with the concept with minimal need to "do" stuff, since Knx6 just only requires a remaster to be ready. Of course, once we start the thing, then, a lot of other tools may enter our horizon of visibility and probably end up helping shape the whole vision on the matter. As we "walk" the vision it unfolds its potential to us…

Let me abandon here, hoping that the text helps to communicate how can we learn and do more about this new kind of tools by starting with a single one, the Knx6 Wire Frame. And by doing so we not only perceive and understand the whole (plat.) better but actually we may be starting an interesting thing to do…


03-22-2010, 03:37 AM
I'm going to try to treat each one of these four words in separated paragraphs: the community, the meaning, the elegance and the beauty.

Here, I'm using the word 'community' to cover all individuals and organizations that participate in using, promoting or developing software, which is open source.

I want to bring the word 'community' to the argument because I like to see the idea around Freedom of Software or Open Source Code, as the balance position between a capitalism environment, which we live in, and the aspiration to good aspects of a social(ist) environment which brings more richer human interactions and thus can make human life better. For me, the quest is more around the achievement of balance and less of 'fight' against capitalist organizations. Not everyone within the open community share this 'fight' spirit, but the ones that actively promote it end up creating what in my point of view is an excessive aggression toward the perceived 'enemy'. And when this perceived 'enemy' is confused (mixed perception) with the capitalism itself, the end result misses the target and creates destructive 'collateral damage'.

This quest for this balance should, in my point of view, be one of the highest priority of the community at all times. Growth, quality of code and adoption will come as a natural result of the powerful forces that the balance can unleash.

The Freedom Software (I'm trying to avoid the word 'free' here) and Open Source Code has gained maturity in the last 10 years to understand this need for the balance, but still a lot of unnecessary confusion exist to justify a conscious effort to bring clarity to this point.

By using the word 'meaning' I want to implicate the reasons that justify a particular project to use human and financial resources, so, the 'meaning' is the meaning that a particular project, or the whole open source movement, to implicate human attention and material resources. It could be meaning as a hobby and entertainment, it could be meaning as a public utility and it could be meaningful stuff for business usage.

I believe that the more it answers human needs the 'more meaning' it has. And the more complete it answers the challenges the more 'meaningful' it is.

A believe that, as of 2010, Freedom Soft/Open Code should be considering the economic challenges as a chance to express meaningful answers to individuals, public organizations and business so that they can have more choices to react to the challenges ahead. In my opinion, the Freedom Open Code has unique strengths that make it a good candidate to help to create "answers" for the current economic challenges. Part of this uniqueness is the human creativity that is represented in worldwide form.

By 'elegance' I want to describe the beauty that is beyond and distinct from the visual beauty (the ones that pleasures the eye). I like to include such things as 'design elegance', 'intellectual elegance', 'interfacing in elegant way', 'elegant thinking', and so on.

An important elegant factor that I believe is necessary is the elegance of the architectural design of a platform, for example. Another important elegant factor that I think is good is the elegant way that all the infrastructure tools allow the human beings to interact amongst each other.

The 'elegance' I'm arguing here is the beauty to the mind, the beauty to the eyes and the beauty or practically in every day usage (the beauty it shows in our hands when performing its intended meaning). It is the balance of these three beauties.

By using the word 'beauty' I like to describe the visually perception that a particular graphical user interface arises to the eye of the user, and how well it interact with him as use unfolds. The 'beauty' in this sense is more a visual aesthetic appearance.

This is the 'beauty' that I believe the MacOSX has from the beginning, and then the Vista tried to achieve later and now Ubuntu is trying to bring to Linux Desktop.

And then, to conclude this part I like to summarize the argument around three subjects:

a) Interactions between people.
c) User Interfaces (including graphical and non-graphical).
d) The "intellectual" beauty of the designed architecture.

So, to end this text I like to try three small paragraphs:
The growth of the freedom soft/open source movement (or any single project) is a function of how well the community can meaningfully interacts to achieve its purpose, and this human interaction is a function of the elegance of its architecture design and the elegance and beauty of its tools.

The growth of the freedom soft/open source can and should be greatly enhanced by putting effort in making user interfaces (graphics and non-graphics) that can be more elegant in operation, reaching a large audience than the current one.

The growth and sustainability of freedom soft/open source is in direct proportion to the quality of its meaning and how well it is serving the current human needs. The 'meaning' here is the quality of the balance of its relationship with capitalism and social aspirations.

For me, an elegant and productive interaction between human beings working towards meaningful objectives "IS THE WAY" to create high quality code and achieve evolved software innovation, which can be achieved by no other way. And, that productive relationship with capitalism AND social aspirations are possible together, as long as we want to and as long as we put effort in materializing it, and that this balance "IS THE WAY" to create healthy and sustainable freedom/open projects that can fully implement its potential.

And, that the economic challenges that we live today provides not only the challenge and the opportunity for the freedom/open to prove its value but further, the chance to transition to a new "computing" paradigm (as I'm trying to describe in theses texts) represents the opportunity to embrace fully the 'meaning', 'elegance' and 'beauty' in the freedom/open movement as the engine motor for its growth, not as an accessory.

I hope that these small pieces of texts help to capture, at least in surface, the opinion I want to express, so that its information helps to create some kind of motivation for everybody in the Knoppix community, and by doing that helps Knoppix to be one of the first to "jump" to the "what's next" stage. I believe that the current MicroKnoppix already has the 'thing' in its present dna, and by expressing (or at least trying) my vision about this "next" stuff, I hope to create the awareness (perhaps it already exist) of this fact so that Knoppix can fully capture the opportunity that is within its current potential.

[The part seven]
To conclude the part 7 I like to stress the point (and this is my point of view) that alone, neither a good architectural design nor good and powerful tools can achieve enduring success. The reason is basically that alone, or even both together don't represent a full platform. In my opinion the true nature of a platform is achieved when a good (architectural) design meets good tools and they meet people, attracted by the elegance, the meaning and the beauty of them all together.

One personal way that I think of 'meaning' is to think of the 99% group of users that is not the most technical ones, and to put some effort in the direction of helping them to take part of the rich benefits that Freedom Open Source can create (for them). In the direction of this 'meaning', I believe, there is huge opportunity to unleash (more) power within the platform of Freedom Open Source.

[The whole topic - thread]
I want to say thanks all and apologize for what started as a tentative of dialog ends up me writing alone. Well, not so bad, I was able to produce a short but informative piece about a vision for a possible future of FOSS in general and Knoppix in particular as well. At the end, I'm happy with what I did here; it helps me put the whole thing in perspective inside my mind too, and in fact, while writing these pieces, three or so weeks ago that I believe all the stuff inside my mind, they together achieved a form o coherence (that was the insight moment).

I hope these picts and texts help you to find (further) inspirations inside this whole new page on information technologies...