Miscellaneous Thoughts about Exploded PCs
So, I think I'm almost out of steam for now on this weekend's thoughts.
I'm starting to get interested in things like embedded Linux to make custom limited-purpose kernels and application environments. And I want to order things like Gumstix to play with building little appliances--though admittedly, in part, because I just want more toys and blinking lights. (Maybe what I'm really interested in is just Lego MindStorms.)
I've also been thinking that I really don't know enough about the state-of-the-art in security on today's shared general-purpose computers to talk with much authority about ditching them for hordes of limited-purpose appliances. I've read some books and some blogs, for what that's worth. And I've played a bit with chroot and jail, User-mode Linux, virtual machines, and Managed Code as things to look into in the pursuit of further simplified and isolated systems.
Furthermore, I have concerns that ditching the open, general-purpose PC could kill a lot of freedom. This is especially worrisome if appliance vendors lock into proprietary networking and communication standards, or require nasty licenses like for the CSS algorithm used with DVDs. I'd really want to see the fabric between appliances, the circulatory system between my PC's exploded organs, based on open standards and protocols. Right now, the general-purpose PC is virtual and fluid enough to dodge efforts to hold it in place, but firmware and hardware are practically forever.
I don't want to have to buy a license to operate my meta lathe--my distaste for Microsoft is more about the claustrophobia I personally experience as a tinkerer within their environments than with any worries about spyware or viruses. I feel like it's a dangerous time for tinkerers right now, and I don't want to see anything happen that would weaken our positions.
Whew. So I think that's about all for now. Knowing me, I probably won't post here again for a year or so. :)